This is not a “mommy war” post. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you should know that I don’t play that game. Working, stay at home, work at home, or any combination, I think a woman has the right to choose whatever path is best for her family, and NOT feel guilty about it. Being a mom is tough, yet wonderful, and each path has its own set of challenges and joys.
This post is directed towards the stay at home moms like me who are with their kids pretty much 24/7. Even though we adore our children, at times being a stay at home mom can make even the most grounded person a little batty. I’m not going to say that it’s easy, but I am going to share with you how after almost six years of staying home with my kids, I have finally found a groove. Took me long enough, huh? I have finally arrived to the place where I feel like I am a sane and really ENJOYING this parenting thing.
Sure, not every day, but most days. I haven’t always felt that way though. My first born was very high needs and super clingy. She cried a LOT and did not want me out of her sight. I felt smothered and it sent me into a bit of a depression where I felt like every single bit of energy had been sucked out of me by the cutest little 6lb blonde haired baby girl.
I find that if I do these seven things, I am sane and enjoy being a mom. These things help me to be a better mother and able to do my duties as best as I can. I’m still no super mom, but relying on God’s grace to carry me through day to day.
1. Regularly do something fun JUST FOR YOU!
The title of Mom is awesome! It’s my greatest role that I have had thus far in life, but it’s not all that there is to me. I have other interests, passions, and things I like to do outside of my job as a mother. I think it is so important to find an outlet that is just plain fun! Currently I am taking a contemporary dance class that is way more advanced than my skill level, but I LOVE IT! I come home every week exhausted yet energized. It’s like my energy bank has been filled up a bit more and I find myself more patient, more even keeled, and enjoying my children more. Maybe you love the gym, knitting, sewing, eating dinner with friends, a cooking class, pottery, painting, biking, swimming…the possibilities are endless. When I am able to use my brain and body in a creative way outside of my home, I find myself more productive and pleasant in the home. Sometimes you have to pour a little into yourself before you are able to give more of yourself. A tank can’t run on empty.
2. Get out of the house.
Being at home all of the time can be monotonous, boring, and smothering. Especially when you have itty bitty ones in the house or a crazy toddler, it can feel overwhelming leaving the house, but I almost always feel better when I get out and socialize with other people. Go visit a friend or family member. Go to the park. Visit a bookstore or library. Do a fun outing with your kids. Go to the pet store and oooh and aaah over the animals. Anything to change your scenery and give you a new perspective.
3. Simplify your schedule.
Now I just said how important it is to get out of the house, but you can easily let that pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction and cause yourself to be over-scheduled and over-extended. Your kids don’t have to be involved in a million activities. You don’t have to be on ten committees, volunteering in several areas, or going to a million events with your kids every day. Busy doesn’t always equal better. Sometimes some things have to be dropped so you can just breathe and stop and smell the roses. If you’re so busy that you feel stressed, maybe it’s time to simply. We do a little something every day outside of the house, but other than that, we are home with a very relaxed and open schedule. I don’t do well with monotony, but I also don’t do well when I don’t allow time for rest.
4. Get dressed every single day.
Although it’s tempting for me to stay in my pajamas all day long, it can often make me feel frumpy and like a big old loser if I don’t actually get dressed. If I treat my job at home like an actual job and get dressed, I am more productive and feel like I am being purposeful. Plus if someone drops by or if the mailman delivers a package, you won’t feel embarrassed. Not that that has happened to me before. 🙂
5. Let go of the ideal.
Ideally, I’d have children who got along all day, a spotless house, a delicious home cooked meal, all of my blogging work done, time to play with my children, and plenty of time to relax so I am energized when my husband comes home. Realistically though, this just doesn’t happen for me in a day. It’s time to let go of the idea of the perfect house and perfect mom. When we set up unrealistic expectations for ourselves, we end up thinking something is wrong with us when we don’t get it all done. Some days I get a lot of cleaning done while my kids play well with each other. Some days the cleaning goes to the wayside while I spend time playing with my kids or working on the blog. I can’t do it all, all of the time and that’s ok.
6. Communicate your feelings and needs with your husband.
This has been so huge for me. Not long ago, my husband and I had a long discussion on what each of us needed from one another. We took a test that helped us find our love languages. With that knowledge we are able to love each other better and understand one another. Of course we will never fully understand each other, but with an open dialogue, we are making steps towards each other. When I communicated to my husband that I felt like I was never enough for my family and the demands they put on me was too much, he was able to see in a different light how I felt. He was shocked that I felt that way because he didn’t realize how much staying at home was draining me emotionally. I just wanted to be by myself when he got home from work, and he was feeling a bit rejected because I didn’t have time for him. Truthfully, I just felt like I didn’t have anymore of myself to give. All of my energy was spent on my mom duties throughout the day. Since we have communicated, he now gives me alone time to recharge my batteries, and I try to make it a point to really connect with him when the kiddos are in bed. We try to have a mini-date for a couple of hours in the evening. Connecting with my husband and honoring our marriage, helps me to be a better mom.
If people are giving you advice, it’s not because they think you’re doing a bad job, it’s because they want to help you. Don’t be defensive if someone tells you how they use to do something. I use to be like this when people tried to help because I thought I was doing everything perfectly. But then I realsied that they have more experience than me so they know what I can do to improve and help my child. My friend use to be a Cultural Care Au Pair which means that she has dealt with children a lot more than me, she gave me advice and told me how to do things better. Her advice helped a lot.
7. Don’t make your kids your idol and stay grounded in God’s word.
I’ve already written on the topic of family as an idol, and truthfully it’s still something that I struggle with. When my priorities in life are skewed, my mental health takes a dive every single time. Worshiping my family is draining and leaves me bitter. Giving my first fruits to God and worshiping him alone leaves me feeling rested, joyful, and energized. It is so difficult to find solitude to spend alone time reading God’s word and reflecting, but it’s so important. It’s my life line. My ladies Bible study that I attend weekly is one of the highlights of my week. Fellowship with other women, digging into God’s word together, praying for one another, and carrying each other’s burdens. It’s truly a sweet time.
Those are my best tips that I have learned over the last almost six years as a stay at home mother. Sure there are still some days when I feel like a loon and question my ability to do this parenting thing, but for the most part, if I keep these things in mind, I am much happier and am more apt to actually have FUN with my kids throughout the day.
What would you add? Those of you who stay at home with your kids, how do you stay sane? What keeps you grounded?