I’ve done biological research on Malaria and Influenza and was a director for an Alaska Native STEM camp. Staying at home with my son has BY FAR been the hardest job I’ve ever had. I wish I would have known these 7 things at the very beginning of my stay at home mom career!
1. Make a Schedule Every Day
For the first few months of staying home, I aimlessly let the day pass. And when I say aimlessly, I mean watching the clock every five minutes to see when my husband would come home. I had no plan, no ideas, literally no clue what I was doing.
Finally, I started making a schedule. Not only was I enjoying my day but my child was THRIVING off of a regular schedule and routine. Make a routine that works best for you and your child. Here’s an example of my typical day:
7:00am – Wake up and breakfast
7:30am – Play inside with toys
8:15am – Brush teeth and get dressed
8:30am – Play outside or go on a walk
9:00am – Plan an outing
11:30am – Lunch and inside play time
12:30pm – Glorious nap time and “me” time
3:00pm – Educational activity and outside time
4:00pm – Meal prep
5:00pm – Dinner and family time
7:15pm – Bath, Books, and Bedtime
2. Be Flexible
I just told you to make a schedule and you did it. Awesome! But now your child has decided to sleep in an extra hour or throw a Tasmanian temper tantrum at the thought of getting in the car. It seems as if your whole day is ruined.
Fear not! There will be some days that nothing goes as planned. Your child runs a fever, there’s a doctor’s appointment you forgot about, you’ve been infested by bedbugs (is this scenario just me?), the nap schedule was ruined by the unexpected fall asleep in the car for 3 minutes, I mean the possibilities are endless! Take a deep breath, adjust, and continue going strong with your schedule as best as possible.
3. Get Together a Mom Squad
When you stay home with your kids, all day long you talk “goo-goo ga-ga” or “poo-poo” or “no you cannot put your lion in the toilet”. You need adult interaction. Like, it’s a total necessity for staying sane. Get together with other stay-at-home moms that you actually like. Make a “Moms Group” or however you want to name it and meet every week.
This is a win-win situation. You get other human intellectual interaction AND your children get to improve on their social behavior. And sometimes… yes just sometimes… your child will leave you alone for more than 3 minutes.
4. Find a Hobby That You Love
What does this have to do with being a stay-at-home mom? There will be a day (if you have an infant right now… I promise this day is coming) where you have a few extra hours to yourself. Your child might be taking a nap, watching an educational show, or attending a mothers-day-out. It is CRUCIAL that you use this time wisely.
I once heard a stay-at-home mom say “I’m so bored all day, I just watch TV most of the time”. Number one I was flabbergasted. How does she have “all this time” to watch TV? Not sure about that one. But number two- this time can be spent doing something that rejuvenates you! I absolutely love to cook and create new recipes. I can spend hours looking through recipes and trying new things. When my son sleeps, I usually spend an hour a day doing this. I am so refreshed!!! Find your niche. Working out? Pilates? Painting? Drawing? Photography? Scrapbooking? Baking? Reading? Writing?
Find something (preferably without a screen) that you love and will rejuvenate you throughout the day.
5. Remind Yourself Daily Why You Choose this Career Path
There are dark days being a stay-at-home mom. The kids never stop crying, wanting, needing. There is no PTO, sick leave, weekends, paycheck, or appreciative bosses. So why in the world would you choose this path?
This is a question you need to reflect on and have a solid answer. This answer becomes the lifeline when you are tired, hungry, tired, frustrated, tired, touched-out, and oh yeah, tired.
Mine goes like this: “A lot of the time being a stay-at-home mom sucks. But I know in the end it’s worth it. I love that my son gets time with me every day to build a deep emotional connection. I love that I get to feed my son delicious and nutritious meals 3-4 times a day. I love that I get to see every “new” development when it happens. I love that my son gets to do and see interactive activities every week like the zoo, gardens, aquarium, SeaWorld and that I get to share that with him. I love that I get to teach him not only academics, but how to pray, sing, and love others.”
Find your “why” and remind yourself daily, especially in the hard times.
6. Have a Back-Up for Emergencies
So you’re rocking it at being a stay-at-home mom. Woohoo! And then one morning, you have the dreaded tummy rumble. Probably shouldn’t have had that salad bar at Jason’s Deli…… and you’ve got food poisoning. You’re throwing up uncontrollably and barely have the strength to lift your head. And then reality hits you…… you STILL have a child to take care of!
This is the absolute worst. It’s almost impossible to take care of children while being dreadfully sick! Yes, you can put them in front of the TV but that only lasts for so long. You’ve got to have a Plan B, a back-up for these types of days! Do you have a grandparent? aunt/uncle? friend? can your spouse take off work easily? Ask these questions BEFORE the pukes come and check in with that person to see if they are open for being an emergency back-up plan.
This is also why a Mom Squad is crucial. If you don’t live in an area with close family or friends, your mom group can help you (even if its just bringing soup, Pedialyte, and crackers!).
7. Have Your Finances Squared Away
Being a stay-at-home is a major pay cut to the household family. But again, see tip number 5 and remind yourself why you have chosen this path. Crunch the numbers and see HOW you can make this work. Do you need to give up eating out every week? Reduce your clothing and shopping allowance? Trade your car in for a cheaper one? Choose a smaller home? Buy off-brand kid’s clothing? Have a garage sale quarterly? Add a side-gig to bring a little extra cash?
The possibilities are endless on how to make this work for your family. Be one with your spouse in making these decisions so this doesn’t add stress while you’re on the job!
Read my full article Here on Buzzfeed!