It’s amazing how much a person’s life can change in a year. In the five+ years my husband and I have been married, each year has brought a new adventure: our first child, buying a home, new jobs, our second child, and this past year becoming a stay-at-home mom. It has been quite the ride!
Of course, each milestone comes with its own life lessons. Becoming a mom was a huge change in my life and came with quite the learning curve. However, the lessons of becoming a stay-at-home mom were in a league of their own. I am not an expert (by far), but this list is just some of the things I have learned along the way.
1. Try to Structure Your Day
I do better and feel like I have accomplished something when I have some sort of structure to my day. Similarly, kids do much better when there is structure to the day. Have a daily schedule that will help the kids know what to expect throughout the day – consistent chore times, free times, and screen times. And when there is a change to the structure or schedule, it is helpful to let your kids know ahead of time what the change is and why. In my home, we have a significantly lower number of tantrums when my kids know what to expect.
2. Do Your Chores – But Don’t Overdo It
Making sure that I keep up with the chores around the house helps me tremendously. When the house is a mess, I feel unsettled and stressed. When things are clean and organized, I feel more at peace with myself and my surroundings. I try to make sure I have some time each day to get some chores done – typically in the mornings. Getting my housework done in the morning helps set the tone for a productive day. My advice – don’t overdo it. Don’t spend more than 1-2 hours cleaning. Sure, clean up after meals and have the kids clean up toys when they’re done with them, but don’t spend so much time dedicated solely to cleaning that you miss out on doing anything else. And when you spend a little time each day cleaning, you probably won’t have to spend an entire day devoted to straightening up.
3. Find Something for You
There were times that the transition to staying home was hard for me. I felt like the “me” I knew was gone, and I didn’t really know who I was anymore. In a way, I had to re-define myself by finding something to do outside of caring for my kids. For some moms, this looks like crafting in some way. For others, it may be starting a home business or blog. Or, if you’re a multi-passionate like me, it might be several things. Whatever it is, find something that defines you outside of being “mom,” and you won’t lose yourself along the way.
4. Build Your Tribe
For the days when you need some sanity, it helps to have a mom tribe. Like-minded friends who are in a similar season of life can walk through this thing with you and give you advice or commiserate when needed. Doing things like playdates or going to the park together gets the kids time with their friends and gives the moms some adult time with someone who “gets it.” There are lots of ways to find your tribe – reach out to and connect with moms at your church or in your Facebook groups for starters. Other ways to connect with moms are through your child’s school, extracurriculars, MOPS, or simply striking up a conversation at the park. Additionally, some friends of mine have a text group in which we will text the group when we are headed to a park or library, and those who want to join will meet up together. It’s a great low-pressure way to set up play dates.
5. Make Time for Self-Care
This one is simple, yet important. Similar to finding an outlet, we all need to make time for self care. Keep those hair appointments on the schedule or get that pedicure once in a while. Go out shopping by yourself or meet up with a friend for coffee – without kids. It’s important to take care of yourself! Figure out what helps you feel human again and make time to do it.
6. Let it All Go
Probably the most important of all is to let it all go. All the rules, schedules, cleaning, and all of the ideas of how the day is supposed to go. Remember that things almost never go according to plan when you have kids. So when they don’t, it’s best to just go with the flow. Allow yourself those days of hanging out in pajamas and watching movies together or forgetting the chores and playing together instead. On our rough days when we aren’t feeling well, we cuddle together on the couch with a movie. If the kids are feeling particularly restless we head out for a walk or go to the park. It’s actually pretty rare when my days go exactly how I plan, so the best plan is to make one and then give yourself grace when it doesn’t work out.
What are some lessons you’ve learned as a mom? Share with us in the comments below!