"I remember when I used to be smart." This is the thought that went through my head daily when I first decided to stay home. I used to have a job where I would give a command and rooms full of people would do just as I said without question. Now, I'm trying to get my toddler off the floor of the library and he won't listen to me. I'm the same person right?
When I first decided to stay home, I was ecstatic. I loved doing all the things I couldn't do as working mom. I loved having lunch with my kids. We had wonderful conversations. The kind that never happen at breakfast or dinner because they're tired. I would have moments of pure joy thinking, "these are the things I missed out on at work."
Soon though, something happened. I still had moments of joy, but on my 50th (or so) episode of Jake and the Neverland pirates, I found myself thinking, "I used to be smart."
Of course, I immediately jumped into action to solve the problem.
Just kidding. I did what most women do. I worried, felt guilty, and wondered if I was having a crisis of faith. After months of being in a funk, my loving husband began asking questions like, "When was the last time you got together with your friends? Have you been outside this week?" (It was winter and I'm pretty sure I hadn't.)
Something that took me a long time to figure out is I was the same person. I was a competent professional with professional skills. I just had to find a way to use them in my new role.
Here are a couple of things you can do to use your skills.
If you were a teacher, teach
Lead a small group, Sunday school class, or start a book club. Volunteer at your kids’ school to read with kids or be a media center helper. Find a way to educate people about something you’re passionate about like crafts, oils, or health and fitness. If you are a teacher, people need your teaching skills and you need to use the gift God gave you.
If you were a boss, lead something
Volunteer to be a committee leader for the PTO, speak at a women’s conference, organize a church event, be a team leader in an organization you care about. If you don’t find a creative way to use this skill, you may just end up bossing everyone in your house around and that will just annoy them.
If you were an administrator, organize something.
Again, the PTO can use you pretty much in any capacity. Help organize meals for families at church going through a difficult time. Streamline communications for your kid’s little league team or dance studio.
“Unorganized” organizations tend to fail and there are some you care about that are in desperate need of your skills. It’s as simple as asking around. Someone will be glad to have you help them.
Protect your time.
Chances are you decided to stay home to spend more time with your kids. Don’t simply trade your full-time job in for a full-time volunteer position.
Watch for leeches.
These are people who say things like, “You’re staying home now? Can I put you down as my backup babysitter?” “Wow! You must have so much time. We need a new PTO president.” This is similar to protecting your time, but in this case it’s a person trying to take advantage of you. It's ok to help your friends out. But watch for leeches. You'll know them when you see them because they only come around when they need something.
Don’t just say yes.
Think about what you want to do. Take your time to decide. Ask if you can try a position for a week or so before committing to it. This will give you an out if you find it’s not for you.
But do something.
If you’re not the type to say yes too quickly, you might be too slow to act. If you’re “deciding” what to do for 6 months, it’s probably time to do something. Don’t allow indecision to turn into inaction. Bite the bullet and try something. The role you never thought you’d like may be the perfect one.
God has given you great gifts. Your greatest gifts are the people living in your home. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to love them full-time. He’s also given you other gifts like leadership, shepherding, a heart to serve. You will feel a lot more like yourself when you use those gifts.