From work to home or home to work: Speaking up about the transition process

{This post is part of the Moms Who Work series.}
When having a baby, every mom is faced with decision time. How much maternity leave should I take? Should I become a stay-at-home mom? Should I continue working? Maybe I should try to work from home? I wonder how many hours I can handle? How will we meet our budget? Can I afford to do what I prefer? How will my husband respond? What will my friends/family/colleagues think? Will I go crazy at work while my kids are in day care? Or at home while my friends all work? How will I cope?
So. Many. Questions.
So much to consider.
For me, the answer included a combination of staying home, working from home, and working at the office. But largely I’ve become a SAHM (even though I do continue my work part-time). And when people ask, I normally just tell them I’m a SAHM because that’s easier than trying to explain how it all works.
As a child I never would have thought I’d become a SAHM. My mom worked (and enjoyed it) and I always thought other kids’ moms who stayed home were kind-of weird and old-fashioned. (Not that my mom or anyone else taught me that. It’s just that I was a child during the 1980’s when powerful women were considered the women who were working in corporate America.)
And besides, I was going to be a rock star/broadway wonder/pediatrician/attorney/politician depending on what age you asked me.
What in the world would I do at home all day? Cook and clean?
No thank you.
But as I got older… and older… and was still single, my desires started to change. I wanted nothing more than to get married, get pregnant, and be at home raising babies.
At 30 I got married (to an amazing man, so worth the wait). And at 32 I had my first child. For me, getting to stay home with my baby was something I had looked forward to for a long time… So, the decision to stay home came easily.
But I do continue to work, which I find good for keeping me connected to life outside my home’s four walls. (And besides I really care about my work and have a passion for it.) I’m blessed because my work allows me to continue on a very flexible schedule where I can set much of the pace. I realize not all women have this luxury, but I’m thankful that I do.
And even though staying home with my baby was highly anticipated, I still had to go through a transition process of learning what it means to spend the majority of my time with a little person who can’t yet hold a conversation, and have my days filled with things that I had no idea could possibly eat up so much time. I used to add up the hours spent breast feeding alone and about die thinking of all the other things I could be doing. (Don’t even get me started talking about the laundry. Ugh.)
I’m no cooking or cleaning fanatic (and a very far stretch from being a domestic goddess), so just learning how to stay on top of life with a baby has been a steep learning curve – the absolute hardest part of the transition process. I imagine nearly all new moms go through that whether they are working at home or working away from home.
Overall, however, the transition has been a fairly smooth one for me. I attribute that to the longing that had built up within my heart for so many years… along with a healthy dose of God’s grace!
Of course every woman experiences the transition differently. And that’s why I’ve asked you to weigh in on the matter.
Here’s what some of you had to say…
On transitioning from work to home:
Walkers said…
I’m a stay at home mom. And I just wanted to share a little about the difficult transition I had. I suffered big time with post partum [depression], I really wanted nothing to do with my sweet baby. I thought I was majorly crazy. But as the time went on, I got over my post partum [depression], but there are days that I still just want to break down. It’s definitely not easy being a stay at home mom. I think it’s the most rewarding job, but at the same time it’s emotionally draining. I think sometimes we forget to stop, and take time for ourselves. We’re just constantly trying to take care of our child, which can be really hard at times. Another thing that is still really difficult about being a stay at home mom is juggling the time with your husband as well. I know that sometimes I can really neglect him, but its really hard to have a child hanging on you all day, and meet their every need, and than at the end of the day, try to give some of your time to your husband. I know that me personally, by the end of the day, I don’t want anyone touching me, I just want a break from being needed. So it’s definitely been a super hard transition that I’m still working on, and will constantly need to work on.
A Little R&R said…
I am a work-at-home mom. [The decision to work at home] was non-optional with me. Since I have to work it must be at home. The transition was not difficult for me – I began working at home when I was 7 or 8 months pregnant. 
Mandy said…
I am a stay at home mom that works part time doing photography. It wasn’t a hard decision to stay home, but it was definitely foreign. Growing up, I never thought I’d be a stay at home mom. I really thought I’d be out in the work force. But it’s the best decision I ever made. Granted, I am a photographer part time, but I consider it more of a hobby than a profession. And being a Mom is definitely harder work. 🙂 The transition has been smoother than I thought it would be.
cooperl788 said…
I’m a stay-at-home mom. This decision was something my husband and I went back and forth about for a long time. As far as leaving my teaching career, it wasn’t difficult. But living without that (small amount) of money was something that was difficult for us to try to reconcile. The transition to staying home wasn’t too hard, but going from 0 to 1 kid was really hard! It was like going from 0 to 100 in one minute. One minute I was my own person, and the next I was living for someone else. That slowly got better, and I learned to fit myself into the schedule, but the first months were really difficult.
Baby Boberg & Parents said…
I am a stay-at-home-mom. My mom stayed at home with me until I was school age and I loved having that special time with her and I knew I would do that with my children as well. I was a nanny for the past five years before my baby was born. If anything the transition was from a hard job to a bit easier because of caring for one child instead of two or three.
HRH Mommy said…
I work as an Adjunct Professor at a local college and took 5-6 months off after Ryder was born. The plan was that I was going back to work in June to teach the summer semester. In April hubby and I talked and we decided that I would stay home to be a mom. It was exactly what I wanted. David would take on the responsibility of making $$. Then work dried up (he’s self-employed) and a few days after rejecting the job offer for the summer we regretted the decision. Things are incredibly slow at the moment, so I am returning to work in the Fall. I’d prefer to stay home, but it’s only 2 hours/day of teaching, so it’s not that bad. And no, the transition wasn’t difficult. I LOVED it. With my pregnancy with Ryder, I stopped working 6 weeks before my EDD. This was the end of the Fall semester. It gave me 6 weeks to solely focus on Kai. 6 weeks of one-on-one time, time with my only son, before I would have 2 boys. They were 6 weeks in which Kai and I grew so much closer. It was perfect. Then, when Ryder was born, the transition went smoothly. It was perfect.
On transitioning from home back to work:
Kristen T. said…
I’m a working mom — full-time. I never wanted to stay at home. It drives me crazy. I’m a better mom by working. The transition to motherhood was difficult! The transition back to work — not so much.
Maryline said…
I am a working mom, went back to work when my son was eight weeks old. Broke my heart, but so glad I did! “What makes mommy happy and balanced is GOOD for baby!” is my philosophy. It was a hard decision emotionally, but I had always known I was going to return to work. It worked out great because until now I was able to work from home two days a week, and because we have a nanny at home, I get to see my little guy more! The transition went okay, but the first week, I wanted to quit 🙂 I hear this is pretty common!
Chef Eureka said…
I am a working mom. I work full-time in a hospital in a supervisory role. I have always needed to work. When I was married we needed both incomes to keep us going. Now that I’m divorced (and also widowed) I have no choice but to work, us single moms need to put food on the table. I’ve been working since I was 15 years old. It’s all I’ve known really. I was placed on bedrest with my second pregnancy and had to spend a few months at home with my toddler. I thought I was going to go insane. I didn’t think I had the gusto to be a stay at home mom.
Laura Elliott said…
I work part-time (four days per week) and I’m just about to start studying again, yikes! Initially I felt guilty because I tried to be a SAHM but I really missed working. It took me a while to get re-established at work and into a routine. Now it’s just second nature though I’m inevitably exhausted by Friday! But who isn’t?
Transitioning to working from home (or a combination scenario):
KDC Events said…
I work 3 days a week out of my home and 4 days a week in my home. It was a hard decision financially, but it was more important for me to be with the kids. Yes, [the transition was hard] but only getting used to less money in the checkbook.
Nya’s mom said…
I am a wahm and work-in-the-office mom. I work at home three days out of the week and in the office for two. [The decision] was very difficult. I talk about it a lot on my blog, but to sum things, my mom was a sahm, and even though I had imagined myself being a “career mom” (whatever that meant), when I had Nya, my whole perspective changed. I no longer wanted to work or contribute to anyone else’s bottom line as that which used to inspire me to do so, or my “American dream,” I realized, was only a facade. While unpaid and without any tangible accolades to name, as a stay at home mom, I enjoyed spending my days at home with Nya as her mommy and “being there” for every moment of her childhood. I ended up deciding to go back to work after much debate because in addition to being Nya’s mom, I realized that I also enjoyed my work, and with my current schedule, I assumed that I could have the “best of both worlds.” The transition wasn’t too difficult because of my schedule. As I said previously, I work from home three days out of the week and am in the office for two days out of the week. Adding a full time job, however, onto being a wife and mom, even with this flexible schedule, is still something that I find a bit challenging. Some days are better than others in this respect, but I am learning as I go along. 
For further reading in this series:

Dear mommy-friends, if there’s one common theme I’m hearing come though in many of these responses, it’s the guilt associated with our decision-making! Some feel guilty for wanting to work away from home. Others feel guilty for not bringing in any income. And yet others feel guilty for feeling overwhelmed by the mere responsibility of being a hard-working mom… in whatever capacity they’ve chosen. How was your transition from work to home or home to work? Did you struggle with guilt? Do you still? What advice would you give a new mom for her transition?

learning as I go,
About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • alicia
    12 September 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Great post. I think that as younger versions of ourselves we don't always have all the answers. Life's experiences often shift our direction, our paths if you will. We just have to figure out what we want and what will work for us. I worked full time up until I gave birth to my first. Had every intention of going back until a near death experience made me reevaluate my priorities. Sure our budget was tight for awhile, but we adjusted. And the decision changed my life.

    Btw, I found you thru SITS and so glad I stopped by. You have a great blog here.

  • A House and Home
    12 September 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I'm loving this series! I would love to participate…Being a new mom with an old career, I definitely have a take. Thanks for hosting the series.

  • cooperl788
    12 September 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I feel so special that you used my comment 🙂 Really, this series has been so great. I love reading about all the different ways that moms contribute to their families, whether monetarily or in other ways. This blog is such a great forum for moms to connect and communicate!

  • Work at Home
    13 September 2010 at 1:44 am

    I agree with you that if you prefer staying at home, it is really a big question on where to get your budget. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  • Laura Elliott
    13 September 2010 at 8:15 am

    Thanks Adriel – what a great series. I've really enjoyed all the different perspectives.

    Must say I have just got back from holidays and after a week of being with my daughter 24/7 I couldn't wait to get back to work and equally my daughter skipped into childcare with a huge smile. I realised then that I am happy with my choices, I enjoy being a working mum. Your series has helped me to realise there is no right and wrong, it's a very personal decision and it's fantastic to say that I am very happy with how it has all turned out for me.

  • Cameron
    20 September 2010 at 1:24 am

    I am happy to hear that I wasn't the only one who had a hard time transitioning from working to being home (for a while). Before I had Isis, I was thinking "oh I'll get so much done when I'm staying home!" But that didn't happen. I mean I got things done, but not nearly as efficiently or nicely as I thought. I found that just getting the little things done in any capacity was worth it.

    The guilt has kinda come & gone for me. Since being at student teaching now for about 3 weeks, it's actually started to come back. I felt great about everything & then I read this stupid article in Time Magazine (which wasn't actually stupid, but was just stupid because of how it affected me) but it was talking about how girls that don't bond with their moms very well can start puberty earlier. Then I started getting worried that I wasn't bonding with Isis since starting student teaching. I think there will always be something that is making us feel guilty & we have to just remember that there is a reason that we stay home or we don't & being a loving, attentive parent doesn't change depending on whether you are working or not. You can be loving & attentive in both situations.


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