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10 SAHM Lessons That Will Stay With You Forever

You know how people always say that staying at home means losing a lot of valuable skills in the workplace? That you will lose touch and become obsolete? That you'll end up interviewing for a job someday and recoil in horror when it appears that the people hiring you are younger than your children?

Well, I’m calling the bluff. Because I happen to believe that the things you learn as a stay-at-home mom, those lessons that are invaluable to surviving as the sole adult in a sea of small children, are ones that will stay with you long after the kids are gone.

RELATED: 6 Surprising Truths About Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

1. Find the beauty in small moments

Sometimes I wonder if I would appreciate life at all had I never been a mother. Would free time ever feel as refreshing as it does now? Would I ever appreciate the gift of tucking healthy children into bed at night? Would I ever find complete fulfillment in simply watching the snow fall had I never seen it through a child’s eyes? I don’t know for sure, but I will say that for the rest of my life, I know I will appreciate the beauty in the simple things in life, thanks to my children and the gift of motherhood.

2. Take a timeout

When things are breaking down ... taking some kind of breather can entirely change my perspective.

A wise furry friend once said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” and that sentiment is so, so true. I practice the discipline of timeouts daily in my home—but not usually for my kids. When things are breaking down and I’m losing my patience, taking some kind of breather, whether that be stepping out of a meeting to gather my thoughts or locking myself in the bathroom for two minutes, can entirely change my perspective.

3. Treat yourself cheaply

Stay-at-home moms are the queens of cheap indulgences, because 1) we don’t always have a lot of time and 2) we’re always looking for a good deal. I can feel refreshed and rejuvenated with simple, everyday things that most people take for granted. A cup of coffee that stays hot? I’ve hit the jackpot, baby. An hour to read a book just for fun? What is this, a tropical vacation?

4. Learn to laugh

Laughter really is the best medicine, whether that means learning to laugh in the midst of trying to potty train a stubborn toddler or someday caring for aging parents. The hard moments in life are always graced by a well-timed dose of humor, but learning to laugh in those moments is an art form perfected by practice. And let's be real, staying at home with kids will give you a whole lot of opportunities to practice.

5. Stop the judgment

Want a crash course in how inadequate you really are? Have a baby. Honestly, if I had any thought that I knew anything about how to be a good parent, it flew out the window the second I actually had a baby. While we all want to feel good about our own parenting choices, I can truthfully say that parenting has taught me to be a whole lot less judgmental. When I know that I am just trying to survive the day, I can feel empathy for other mothers who are making hard choices about breastfeeding, vaccinations, allergies, working or sleep training. Sisterhood, my friends.

6. Quality time wins every time

Being a good mom doesn’t mean spending every minute with my kids.

Even though I’m a stay-at-home mom, there are still a million and one things to do on a daily basis, and I’ve finally learned that being a good mom doesn’t mean spending every minute with my kids. Good parenting can come down to quality time and that’s a lesson that spills over to every part of life, too. Time spent time engaged with another person vs. locked on a phone or distracted by a screen is so much better.

7. Kindness matters

Stay-at-home moms tend to think of themselves as solo warriors in a war to survive, but we are true softies at heart who will melt at the slightest act of kindness thrown our way. Hold the door for me? Swoon. Tell me how well-behaved my kids are? Bless your heart. A little bit of kindness can go a long way into making a huge difference in someone else’s day.

8. Self-care is No. 1

Staying at home means learning, sometimes the hard way, that self-care has to come first or everyone suffers. I’ve definitely learned this the hard way. It isn't until year seven in my motherhood career that I’m really putting this one into practice, but it’s so, so true. Even once the children are gone and I’m tempted to fill my free time with a million other jobs and activities, I will have the strength to say “no” to everyone else and “yes” to myself.

9. No (wo)man is an island

I’m about as introverted as they come (the fact that I’m a writer probably fooled you, huh?) and I love nothing more than staying home with a good book and a cup of coffee. But holy crap, has being a stay-at-home opened my eyes to how much I need people. Even the most introverted among us will wither up and die without social interaction, so making it a priority—even when it’s hard and inconvenient—is a non-negotiable part of life.

RELATED: 6 Things I Need to Be a Happier Mom

10. Life is lived in the efforts

Staying at home is an experience like taking a giant mirror and the world’s harshest fluorescent light and shining them both directly onto all of your deepest, darkest flaws, insecurities and shortcomings. I used to think I was a pretty competent, generally patient and overall kind human being—and then I stayed home with four kids aged 6 and under and realized that I am a horrible, horrible person. I will cry over spilled milk, I will lose my shit over nothing, and I will lie, cheat, steal and otherwise commit atrocities in an effort simply to survive. But luckily for me, I’ve also learned that tomorrow is always another day, and even though I will fall and fall again, living a life striving for the good is the very best kind of life to live.

Image via j&j brusie photography

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