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How To Be A Stay-At-Home Mom (Without Losing Yourself and Your Mind)

Confession time: I totally thought that motherhood would be a flippin' walk in the park compared to going to a 9-5 job. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I had visions of mommy and me classes, baby yoga, cooking extravagant meals while my angelic child played quietly in the living room. These visions that would not be happening because I had to work. I longed for the opportunity to stay at home each day as I drove my little cherub to daycare and dropped her off. I felt huge amounts of mommy guilt (read more about that here) and settled on working part-time so I could also spend time with my first born at home. The best of both worlds, I thought at the time... (I was wrong --- read about THAT one here).

Enter the impeding birth of child #2. (By the way, did you know that the last month of pregnancy is THE LONGEST MONTH EVER IN EXISTENCE?!?!) Hooray! We have jumped the gun and made the decision for me to stay at home and become the coveted, cherished STAY-AT-HOME MOM. And guess what? I'm happy, excited even... but I am not-so-secretly HORRIFIED.

Much like babies do not come with instruction manuals (which I find unacceptable and rude), neither does becoming a stay-at-home mom. Not so basically, you are working from home. You certainly are not sitting at home doing nothing, able to cook and clean and watch HGTV all day, all whilst your babies magically care for themselves. Often times, your baby's cry is your alarm clock, whether you are ready and well-rested or not, everybody needs something NOW, and no one in the house (including the dog) understands patience. Did you know that 7am-7pm is a REALLY long time? Actually a way longer day than if you were to go to a conventional job and get paid for going and working? I don't think many people realize this until you are there, looking at the clock and realizing it's only 11:30 am (and you still haven't brushed your teeth or had breakfast even, and it's already time for the babies to eat lunch).

So, I reached out for help. I called friends. I hit up the interwebs. Teach me, I begged and pleaded. Teach me how to be a stay-at-home mom. Because I want to be, I really do! But the learning curve is sharp (for me anyways), and despite my motherly prowess, it doesn't come naturally to all. Especially Type-A control freaks such as myself.

Here are some suggestions. They might work for you. You might have already known them. But if you are still reading this post, maybe you need the reminder, or maybe you are feeling a little crazy town like I am. I see you, girl! No shame in your game.

1. Treat being a stay-at-home mom like it is your away-from-home job. That means set your alarm clock, get up, brush your teeth, and slap on some makeup and some publicly acceptable clothing before your kid needs you all day. Not only will this make you FEEL better, but it will allow you to easily get the HECK out of the house when and if the opportunity presents itself without you looking like a crazy zombie mom.

2. Set up a routine. I know a lot of us THINK we just want to fly by the seat of our pants every day, but really, we don't. Well, let me rephrase: even if that's what you want, your little cherubs want a routine. So set one up from the get-go.

Ours looks like this:
6:30am - mom wake up, get ready
7am - kid wake up, kid get ready, coffee/milk time
7:30/8am - breakfast for all
8:30/9am - planned activity (play date, library time, target trip, more on this below)
11:30am - lunch
2pm- the beast awakes, snack, chill and play time
4pm - start thinking about dinner
6pm - dinner for all
7pm- bath for kid
7:30pm- bed for kid

Of course it doesn't always look like this, but in general, this is how it goes. And I'm about to have aforementioned child #2 so this may look WAY DIFFERENT for a little while, and for that, I am scared. But, set up a routine. It will help.

3. Schedule a planned activity to either get interaction for your kid and you inside OR outside the home. This could be: play date, trip to Target, trip to Starbucks, errands, library, story time, park district class, a walk outside, take them to the gym with you, whatever. Much like some of you, I thought the gym would be nonexistent for a couple years after I had kids. Then, a mom on one of my mom pages on Facebook mentioned this, and I have been enlightened ever since: Get a gym membership at a gym that has a childcare center (So, on average a gym membership might be $40 a month, and then to access the childcare it is on average $15 a month).... go to the gym, work out a little bit, sure, but then TAKE A SHOWER, an uninterrupted shower!!!!!!!, while your kids are playing and getting cared for. Maybe even read a magazine, get a smoothie, blow dry your hair AND straighten it. That right there, people, is worth $55 a month give or take, especially if you access it 3-4 times a week. Everybody wins. Mind completely blown.

4.  If possible, have someone relieve you of your cherubs one day a week. For me currently, I have this day set on Wednesdays. This is the day I schedule all of my doctor's appointments, clean, write in this beloved blog, do anything else I need to do. I know that I have Wednesdays if everything else goes to Hell in a hand basket. If you can't afford to hire someone, look at your other stay-at-home momma friends. See if you can do a switcharoo - i.e. on Mondays, you take my kids, and on Wednesday I'll take your kids.

5. Make friends with other stay-at-home moms. This is much like dating. I've seen funny videos talking about this, and really it TOTALLY IS LIKE DATING, which sucks. But having other stay-at-home moms that you can hang out with while the kids play, or commiserate with on a particularly crappy day is priceless.

6. Do things to make the essential things you have to do (outside of keeping the children alive) easier. For example, pre-make breakfast muffins and have your freezer loaded with go-to crockpot meals or casseroles. Have a plan for how you are going to keep the house semi-clean. (You can make that a part of your daily routine, or reserve it for your "day off".... but I would find a way to make it a part of your daily routine, who wants to clean all day the one day you don't have the kids crawling up your leg?)

7. Take care of you. I never realized how much things would change when I became a mother. Sure, I read about it, and people warned me about it ("you'll never sleep again!"), but I didn't really process or understand any of it. Schedule time to interact with other adults, even if at the time you really don't want to. Keep up with hair appointments, etc. because then you won't feel like you've been rode hard and put up wet after 4 months of no highlights. Get sleep, because you know your little cherubs are going to wake up every morning at 7am demanding food. Schedule date nights with your husband. Schedule lunches with your girlfriends. Schedule a girls night child-free with your best friends. It is so easy to lose sight of who you are, and yes, you are right, this time is ONLY TEMPORARY. But if you lose track of yourself for 3-4 years PER KID, once you are finally ready to take care of you again, you might not even recognize the person you have become (which isn't necessarily bad, but just beware). Sure, things change. People change. People grow up. Priorities change. But take care of you and the relationships that you hold near and dear to your heart, even if it doesn't feel possibly in these early years.

Hope these strategies help. They have really helped me prep myself for what is to come for myself over the next 3-4 years! Have I missed something? Do you agree/disagree with something I said? I'd love to hear your comments. Let me know how you survive being a stay-at-home mom!


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