1. Thou shalt choose it.
We do not live in 'a woman's place is in the home'-ville anymore, thank goodness, and there are about a billion factors that come into play when a person decides to stay home with their kids. Think about them carefully. Money, time, family support, stress and sanity.... just to name a few. You're choosing a path in life, and as with any path, choose carefully.
2. Thou shalt value it.
If you or your partner see staying home with the kids as wasteful of either time or money, then it will not work. Period. Being home with the kids is not an extended vacation (unless, of course, your money tree in your backyard pays for your au pair...). If you-- especially you-- don't see your time at home as valuable, then welcome to Resentful Parenthood.
3. Thou shalt shower every day.
For people reading this who see me every day, this might come as a shock-- I do shower every day. (Notice I did not say put on makeup every day, or brush your hair every day.) This, I think is where working parents must get annoyed with the stay-at-home ones-- 'Gee, showering is on your list of things to do? I have to do that AND get to work every day.' Yup, I hear that. But I think when a parent stays home there is a temptation to just let certain things slide... particularly morning things, things for 'you'. Not showering (i.e. not taking care of your basic needs) starts messing with your head quickly, and in a big way.
4. Thou shalt take care of your health.
I'm a big fan of yoga, (as I've said a gajillion times), mentally, physically, and spiritually. But as much as I believe that if everyone practiced yoga once a week that the world would be less full of a-holes, I know that yoga isn't for everyone. That's fine. All I'm saying is that if you don't make your own physical activity a routine, prepare yourself for a one-way ticket to Cooky-town.
5. Thou shalt not see your partner as your boss.
Umm, obviously, right? But I'm not talking about in a bossing-you-around kind of way. In a career, your boss 'owns' helping you along your career path. They provide you with praise and compensation (COMPENSATION!) They are paid to make you see and understand your worth. That's a tall order to put on your partner. Sure, they should make you feel appreciated. But what I've found is that stay-at-home parenthood means you are essentially your own boss-- responsible for your own path and happiness along it.
6. Thou shalt nix the negativity.
I've found there to be two types of stay-at-home parent-- the positive kind and the negative kind. (Actually, this goes with all people, am I right?) But when you stay home, make play dates and get to know other parents, you'll see that their energy is going to feed right into yours. And your kids'. Don't hang out with parents who are downers.
7. Thou shalt take your personal development seriously.
This one I am the most passionate about. Maintain your certifications. Read books and blogs about your career (the one you put on hold, or the one you hope to have one day). Keep updated on the news and things happening outside the bubble of your home. Obviously, this is good for you. But it's also good for your kids to see you valuing your career and future, too.
8. Thou shalt not gauge your success on Pinterest or mommyblogs.
Don't get me wrong-- I love Pinterest. I use it often to find a rainy-day activity for quiet time. But keep in mind that blogs are just snippets of people's lives, the snippets they want you to see. Don't compare yourself to the happy mom and kid making their own play-doh in their kitchen (and PS, making your own play doh sucks, if you ask me.)
9. Thou shalt ask for help.
I used to be terrible at this. I figured that since I was staying home, it was my job to keep the family running, 24x7, no matter what. Severe sleep deprivation, an ever-traveling husband, and a super-scary pregnancy made me realize that when I need help, I have to ask. And guess what? People will help. Accept help, and pay it forward.
10. Thou shalt be you first.
I had a conversation awhile back when a friend told me that she had lost her identity since becoming a stay at home mom. She said it with a laugh, like it was funny. IT WAS NOT FUNNY. Being a parent doesn't mean sacrificing your identity or your dreams. But more than that, a woman in her thirties leads by example-- your kids need to see you prioritizing yourself and doing the things that matter to you. So they will, too.
(Ah, the glamorous life I lead.)
I won't lie-- I miss my career all the time. I miss having people come to me for help, I miss having adults to talk to about curriculum, and I definitely miss the security 'my own' paycheck provided. That said, I will never regret staying home with my kids. That's life, isn't it? A woman in her thirties chooses her place in it, and chooses happy.