I love being a stay at home mom… most of the time. Truly, I do love the job I have chosen and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to be with my kids during the day.
That being said, it’s dang hard. Being a SAHM (or a stay at home parent in general) is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. And it is also the most rewarding! Personally, I have ups and downs with it. I was finishing my bachelor’s degree until my oldest was 2, so I always something to work on while I was staying home with him. At the time, I was so excited to be done with school, but looking back, I loved that time of being a SAHM and online student. It was fulfilling for me! I haven’t been a student since my second baby was born, so I’ve had to work harder to find ways to keep my mind sharp and my emotional well being in check.
I love the flexibility of staying home with my kids. I set the schedule for our household. If there are days we want to lay around and do nothing, then I can make that happen. If I want to have a day where we are constantly busy and active, I can make that happen. On days I struggle emotionally, it mostly has to do with a lack of social interaction, and a lack of privacy for myself.
Where am I going with all of this? Based on my experience, I believe there are 4 things a stay at home mom should absolutely do to retain her sanity and to retain her sense of identity as an individual:
- Stay closely connected with friends and family as much as possible.
Talk on the phone a lot, set up play groups, get involved with church or community groups, etc.
- Ask for help. A lot!
Looking back, I don’t think I asked for help as much as I could have after my second baby was born. People would always say “don’t hesitate to let me know if you need anything!” and I would think “sure, that sounds great.” But in actuality, I would go through the day to day of life with a toddler and baby without asking for much help from my friends (who were amazing, by the way). I felt like I needed a darn good reason if I was going to “burden” my friends. But honestly, most people are truly willing to help! Even if you just need to take a long shower, you can ask a friend or family member to watch your kids for a little while. A big one for me is doctor’s appointments. It is SO nice to take my kids to their checkups by themselves without their sibling! I don’t love wrangling multiple children in the doctor’s office…. And I notice my kids tend to be better behaved and more relaxed when they get to do errands with me by themselves.
- Take care of your body.
You don’t have to be a hardcore fitness expert to be in shape and feel good! For me, getting my run in 4 times a week is my weekly goal. I accepted a while ago that it isn’t realistic for me to run every single day. But I feel so much better emotionally and mentally as well as physically if I’m taking time to exercise, get ready for the day, and eat well. (Again, I think it’s important to be realistic. We are busy moms, and we only have so many hours in each day.) Bottom line, don’t forget to prioritize your own health!
- Don’t do Mom Guilt.
I wrote about Mom Guilt last week. I feel so passionate about this! There are always going to be people who don’t agree with your parenting decisions, even those who will point-blank tell you how “you’re doing it wrong”. Like the older man last week who literally told me in the grocery store that I needed to discipline my kids, because they were “disturbing 99% of the people in the store”. Ick. I literally turned my back and ignored him. No one appreciates being told how to raise their own kids. (P.S. There was an awesome lady who overheard this man and told me “you don’t listen to a word he says. There’s always a grumpy old man.” I was so grateful for her standing up for me!)
Anyway, if you feel that what you’re doing is right for your family, don’t let anyone else discourage you or make you feel guilty. YOU’RE the mom, and you know what’s best!
I love being with my littles all day. Sure, some days I’m ready to pull my hair out by bedtime (or by lunchtime), but my kids make up for those days with their super sweet and happy days. I love being able to focus on them and on our home.
I totally respect moms who choose to work. I believe that whether or not a mom works outside the home, if she is happy and fulfilled and the kids are getting an abundance of love and attention, then those kids are probably doing just fine.