After the half hour it took to get shoes tied, sweaters on and seat belts buckled; the kids waited patiently in their seats as I carefully measured the back of our car to see if my future purchase would fit. I was being brave today in taking the kids to IKEA. I had saved some of my gifted Christmas money and finally made my mind up on some affordable but beautiful rattan chairs. These days I don’t make decisions like this lightly because we do not have a lot of disposable income and I wanted to be sure that was the best use for this gift. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at the gigantic store and found a spot relatively quickly. I loaded the kids into our cart and we were on our way. I made it through the store in record time and found the chairs. I awkwardly set them in the shopping cart and the kids helped push beside me.
I was so proud of myself that this grand adventure was going splendid; there were no meltdowns, no big lines and no foreseen problems. Of course my total was more than I was hoping but I had a smile on my face because a good shopping trip to IKEA is worth the long drive and a few extra dollars. As we rolled up to the car, I popped the trunk and lifted the enormous chairs into my car. Hmm… No luck on the first try. They were not fitting like I had measured. I suppose that it was because I had not accounted for the multitude of protective wrap or for the obvious fact that there were TWO chairs and I had foolishly only measured for one. Panic ensued. It is a silly thing to panic about furniture and of course it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but I knew that it would be problematic leaving without the chairs.
The kids continued to wait patiently (a miracle in itself) and I pretended to be calm as I fumbled with these two pieces of furniture. I kept telling my oldest that this was just like his favorite cartoon, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – and that when you are working on something tricky you just keep trying a little bit at a time or come back to it later. Inside I was realizing that I didn’t have that kind of time and what kind of lesson was this – it wasn’t fitting?!?! Forty minutes later car seats were shifted, back seats pushed down and windows were bulging open; but I made those chairs fit!!! Thankfully my lesson was valid and I was getting everyone home without a second trip back. This story has been very much the story of my journey to become a stay at home mom.
After the fact and many hours later, I’m sitting here with an iPad in hand, a copy of my new favorite book, a cheesy romance movie on and two toddlers who are struggling to keep their bedtime. This is what life looks like right now and I treasure it.
In addition to the description above, I used to teach full time while having my own babies. It quickly became obvious that my heart longed to be a mama who stayed home. I believe mamas should do what makes them happy whether that be working or staying at home. I sincerely feel there is no right or wrong choice and my heart has lead me to the latter. In order to make that happen we needed to get creative with our finances and our situation. I quit my job as a teacher (I now sell Silpada jewelry to help supplement) and we made some big lifestyle changes as a family. For example: we cut our grocery bill in half and now spend less than 500 dollars a month for a family of 4 by meal planning and shopping one time every four weeks.
Changing our lifestyle has not meant that we needed to stop doing what we love or that we have any less than before. In many ways we have more! Instead of shopping for everything new, we mostly shop the house, thrift and recycle. Living this way has taught me patience, gratitude and perseverance. I have learned that taking scary leaps can bring the very best things in life. I knew this was where I should be. I felt God’s calling to do it and He has provided. There have been struggles along the way and it hasn’t been perfect. Very much like my chair story, it has taken some shifting and some panicking but it has worked out. We are managing with no regrets. I only hope that I can share the things I am learning along the way with you. I am not pretending that there is a cookie cutter way to making things work the same for everyone and every family. I do believe that we can encourage one another to follow our passions and our hearts; not only on how to budget, DIY, and meal plan - but to love yourself and do what you love.