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the mommyhood memos: how to be a stay-at-home mom without losing your marbles

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

how to be a stay-at-home mom without losing your marbles

{This post is part of the Moms Who Work series.}

Every working mom has challenges, but today I want to look at the challenge of staying sane as the stay-at-home sort of working mom.

Here are some readers tips, as well as some of my own, for how to be a SAHM without compromising your sanity:

Find some outlets that don’t have to do with being a mom.
Queenie from the PLANET pink
For me, sanity relies A LOT on having outlets that help to define me outside of being a mama.  The first time I was a SAHM I was shocked to discover that it didn't really fulfill me the way I expected it to.  I loved it of course, but I soon realized that although being a mama and staying home with my kids is one of the most important parts of me (and certainly consumes the most time), it is not the only part.  If that was all I was, you would see my sanity drowning in the laundry and dishes. So I've actively been seeking creative outlets that I enjoy.  Some of them do revolve around being a mother (like blogging for example), but not all of them do, like church and my childbirth educator certification.  But put them all together and you get a well-rounded me who is happy with where I am in life.
Sarah from Four Leaf Photography
I worked full time until my oldest was 1 and then went to part time and then quit when #2 was born.  It was really hard so I always tell people considering it to make sure they get a hobby.  Literally.  If it weren't for my photography I wouldn't have gotten through the first year.  Play dates are good but when you're used to being challenged mentally everyday at work, you need something to keep that going. 

Create some structure for your day.
Cameron from Ingenue Mom
I found that having some sort of structure to my day really helped me. That's one of the reasons why we chose to do more of a routine with Isis. It kept me sane & allowed me to be a better mom. If I knew "okay, she's going to take a nap next & I'm going to do dishes & laundry" then it helped me break up my day.

Get out of the house.

Livy from Making Over Mum:
Getting outside lots and lots! I start to go a little stir crazy if I go to many days without an outing!

I found that taking an outing almost every day really helped especially since we had just moved to a new city.  It was a little intimidating in a large city with newborn twins but also fun to explore as well.  We received a great deal of attention and it was nice to talk to new people.

Take time for yourself and connect with girlfriends.
Michele from Misadventures of An Army Momma With Two Under 2
Be sure you get time to yourself, whether that's all by yourself or with a bunch of girlfriends. You need to keep being yourself and not just the mom with the kids!

If you work from home, try alternating blocks of time to work and play.
Kerry from Nesting with Niall
I initially thought that working from home was a dream come true - I could avoid the costs of day care and spend more time with my baby. What I didn't realize was that working from home means ignoring the baby who is sitting next to you with the puppy dog eyes begging to play with you. I've found that I have to switch gears every hour. I'll work for an hour and then play with Niall for an hour. It's just not fair to leave him sitting there, bored and unstimulated, for long periods of time.  It's also a nice break for me to get outside for a nice little walk/playtime.

Get active and do some exercise.

Jhen of From Here to Eternity
I love to do those Dancing With the Stars workout DVDs to keep my body moving and learn and little dance moves!

Mandy from It’s a Beautiful Life
I stay sane by keeping busy! My baby boy and I get our and about quite a bit. And when we’re home – we’re playing together. When he’s napping, I’m blogging!

{and some tips of my own}

Spend time playing with your child.
Obviously the baby needs to be fed. The laundry needs to be done. The floor needs to be swept. Those tasks come with the territory of being a SAHM (or any mom for that matter). But I find that if I don’t spend some deliberate time every day playing with my son, I end up getting really stressed with all the chores and maintenance of day-to-day housekeeping and child-minding. I need to get down on the floor, sing some songs, stack some blocks, play peek-a-boo, or chase him around the room on my hands and knees. And I don’t just mean play when he’s fussy and needs attention or to be entertained. Take some time to play with your child(ren) while they are already happy and just enjoy each other. On especially stressful days, this is my saving grace. It gives me a chance to laugh and enjoy the moment, and it always brings things back into perspective, helping me remember why I decided to stay home with him in the first place.

Have blocks of time allocated for work that needs undivided attention.
I am a project-oriented person. When I was single there would be times where I would get into a project at work and be so into it that I would burn the midnight oil just because I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop. As a SAHM with a young baby, I’ve learned that I have to try to do everything in 10-20 minute increments… because any longer than that and my little guy might need a change of activity or scenery. I miss having long blocks of time to just “get stuff done”. About once a month on a Saturday I take a “work” day to do all sorts of things that require the kind of focus that stopping and starting just won’t allow. My hubs takes care of the baby from morning until night – every naptime, diaper change, cooking, housework… all of it. He loves the change of pace he gets by playing Mr. Mom and I lock myself in the office and work! The only time I’m with Levi during those days are when Ryan brings him to be to nurse him or when I decide I need a short break or a focus shift (or just a quick cuddle because I miss him!). I love being able to look forward to these long days and can usually accomplish in a day what would otherwise take me an entire week!

Spend time thinking about the “why’s” of parenting and not just the “how’s”.
A while back I realized that I was constantly online and reading books about how to take care of a baby – things about breast feeding, preparing foods, helping them sleep, etc, and if I wasn’t taking care of my baby I was reading about it and thinking about it. Not good! I started reading an amazing book called Sacred Parenting, which is helping me to keep perspective and spend time thinking about why we parent and what it’s all for. It helps remind me of the bigger picture beyond boogers and blow-outs.

Debrief with your husband/partner/support person.
When my husband comes home from work I try not to bombard him with the details of my day before he has a chance to set his keys down… but he knows that if I don’t debrief and report how my day went to another adult at some point during the evening, I will most likely implode. Sharing some of what happened through the day is validating for me and helpful for me in making the transition from “mom mode” to “wife and friend” mode.

Be deliberate to not always be multi-tasking.
If you’re like me, then time is precious and there’s never enough of it! I’m constantly multi-tasking, whether it’s checking emails on my phone while I nurse my son, making a phone call while taking him on a walk, or doing the dishes between giving him bites of his meals. At times it’s a must and helps me to stay on top of things, but no doubt at other times it just means I’m spreading myself too thin and doing an average job at a bunch of things rather than a good job at a few things. One tangible thing that I do is try to make sure that in a day, I’m not multi-tasking for at least half of my son’s feedings.

Get showered and dressed and ready for the day each morning.
It’s so tempting to spend all day looking like I just rolled out of bed, but I’ve found that just by getting up and showered and (sometimes) putting on a little make-up, I move through my day much more easily (as opposed to feeling like my feet are dragging). When I’m showered and dressed and looking good, I feel good physically and my mind actually feels sharper.

Find a moms group or play group that you enjoy.
Play groups are for moms! Before I had a child I used to think play groups sounded so boring… but now I get it! I love getting together with other moms who have babies similar in age to mine... for adult conversation, swapping tips and stories about the kids, and just getting out of the house in general. (And there’s some thing really refreshing about cuddling other people’s babies too!)

Dear mommy-friends, I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. How do you stay sane as a SAHM? Can you relate to any of these? Do you have any that you'd like to add?

desperately trying to hold onto my marbles,

The Moms Who Work series:

Have you registered your blog here yet?

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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At September 7, 2010 at 11:36 PM , Blogger adriel, from the mommyhood memos said...

two of my links are broken... but blogger seems to be stuck right now when i try to go in an edit. grr. i'll try again in the morning. {so sorry!}

At September 7, 2010 at 11:52 PM , Blogger ~Jamie Kubeczka~ said...

These are some great ideas!

At September 8, 2010 at 12:27 AM , Blogger Mandy said...

Fabulous tips. The getting showered and dressed for the day, every day, is something I need to work on. I tend to just hang out in my PJ's all day cause it's comfy and easy.
And play groups are a MUST! I have several and they are fantastic for mommy time and baby time! Love this series!!

At September 8, 2010 at 4:43 AM , Blogger ElissaM said...

this is a great post! I definitely needed to hear all the advice since I have recently become a "single" stay at home mom when my hubby deployed. I definitely try to get into my routine which helps A TON and I am stoke it is fall...a new season for a new season in my life! Thank so much!

At September 8, 2010 at 7:33 AM , Blogger Amy said...

This was great! I of course haven't delivered my baby and thus, have not made the decision to work or stay at home, but this was good insight. How did everyone make the decision? I guess that's what I need to know.

Adriel, I LOVED your post on Cameron's site today. It really helped me as a pregnant chick! Thanks!

At September 8, 2010 at 7:57 AM , Blogger Ana said...

You inspired me to write my Top 10 Mommy Resolutions! And my #1 thing: getting dressed and making my bed before getting out of the room :)

At September 8, 2010 at 2:08 PM , Blogger Eastlyn and co. said...

I like your tips, Adriel-so important to keep everything in perspective and be intentional about how you go about your day. You may be able to share some of your insights at TVs Take:

At September 9, 2010 at 9:26 AM , Blogger Karli said...

Adriel, I LOVE these goodies! What great tips - thanks so much for sharing! :-) I was actually stopping by to congratulate you...did you see both of our names on Mandy's blog? She's so sweet! Just wanted to say congrats! :-) Happy Wednesday!

At September 9, 2010 at 11:54 AM , Blogger Cameron said...

I relate with so many of these moms! I also think it's funny that you mentioned taking a shower & getting ready everyday. I made more of an effort to do this those first few weeks after Isis came home because it made me feel normal. This summer when I was staying home, I'd sometimes do an every other day kind of shower thing, but I always put on makeup. Makeup & fixing my hair are my "hey I'm here & I'm doing this & I'm okay" kind of actions. Definitely makes me feel more alert & active.

At September 9, 2010 at 10:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have created such an awesome community! So much great advice!
You should be writing articles for parenting and mommy magazines Adriel.

At September 10, 2010 at 6:04 AM , Blogger Livy said...

Great advice! I too need to shower and get dressed everyday. I actually feel more productive. There are a lot of things on this list that I need to work on.

I am really enjoying this series so far.

At September 11, 2010 at 3:16 AM , Blogger Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) said...

I love these survival tips! I always feel so much better when I shower and get ready in the morning. It makes me feel like normal :) Thanks so much for sharing these Adriel!

At September 18, 2010 at 5:49 AM , Blogger A Little R&R said...

I seriously wish I had a printer!!! This is so good - it's staying starred in my Google Reader!


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