Motherhood is the toughest job you’ll ever have, and like any new job, it takes some practice to get it down (let’s not get started on the shitty pay and almost non-existent recognition). Back in the day, parents, aunts, cousins, and siblings lived close by and were able to help guide us new mothers and help take care of the kiddos. From helping to soothe colicky babies to teaching youngsters how to ride a bike, our family was the “village” helping us to raise our children.
Nestled in a valley near the Sonoma Coast of California, over 2100 miles away from Chicago, is where my loud, obnoxious, crazy, loving “village” resides. Can I say this situation sucks majorly? But, it’s my fault. I’m the oddball in the family who chose to move to the Midwest (that’s a novel in its self). Though my husband has a small awesome family, most of them are peppered throughout the suburbs 30-45 minutes away, living busy lives—with children who are practically grown.
My current village is more like a circus—a one-woman circus. Not the famed bearded lady at the circus. Although, I do have that one stubborn chin hair that WILL NOT GO AWAY. I’m more like the woman trying to juggle 20 balls in the air without knocking herself out, in front of everyone.
While your kids should be your utmost priority, if you push your needs aside–like eating or catching some z’s–it’s easy to get isolated, burned out, even depressed.
Here are 10 things stay at home moms should do to stay sane and happy—and to help prevent those 20 balls from crashing down on your head.
Caffeine is every mom’s BFF. But, water should be the runner-up, the BF. If you don’t drink enough water, your body aches, your skin looks icky, and then you just all-around feel like crap. So, drink water, a whole lotta coffee, then if it was a hellish toddler tantrum in the Target aisle kind of afternoon, end the day with an overflowing glass of red wine.
Girl, Wash Your Body
Yes, girl, wash your face, but you really need to wash that body! Do not give up on yourself. Do what you gotta do to take that daily shower. It makes a world of difference to cleanse the prunes, poos, spit-ups, and juices of a day gone by. I shower every day, I HAVE TO. I will put my little one in the walker in the bathroom, her swing, whatever it is that will contain her so mom can feel a little more refreshed and ready to take on the world, and another swipe of sweet potato across the face.
You must get out of the house every day. You need fresh air, people time (even if it’s a one sentence exchange with a mom at the park), and ahem, exercise. Some days will be more difficult than others to pull yourself, the 50 lb. diaper bag, and stroller out the door. You may feel anxious because:
- You are still loathing your postpartum body and having difficulties clothing it beyond stretch pants.
- Your child is a fussy mess.
- Your hormones are haywire, your skin is a wreck, and you don’t have the energy to put on any make-up.
- You hate the outdoors.
Whatever your excuse is, throw it out with the dirty diaper! Time spent outdoors has been proven to lift your spirits and it can help keep that smile on your face. It is likely the fresh air will help that cranky baby too, even if it is just a 15-minute walk around the block.
Make Time for Yourself
Don’t let your kid become your identity. They are an extension of you, but not YOU. Make time for yourself and continue to enjoy your favorite hobbies (unless it’s partying every night and popping Molly) or use this time at home to explore your passions. My biggest passion has always been writing. Writing a book is in the number 1 slot on my bucket list, so naturally, when my husband and I discovered that it was better financially for me to stay at home, my mind immediately went to writing my book. When Violet sleeps, I work on this blog, try to brainstorm for my book, or read a chapter from one of the many books I have yet to finish since she was born.
What are your favorite hobbies? What are you passionate about? You could be an art-loving scrapbooker and want to create amazing scrapbooks of each child (the Dollar Tree has amazing scrapbook stickers BTW) or you could take free online courses to learn that language you always wanted to master. Maybe, you don’t have the energy to think about all this right now. If that’s the case, just slap on a face mask then, and escape to the bathroom. Just make time for yourself.
Build Your Mom Tribe
Join play-groups, baby classes, local extracurricular activities, or any other type of outside group that will allow you to have a conversation beyond, “no, sweetie don’t touch that” or “go poop in the potty, remember, not your pants.” We know it isn’t easy taking care of kids all day. Being around other women who can relate to you and your woes can truly make a world of difference. If you need tips on how to build your mom tribe, read here.
Ignore the Haters
People who think you sleep in, sit at home relaxing and watching Orange is the New Black all day obviously have no idea what they are talking about.
“You’re so lucky you can stay home with your kid all day!”
“You’re lucky you get to be a Stepford wife!”
If I had a quarter for every time a working mom told me that, my husband could retire.
First, staying at home isn’t about “luck” as it is planning and budgeting; Second, some days I felt like I’d made a shitty decision leaving my thriving career, especially after just putting myself through grad school.
But, then I look down at my happy little girl and am so happy I can see all her firsts instead of paying a stranger to witness them. I can also lend a shoulder to my 13-year-old stepson, Chris, as he goes through the transition of life (aww, he already has a girlfriend), and attend his soccer games.
You must do what works best for your family. However, once you start ignoring the naysayers and haters, you’ll feel a lot better.
Get Over the Mess
Piles of toys scattered on the living room floor, a pair of soccer socks thrown in front of the couch instead of the laundry bucket, handprints on the sliding glass doors, piles of paperwork on the kitchen island (looking at you, husband). You must learn to let go of your OCD tendencies. I used to stress every pile of clutter in sight and literally couldn’t sit down until everything was in order. With kids, you must throw out all the fucks you give about cleaning. Embrace your messy, sticky, lovely life.
Don’t Take Yourself Seriously
Sing it, Elsa!
“Let it go, let it go!
Can’t hold it back anymore.
Let it go, let it go!”
Laugh out loud, literally. Don’t just sprinkle the emoji around. Laugh it off. When the tantrums are in full swing, your face is covered in peas that your little one flung at you and things just keep piling up and making you feel like you’re going to lose your shit, take a deep breath, count to ten, try to think of a calm place like shimmery blue waves rolling in and out, and let it go. Remember, they will only be young once and it goesbysofast. You got this, Mama.
Go on Dates with Your Partner
At the end of the day, you’re both tired. But, you got to make time for one another and maintain that spark that brought you together in the first place. Hire a babysitter, ask the neighborhood Grandma, or if you’re lucky to have family close by, ask for help! Get fancified, do your make-up, or whatever makes you feel like your old self again. Bring out that push-up bra, girl, and work it! Have a fun night and fall in love all over again. Just remember, don’t be a giggly school girl when you get home and wake up the kiddies!
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
My Dad taught me about the old, “keep it simple stupid” (KISS) principle when I was a high-school brat. This is an old Navy design rule that states “systems perform best when they have simple designs rather than complex ones.”
Basically, try not to go crazy being the Pinterest-perfect mom shaping your baby food into the Mona Lisa, planning over the top birthdays with petting zoos and skywriting, and registering your baby for every class under the sun, like Baby DJ school and Farting Etiquette. Besides driving yourself insane, perfectionism and overbooking your calendar will leave you and your child grumpy and downright tired. Kids are most happy with the simple stuff: mom snuggles, toilet paper rolls, and wrapping paper.
How do you stay sane and happy at home?