“It’s all messy: The hair. The bed. The words. The heart. Life.”
As of this month, I will have spent three years as a stay-at-home mom. It’s something I never planned or expected to do. However, once I made the decision to do it, a big sense of relief swept through our household. At the time, it was the right thing for me to do.
Anyways, with the arrival of this anniversary, I’ve decided to put together a list of things that have been really helpful and useful for me to keep a sense of sanity and organization. I know some people might think I just sit around on the couch and eat bon bons all day long. (I mean, come one. That only happens on Tuesdays.)
Ok, here’s my list!
1. Get out of your PJs. Maybe that seems obvious. But I have some amazing pairs of flannel PJ pants that I could spend days in when it’s -20 degrees out in January. Even if you don’t leave the house, if you look good, you feel good. Your kids (and probably significant other) will respond positively to you not schlepping around in your rags. Promise.
2. Meal planning. Everything in life comes back to food, doesn’t it? Three things work well for me: creating a weekly menu, strategically using leftovers, and cooking with the Crock-Pot. For us, I do grocery shopping on Monday after planning out a weekly menu. I always work in large dinner dishes that can stretch for a couple of nights. On busy days, it’s great to know we just have tasty leftovers instead of having to start over from scratch. On the subject of time-saving, I will also say that the Crock-Pot has become one of my best friends over the past few years. Don’t even put it away, just leave it on the kitchen counter!
3. Get out of your house. Again, it can be tough to get motivated to do so during Minnesota winters, but it’s worth it for several reasons. One great reason is that you cannot make a mess in your house if you are not there! (Am I brilliant or what?) A change of scenery is always what the doctor ordered for you and the little ones.
Outings never have to be extravagant. Playgrounds work just perfectly. And use Facebook for good (not evil) by taking note of what other families are up to. So really, once you’ve changed out of those comfy PJs, take your well-stocked diaper bag or purse, and get out into the world. For me, just getting out the door is a Herculean task, but I’m always glad that I did it!
4. Plan play dates and connect with stay-at-home parents. This is probably the biggest sanity-saver. Invite friends over, even if your house isn’t super-clean. (And ask them to help you clean it. Haha, joking, joking.) I’ve never regretted having friends over no matter the state of our home or the state of my hair. What’s great is that you realize that you are NOT ALONE. (“Really? Your kid sobs hysterically if you flush the toilet for them? Your daughter has been wearing her princess dress for five days straight too? THANK GOODNESS!”) Do not isolate yourself if you can help it!
5. Coffee. Ain’t no shame.
6. You time. I don’t mean staring at your phone playing Candy Crush Saga with bloodshot eyes. Or maybe I do. Find time to do something that gives you a bit of actual pleasure. For me it’s getting a chance to read a real book, asking Joe to watch the girls while I grab dinner with a girlfriend, making a chai tea latte in the afternoon, taking photos (not just of myself), or blogging. Sometimes these bits of me time occur in the morning before anyone wakes up or at night after everyone has gone to sleep. I recently had the chance to go ICE SKATING alone. This is something I did several times a week throughout adolescence and college, but somehow I haven’t managed to go in almost three years. And I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful that was!Sometimes I want to be as productive as possible whenever I have a free moment and free hands. Over time, I’ve realized it’s actually ok to JUST SIT DOWN. Or go skating. It just depends on how the spirit is moving me that day.
7. Spouse time. This can be tough to work in when the children actually have the ability to stay awake longer than you do. But if you can find
a sucker who likes cute kids a nice babysitter , you might be able to reconnect with your other half over food you can eat slowly. Oh, and say “thank you!” to each other. A little appreciation goes a long way! Lately, Joe and I have started rock climbing and it’s been an awesome way to spend time together as well as work on fitness. (We are all about multi-tasking around here.) We are going to do our best to keep at this!
8. Nap time For everyone.
9. Accept help Funny. It seems like the only thing harder than doing everything yourself is asking for help. Since I don’t get a W2 in January, on paper it seems like I have every day off. So I tend to feel guilty whenever I ask for “time off” or help. But it’s necessary. And the times people have helped me (watch the toddler while I take the baby to the doctor, help me organize our house before baby arrived, brought over food during those first post-partum weeks) were life-savers and those favors were worth their weight in gold. Say please, say thank you, and then pay it forward.
10. Enjoy! Enjoy the cuddles, the snuggles, and the fact that it might take 3 hours to finish one cup of coffee. Yes, there are always dishes to be washed, but that means I cooked and we ate well. There might be endless baskets of laundry, but that means we got outside, got dirty, and had fun. There might be days when bedtime does not go smoothly and all four of us are sleeping in the same room, but when in life is that going to happen again?
Sometimes it seems like everyone in the outside world is doing more important work, contributing to society, and moving up in the world while I’m singing the alphabet while shampooing little heads. That’s OK.Being a parent has made me more resourceful, more patient, and more creative. I’ve done things I’ve never done before (such as hug someone who is sitting on the toilet and cut someone’s fingernails while they are asleep). I feel that being home with my girls has still enabled me to grow as a person. I hope starting their lives out this way has been good for them too.Thanks for reading! This was a lengthy post so way to make it to the end. I hope you found something that was useful here. Have a great week!