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How Being a SAHM Can Help You Find Yourself

I often hear moms talk about how they're losing their sense of self when they stay at home full-time. Your whole life gets scheduled around the baby's sleep schedules, feeding patterns, and then as they grow older, you become the chauffeur, personal assistant and short order cook.

But there's another side to being a stay-at-home mom. Being free of the obligations that control many of our life decisions (i.e., a job) can free us up to find our true selves. I admit, I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted when I was a single professional or even a young married person.

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In my pre-kid days, I tried to please everyone else, do what was expected of me, not rock the boat. There's nothing like having children to make you realize you can't make everyone happy, so you might as well be true to yourself.

When my kids were little, I raised them full-time. We had just moved to our neighborhood, and without an office to go to, I had no social network and had to start from scratch. It was like hitting the reset button on life.

Here are four ways being a SAHM can help you find your true self—like it did for me.

What you do with your precious free moments speaks volumes about what's most important to you.

1. You can hang around people you want to be with—and forget the rest

Like many new moms, I joined a local playgroup. And a breastfeeding support group. And a church moms' group. And a plethora of Gymboree classes and other Mommy and Me activities. I hit it off with some of the people right away. Others, I thought it might take some time to find some common ground. After a while, I realized that I had no obligations to anybody! There was no reason I had to hang around judgmental or boring people—or women I had nothing in common with except that we had babies the same age. Even if I had paid the registration fee, I realized there is no amount of money you can pay to get wasted days of your life back.

2. You can wear what you want to wear

When I was starting out in the career world, I had the idea that as a 20-something -year-old who looked like a high schooler, I had to experiment with short haircuts and grown up clothes to be taken seriously. But as a stay-at-home mom, I gravitated to jeans and long hair (prenatal vitamins for the win!). One day, a friend commented on my hair that was now cascading down my midback, "How long are you going to keep your hair like that?" Well, let's just say, long hair don't care. Because 10 years later, I'm still sporting the same 'do and plan to go the Maxine Hong Kingston route and keep the length even when I go gray.

3. You can eat what you want to eat

This is not a license to gorge or cookie dough tubes and leftover chicken strips. Quite the opposite. There is no opportunity like being a stay-at-home mom to control what you and your kids put in your mouths. There's no arguing with a babysitter over how many goldfish constitute an appropriate snack, and no office cupcakes or limited cafeteria choices to thwart your diet. You don't have to go all Gwyneth Paltrow with the kale and black beans, but you can choose what you bring into your house (within your grocery budget) and put on your plate.

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4. You can do what you love to do in your free time—and yes, there will be free time … some day

Just like when you were a child, unscheduled days will lead you to fill them with activities that speak to your passions. I hear so many SAHMs who say their old jobs were not fulfilling and that they have no idea what they want to do when their kids get older. Well, what you do with your precious free moments speaks volumes about what's most important to you. Is it fitness? Reading a good book? Volunteering or changing the world? Look for ways to parlay that into paid work, whether it's training to be a yoga instructor or going on staff with a non-profit.

Image via Grace Hwang Lynch

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