So, you just left your corporate job to pursue your dream job as a stay at home parent. Congratulations! I know how tough a decision this is for you and your family. You’re scared of the unknown and nervous you’re not cut out for full time stay at home parenting.
Or, maybe you’ve been a stay at home parent for a while but you’re feeling run down. You’re questioning whether you’re cut out for this.
Either way, I promise you, if your heart is calling you to be home, it’s probably not lying. The sacrifice cannot be overstated but I also promise you, it’s worth it.
Not every day is rainbows and sunshine. Being a stay at home parent is hard. Devoting yourself to someone else’s happiness can put a toll on your mental health.
But guess what?! I don’t dread Mondays. I don’t cling to my husband’s leg as he’s walking out the door pleading him not to go. I believe there are simple changes in routine and habit that can help you avoid common mental health traps and parent joyfully.
At first I titled this blog post “A Stay at Home Mom’s Survival Guide”. But, survival? Seriously? The goal isn’t to merely survive motherhood. The goal is to do it joyfully, with our heart open to our children and our partner. The goal isn’t to hang on to yourself, it’s to find an even better and happier version. Here are my tips to THRIVE!
Wake up BEFORE your baby and use that time wisely!
Hey! I saw that eye roll! I know you’ve heard this little hack before and I know what you’re thinking – “I’m tired. My kid isn’t sleeping well. I need the rest.” And guess what?! Me too! But here is the deal, starting your day off with an hour or so to yourself without a toddler clinging to your leg is a total game changer.
As a stay at home mom, I imagine that waking up to a crying baby is the equivalent of your corporate boss waking you up with a phone call demanding that you immediately make and spoon feed them breakfast. A few phone calls like that would probably make you resent your boss and you may start looking for another job.
There is a reason why I listed this one first. My morning routine is literally the most important part of my day. I promise you, a solid morning routine can change your life. So, stop with the eye roll and listen up!
I recommend that you write down what you’re grateful for, write down your goals, set intentions for how you want to be as a mother and partner, exercise, plan out your day and of course, caffeinate and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Avoid the Television!
Honestly, have you ever felt better after watching TV? It’s a slippery slope. One show always turns into two or three and suddenly, you’ve not accomplished a thing and you are feeling guilty about not spending more time with your little one. Just don’t turn it on. If you like the background noise, I recommend playing music instead. Spontaneous dance parties are good for the soul.
Back away from the pantry. Stop eating the animal crackers you “bought for your toddler”. When you’re busy trying to keep a tiny person alive it is so easy to skip meals. Skipping meals inevitably results in excess snacking. I have fallen into this trap before and it’s HARD to get out of. Meal prepping as if you were headed into the office is helpful. I like to write down our weekly meal plan, snacks included.
Stick to a daily clean up routine
I’m not suggesting that you clean your entire house top to bottom everyday, that is unrealistic. BUT, there are certain quick and easy clean up routines that will save you the stress of a messy home.
Here is what works for me: Before bed, load and start the dishwasher, wipe down the kitchen counters, pick up any toys lingering from the post-dinner play and do a quick vacuum of your main living space. In the morning, unload your dishwasher.
That’s it! I wake up every morning truly grateful for an empty sink and you will too, promise!
Get out of the house!
Keeping busy is an important part of your mental health and the development of your child. Be cautious if you’re allowing more than one full day at home in a week. When I first became a stay at home parent I struggled with this. I had social anxiety about meeting other moms so I’d talk myself into staying home. Even the most brilliant morning routine can’t save you from the negative impacts of being a hermit. I’ve had my fair share of stressful outings but I have never once regretted getting out of the house.
So, go on Facebook and find local playgroups. These playgroups are usually FREE. If feasible, I also recommend checking out music classes, art classes or other paid organized groups. These are also great ways to meet other like-minded parents!
I hope that these tips help you find joy as a stay at home mother. Take it easy on yourself. Don’t feel pressured into filling every second of your child’s day. The most treasured memories are found in the quietness of life at home. And seriously, do you love your child deeply? I thought so. And that means you’re doing great.
Jenn Carr is a wife and SAHM to her adorable son, Theodore. She resides on the coast in Maine, and enjoys writing, photography and organizing. Jenn is fueled with a mission for optimizing life, being joyful and encouraging others to live their best lives. You can read more about her here!