This post was sponsored on behalf of Lincoln Military Housing, but the opinions are my own.
My experience with the transition from being a career woman to staying at home meant I left the military and huge part of my identity. But I don’t think my experience is really all that different from other moms who choose to stay home after they have children. This post will have a military focus, but I’m hoping others can take away from my experience as they make this transition. A transition that seemed like it would be easy, but in reality it was not.
1. Give yourself time to adjust
Leaving the military to stay at home was a big adjustment that I wasn’t really prepared for. I did not realize what being an engineer, a military officer and a leader really meant until it was gone. It was truly ingrained in who I was. I went from listing off accolades and people being impressed to telling people I stayed at home with my son.
You know, I should have seen it coming. But I really had no clue what was on the horizon. I didn’t leave the military until my son was four months old and I held tight to that identity up until the day it was gone. It hit me like a ton of bricks and it took time to not find frustration with my choice. Over time things got easier as my baby grew and I adjusted to my new role. I don’t really think you can prepare for this, just know it might happen to you too and it is normal and it may lead you back to work or leave you where you are. Everyone is different and you make the right choice for your family.
2. You will likely second guess your choice
Poopy diapers and a baby who cries and does not do anything the book says can make it hard to be happy with the choice you made to stay home. Two things to live by are first they will only be this little one time and it goes by so fast and second it becomes more fun as they grow up.
3. Give yourself grace
I have yet to meet a mom in the middle of the early years who has it all figured out and thinks it is easy. Looking back we remember the snugly little baby who was oh so cute, but when you are in the middle of this stage it likely won’t be easy and you might find that you are second-guessing yourself. Just remember, you are a good mom, your baby loves you and you love them.
4. Join Moms Groups
One of the hardest parts for me in the adjustment realm was being lonely. I went from working to staying at home in the summer and all mom-related group activities stopped. I was so lonely. Even after I joined a bible study in the fall, it was only one day a week and it was women from all different life stages. Looking back I wish I had joined MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) earlier or searched out other mom playgroups. Having a support group of moms who are in the same life stage as you is an invaluable tool.
5. Focus on what gets done each day
While working it was easy to see what had been accomplished each day. E-mails sent, papers written, briefings attended, etc. But staying at home some days my goal would be to clean the kitchen floor. Some days that one task I was focused on never got checked off and often if I did complete it, by the end of the day the floor was a mess and I felt like I was moving backwards instead of forward. Taking care of a baby takes a lot of work and most of it is hidden. Changing diapers, feeding, burping, playing with the baby are all part of your job description. The other stuff may seem important, but listening to your baby and focusing on them is where you need to be. Like I said earlier, they are only little once and it goes by so fast.
Looking back staying at home with my son was one of the best and hardest choices I made. Staying at home humbled me more than any other life situation before and the rewards I am reaping from my now two year old are priceless. We have so much fun most days and I love all the snuggles, hugs and kisses. And now he is starting to learn so much and ask why.
Motherhood has changed me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am still proud of my military and academic accomplishments, but I do not miss it like I did before. I am growing, learning and changing just like my little boy. And I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store.