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From money to managing your own needs: All the things I've learned as a stay at home mum.

There’s something about the conversation around being a stay at home mum or returning to work after kids that seems to incite a lot of judgement and opinion.

To tell you the truth, it took me a while to get past caring what other people thought of my choice to stay at home and raise my children. But the great news is I did – and I still don’t care what they think.

It wasn’t a decision that came lightly. The weight of my own worries along with the judgment of others almost crushed me in the early days, but I am way past that point now that my youngest is in year two.

Watch: Things mums never say. Ever. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

The difference with my situation now, though, is that I am also a work-from-home mum. And like many other women who spend a certain amount of time at home, the solitude gets you thinking.

Mostly, you’re thinking stuff that revolves around your kids. But there comes a time when you start thinking about you and you alone. Where you think about who you are at the core and what really sets your heart on fire.

I am not only grateful for the valuable time spent with my three children, I’m also thankful that the long periods of isolation forced me to go within and return to my other true love, writing.

How many women who stay at home to raise their kids end up starting their own businesses, becoming their own happy boss and mumpreneur? Or change careers because they realise they hated what they were doing before children? Or commence creative ventures they’d always dreamed of, like photography or painting?

I bear no grudge towards women who return to work for the love of their career or out of necessity. It is a choice that each mother or parent has the right to make, and I hope that everyone makes the choice that suits them and their family best.

One of the most important factors when it comes to staying at home is whether it’s an affordable option, because let’s face it, the financial strain of having children is one of the greatest challenges for the average family – and the more children you have, the bigger the burden.

Listen: The lie working mothers tell. Post continues below.

From baby goods, nappies, prams, car seats and clothing right through to school-related expenses, more clothing and activities – and don’t get me started on the huge cost of childcare.

In my case, we calculated that I would earn approximately $20 per week after childcare and general expenses if I went back to work following my first child. So from a financial perspective the decision was a no-brainer for us.

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If being a stay at home mum is a choice you’re considering, here are a few tips and musings that may help along the way.

My first tip is aim to have ample savings. My husband and I are self-employed and we don’t have the advantage of a set wage to manage, so learning to save our pennies has been a must.

Always have enough put aside for emergencies, because things happen and sometimes more often than we anticipate!

I also wholly believe in the saying that ‘the more you earn, the more you spend’. The more you care about keeping up with Jones’, the more it’s likely to cost. In my experience, relinquishing some non-essentials may be of great benefit.

It’s those little cost-saving things, too, that make all the difference. Like creating ‘takeaway’ meals at home – my kids tell everyone their favourite take-away is Lidija’s Kitchen.

Or going on regular weekend day-trips as opposed to long, expensive holidays – no matter where you live there are wonderful places to visit within driving distance.

And if you have more than one child, ask them to choose only one outside school activity per term – this also helps them pick things that really interest them.

I’m all for mums or dads staying at home to raise their kids for whatever period of time suits them because it worked for me and my family. But I would have returned to work should I have wanted or needed to.

Rather than judgement and opinions, which always do more harm than good, the only thing mums should be offering each other is support, ideas and advice.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Lidija Zmisa is a mum of three girls, wife and freelance writer. She has just finished writing her first book for middle grade readers. You can follow her on Instagram @lidijazmisa

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