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Almost nine years ago, I began a new career as a stay-at-home mom.  Within six months I was ready to hang up my spit-up laden apron and fuzzy slippers to return to the office.  Then I found out that baby number two was on the way and so I resigned myself to one of the most difficult and rewarding professions on earth.  Through the wisdom and support of other moms in my life, I learned to embrace and enjoy motherhood.

They reminded me that the season of toddlers was short and to cherish those times.  They taught me endurance with little sleep, how to clean strained carrots out of white carpeting, and to ask for help when I was overwhelmed.  They cheered me on when we brought our youngest son home from China and we were again sleep-deprived for six months, with three children born within three years.

My husband was also a sanity-saver during this time at home.  He recognized my need to use my talents outside the home and to engage in adult conversation.  He was willing to come home a little early from work and stay with the children so I could volunteer on our local nursery school board.  He spent Saturdays giving bottles, changing diapers, and chasing toddlers so I could help with the local art festival.  He made sacrifices for the Kingdom so my God-given gifts could be put to work.

We were preparing for me to return to work, part time, this fall with our youngest heading to school. We discovered that working outside the home again requires a lot more sacrifice and creativity than it had in the past.  Childcare needs to be worked out.  Dinner has to be planned ahead to make it to my son’s soccer practice in time.  Laundry and shopping have to be taken care of on different days. My work must be finished in a shorter work day to pick up the children from school on time.

Once again, I find myself relying on my wise friends and supportive husband.  I am exchanging child care with a friend so we both can spend a day working outside the home.  The first day of our exchange, however, one of my children woke up with a fever.  My husband was willing and able to work half a day at the office and then work from home in the afternoon so I could work.  Many friends have offered to be back-up sitters, help run children to activities, and offer advice on juggling these new responsibilities. My family has been satisfied with sandwiches instead of a hot meal, pitched in with laundry, even helped make lunches the night before.

Some of the lessons we have learned:

  • The support and encouragement of my husband is crucial.
  • Preparing for my work day the night before by making lunches, laying out clothes, putting school bags by the kids’ shoes, and having dinner prepped helps the next day go smoother.
  • There are many ways we can support and help others: babysitting, helping run errands, offering encouragement.
  • My friends and I have agreed not to keep track of how often we are swapping childcare, who is feeding more kids, who has to drive the furthest to exchange children—it’s all done for Him, not for ourselves.
  • Recognition that this change may be difficult, but it is a short season of life.
  • My time as a stay-at-home mom was not wasted!  In my volunteering I discovered that I really enjoy planning events and have the gift of hospitality.  I am now planning special events and meetings.