From Boardroom to Baby by Kristin M. Helms (Book Excerpt)

Reprinted with permission from Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, FROM BOARDOOM TO BABY: A Roadmap for Career Women Transitioning to Stay-at-Home Moms by Kristin M. Helms.


Chapter 5

Molding the Mundanity and Chaos into Lessons, Love, Life

“Be careful honey, this is really hot,” my voice teetered on-edge and it was only 8:15 a.m. My 2-year-old daughter clung to my side like a monkey, insisting on helping scramble the eggs while my 10-month-old son tried to climb up my leg with his sharp little nails digging into my calves, a painful reminder that I needed to cut those little dinosaur claws. All I wanted was five minutes and two free hands so I could put breakfast on the table.

“Bye guys, have a good day,” my husband said as he kissed us and headed out the door to work.

After struggling to get my son in his high chair, my daughter in her booster seat, and breakfast in front of them, my phone dinged with a new text message. It was from my husband, a photo he had taken of us on his way out the door—during our egg-scrambling fiasco and what I had mentally chalked up as a chaotic morning scene. But studying the photo, all I saw was love. The stress of the moment was somehow swallowed by the obvious love—my daughter clinging to my left hip with her head resting on my shoulder and my son who can’t go two minutes without touching Mama as he reached up for me—it was all love.

In that moment, studying the photo, I realized: This is what motherhood is. It’s taking the chaos and molding it into love, finding the balance between trying to get things done and trying to savor the little moments. And it’s hard and it’s messy, but it’s fueled by love. And my tank is full.


Acknowledging the hard stuff

Mamas, here’s the real, stripped-down, strikingly honest truth: This season of life is tough. Being a stay-at-home mom is tough. I was caught off-guard on just how difficult it was to take on a role that demanded my complete attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“I am more exhausted on a daily basis than I ever was as a working mom.”

—Michelle Nelson.

Let’s acknowledge all the hardships of being a stay-at-home mom and get these words off our chests and out into the open: Mundane, sacrificial, hard work, selfless, chaotic, boring, lackluster, patience-testing, limit-pushing, physically taxing, tiring, overwhelming, lonely. Feel free to add additional words—anything negative you might be feeling about your new role.


“I never expected the degree of stress and responsibility I’d experience being a stay-at-home mom. One will not stress or worry over a typo or incorrectly prepared report the way they will worry about their child choking on food, falling off the couch, making sure their child is learning what they are supposed to know for their particular age bracket. Taking care of a person is far more taxing than taking care of paperwork, needs of management, and disgruntled clients.” —Marisa Svalstedt

Just reading these words is therapeutic. (I know writing them down felt really good for me, too!) As stay-at-home moms we instinctually feel guilty when we’re not happy or enjoying every second with our children at home. Maybe it’s because we feel like we don’t deserve to have this role if we’re not enjoying it 100 percent of the time. That’s just absurd. We are human, and these adversities, par for the stay-at-home mom course, are not for the faint of heart. These are incredibly trying realities we’re faced with daily. It’s important to acknowledge them so we don’t expect a rose-colored life full of only good moments, at home raising children. And most importantly, let’s acknowledge them here and now so we don’t feel guilty when they pop up through the course of our journey as stay-at-home moms.


“The feelings of loneliness, unrealistic expectations, and overwhelming guilt is what surprised me most about being a stay-at-home mom. I expected never-ending play dates, endless amounts of personal creativity, and an immaculate home. Basically, the perfect life with the Facebook page to prove it and copious amounts of energy to do it all.”

—Rachel Rainforth

Now that we’ve acknowledged and brought forth our biggest hardships we’re faced with in our new role, let’s focus on what tools we have to combat these obstacles and unveil a more fulfilling life as a stay-at-home mom.


Uncovering the good stuff

As I write this book, my kiddos are 1 and 3 years old. Most of our days are chaos. I referee fights, kiss boo-boos, prepare meals and snacks that mostly go uneaten or are later swept up from the floor, and I count to three in my head over and over, grasping for patience though it all. I try to teach lessons along the way, explain how things work, answer questions, and reward empathy. I’m thoughtfully surviving—reminding myself to take steps back from the daily grit so I can look at the big picture and make sure I’m not screwing it all up. I know I’ll look back on the photos I take and the words I write, and I’ll miss this chaos. I’ll miss this all-consuming season of motherhood. But today, I’ll focus on allowing myself grace—acknowledging the magic of it all, accepting the imperfections, and soaking in the love.


KRISTIN M. HELMS is the author of FROM BOARDOOM TO BABY: A Roadmap for Career Women Transitioning to Stay-at-Home Moms (Career Press an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, January 2018) She is founder and editor-in-chief of Tribe Magazine, an online publication that reaches moms from all over the world and explores the heart and soul of motherhood. She has been published on parenting sites including Literary Mama, Big City Moms, Pregnant Chicken, and HuffPost. When her daughter was born in 2013, Helms traded her power suits and office for yoga pants and life on the home front. She lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and two spirited toddlers.