No matter how you slice it, mom life can be hard. It is so rewarding, but hard. In today’s world, many women choose to (or have to) return to work. On the other had some want to stay home and money isn’t an issue. Then there are some mothers are faced with no other choice than to be a stay at home mom when you weigh the cost/benefit of daycare.
It can be challenging to find ways to structure your day with little ones. It can be especially tough during the younger years when constant attention is required.
In my adult life, I never thought that being a stay at home mom (STAHM) would be my reality. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the thought of seeing every first experience. I longed to be the classroom mom who volunteered and brought cupcakes (or whatever your allowed to bring nowadays). I also felt a responsibility to make sure I contributed to the finances. Can you say conflicted?
Flash forward to the end of maternity leave. I absolutely dreaded to go back to work. I continued working until our little was 6-months old. As a family we made the decision that I would stay home with the baby. It was it the most cost-effective option for us (both my husband and I worked nights and a nanny would eat away at our paychecks). I was also working through managing my postpartum depression and anxiety (you can read more about that here), and working was putting a lot of pressure on my recovery.
How to feel successful as a SAHM/SAHD?
I found finding a successful schedule that worked for us took a lot of work to find. Even today we are still refining it and adapting to changes. There are some days when we stick to it, and many others we stray (because kids, hello!). While I am no expert, I have found a few tips and tricks that have helped a ton along the way.
Get out of the house
It can be easy to get caught being a hermit in your home. All your supplies are there. Your bed is easily accessible if/when your mini-monster decides to nap. With all that time spent tending to feeding and dealing with poop-splosions, your to-do list is a mile long.
Stop the presses: Being a SAHM doesn’t mean you are required to revert back to 1950s Becky home-ecky with the spotless home and dinner ready at 5. Sometimes keeping your little human alive is enough.
This is why getting out of the house is so crucial. Try and commit yourself to at least an hour a day. Go for a walk. Meet other mothers at the splash pad or your area mall play area. Walk the aisles of Target (the only thing that place is missing is a wine bar).
Don’t let others give you grief for taking your baby out. Let your pediatrician giving the green light be permission enough. Heck, I bypassed the pediatrician and just draped a muslin blanket over the car seat when my son was itty bitty, to ward of “the touchers.” You have to get out and soak in some vitamin D (plus it’s great for babies too).
Getting out is critical. It’s great for all moms and dads. It can also be a life-saver for someone who is struggling with any PPD or depression.
Carve out some “me” time
Let’s face it, littles require A LOT of us. Of course they do. Many women I have talked to bring up the feeling that they’ve lost their identity since having a child (or five).
One way to try and carve out your own time might be becoming an “early riser.” I know… I hear you laughing! Who in the world wants to give up that extra 30-minutes to an hour of sleep? Especially when you’ve probably been up multiple times in the night.
I myself don’t do it often. Let me tell you when I do, it is glorious. Once I have had that first cup of coffee, it makes the rest of the day flow so much better (warm coffee is the best coffee, so it’s starting the day out right in my book!). There is a certain kind of peace in the morning being able to enjoy the quietness of the house (that’s coming from someone who is the opposite of a morning person). There is also something to be said for not having to share your breakfast.
It’s no spa day, but it can really put you in a good headspace to start the day.
I’m not a huge pen-to-paper kind of gal, so this is a challenge for me. However, it is so easy to let your littles (and others) dictate the day. With a blink of an eye it’s time to wash-up and put them to bed, leaving you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing.
Treat your self to a package of sticky notes on your next Target run (or a nice notepad if that’s more your style). The way I like to break it down is two types of goals: week goals and daily goals.
At the beginning of the week I try and set one or two big goals. Usually the things that are a bit more tedious. For example this past week I decided I need to get a start on prepping the back yard to hopefully seed it for winter grass. I’m sick of giving my dogs daily baths due to rolling in the dirt yard we currently have. Each day I have tried to get out there and tackle bits and pieces (dog poop, weeds, checking the sprinkler lines, etc.).
Daily I will pick smaller projects like cleaning out the fridge, or hosing down the kitchen garbage can. Sticky notes are great because you can literally stick them wherever it’ll help you remember to get to it.
I’ve found adding this to my day early on helps me to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. There is this feeling as a mom that you don’t have much control over things. Doing this helps satisfy my former type-a personality.
Clean a little, each day
No one likes cleaning. It’s tedious and annoying because you have to do it.
Things can get scary if you’re like me and you find yourself on a cleaning strike from time to time. When you don’t do it, it looks like your house imploded. Toys, shoes, stray socks, crap, laundry, more crap, dishes, and everything else.
I’m still waiting to wake up one day and find my son has decided to help mop the floors. Until then, I try and tackle a little cleaning, each day (and wrap rags around his knees so at least crawling is productive).
Dishes are a given. We have pets so sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping are a daily chore (I’m still waiting for the Swiffer box from the commercial to show up at my door).
Routine and Schedule
I know it sounds ridiculous. Especially in the beginning when the baby rules the roost. It wasn’t until our son was 4-months that we could do this, try as I might. We were told this was normal by our pediatrician. Now don’t get me wrong, some people are born with “super babies” that are on a schedule right out of the womb. You’ll also hear parents who preach that they got their newborn on a schedule.
If that’s not you. Don’t sweat it in the beginning. It seriously isn’t worth adding stress
Eventually though you’ll want to get her on a schedule. Believe me it does wonders for ones sanity. You’re little will have a constantly evolving schedule. I try and think of it in terms of what are my (loose) expectations of the day. He needs two naps. I know he eats three meals a day (not including nursing). He needs a bath and goes to bed at a set time. Those necessities will exist for some time even though times will fluctuate. I feel like my world is in chaos when I let him rule the day.
This isn’t the end-all, be-all list. What works for some doesn’t work for others. At the end of the day your journey is unique to you and your family. Remember no mom is perfect and we all need help sometimes. At the end of the day as long as everyone is [somewhat] happy and healthy, you’re doing good!