When you’re a stay at home mom, it can be hard to maintain good habits and a healthy routine. One day blends into the next and before you know it, you’ve spent five days in your pajamas. On bad days, being a stay at home mom can make you feel trapped, bored, or just plain overwhelmed. On good days, you can feel like you’re truly doing the most important work of your life.
Though I run a business out of my home, I consider myself a stay at home mom first and foremost. Taking care of my children takes up the majority of my time and is my primary focus. I want to be the best version of myself for my kids and that takes effort. I believe that being a stay at home mom is what you make out of it.
Here are eight ways you can make the most out of being a stay at home mom.
1) Get dressed every day
I know your pajamas are super comfy. Mine are too. I used to think that staying in my pajamas all day was a perk of being a stay at home mom. Prior to my daughter starting preschool this year, most days I didn’t have to get dressed if I didn’t want to.
The problem with staying in your pajamas is that it tells your brain that nothing is happening. Getting dressed allows for the possibility of adventure. You might go somewhere…you might not, but you’re prepared to go should the opportunity arise. If you’re dressed and ready for the day, you could run an errand or go to the library or just get the mail without being embarrassed if your neighbor sees you. Not only that, it helps your mental state. You’ll feel more organized, in control and prepared to handle what comes your way when you’re dressed. Doing your hair or makeup is a step further that might make you feel even better. At the bare minimum, get dressed each day. Same goes for showering.
2) Make time for yourself
Whether you have to wake up early in the morning to enjoy a cup of coffee before the kids get up or hand off your kids to your significant other when they get home so you can enjoy a shower without an audience, make sure you do it. At least once per day for at least 30 minutes, get your me time in.
If you don’t even take time for yourself, you will feel burnt out. You’ll also get resentful of your husband for getting to leave the house and enjoy alone time each day. Whenever I feel a pang of guilt about asking my husband to take the kids, I think about his daily drive to work listening to whatever he wants on the stereo, his leisurely stops for coffee or a snack without having to get kids in and out of the car seats or share what he bought, and his quick trips to Target or the grocery store that would take me triple the time. Then I don’t feel bad anymore.
Take time for yourself each day. It’s not selfish, it’s self-care and everyone needs some downtime. Stay at home moms probably deserve it more than most.
3) Get out of the house
It can seem like more work than it’s worth to get out of the house, but you should aim for doing something a few times per week. Even if you just go into your backyard or take a walk around your neighborhood, a change of scenery is good for you. Fresh air helps clear the mind and recharge you.
Better yet, take your kids to a free activity in town. The library always has something going on or try a playground or park. Most malls and several fast food places (McDonald’s, Burger King, and Chick-fil-A) have play places you can use when the weather is bad. Kill two birds with one stone and get lunch out to give yourself a break.
Routinely getting out of the house will break up the monotony and make you feel like you’re still a member of society. Resist the urge to barricade yourself inside the house with a screaming baby. He’ll still be screaming at Chick-fil-A, but you’ll be drinking a delicious Oreo shake while he does.
4) Plan your day
You run the day or the day runs you. If you let the day, or your kids, run things, you’ll end up running around but feeling like you did nothing. Setting up a plan for your day can be as simple as a to-do list. Having one or two small goals each day can help you feel like you accomplished something even on the craziest days.
If you set up your plan the night before, you will be ready to get moving in the morning. This ties in with getting out of the house. If you don’t plan on doing something the next day, you’ll probably end up doing nothing.
5) Find your people aka other moms
Mom’s groups are made for stay-at-home moms. In fact, International MOMS Club is specifically geared to stay-at-home moms. No one gets it more than moms who are living it right along with you. A mom’s group is beneficial for your and your kids. You both get to socialize with your peers. Your kids will enjoy playing with others in new and exciting locations and you’ll appreciate talking to another adult.
I’ve met some great women in my mom’s group. They are kind, interesting and funny plus they know what it’s like. It’s hard to make new friends, but you already have one major thing in common with moms – you are one! From that common ground, you can find other qualities, hobbies, and interests that you share and form some friendships. Having a group of moms you can lean on makes the stay at home gig a lot less lonely.
6) Make time for your health
Exercise is super important to keep you feeling happy and strong. You can’t run on an empty tank. Staying active will allow you to play with your children without getting tired, get things done around the house, and feel good about it all.
Even if you don’t have the bounce back from childbirth that you were hoping for (I didn’t!), you can still make being healthy a priority. You will never have as much energy as your children, but it will be easier to keep up with them if you keep yourself in shape.
7) Get help if you need it
Just because you stay at home doesn’t mean that you should have to do everything. If you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities, talk to your partner about splitting things more equally. Consider hiring a mother’s helper (a younger teen that needs to be supervised while watching your children) or a babysitter to come for a few hours each week to give you a break. If you’re having trouble keeping up with household duties, hire a housekeeper or use a meal delivery service.
You should not feel like the house will crumble if you aren’t doing everything. Mom burnout is real. You don’t want to become resentful of your husband and children because you’re worked to the bone. Don’t be a martyr, ask for help. If you can’t afford help, or your husband won’t help, adjust your expectations (and your family’s) to what you can reasonably get done.
If you feel depressed by motherhood, reach out to someone. You are important and needed in this world.
8) Be present and enjoy the time
Though it can be stressful being home with your children, try to enjoy the experience and stay present. Though it may not always feel that way, it’s a gift to watch your children grow up. Even though I am not thankful every moment of the day, I absolutely have moments of gratitude every day. If you chose to have children, choose to appreciate them. Enjoy the stages of their lives because they are on their own for longer than they are with you.
Being a stay at home is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It beats working full-time while going to college, starting my career, going grad school, and opening my business. Really, it doesn’t even compare. Don’t let anyone downplay or degrade the hard work that you do every day. Stay positive and remember that the things you are doing today are your children’s memories. Make them good ones.