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First, I want to make a few things clear about this “Beginner’s Guide” and this blog:
- Being a stay-at-home mom is a big deal. A huge life changing, earth shaking undertaking. But…
- So is being a working mom- just being a mom is a huge life changing, earth shaking undertaking. And while I think this guide may be helpful to any mom, working or not, the focus is on stay-at-home moms because that is what I know best. But please know that know matter what kind of mom you are, (birth, adopted, foster, or whatever) if you are raising tiny humans with tender, loving care, you are awesome and I support you.
- While this blog does err on the side of being semi-crunchy (on a scale of mainstream to super granola crunch), it’s not my business or anyone else’s where you are on that scale. You have to do what’s right for you and your family. If you are a mom, (birth, adopted, foster, or whatever) and you are raising tiny humans with love and compassion, you are awesome and I support you.
With that said, let’s get started!
I’ve known since I was a little girl that I wanted to be a mom when I grew up, and most likely a stay-at-home mom. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and I always loved the idea of following her foot steps. I loved the idea of being able to stay home and raise my babies, and teach them all the things, do all the crafts, cook all the recipes, and go on all the adventures. Little did I know how challenging the role of motherhood would be, much less stay-at-home motherhood!
I became a mom at 19 years old. I was young, naive, and the pregnancy was unplanned. But, that moment my precious baby boy was born I knew it was meant to be and I was committed to doing everything possible to give him the best life possible.
For me, that meant reading all the books and learning all I could about the best ways to care for and raise a baby. There is a complete overload of information on raising babies and parenting. It was so overwhelming!
I remember having a complete melt down to my own mother because I felt so lost and confused, and it felt like I was doing everything wrong. What one book said was right, another book said was wrong. I had no idea what to do or which one to listen to.
Then my mom told me this: “You have mama instincts. Listen to those.”
So that’s what I did, and still do. Of course, the book nerd in me still has to research, because it feels even more right when science and research has your back. But instead of following the latest and greatest, most expert advice, I follow the advice that feels right to me, right to my mom instincts. Maybe it’s just me, but I know when a piece of parenting advice doesn’t sit right. I feel it in my heart, in my gut.
Since those early years of figuring out motherhood I’ve had two more children, and I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for six years now. Honestly, I still get overwhelmed at motherhood and I am by no means a “stay-at-home mom expert,” but I am writing this beginner’s guide to being a semi-crunchy stay-at-home mom with the intention of helping other moms find their happy place in this season of life.
What does being a semi-crunchy stay at home mom mean?
Being a semi-crunchy stay-at-home mom can, essentially, mean whatever you want it to mean.
As you probably already know, the word “crunchy” (beyond the dictionary meaning of “having a hard texture”) comes from crunchy granola, which means “relating to or characterized by ecological awareness, liberal political views, and an interest in ‘natural’ products and health foods.” So, crunchy moms are often associated with being all natural and with things like cloth diapering, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, baby wearing, non-vaxing, essential oils and homeopathy.
Obviously, not all “crunchy moms” are all-natural, breastfeeding, cloth diapering nature lovers- that’s just another stereotype our society has formed. The truth is you can be as organic and natural as a mom as you want to be and it doesn’t even need a label.
*I want to pause for a minute here to let you guys know that regardless of the title of my blog, I get it- slapping a label like “crunchy” or “semi-crunchy” on our style of motherhood can bring up mixed feelings. On one hand, if I’m being lumped in the group of crunchy mamas, I think “Yes! I found my tribe!” I love that I can use this term to easily find other moms to connect with, that support my parenting goals and choices. But on the other hand, I see these other crunchy moms and realize my level of crunchiness is so mediocre I barely qualify to be in their tribe – or to even be a mother. Of course, this is far from true! So, for the purposes of blogging and connecting with like-minded moms I choose to keep my focus on the former.
For me, being a semi-crunchy stay-at-home mom means two things:
- Being home to raise my kids.
- Doing things organically and naturally WHEN I CAN.
The key phrase here is “when I can.” Doing the thing that’s natural, organic, and earth loving is awesome…until we are stressed and anxious and over-thinking every decision because we’re terrified that we might be filling our families with toxins and pollutants. In reality, our stress, anxiety, and depression is likely to be more toxic to our babies and our families, than using formula or disposable diapers.
So, being semi-crunchy can also mean:
- home birth or hospital birth with an epidural
- cloth diapers or disposables
- breastfeeding or formula feeding
- co-sleeping or crib sleeping
- vaccinate or not
- babywearing with a sling or using a stroller
- using essential oils or using vegetable oil 😉
There is no right or wrong here. It feels amazing to be able to make that all-natural, crunchy choice as a mom, but there is no need to doubt yourself, shame yourself, or guilt yourself if you choose otherwise. I’m serious, don’t! We put ourselves through enough as moms. We don’t need to add on extra guilt and stress because we needed that epidural or because we weren’t able to breastfeed or because we realized 95% of the food in our kitchen contains added sugar and hydrogenated oils. The mere fact that any of these things bother us, shows that we are amazing, loving, caring mothers and we should be proud of that!
Ultimately, it’s your decision how crunchy or conventional your motherhood style is. Only YOU know what’s right for you, your baby, your family.
How to get started as a semi-crunchy stay at home mom…
Since we just covered the fact that being semi-crunchy can have multiple meanings, we’re keeping this section simple, and focusing on getting started as a stay-at-home mom.
First, talk with your spouse and get on the same page.
- Most importantly, make sure you and your spouse both fully support the decision for you to become a stay-at-home mom. If either of your hearts aren’t into this choice, there’s going to be resentment, which never ends well.
- Talk finances, and make sure you’re on the same page about your household budget and financial goals. Are you going to have a set budget for groceries? A set budget for activities and outings? How much money should be going into savings or to pay off debts? Remember, there are lots of ways to save money and cut costs, and it is totally possible to stay home and still contribute.
- Discuss responsibilities and expectations. As in, will you be responsible for bill paying or hubby? Will night-time parenting be shared or on a shift basis, or does that fall on you because of hubby’s work schedule? And how are household chores going to work?
Next, get organized.
Keeping yourself and your home organized is so important as a stay-at-home mom. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated when things are messy and cluttered – this goes for parents and kids.
Here is a few things that have helped me with getting and staying organized:
- De-clutter: If something hasn’t been used in our home the last 6 months it’s gone – donated, repurposed, recycled, or trashed. When you have less stuff to take care of, it’s less of an effort to keep things clean. I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up book or Netflix show for some inspiration – as cheesy as it sounds, it really can be life changing.
- Make sure everything in your home has a place: If it doesn’t have a place and you can’t find one, you probably don’t need it. I really love using inexpensive little bins from Dollar Tree or cute baskets to keep things nice and organized.
- Set up a calendar and write things down: I’m a very visual person and I love my white board calendar, but any calendar will work- or just use your phone and share it to your hubby. Write down your appointments, your kids’ activities and play dates, your date nights- write down everything. It’s so helpful to have it all wrote out in one place for everyone to see, and to make sure there are no overlaps.
- Remember, this isn’t about perfection: Your home will never be perfect, nobody’s is! And that’s okay, perfect is boring. This is about making your home work for you, being able to find the thing you need when you need it, and keeping the stress and chaos away, or at least at a minimum.
Then, find your routines.
A lot of stay-at-home moms thrive with a daily schedule. I am not one of those moms. Daily schedules stress me out, and make me feel tied to a clock. Even having a fixed schedule with my babies and toddlers (which most people swear is necessity), has always ended in frustration all around.
Instead, I recommend finding a few routines that you can easily incorporate into your day. Routines are similar to schedules, but they feel a lot more flexible because they don’t give you time constraints, and they still add order and organization to your day.
For example, the current morning routine with my toddler is:
- Snuggles/nursing in bed
- Diaper change
- Breakfast time
- Feed the pets
- Quick kitchen clean-up
- Start a load of laundry
- Get dressed and brush teeth
- Outside time (or if the weather is bad, indoor dancing and active play time)
This routine works great for us because it gives order to our morning, and my toddler knows what to expect, and what comes next. But it also works great because, there are no time limits and it’s flexible. So, if my toddler wants to help with my “quick kitchen clean up” and I spend an extra hour with him at the sink washing dishes, – no big deal. Or if he is not feeling well and needs an extra nursing session here and there – no big deal. Obviously, there are days with errands, appointments where these long, flexible routines won’t work, but just do what you can.
Tips for Success as a Semi-Crunchy Stay-at-Home Mom
- Remember to take care of yourself: It’s impossible to care for others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Make sure your doing something everyday to keep your cup full. This can mean anything from taking a nap or a hot shower and letting hubby handle the kids, to doing yoga or other exercise, or even spending baby’s nap time working on a hobby.
- Make your hubby and marriage a priority: It’s so easy as a stay-at-home mom to become so focused on all your to-do’s and so drained from taking care of your kids that you end up touched out and too exhausted to connect with your spouse – and I’m not just talking physically, but emotionally and spiritually. This is the guy you chose to spend the rest of your life with. You might as well also choose to have fun with him and enjoy this season of raising your tiny humans together. The key here is that you have to make your marriage a priority, just like you have to make yourself a priority – if your tank is empty, then your hubby’s tank is probably empty, too.
- Be flexible: Things are not always going to as planned- actually, things will very seldom go as planned, especially with infants and toddlers. Your baby will have a diaper explosion, or your toddler won’t go down for his nap, or your dog will get into the trash and spread the contents out all over your house, then puke on your bed (true story). Life happens, but if we accept this and realize our plans are not fixed – they can be rearranged, rescheduled, or even cancelled – it’s a lot easier to keep our cool.
- It’s okay to ask for help: Sometimes our struggles are too big and we need help. Maybe you need help with spring cleaning, or maybe you need a break from your kids because your cup is empty and you just mentally can’t anymore. Just because you’re a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you have to handle everything by yourself. It truly is okay to ask your husband, mom, family, or friends for help. Aren’t you always there for them when they need your help? If they genuinely care about you, they will be more than happy to help with whatever you need.
- Get out of the house: This is so important! It’s so easy to fall into a rut of staying home because it’s the easy thing to do, especially with little ones and nap schedules. But getting out of the house, even for a walk around your neighborhood, can be such a mood lifter and it’s so energizing.
- Know that you can’t actually do all the things: Like I said before, when I first became a stay-at-home mom I wanted to do all the crafts, cook all the recipes, and go on all the adventures. That was super ambitious of me, but not realistic. Sure, there’s a lot of things we can do as stay-at-home moms but being home does not make our time unlimited. So, don’t over schedule or over-Pinterest yourself, and stress yourself out trying to do “all the things.”
- Know that a lot of people have opinions about stay-at-home moms: Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom other people always have something to say, something to bring you down and make you doubt yourself. But, I love Rachel Hollis‘ advice on this, “Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.” (Also, her books are life changing, go read them!) The only person’s opinion that really matters here is your own.
Common Questions/FAQ About Being a Semi-Crunchy Stay-at-Home Mom
How do I know if being a stay-at-home mom is right for me?
This is a very personal decision for every mom. I knew it was right for me because it was something that I’ve wanted since childhood. But also these three key questions also helped me decide:
- Do I have my hubby’s support, and are we on the same page?
- Financially. are my hubby and I able to make a plan and budget that we are both happy with?
- Do I feel happier and more fulfilled as a stay-at-home mom, than I do as a working mom?
If you answered yes to all three of these questions, there is a strong chance that you’ll thrive as a stay-at-home mom
Beyond the finances and having a supportive spouse, make sure you really consider your happiness. Will working or staying home will bring you more joy? Being a stay at home mom isn’t for everyone, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with realizing it’s just not for you. The bottom line is that you should make the choice that brings you more happiness and fulfillment – if you’re happy, your kids will be happy.
Will being a stay-at-home be beneficial to my kids?
I whole-heartedly say yes, there are a ton of benefits to kids with a stay-at-home mom. A lot of experts agree, and even a lot of Americans tends to agree, that having a stay-at-home mom is very beneficial. A few ways your kids will benefit include:
- Being home with your baby during those early months really strengthens the mother/baby bond and helps create a stronger, more secure attachment
- Being a stay at home mom makes breastfeeding more convenient and more likely to happen for a longer duration, which is very beneficial for our little ones
- Toddlers tend to get sick less often
- School agers tend to have better performance in school
- Kids’ cortisol (the stress hormone) levels tend to be lower when they don’t need to be in childcare
- This study found that even older children can benefit from having a stay-at home parent
What does an average day look like for a stay-at-home mom?
This answer varies greatly from mom to mom, depending on the number of children you have and their ages. I’ll be doing a “Day in the Life” style post soon, that will go into more detail about what it’s like for me as a stay-at-home with a toddler, an elementary schooler, and a high schooler. My kids have a huge age gap, but it’s also so much fun!
For now, I recommend watching some YouTube “Day in the Life” videos if your looking to get an idea of what it’s like as a stay-at-home mom and if it’s right for you. Here are some of my favorite YouTubers that post them quite often:
- Beauty & the Beastons: Tiffani is a super mom. She has 3 kids under age 3, and somehow manages to post new videos almost daily. She’s so fun to watch, and her babies are adorable!
- Simply Allie: Allie is also a super mom. She has two cutie pie littles and regularly posts videos on day in the life, cleaning tips, organization, recipes, and other fun stay at home mom stuff.
- Taina Licciardo-Toivola: Taina is another amazing mom. She is a mom of 10 children, she home schools, and maintains a very healthy plant-based lifestyle.
- Brianna K: Another awesome mama! She has 2 little ones and posts realistic day in the life videos, along with cleaning motivation, decorating tips, and other great stay-at-home mom stuff.
How can we make our finances work, so I can afford to be a stay-at-home mom?
I’m keeping this answer fairly simple for now, but I’ll be diving in with a more in depth post on this topic very soon. The fastest, easiest way to make things work is to:
- Take a good look at where your money is going.
- Consider how much you may actually be spending to work – on gas and transportation, work clothing and shoes, child care, and convenience foods that probably save time, but not money.
- Look at cutting costs in other areas that aren’t necessities. For example, eating out or getting coffee at Starbucks. Even if you’re only purchasing two coffee drinks a week, that’s almost $50 per month and $600 per year of savings.
- Create a budget and stick to it! YouTuber, Jordan Page FunCheaporFree has some great advice on creating a budgeting plan works.
Cutting costs, budgeting, meal planning, and living frugally are some great ways to make your finances work. It might not be easy, but if you are determined to be a stay-at-home mom, you can make it work!
Are there ways I can still contribute financially as a stay-at-home mom?
Of course! Lots of stay-at-home moms still contribute to family finances.
The Last Things You Need to Know About Being a Semi-Crunchy Stay at Home Mom
All any of us can do is keep our eyes on the end goal: raising a healthy, happy, successful human(s). There will be good days and bad days – it’s all part of life. There are no actual perfect stay-at-home moms, those are only on Instgram photos and TV shows. But there are great moms. And if you are here reading this, you obviously love your kids and are doing your best. That’s really all that that matters.
What do you guys think, was this helpful? Are you a stay-at-home mom or thinking about becoming a stay-at-home mom? I would love to hear what you think! Feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments below – even just to say hi.