It's a question asked frequently, both vocally and internally, by any good military commander - from a platoon to a division to a major military command. The morale of the troops, especially when times are tough, can be the determining factor between success and failure.
My very first boss in the Army was a very loud and very out-spoken Colonel. He didn't always say the most politically correct things or emote the most empathetic tone, but his number one concern was always the well-being of his Soldiers and Civilians under his command. He taught me a lot of things, but one of the things I remember most was a conversation we had about morale. He put building and sustaining morale as one of his foundations of leadership. He believed that morale amongst the troops was more important in the long term than anything else. When morale is high, you can more easily face adversity and weather any storm. It means you believe in what you're doing and you believe in those around you.
I've been a stay-at-home Mom now for a little over a month. And since I will never fully leave my Army roots, I decided to do what any good leader would do and ask myself "how's morale?"
On a scale of one to ten, I'd say I'm at an eight. I still haven't quite figured out a schedule, and I have yet to brave the gym daycare for A so that I can get more than just a walk in during the day, but I am surprised at how easy of a transition it's been.
Let's be honest, not setting an alarm and wearing yoga pants and t-shirts all day is an easy +1 in the morale category.
I also knew that being with A all day would make me happy. What I didn't know was to what degree. I didn't realize how much I would love watching her learn and explore. I was worried that I wouldn't be a good enough teacher or that I wouldn't know how to provide the best learning environment possible. But with a little planning and a little common sense, plus a pep-talk from the pediatrician at A's last appointment, I realized that by just being involved in A's daily life, and not just plopping her in front of the TV all day, I am able to help her continue to grow.
When it came to finances, that was the issue I was most concerned about. What would a cut in family income do to our lifestyle? Surprisingly, it's changed for the better. When we had two incomes, we were very comfortable. We were fortunate to not have to ever think about money. We just bought what we needed and wanted without really thinking about it. Now, we have to think about it. I think about every penny that goes in and out of this house. (I'm a control freak anyway, so it's a natural transition.) We bought ourselves Quicken to better manage our money, enrolled in our bank's Bill Pay feature to have more control over our bills, and have begun relying more heavily on carrying cash, rather than the debit card. (Those damn $1.79 charges on the debit card always drove me crazy.) My husband and I also make it a point to have a money-date every few weeks; a night when we put A to bed, turn off the tv, and sit at the computer and take a look at the bank account and bills and make sure we are both on the same page. This was also something we weren't doing in the past, but has had tremendous results for both of us. I am more comfortable now with our financial outlook than I was with a second income.
I will be honest. I'm a little worried about how our schedule and routine will change in the winter months, when going for a daily walk or playing at the park is no longer an option. But like everything else, I guess we'll just adapt.
And for those of you thinking it; no, I'm not bored. (That's a whole other topic I plan to write about later.)
So, how's morale? Higher than it's been in a long time.