Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Reflecting on becoming a Stay at Home Mom. Part One
It has been hard.
Other times its has been easy.
It has been a wonderful blessing.
The day that we decided that I was going to become a stay at home mom was a mix of emotions. I was happy to not be going back to my job as a child protective social worker. I did not like my job in the least bit and it had gotten to the point where I felt very stuck in my career. The money was decent so it was as if the agency had "golden handcuffs" on me as some have called it. Although the money was good the stress level was increasing and it had gotten to a point where it was impacting my everyday life. I had not been sleeping well or eating right. Sunday night consisted of dreading having to go to the office the next day. It was just not for me, not anymore. Then I gave birth to my little one and when our very trusted day care provider (my mother) could not care for little mama my angst increased by a zillion.
So, we decided, together, that staying home to raise our little one was the best choice for us.
It has not been a choice that I have regretted. NOT EVEN ONCE.
There are many changes that have taken place over the last year. Some I expected. Some I did not. As I sit here and write this post, I think it best to break it down into several posts over the next few weeks. Today the focus with be on the number one change...money.
Money: It is obvious that one of the big changes that comes with becoming a SAHM is the loss of an income. That was pretty obvious. It was hard, yes, but it was more of a mental adjustment. I had to reprogram what my priorities were.
I thought I was frugal as I shopped at Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe with only the occasional ModCloth splurge. What I didn't realize was that in my old life, I barely wore an outfit twice. I mean, who the hell did I think I was, Jennifer Lopez. My life focused a lot around what I was wearing that when I now look back at different moments in my life I can recall, with ease, what I was wearing and not some much on what was "going on". It's sad really. The mentality that I had with clothes was pretty much how I felt about lots of things in my life. I had dozens of body spritzes, lotions, make up and don't even get me started on my scrapbooking supplies!
So, change. I had to change. It was hard at first, but over time, it become really easy. Now a days if there is a party coming up I don't spend weeks thinking about what I will wear. Instead I just put something together that I already have. I still look just as good as I did in my old life, just without all the stress. And with my scrapbooking supplies, I use all of my stuff. I no longer hoard anything.
I bargain shop for my little mama clothes. Mostly I buy in the clearance section for the following year which saves a TON! We also have a friend who gives us her little ones' clothes. My husband doesn't like to buy himself any clothes so that is what he gets for Christmas. Again, I look for deals which around the holidays are the best.
Grocery shopping is done at the "cheaper" market and we buy in bulk when we can. I am also big on finding recipes to turn left overs into other fabulous meals via Pinterest. I also try to use up everything we have, and I mean every last bit before I grocery shop again. I find that it helps me to make new things and it also avoids things from expiring in your pantry.
We don't go out to eat as much anymore which is not as bad as I thought it would be. Most of the time we ate out when I was too stressed from work to cook. Now, when we do go its to just enjoy time together as a family. We look for deals when we do go and have used Groupons. We also take advantage of local restaurants weekly deals. For example, Buffalo Wild Wings has half price wings every Tuesday!
When it comes to going out during the day with my little mama, we head over to our local zoo which we purchased a year membership. We are able to get discounts at other zoos and also have free admission to some others. It's small, but is the perfect place for a picnic which she just loves. Our local library is another one of our favorite hot spots. They have free music groups and they also have free and discounted tickets to other area parks and museums. It is really a good resource.
Cutting out unnecessary expenses was another area that we focused on. For one week we jotted down everything we spent money on and we were shocked at how much money went to useless stuff or how much we overspent on things were could get for cheaper. For example, the dreaded cable bill. We noticed that were had the television on most of the time as background noise and when we did watch it, we typically watched local channels. I mean, occasionally I would indulge in a Lifetime movie or two, but not enough to spend $125 a month on. So we decided to cancel our cable. We got Netflix and Amazon Prime. We ordered a Roku which is an little device that houses all of our TV apps for easy access. Honestly, I have not once regretted getting rid of cable. My only regret was not doing it sooner.
We also brew our own coffee rather than stopping at the coffee shop and my husband bags his own lunch. You would be so surprised on how much money that saves!
I don't go for manicures and pedicures or even massages like I did before. I don't get my hair done as often.
What I didn't expect was the guilt I would feel when I have to tell a friend that I can't go out for food and drinks. I can go out for a drink or two, but not dinner too. I start to calculate how much it will all cost and after I run the numbers I just can't justify spending $50 on a few hours of being out. I do enjoy spending time and talking to my friends, I do, just not the price tag. Some friends have understood this and they don't make me feel guilty about it. I meet them usual after they have had dinner. It's great.
I have realized that having money did not make me any happier than I am now.
Now I am happy.
I am really happy.
"True happiness lies in things money can't buy" Sachidanand Das.