Staying home with your young children is ripe with daily, simple pleasures -- and profound challenges, as well. Here are six tips that helped me maintain my sanity (and be the best mom I could be) when I was home full time with my three kids:
1. Stay focused on the bigger picture. If you're like me, you've read all kinds of parenting books about how to handle different scenarios that will come up in the lives of your children. In reality, my experiences with each of my three children have been completely unique. It's important to go easy on your own expectations of yourself and to know that sometimes there is not a black-and-white, right-or-wrong answer.
Strive each day to come from a place of peace and love and joy; get an inner vision of what kind of a mom you want to be and allow yourself to play out that vision. If you can manage to do that (most of the time), many of the details will fall into place naturally with your kids, and you won't be so worried about whether you are saying the right thing all the time. Stay balanced, stay calm, stay loving. Those are the most important things for sane stay-at-home moms.
2. Surround yourself with positive things. Read positive, uplifting books on parenting. Get to know other positive parents. As a stay at home mom, we are often the only adult in the house, so it falls on us to set the proper tone for our day with the kids. Make sure you are in the proper frame of mind, and if you're not, do what needs to be done so that you are in a positive mental state. You might need a brisk bit of exercise before your spouse leaves for work in the morning. You might need to invite a friend over for coffee or you may simply need a few minutes of quiet time with your favorite uplifting book. Your frame of mind is one of the most important aspects of a good day, and it's up to you to cultivate it. Your children will mirror your mood, so it's in your best interest to make it a good one.
3. Don't do this alone. It's vital to keep yourself connected, even if you stay in your own four walls most of the time. Here are a few ideas: Join a book club, keep engaged in professional clubs and associations, start a blog and reach out to other stay at home mothers. Whatever you do, it can be really helpful to connect with a group of other SAHMs. The moms I met in my first daughter's infant playgroup remain my friends to this day. Find a playgroup where you can get out of the house and talk to other stay at home moms about the unique challenges you are facing. Share your ideas and frustrations and even swap childcare so you can get out and do a few errands by yourself. A little bit of adult interaction goes a long way in helping you maintain your sanity.
4. Don't try to do too much. It has really helped me to guard closely my time alone with my spouse and kids. There are so many causes to get involved with and volunteer opportunities to be a part of. Keep in mind that, even though you aren't going to work full time, you still have a very important job and, especially while the kids are small, this is a job that is difficult to do successfully while juggling too many tasks. Think of this time in your life as a respite from the corporate world with its politics and demands. Think of this as a time to slow down and enjoy and nurture your children. They need you. There will be plenty of time for all the world's demands when your children are in school full time. It might not seem like it at the moment, but this truly is a short season of your life. Decide what are the most important things to get involved with right now, and leave the rest for later. By doing so, you are modeling a healthy lifestyle to your children, as well.
5. Work on something you truly love. Sometimes the best thing for our peace of mind is a small business or hobby that we can work at on the side. This is a great time of your life to start doing something (on a regular basis) that you've always loved to do. Over the next five years or so, this pursuit may even grow to something that you can do full time. Start a novel or a memoir, learn how to bead artistic jewelry, paint or scrapbook or start an online business. Having a hobby or a small business that you do on a very part-time basis while you are spending time at home with the kids is a great way to keep yourself active in the world of grownups, and it's a great way to keep yourself from being swallowed up the tedious chores of the day. Work can be so fulfilling. Let this time in your life help you to build something for yourself, as well.
6. Take good care of yourself. In order to stay in proper balance as a stay at home mom, you'll need to make a little bit of time each day to nurture yourself. When your children are napping or playing quietly by themselves, resist the urge to cram in one more chore. Instead, sit down, put your feet up and get lost in a book every now and then, if only for a few minutes.
Your time as a stay at home mom will likely be one of the most rewarding and one of the most challenging times in your life as a woman. Remind yourself each day that, though your job is difficult, it is also very important. And it's important that you stay balanced and happy as a mother, as well.
Jamie Jefferson writes for Momscape.com and Susies-Coupons.com, where she shares the web's best baby coupons including Baby Age coupons.