When you make the choice to become a Stay at Home Mom, you may be overjoyed by the thought of being able to raise your children yourself, dreaming of all the activities and adventures you’ll have, and the hours of fun spent together.
It may be after a few months or a few years of being a Stay at Home Mom, you start feeling lonely, isolated from the lack of, or limited interaction with others.
Maybe your friends work outside the home and so your circle of people has shrunk considerably. You might be a tad stir crazy from the routine it takes to raise children, not to mention the mountain of homemaking responsibilities you’ve added to your responsibilities.
I used to liken taking care of our twin babies as living in the movie, Groundhog Day, because we lived every minute on a schedule and every day was the same.
It went something like this: the twins woke up, ate, changed, played, napped, ate, changed, played, fed, bathed and went to bed. The same routine, the same time for everything, every-single-day,
Routine is great and children thrive when you have a routine that works with your family, but it can also make you feel isolated and itching to get outside and be with people who don’t babble or breast feed.
Along with trying to keep your sanity as a stay at home mom, you are also trying to figure out your own identity.
At some point before you had your children, you were in the workforce, you had friends who you saw more regularly than you do now, and got a solid night of sleep… every night. Nights didn’t involve scheduling babysitters, and you had time for hobbies and trips and indulgences.
Now, as a Mom, you’re in unchartered territory and trying to navigate your own identity.
Parents are selfless because they give so much of themselves to their children, but what are we saving, discovering, learning, and enjoying ourselves?
No doubt, we lose our identity a little bit for the best reason possible, for the baby or children who fill space in your heart, but how we do discover our new identities as we navigate parenthood?
So, what can you do to maintain your sanity and also, develop your new identity?
1) CREATE A ROUTINE
Having a solid routine is a total sanity saver because it makes your days predictable for your children and most importantly, for you!
Children behave better when they know what is coming next, whether that’s snack, nap, bath time or bedtime. The predictability of their days helps them feel like they have control over their environment and aren’t jumping from unknown to unknown. It also helps you have control over the day and can easily acknowledge behavior cues when something is off.
For example, if naptime is coming up in 30 minutes but they’re starting to whine and complain, it may be time to start getting them ready for nap a little early because you know that’s what their behavior is indicating.
2) PLAN AHEAD & PREPARE
Even when you want to turn off the lights and climb into bed, take the extra 10 minutes the night before to plan out breakfast, lunches, backpacks, pack the diaper bag and organize supplies for the next day.
The Stay at Home Mom who is prepared for the morning rush will cut the chaos in half, but it will also make you prepared and less stressed for the entire day when you have what you need and you’re organized for all the day’s activities.
What can you plan ahead for? Meals, activities, sports equipment, school, play dates, and daycare/preschool/nanny drop-offs.
3) RISE & SHINE
This is easier said than done, because when you’re still waking up for night feedings or helping your sick child get through the night, you may not be waking up before your children do on these mornings.
However, waking up early and taking time – 15 minutes, 30, an hour even – can be peaceful time you reserve for yourself to start the day.
It may be as simple as having a cup of coffee and checking Facebook before the kids are up, or getting your groove back with a little morning run or trip to the gym. Waking up early is time for YOU to treat yourself to something you enjoy in solitude.
What do you enjoy doing that you can’t seem to find time for otherwise? Reading a book, magazine, watching a show you saved on the DVR months ago?
4) STAY ON TOP OF HOUSEWORK SO IT DOESN’T PILE UP
When your stress levels start to rise, when you start to get agitated and frustrated, take a look around your house.
Do you have dishes piling up, laundry in baskets waiting to be washed and folded, dirty floors and a messy kitchen? When the environment that you spend the most time in – and as a Stay at Home Mom, that is most likely your home – is in disarray, your attitude and sanity will be in disarray as well. These tips will help you keep a mess-free home, even while raising kids.
Create a cleaning schedule to do a little each day and pick up as you go in order to streamline chores, the mess and your sanity!
5) MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
Before you had kids, you had as much time to yourself as you wanted. Being at a loss of personal time can sometimes feel like you’re at a loss of your freedom.
Find time for yourself every single day so you can enjoy something that helps your soul – reading a book, having a cup of coffee, writing in a journal, exercising – will make you look forward to your alone time but also make you more present and engaged with your kids when you’re with them.
What are some ways to make time for yourself?
- At naptime
- After bedtimes (our kids go to bed at 6:30 and 7:30 and we go to bed at 11 so we have plenty of time for ourselves and can wake up refreshed and with energy to play with the kids all day long)
- Check the gym to see if they have free childcare as part of your membership for an hour or two
- Ask your husband to watch the kids for 30 minutes so you can refresh
- Go for a run with your kids in the stroller
- Swap babysitting duties with a friend or your sister for a couple hours to yourself
- Consider hiring an occasional, bi-monthly or weekly babysitter to watch the kids for a couple hours here and there
If you feel like you’re in a Mom rut or having feelings of being burnt out, check out these tips to help you get out of your Mom funk.
6) GET SOME FRESH AIR
There is something about heading outdoors to clear your head that gives you instant relief. Looking for a new perspective on things, trying to get the kids to stop fighting or just to change your environment, heading outside and getting fresh air can almost instantly change your mood.
Talk a stroll around the neighborhood, head outdoors to play, stop at a nearby park, take the dogs outside to throw the ball or dip your toes in the lake. Change your environment for an instant sanity saver.
7) TRY NEW THINGS & REDISCOVER OLD PASSIONS
While you’re discovering your role as a parent, you also need to branch out and try new things of your own to see what interest you have. For example, snag a fancy adult coloring book the next time you’re at the store, paint a new canvas, take a writing class, try out a new exercise class or sign up for a cooking class.
What did you like to do before you had kids? When your kids are napping or after bedtime, or if you have a babysitter, make plans to do these hobbies and passions again. Explore new interests as well!
8) UNINTERRUPTED TIME WITH THE KIDS
When you are with your kids, be fully and completely engaged with them. This is time when you don’t worry about dishes, cooking, work or other responsibilities, its where you can just spend time with your kids and be fully engaged.
Children may not let on, but they will know when you’re distracted and not completely engaged with them.
9) MAKE TIME FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
Being a parent doesn’t leave much alone time for you and your partner, unless you make this a priority.
I know when we were first parents, people kept telling us to do weekly date nights together but that never worked with our schedule, and we didn’t want to hire a babysitter once a week, nor could we afford it.
What did work was doing something together out of the house once a month and taking advantage of our kid’s early bedtimes every other night. Once a month may not seem like a lot, but our oldest kids are in bed by 7:30pm so on normal nights, we have 3.5 hours together before we go to bed to catch up, watch a movie, make a nice dinner and be together before we go to bed.
What works for you and your partner? Do you have time together at night after the kids are asleep? How often do you and your partner get out of the house together? Would more time out of the house or better scheduling to spend time together at night help your marriage and staying connected?
10) ELECTRONIC FREE TIME
Social media isn’t real life – it’s not – and it can be a total time suck which is not how you should spend your precious kid-free time. 99% of people post their best pictures and skip the ugly, humblebrag about their trips, adventures and achievements. Consider a social media detox to get back in touch with the real world and your family.
It’s easy to compare yourself and your situation to those picture perfect posts, especially when you’re dog tired, still in yoga pants, had a rough day and haven’t showered in two days! Social media is NOT REAL LIFE, don’t get sucked into it.