To outsiders, the stay-at-home-mom gig seems like a dream. Those that are unfamiliar assume that staying at home means that you have limitless time to spend with your precious littles and that every day is filled with sunshine and rainbows.
However, mom’s on the front-line know that the expectation doesn’t always match reality. It doesn’t matter if you stay home, there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. It is easy to become overwhelmed, isolated, burnt out, and lost in a sea of never-ending homemaking and child-rearing activities.
Being a stay at home mom adds a new level of stress and expectation to the family dynamic. Anyone who is newly transitioning to this lifestyle or who is currently struggling with it should not take it lightly. Structure is the best way to manage the newfound freedom (or restriction) of being a stay at home mom.
It is way too easy to stay in your pajamas all day. While the occasional lazy day can feel great, this ultra-casual approach to the day can rob you of your productivity and contribute to depression. A morning routine can be whatever works for you, but it should be a set of familiar activities that signify the beginning of the day and should occur at the same time each morning.
Your routine will vary quite a bit depending on the age of your children and if you will all wake at the same time or at different times. Typical morning routine activities include things like drinking a cup of coffee or tea, making the beds, showering, or doing a quick workout.
One of the slightly depressing truths about being a stay at home parent is that the only alone time you may get happens at 5 AM. Even if you were not a morning person before kids, there is a chance that you have embraced it now. No one wants to wake up to immediate stress and chaos so get yourself up and moving well before the little people start to stir.
Spend fifteen minutes checking emails or paying bills in the quiet before you have to give up all of your attention and cannot fully focus on these tasks. Get your calm on for the day by spending a few minutes meditating or doing a bit of yoga. Your mood at the start of the day sets the tone for how everything else will go. Be intentional in making it a calm and peaceful mood.
Without exception, make sure to enforce a quiet time for a set period every single day. You will need the peace as much your little ones need to unplug from stimulation. If your kids are very young and still take naps this beautiful gem is built-in. But for those who fight naps or who have stopped taking them, it is still a great idea to have quiet time to unwind.
Quiet time doesn’t mean that children have to sit and be still. It just means that they are restricted only to quiet time activities, mostly those that are independent and can be done while seated like reading or coloring.
Spontaneity is not your friend as a stay at home mom. Some people genuinely prefer to live life by the seat of their pants, but doing so becomes much more challenging when you have an entire household to coordinate. If you have always had a casual approach to life, the lack of planning and prep time is probably the root cause of your stay at home mom stress.
At a minimum, make a meal plan and prep meals ahead of time. Meal prep can even be done earlier in the same day that you will cook the meals - no need to go crazy with nine months of freezer meals or whatever fad meal prep trend you have stumbled across.
Just print a blank calendar and fill in the meals for each day of the week. Use this reference when grocery shopping so you have the right ingredients and check it in the morning to see if there are any steps you can prep ahead to make the dinnertime rush go a bit smoother.
Just because you can go to an event or outing in the middle of the day, does not mean that you need to. While it is good to get out of the house on occasion, and even better if it is for something fun and not the usual barrage of errands, you don’t need to be constantly on the go. Decide what works for you and what days or times are strictly off-limits. Politely decline any invitation that doesn’t mesh with your schedule, especially if you will be sacrificing quiet or quality time to attend.
The stressors of being a stay at home mom seem to sneak up on many of us. Instead of having a 9-to-5 to dictate our schedule for the day, we are suddenly wide open to decide what our day looks like. Common pitfalls of this newfound freedom are either not having enough structure or trying to fit too many things into one day.
Finding the right balance takes a little bit of guesswork, but the most important takeaway here is that stay-at-home moms need to carve out time for themselves each day. An hour first thing in the morning or an early bedtime, or in the middle of the afternoon to do something enjoyable will help you be more productive and enjoyable the rest of the time.
You are not a bad mom if you don’t spend 96 hours per week mothering your children. There is no need to feel guilty for taking an hour to indulge in your favorite show or novel while the kids have quiet time. Not only should you not feel bad for it, but you should also encourage it as part of a healthy balance.
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