How many times have you heard a family member, a neighbor, a former co-worker or even your husband say, “I don’t know what you do all day at home. I’d go crazy!” Well, newsflash, people! Being a SAHM (yes Stay at Home Mothers, we get our own acronym) is not exactly popcorn, a soda and 50 Shades of Grey. We get bored, we get tired, we get frazzled, and yes, we go a little stir crazy at times. None of these feelings or emotions means that what we do isn’t important. It just means that like everyone else out there – the accountants, lawyers, hair stylists, teachers, firefighters, politicians, and the rest of the “working world” – some days we don’t love our jobs – even though it involves the people we love most in this world.
You’ve probably been given advice by every SAHM that you know, so this might be repetitive, but as a mom you can attest to the fact that sometimes things go in one ear and straight out the other. So, these tidbits on how NOT to go crazy as a Stay At Home Mom bear repeating. Here are the Hows and Whys of Being a Stay At Home Mom.
• Get out of here! Seriously, get out of the house – whether you have a toddler, an infant or a walking, talking, knows-more-than-you-do 5 year old, you still want to get out of the house! Go for a walk, go to the mall (and go for a walk there). Get involved in your nearest library and the wealth of kid and mommy activities they have. Join a baby gym, a playgroup, or establish one yourself. The four walls of your house, no matter how big or small, will eventually start to close in on you! Plus, you need to see other human people (not just the ones on TV) to keep your sanity. So, if getting a babysitter is an easy and financially feasible route for you, or you need to bring the children with you, make sure you’re seeing the real world.
• Connect with other moms. This ties in to getting out of the house; part of that is having conversations with other people – people who preferably were not once attached to you via an umbilical cord. It is more important than ever, since your adult interaction is limited, that you have other people – neighbors, friends, other moms, family members – with whom you can periodically connect. Whether it’s a playgroup, an exercise class, a book club or some volunteer time, find a way to make it happen. It may seem like a big headache but it’s good for both your body and soul.
• Give yourself some structure. One of the things that can drive a SAHM over the edge is the seemingly endless days of same-old, same-old. Laundry to be done, diapers to be changed. The baby needs be fed again – surprise, surprise! So, create some structure to your days and weeks. Yes, the same tasks need to get done, whether it’s errands, housecleaning, laundry, etc., but intersperse these with some of the things we’ve mentioned and you’ll have a nice, scheduled week that gives you some purpose. Maybe Wednesdays in library Story Time followed by Starbucks drive thru for Mom. Or, Tuesday is grocery shopping but it’s also Book Club so there’s a little treat. Or, Friday nights, Dad is home early so the whole family goes out for pizza. Having a schedule, even a flexible one, provides purpose to your week.
• Exercise. This is a really tough one to keep, but more than ever, it’s important to have a physical outlet to keep your sanity. Exercise is great, not only in helping you maintain the energy and stamina needed to keep up with your kids, but it makes you feel better, it’s a wonderful stress reliever, and it’s needs to be an essential part of our lives. You may not have time for a 2-hour cross fit routine each day, but find a way to work some type of exercise into your life. It may be that you multitask and combine a few sanity savers like getting outside, connecting with moms and going for a walk! Or, put in a yoga DVD when the baby is napping and get a little mental Namaste of your own. Whatever works for you!
• Have Fun! Remember, you’re a Stay-At-Home Mom! You can have Pajama Monday when it’s raining. You can decide that pancakes for dinner covers all four food groups. You can choose to spend the hours from 10 am until noon playing Play Doh. It’s not all Cinderella work and no play. You’re talking care of your babies – so, enjoy reading to them. Don’t forget to take time and sing to your daughter or play peek-a-boo. Run in the yard or play a little hide-and-seek. Have tea parties, and create huge Lego towers. Color – definitely take time to color! It’s your right. Believe me, something has to make up for the 3am feedings and days without showers. So, if it’s Jammy Mondays and Barefoot Fridays, so be it!
We’ve discussed some simple, easy, but often forgotten ways to keep your sanity while staying at home with your children. But, one last note on this SAHM rollercoaster – it’s impossible to address some of the “Hows” of SAH-Mommying without addressing the “Whys.” After all, we’ve all made choices – some easy, some difficult, some voluntary, others were thrust upon us – but choices, nonetheless about what we’re doing. And, if you want to keep your sanity while being a SAHM, you’ve got to make sure that you’re OK with being a SAHM – that your Why fits your How.
So, during your more sane moments, don’t be afraid to revisit why you want to be a SAHM. Do you enjoy it? Do you feel it’s worth the sacrifice you and your family have made? Is it what you want or was it what someone else thought you should want? Do you feel it’s the best choice for your child, for you or for both of you? Remember that whatever example you set for your child will be a good one if you are happy in your role.
Keeping your sanity is no small feat when you’re a Stay-At-Home Mom, but you can do it. And, if a little stir craziness creeps in from time to time, don’t worry. You’re a Mom. It’s in the job description!