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Healthy Daily Diet For Pregnant Women

Healthy Daily Diet For Pregnant Women

If there’s one topic where everyone seems to have a different opinion, it’s around the subject of health. It can be very difficult to get a straight answer on what we should and shouldn’t eat. First, we hear about a study showing something is bad for us. The next day, another study comes back that it’s good for us. It can make it very hard to know truth from trumped up.

The stakes, and often the confusion, are even higher when you become pregnant. The one thing that all studies agree on is: what a woman eats when she’s pregnant is very important for both her health and her baby’s.

So, if you’re pregnant, and are wondering what should you eat or what you should avoid we’ve got you covered. Here are a few things that are universally important for all pregnant women to include in their daily diets.

Water

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    It may seem like common sense, but many people forget how important it is to include water in their diets. In a world that runs on sugary drinks, teas, and coffees we sometimes forget that water is a huge part of our make up. We need to replace it throughout the day to stay healthy.

    If you’re pregnant, getting eight full glasses of water per day is even more crucial for your health. Your body is doing a lot of changing and adapting to grow a new life. Make sure you stay hydrated with pure water.

    If you find pure water too boring, you can also add lemon, lime, fresh cucumber, or fruit into your water to give it an extra kick. Keep a 16-oz water bottle with you to remind yourself to keep drinking. Fill it up at least four times throughout the day.

    Fresh Fruits and Veggies

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      This should come as no surprise to anyone. All studies tell us that getting enough fresh, whole fruits and vegetables in our diet keeps us healthier. Pregnant women should strive to get at least five servings per day from this food-group. Try to get a rainbow of colors on your plate to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals possible.

      Orange Vegetables

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        Make sure to include one serving of an orange vegetable per day within the recommend five overall servings. Some good choices are carrots, squash, or sweet potatoes. The orange color indicates the presence of beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in your body.

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        While there are warnings about consuming too much Vitamin A during pregnancy, this is not a concern with beta-carotene. Your body will only convert what you need. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. It helps protect your body against free radicals and ensures your immune system is strong.

        To make sure that you get enough orange veggies, keep a bag of carrots next to you to snack on. You can also cook squash or sweet potatoes in your oven and eat them as a healthy side dish.

        Dark Green Vegetables

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          Out of the five overall fruit and veggie servings, you need to eat at least two servings of dark leafy vegetables per day during your pregnancy. When it comes to greens, the darker the color the better. Some nutritionally dense veggies portraying the darker green color are kale, spinach, collards, and turnip greens. These power foods contain calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, folic acid, magnesium, and again beta-carotene — the superstar phytochemical that is vital to your baby’s skin, bones, eyes, and cell growth.

          Try to eat these leafy green veggies both raw and cooked. You can throw all of your greens into a fresh salad and add extra color – or nutrients – by throwing in a rainbow of bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and cranberries. You can also sauté these greens lightly for a hearty side dish. Kale also can be dried in the oven to make yummy kale chips – which is a healthier alternative to potato chips.

          Citrus Fruit

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            Make sure to include citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit in your diet. While these fruits provide many important nutrients, the most important one is Vitamin C. This vitamin helps with the immunity of both mom and baby.

            Try to eat at least one serving of citrus fruit per day. You can start your day with a grapefruit or peel an orange as a midday snack. Try to choose the fruit over the juice, as the added fiber will help slow the absorption rate of the fruit sugars into the blood stream and avoid a sugar spike. Gestational diabetes also occurs in about 18% of all pregnancies. For these ladies, it’s crucial to keep their blood sugar stable. The extra fiber found in the fruit also helps with digestion.

            Whole Grains

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              Most dietitians also recommend six servings of enriched whole grains and cereals per day. Make sure you eat whole grains, not refined grains. The nutritional difference is night and day!

              Some good whole grains to work into your diet are oats, whole wheat, barley, quinoa, and rice. These foods contain B vitamins (like B1, B2, folic acid, and niacin), which are necessary for just about every part of your growing baby’s body. They are also packed with iron, selenium, and magnesium. Grains supply energy for your baby’s development. They also contain nutrients that help build the placenta.

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              Most grains also have plenty of fiber. Fiber is your new best friend when you’re pregnant. It helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, which can become more common during pregnancy.

              Grains are fairly easy to add into your diet. You can eat a cup of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with fruit. You can add whole-grain pasta to your dinner, or even have a couple slices of whole-grain bread to surround a healthy sandwich full of fresh veggies and avocado for some healthy fats.

              Dairy

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                Many doctors also recommend that pregnant women get at least three servings of dairy products to provide calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and protein. Your baby needs these nutrients to develop teeth, bones, muscles, nerves, and a healthy heart. They also help your baby’s blood clot.

                Some healthy choices to include in your diet are cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and some grass-fed butter spread on those yummy veggies.

                Protein

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                  Protein is a vital building block for both your body and your baby. Not getting enough protein can contribute to low birth weight. You should aim to get three servings of healthy protein per day.

                  Some great choices are lean meats, eggs, low mercury fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In addition to protein, fish provides an important Omega 3 fatty acid – DHA. This is crucial for the brain development of your little one.

                  You can eat lean meats in sandwiches or as your main dinner course, along with fish. Eggs can be hard-boiled for easy access later and used in salads or as a quick snack. Legumes are also a great choice in salads and sides. You can eat nuts and seeds as a snack, or enjoy fresh nut butters on whole wheat bread.

                  Supplements

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                    While it’s always best to get your vitamins and minerals naturally in your food, this doesn’t always happen. It’s a good idea to supplement your diet with critical prenatal vitamins such as omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, iron, iodine, calcium, and vitamin D.

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                    What Foods Should Pregnant Women Avoid?

                    The foods that women should avoid when pregnant are often foods anyone else should also avoid to remain healthy. The stakes are just raised a bit higher when a baby’s development is tied to the mother’s dietary choices.

                    Junk Foods

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                      In general, highly processed junk foods should be avoided. If you can’t identify half of the ingredients on the nutrition label, it’s probably best to leave it alone. You and your baby don’t need all the excess salt, preservatives, and additives. However, just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t be a fast food. You don’t need that drive-through! After all, it’s just as easy and fast to grab an apple instead of an order of fries.

                      Sugar

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                        You should also watch your intake of sugar, as well as avoid soft drinks and other sweets during pregnancy. Too much sugar in your diet not only puts you at risk for insulin issues and gestational diabetes, it can also cause your immune system to weaken. Sugar actually inhibits phagocytosis, which is the immune system’s response to eliminating germs in the body that can make you sick.

                        Under-cooked Meat

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                          Now is not the time to have a rare steak or a slice of sushi. The bacteria that can sometimes be found in under-cooked meat can cause contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.

                          Even though they are cooked, it is also best to avoid deli meats. They can be contaminated with listeria, which can cause a miscarriage. If you must eat any hot dogs or packaged meats, you should cook them until they are steaming to kill the bacteria.

                          Fish High in Mercury

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                            Unfortunately, our oceans have become polluted. When larger fish ingest smaller fish, this level of pollution becomes much more concentrated within their meat. The biggest concern is the level of mercury found in these fish.

                            The top offenders with higher mercury loads are swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tile-fish. Tuna may also be on this list depending on your source. The general rule of thumb is: the smaller the fish, the cleaner the meat.

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                            Unwashed Fruits and Veggies

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                              Make sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables to avoid pesticides. If possible, buy organic to avoid contaminates found on commercially-grown produce.

                              Avoid raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean. You can eat them, just cook them thoroughly first to avoid bacteria.

                              Limit Caffeine

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                                Caffeine has been shown to cross the placenta and affect your baby. Some studies suggest that caffeine may play a role in miscarriages; however, this risk is only seen after more than two cups of coffee per day. Many women avoid it all together to stay safe. However, if you just can’t function without that morning cup of coffee, you are probably okay as long as you limit it to 200 milligrams per day.

                                Avoid Alcohol

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                                  This point isn’t really up for much debate. No level of alcohol has been shown to be safe for your baby. Women who drink during pregnancy have higher risks of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even moderate drinking can impact your child’s brain development. Finally, too much alcohol during pregnancy results in fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause facial deformities, heart defects, and mental issues.

                                  Your Choices Matter

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                                    Being pregnant is a very special time in a woman’s life. However, it is also a time where her choices affect the life of another. One of the best ways to ensure that you have a healthy baby is to offer every chance possible to start out well in this life.

                                    In fact, scientists are now studying a mother’s diet during pregnancy and its affect on epigenetics. Recently, an entire new field of nutrigenomics has been created to study the effect of diet on gene expression. While it’s not within the scope of this article, scientists are discovering that the nutrients a baby receives while developing and in early infancy can alter their very DNA structure. This further shows the importance of diet in not only helping to prevent illness, but also in shaping a future life at the cellular level.

                                    With new studies coming out all the time, some things remain constant. Eating fresh, whole foods has worked for centuries. If we continue to eat food found in its natural form, unaltered for the convenience of shelf life, presentation, profitability, sales growth, or higher yield returns, our kids should turn out alright.

                                    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                                    Sarah Hansen

                                    A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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                                    Published on June 24, 2020

                                    How to Be a Successful And Happy Stay at Home Mom

                                    How to Be a Successful And Happy Stay at Home Mom

                                    I can’t think of a more rewarding job, nor a more challenging one than being a Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM)! There is no shortage of opinion, however, as to the pros and cons of going on active duty until your kid/s turns 18 and flies off to college.

                                    When you choose a career such as this, you’re in it for the long haul. But by the end of your journey, you’ll be decorated with every possible medal of honor. And may I say, indisputably deserved.

                                    Think about it: a SAHM is a queen. She has one of the most important jobs of all—managing the castle, all that it entails, and its inhabitants.

                                    For most of you, your home is your castle. It is where your most valuable possessions reside—your loved ones, your pets, your memories, and the special items you’ve collected over the years. It is where you feel comfortable, uninhibited, and free to be yourself. It is where you dine, sleep, and relax. It is everything!

                                    Being the queen of your castle is like being the president. What other position carries as much clout other than being the president?

                                    Taking care of that castle and its occupants is no easy task; it is a highly-ranked position that deserves every available merit.

                                    Yes, staying at home can be a big decision, especially if you have a career and have been used to praise, socialization, and a regular paycheck. You might even think that if you decide to stay home, it is a “step down,” a demotion of sorts. But nothing could be further from the truth.

                                    Why Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Is an Important Career

                                    Being a SAHM requires wearing a litany of hats. You’re a full-time babysitter, a Lyft driver without tips or 5-star ratings, a nurse, a chef, a behavioral therapist, and most importantly, a teacher.

                                    Teachable moments abound. You get to teach your children all the important things you want them to learn. Sure, there are no days off or summer vacations in store for decades, depending on the age of your little one/s, but imagine what amazing human beings you are helping to create!

                                    Being stellar SAHMs are big shoes to fill. Not just anyone is up to the task; not everyone has the patience or the stamina it requires. Think triathlon here, but more—much more.

                                    To put it simply, being a SAHM is one of the most important careers in the world. Let’s take a look at why this is so.

                                    1. Your Child Is Always With Someone Who Loves Them

                                    When your children are home with you, they are loved 24/7. They are happy and comforted.

                                    In a daycare facility, the most important person in your life will be with someone who is just doing their job. They’re there for the paycheck, not because they love your child.

                                    As you know, there are good and bad employees. You won’t necessarily know if your child is with a great employee or with one who is half paying attention to one of the most highly-treasured people in your life.

                                    2. You Don’t Have to Deal With Office Stress and Deadlines

                                    Working outside of your castle generally demands that you be present wherever it is you work—a hospital, a warehouse, a car dealership, an office, etc.,—when they want you to be there.

                                    There are petty fights, nasty gossip, stressful projects, bad bosses, jealous co-workers, etc. You might often find yourself looking at the clock and waiting for the weekend.

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                                    If you’re a SAHM, you make the rules! That alone should cause you great joy.

                                    3. You Get to Witness Each of Your Child’s Milestones Firsthand

                                    Think about how many milestones working moms miss. As a SAHM, you get to be there. You get to take those pictures, those videos, and see your little one grow up—in person, not via Nanny Cam! And if you’re children are middle-school-age and older, you get to keep an eye on them when they get home from school.

                                    In an article in the American Journal of Nursing Science, it states that:[1]

                                    “Economic and social pressures are forcing more parents into the workplace at a time when children appear to most need adult guidance and supervision. These children, in turn, face a growing number of problems such as physical and sexual abuse, crime and delinquency, depression and suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, emotional and behavioral problems, learning difficulties, school attendance problems, domestic violence, pregnancy, abortion, and venereal disease.

                                    Many “latchkey” children experience stressful and even dangerous situations without ready access to adult guidance and support. It is estimated that as many as 10 million children care for themselves before or after school. Many latchkey kids begin their self-care responsibilities at about 8 years of age.”

                                    4. Your Child Gets to Grow Up in Their Castle With a Queen Who Loves Them

                                    When you’re home with your child, you provide love and comfort. That makes for a happy child and eventually, a happy adult. True, some adults were raised with their queen and don’t fare well, but in those rare cases, there are other factors involved, too numerous to list here.

                                    In general, children do better when they know they are loved and cared for. And for children, the presence that would create stability and warm-fuzzy feelings is Mom!

                                    5. Your Child Will Grow Up Feeling Happy, Safe, and Secure

                                    Personally, I grew up with a SAHM. My mom was always around. We knew we could count on her for anything. She’d keep the house clean, cook great meals, and take us swimming in the summers.

                                    I have very happy memories. I always felt secure and loved. And when my dad would get home after work, the family was complete. Fun times! If you are a good, caring mom, the best gift you can give your children is YOU!

                                    Creating happy children is one of the biggest successes you can experience.

                                    6. Your Child’s School Performance Will Improve

                                    Research shows that there are excellent benefits to children staying at home, such as an increase in school performance. Those benefits extend way beyond the early years of that child’s life.

                                    Did you know that homeschoolers generally score 15 to 30% points above public school students on a standardized test?

                                    In the article, Does Being a Stay at Home Home Benefit Your Kids?, it states:[2]

                                    “A British study in the ‘Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health’ reported that children of stay-at home-mothers are more likely to participate in organized sports than those whose mothers worked, possibly because their mothers had more time to take them to sports practices.

                                    Other studies have found that children of stay-at-home moms were exposed to fewer germs and suffered from fewer illnesses. In addition, stay-at-home moms can have more time to prepare healthier foods and they rely less on convenience foods, partially for financial reasons.”

                                    It’s Normal to Feel Iffy at First

                                    Even after having read the six above-mentioned amazing reasons to stay at home, you might still feel iffy about it. Not because you don’t love your children but because you feel you will lose yourself—your identity.

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                                    It’s understandable to feel that way. Shifting your perspective is key here. Staying at home doesn’t have to go hand-in-hand with losing your identity. You simply add to it; it’s another layer, another facet of who you are.

                                    In the beginning, you may need to make some adjustments, but isn’t life, in general, an adjustment? Things are happening every day that oblige us to change course and go with the flow.

                                    How to Be a Successful Stay-at-Home Mom

                                    If you decide, that yes, you are going to stay home with your child but aren’t sure how to navigate the new waters without completely losing yourself, allow me to offer you some ideas that will make your experience an exceptionally happy one.

                                    By following through with the suggestions below, you will feel successful, happy, and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.

                                    Here are some tips on how to be a successful stay-at-home mom:

                                    1. Wake Up Early!

                                    Some SAHMs complain that they don’t have enough time for themselves. Valid point. Try getting up early, before the kids do.[3] This is the first thing that you should keep in mind if you want to be a successful stay-at-home mom.

                                    Being up before everyone else offers you alone time to get some personal things done. The house is quiet and peaceful—the perfect setting to do what you need to do. That could be taking an uninterrupted warm shower, reading passages from your favorite book, having a cup of coffee while streaming one of your favorite shows or movies, writing emails, etc.

                                    Waking up early offers you many opportunities to do what you need to do so that you don’t feel as though you’re missing out.

                                    2. Dress Up!

                                    No, I don’t mean dress up like you’re going out dancing, but you don’t have to be in your pajamas or sweats all day, either. How you dress makes a difference in your mood—on how you feel. So, dress casually but nicely.

                                    In an article by Corina, How to be a Stylish Stay at Home Mom Without Compromising Comfort, she writes, “You don’t need a ton of clothes! Stick with what fits you well and makes you feel pretty without much fuss.”[4]

                                    You can be at home and still dress to impress. You will feel so much better about yourself.

                                    3. Exercise and Have Fun With Your Kids!

                                    Taking care of your little ones doesn’t mean you give up on yourself. Take some time during the day to exercise. It will keep you strong, toned, and happy.

                                    Have the children join you, and make it amusing by playing some fun workout music. They’ll use up a lot of energy and enjoy the time with you simultaneously.

                                    Here’s an example of a mom who’s having a lot of fun with her kids as well as entertaining her audience. Watch Sophie Ellis-Bextor on YouTube.[5]

                                    What a fun thing to do with your kids!

                                    4. Schedule Weekly Outings!

                                    To add excitement to your week, plan a weekly outing to the zoo, the botanical gardens, the library, the park, etc.

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                                    Of course, at this point, the outings depend on personal safety and each state’s guidelines, so you’ll have to check on that. But bike rides around the neighborhood and picnics will work just as well.

                                    If it’s too difficult to get out for whatever reason, there are many fun things you can do at home, pandemic or not. You can schedule a Stay At Home FUN DAY! Making a fun environment for your children is important in being a successful stay-at-home mom.

                                    In an article by Andrea Browne Taylor, 16 Free or Cheap Things to Do With Your Kids During the COVID-19 Pandemic, she lists many activities to do with your kids.[6] Even I want to do these!

                                    5. Establish a Break

                                    During the day, it’s important to set aside some time to do something quiet; perhaps set aside 20-30 minutes to read, color, etc.

                                    During this break, each person can do something they personally enjoy. Encourage your kids to get creative. Research shows that creative activities, such as art, are wonderful for children.

                                    In her article, Why Art and Creativity are Important, Paula Bernstein states,[7]

                                    “Fostering creativity won’t just increase your child’s chances of becoming the next Picasso. You’re also helping him develop mentally, socially, and emotionally, says Ecklund-Flores.”

                                    And for you, pick up that hobby you put on the back burner. Whether it is painting, crocheting, knitting, writing, whatever, use that time to get some creative YOU time in! You are going to feel so much happier and accomplished afterward.

                                    6. Make Your Castle a Beautiful Living Space!

                                    Decorate your home in a way that is soothing to you. Choose the colors, the decor, the furniture, the pictures, the artwork, the plants, etc. that make you feel at peace in your own castle.

                                    Play music that is both calming and energizing. Living in a space you love and find comforting makes all the difference in the world. If you create a happy environment, you’ll feel happier, and so will your children.

                                    For ways to make your home a happier place, check out Olivia Heath’s article, 8 ways to make your home a happier place.[8]

                                    7. Set Up a Routine!

                                    Most people respond well to a routine. For instance, from 8 – 9, breakfast and cartoons; from 9 – 12. chores and homework; from 12 – 1:00 p.m., lunch. After that, nap time, if appropriate, or personal time.

                                    The routine, of course, will be based on the age of your children and your own personal views. According to a Skilled at Life article:

                                    Setting up a routine “creates structure in our lives. a daily routine provides structure and a logical sequence in our lives. It provides the framework within which we live our lives and conduct our daily activities. Soon we become familiar and comfortable with what we have to do each day. It allows us to experience a flow to our day.”((Skilled at Life: 18 Reasons Why a Daily Routine Is So Important))

                                    As a SAHM, you’ll benefit from the routine and take comfort in knowing what to expect. This is the time for you to incorporate anything into your daily routine that makes you feel relaxed, happy, and stress-free.

                                    8. Meet Up With Other SAHMs

                                    Meeting up with other SAHMs will provide you with support. Additionally, the kids get to socialize with other children and you with other like-minded moms.

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                                    Not working outside the home sometimes can feel isolating, so talking to other adults is a nice treat. Below, I included a link to help you find just the group for you! Check it out.

                                    9. Hire a Babysitter!

                                    Sometimes you might like to go out with friends, get pampered at a spa, or what-have-you. A babysitter or a trusted family member can help with that.

                                    These little breaks can be the fuel you need to keep going. It’s like getting a mini-vacation. It’s revitalizing. Once you get home from your spa treatment or the movie you saw with your friends, you will have renewed energy. You can now refocus on your castle tasks. And remember, a happy mom, makes for a happy child!

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    As a SAHM, you might make the mistake of thinking that if you don’t bring home a paycheck, you’re not valuable or helping with the household expenses. You’re actually helping more than you think.

                                    You don’t need a paycheck to add value to who you are. You are already one of the most valued members of society. You’re watching over human lives—your children—making sure they are safe, healthy, and happy. And as far as expenses go, you will be saving on daycare costs and transportation expenses.

                                    If after reading all these amazing things about being a SAHM, you’re still conflicted, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not for everyone.

                                    As I mentioned above, staying at home can be challenging. And in all honesty, it can have its drawbacks. That’s also why I provided you here some tips on how to be a successful stay-at-home mom.

                                    For example, being at home with your children all the time can make you feel a little depressed or bored. You might not feel like you’re being stimulated by life or adult-like situations. Maybe some of the hobbies you used to enjoy get neglected, or you might feel financially dependent on your husband.

                                    Furthermore, you might think you’ll lose all your abilities; the opportunity to utilize the educational training you received. Or maybe you miss the ritual of getting dressed, driving to work, and being around other people who are doing similar things. That’s all valid.

                                    Only you can make that decision. While you’re thinking about it, though, let me remind you that as a SAHM you will be missing some things. But you’ll be gaining so much more.

                                    Doing a presentation at work may get you kudos and accolades, but hearing the words, “I love you, mommy” is priceless. Watching your children grow up before your very eyes? Priceless. Making sure they’re safe and sound with you loving them all day? Priceless.

                                    There is no other job in the world with those kinds of benefits. As a SAHM, you are the heart and soul of your castle.

                                    Remember, too, that your children will grow up. You won’t have to wait until you’re 65 to retire. And although your job as Mom will never be done, you’ll be able to do many things that you didn’t get to do while on active duty.

                                    When you are “done,” you will have the satisfaction of having accomplished an amazing feat. You can feel proud because success like that isn’t easy to come by.

                                    The title of Stay-at-Home-Mom, despite what any group might say, is a powerful and inspiring one.

                                    Are you up to the challenge?

                                    Want to know more about being a successful stay-at-home mom and its benefits? Check these out:

                                    More Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms

                                    Featured photo credit: Alexander Dummer via unsplash.com

                                    Reference

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