This is my eighth year at home, yet I can remember the first year as though it was yesterday. Blogging wasn’t as popular then and Facebook was just starting, so it was a very quiet time to be a stay at home mom. No one was talking about it as much then as they are now. Sometimes I really hate to add my voice to the babble. Yet, when I think about myself back then, so new, so uncertain, I want to share some pieces of experience.
A friend gave me a book entitled The Stay At Home Mom Survival Guide, but I confess I never read it. Maybe you don’t have time or wits right now to read an entire book, but a blog post? That you can do.
Stay at Home Mom’s Survival Guide
1. Be your own boss.
This was possibly the hardest part for me. As a stay at home mom, you must be self-motivated and self-regulated. I thought I was self-motivated before staying home, but it turns out, I need consequences, rewards, and outside affirmation.
My best advice: Decide realistic goals for each day and reasonable rewards. Be as kind to yourself as you would an employee.
2. Get dressed.
Yes, you can wear yoga pants all day because you are your own boss, but you’ll be more productive and feel better if you shower and dress.
Think of yourself as a professional. Imagine having other children in your home (maybe you do this) or working in a daycare. You’d be more likely to get dressed and look confident and capable.
In my first year staying home, my husband told me he was tired of seeing me in a certain set of workout clothes (yoga pants weren’t all the rage then). If you make getting dressed your norm, having a yoga pants day becomes a luxury you allow yourself when you aren’t feeling well.
3. Give yourself affirmation.
It will seem a waste of time to many, especially you Type-A logical moms, but trust me, this is so important to keep your motivation high. When you check in with yourself to see how you’re doing, it’s easy to see all the pitfalls.
Make it a point to keep a gratitude list or affirmation list. Maybe just a list to keep record of the cute things your child said or did. You may think you’ll never forget the way she said, “Hold you?” when she wanted to cuddle, but you’ll be amazed at how it becomes a blur, especially as you add siblings to the family.
4. Create weekends and holidays.
I was dismayed to realize snow days, weekends, and holidays don’t exist anymore once I became a stay-at-home mom. You have to get creative to make these times special. One particularly snowy school year, I created a Snow Day Survival Kit, with special items to make snow days fun for me and the kids.
5. Do the things you enjoy.
So much of childcare does involve obligatory tasks, so when you can choose, choose the path you like better because your child will benefit from your happiness and good mood. If you love art, go crazy. Book worm? Take them to the library. Sports fanatic? Do playground time. Share the passion.
6. Lower your expectations.
Not all the time, but if you have another baby? Yes, then. Lower your expectations. Remind yourself that this is a season and you’ll get there eventually. If you allow yourself to relax into a difficult season, you’ll find you get through it more effectively than if you continue to expect the same results.
7. Get support.
As a stay-at-home mom, I felt guilty asking for help. But after we added our fourth child and moved within two months, I needed some respite. A sweet lady in my church offered to keep the kids one morning a week just to give me some time. I can’t tell you how I came back to life with this little patch of time to myself. It matters.
Sometimes just asking for help feels excruciatingly vulnerable, but the pay-off is so worth it.