Nearly three years into my journey as a Stay At Home Mom, and I’m here to say you CAN create a life you enjoy! It seems as if the internet glorifies the Hot Mess Mom, yet some of the best advise I ever received was that you can be confident during the mom-of-little-people years. You can be focused, put-together, and actually pleasant to be around during this season. Just because we are responsible for little people 24-7 *give or take* doesn’t mean we have to be struggling, feel behind, or lack direction and purpose.
Here are some things that helped me achieve a sense of success as a mom:
I. Make Friends. When I first became a stay-at-home-mom, nearly all my friends didn’t have kids or worked full-time. Initially, I felt I was the only woman staying home with her child. It wasn’t until my son was about 5-6 months old that I started connecting with other women who were spending most of their time with their kids in their day-to-day life. My transition to motherhood would have been a lot easier if I had established some stay-at-home mom connections before my son was born or shortly after. Now we see friends every week, and life is so much better connected to other women living a similar life!
II. Get Up Early. Waking up early when there is no boss you are accountable to is hard! But I am so much calmer and happier when I take time before my son wakes up to drink coffee in a quiet house, read, pray, and even exercise before he wakes up! There have been seasons where I sleep more, like pregnancy or grief, so I give myself grace; however, this is an area where I am prone to give myself too much grace and need a dose of good ‘ole fashioned discipline! I am currently reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and it is helping me shift my thinking about being a morning person!
III. Say NO. This has probably been the biggest area of growth for me as a mom – saying No to my child JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO! Woo-hoo!! I am naturally a soft mama, so when he was a baby and a young toddler, I felt the need to *eh hem* accommodate his discomfort more than was healthy for me – or him! As he grew older, I discovered there is so much freedom in saying no just because it stresses me out or I don’t want to deal with it. I accepted that I didn’t need a reason to tell him no.
For example, my son liked to be in the bathroom with me while I put my make-up on and look in the cabinets. I like to foster exploration (as long as it’s safe!), so this went on for a time but I found I would get very stressed and frustrated because I would get interrupted and have to stop him from certain activities, and then pick up the things he unloaded. I finally declared the bathroom is mommy’s sacred space and I get to put my make-up on in peace!!
When you spend most or all of your time with your children, it’s important to create a life you like, not just one you can survive. Choose peace. Boundaries are good. They are good for you, mama! And they are good for your child(ren).
IV. Establish a Routine. I had an epiphany when I realized there is a difference between a schedule and a routine! A schedule (what I was going for) has certain things that are supposed to happen at a specific time. I found I felt defeated trying to implement a schedule because sometimes your child’s nap schedule is off or you’re running half an hour behind coming home from the grocery store. A routine, however, is more about the order of things rather than the specific time they are supposed to happen. The best article I ever read about setting a routine can be found here.
V. Keep a Tidy Home. For years I worked to figure out how to keep my house clean and I’ll let you in on a secret – there is no secret!! I did learn there are some things to do to help, such as decluttering, making my bed easier to make (I eliminated half the pillows!), and always having cleaning wipes available (ha!) My house is not perfect and I have let go of aspiring for perfection (sometimes I dream!) especially when we spend so much time at home. But I have learned I am a much happier person if my home is tidy. I have found if I keep the bathroom counter wiped down (yay for cleaning wipes!), house mostly decluttered, floors clean, and stay on top of the dishes, I feel pretty good! There are somethings that don’t bother me too much – like dust on my bookshelves. Or a lovely pile of laundry contained in a basket haha. I have worked to be more intentional about just folding it and putting it away, but a pile of unfolded clothes doesn’t bother me as much as clutter throughout the house or a messy floor or bed. Find your things and run with that!! SS