Be Good To Yourself as a Stay-at-Home- Mom
20 Tips To Make At Home Mothering Easier and More Organized
Being a mom is one of life's hardest jobs. When I stayed at home with my kids, many women I met asked me how I did it because they stated they would rather go out to work than stay home day after day with their children. They thought they would get bored or go stir crazy. In response to that, I wrote a list of things at home moms can do to be good to themselves so that each day they would feel refreshed and fulfilled, instead of burnt out and resentful.
The twenty tips that follow are from that list. I hope any stay at home moms that read this list find it useful. It really did help me.
1) Get Plenty of Rest
Chasing children around all day can be tiring. Children seem to have so much energy, and for adults, this is often quite a challenge. Getting plenty of rest each night will ensure that the at home mom will be at her best energy level and the children will remember that their mom was energetic enough to play with them. If it's safe to take a nap when they do, and you feel you need the rest, definitely nap when your kids do. It's amazing how much energy a 20 or 30-minute nap will give a busy mom.
2) Eat Right
Again regarding energy levels, at home moms need to make sure they eat a healthy diet. This does not mean that cleaning off the leftovers on their children's plates constitutes a good lunch. The saying goes in the health field that, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." That is true for adults as well as children. I believe that most moms always put their families first which means that while ensuring that the children have a good healthy breakfast, mom may not make time for herself to actually prepare a nutritious meal and sit down and eat that first meal of the day. The same goes for lunch. Usually, dinner is somewhat more involved and tends to be relaxing if the whole family sits down. Often this is the only meal of the day where moms actually take the time to sit down and eat. Sitting down to eat aids with digestion, so moms need that time, relax a bit and let their food digest. Breakfast can be something as simple as fruit and yogurt, or a bowl of healthy cereal, with a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee. But whatever it is that is eaten in the morning helps to wake the body up and give it the energy to start the day. Most moms of young children will need this source of energy to help them have as much energy as the kids. Especially if the morning includes leaving the house for library story time, swimming lessons, grocery shopping, or a whole host of other errands that moms often need to run, with kids in tow. Lunch can be simple as well, but just as important. A sandwich or salad and a piece of fruit work well and are easy to make. And dinner time can be made easy by making extra meals on the weekends and freezing them. Adding a salad to any meal is quick and easy, especially when using bagged salads, and can offer a nutritious serving of vegetables. One school of thought is that for adults to keep their weight down and feel at their best is to eat 5 - 6 small, healthy meals each day. This means moms should include snacks in between their three meals. Snacks that are good for the kids are often good for you as well. So slice up some extra celery sticks or apple slices, or sit down and have some popcorn with the kids. The break will do all of you good and keep you feeling energized all through the day.
3) Exercise Regularly
Ugh...you may be thinking there's that word again. Many moms often feel frustrated by the need for exercise but the lack of time to do it. One tip that often works well is to work exercise into your day. I am sure you have seen the jogging strollers out on the market. If you are a jogger, that will work great for mom to get exercise. Or put a dance tape into the cd player and have the kids jump around and dance with you. Many local gyms now have nurseries where moms can bring their children for a very low babysitting fee. That way the kids are having fun and are well supervised while mom works out. You can also wait till Dad comes home and head out to an exercise class to spend time with other adults and do something good for yourself. Some moms feel the break from the house, and the chance to be with other adults helps them as much as the physical exercise.
4) Wear Makeup and your Favorite Clothes at Home and in Public
When you look good, you feel good. If you are the type of person who enjoys makeup and like wearing it every day to look your best, then wear it at home too. But if you like to go fresh-faced with no makeup, that may work best for you. Make sure to keep your skin hydrated with moisturizer, especially in Winter, so you will feel good in the skin you're in. If you like to wear skirts or have a favorite pair of jeans that make you feel great, wear them at home or out and about with the kids. Psychologically looking your best makes you feel your best, so you don't have to wear your sweats just because you are home with your kids. Wear whatever makes you feel your best to help you be at your best.
5) Take Bubble Baths
Stay-at-Home Moms need pampering just like working moms do. If you have had a hard day with the kids, shopping, cooking, cleaning, you deserve a treat so don't be afraid to give yourself permission for a spa night...at home or at the spa. If you are trying to save money so you can stay home with the kids, a bubble bath, a good book and a glass of wine or tea work wonders to sooth the frazzled soul.
6) Leave the Kids With Your Husband, Mom, Sister, etc.
When you need a mini vacation and need time away from the house for an hour or two, don't be afraid to ask for back up. Getting away from the kids doesn't mean you don't love them. Taking time out for yourself gives you a chance to just take a breather and gather your wits about you. Your trip out can be for an hour or a day. You could take in a movie, go to Dunkin Donuts with a good book for a cup of coffee, etc.
7) Get Together with Another Female Adult
Don't neglect your friends just because you are a mom now. The friendship of other adult females is important. Our female friends give us a different perspective on life than two-year-olds can. Getting together with friends can renew your spirit and talking about concerns other than mud pies and why the sky is blue helps moms remember that they are interesting and contributing members of society outside of the home. If you make time to go out with other moms who also have young children, comparing notes and funny stories can also be fun and uplifting.
8) Hire a Babysitter
If your husband often travels for work and is not around regularly to be with the kids if you need a break, don't be afraid to hire a babysitter. You need some time to refresh yourself sans kids, and you'll be a better mom if you get periodic breaks. If money is not available for a babysitter, try to arrange a babysitting swap with other moms so you all can get time away without the stress of paying for it.
9) Find a Creative Outlet
Crafting or creating something of your own can often be a source of pleasure and joy. Creating things brings an immediate sense of satisfaction of a job well done. Often, at home parents have to wait months or maybe years to feel that they have accomplished something worthwhile by staying home with the kids. They can look back at their healthy and successful grown or almost grown children and feel a sense of pride that the time they invested in their children has paid off. But for the shorter term sense of accomplishment seek a creative outlet. Creative outlets can be anything from writing poems, writing for Hub Pages, sewing, painting, scrap booking, photography, etc.. For those who don't need a tangible outcome but enjoy creativity, taking ballet or music lessons, singing lessons, singing in the church choir, etc. will all bring a sense of pleasure in creating something beautiful outside of oneself.
10) Keep a Journal to Record Special Moments and Days
Journal writing can be very rewarding in itself but add to that some daily blessings or cute and funny things your kids said will bring back wonderful memories for years to come. To read more about starting an actual Blessings Journal, see the link to that hub below. But anyone can start a journal to remember special days and funny kid sayings. When children get older, you can regale them for years to come with funny things they said or did.
11) Join a "Mother's Group"
There are many groups in communities set up specifically to support moms at home. I have written hubs about some of them, including Mothers of pre-schoolers also known as MOPS ( see link below) and Mom's Club International ( link also below). There are also a National Mothers of Twins Clubs which not only provide support for mothers of multiples, not just twins but also provide activities for children on a weekly basis. If none of these types of groups are available in your area, start a Mother's Group of your own, and include your kids. Interacting with other moms of young children helps moms with advice and ideas for new activities and places to visit that you and your children have never been to before. If you have a special interest that you think other moms in your community may have, get the word out that you want to start an informal group to trade coupons, knit, talk about books, etc. If you have trouble getting the word out, turn to Facebook to find some like-minded moms in your community who may be interested in the same subject. Meet at a local library in the Children's Department, or at a local playground or park so that the kids can meet and enjoy themselves while the moms encourage each other.
12) Take a Coffee Break Daily
Give yourself 20 - 30 minutes each day for a coffee break. If you were out in the working world, you would receive various breaks and a lunch period to take a break and get your mind off work. Coming back to work after such a break, you would feel refreshed and ready to conquer your workload again. The same goes for moms at home. Some moms feel most comfortable doing this during nap time for the kids. Or they bring the kids to lessons and take the 30 minutes during ice skating time to do a "mom" thing. Do whatever feels restful for this short period of time...no housework or paying bills, just break time for mom. Many moms sit with coffee and tea and read the paper or their newest book, do a crossword puzzle, check in with friends on Facebook, or write in a journal. Some prefer to sit on the front porch and watch the world go by. Do whatever it is that can refresh you in a 30-minute time span. And if you haven't eaten lunch with your kids already, take this time to have a few bites of something nutritious to make sure to accomplish # 2 on this list.
13) Keep Communications Open With Your Husband or Significant Other
Let your co-parent know how important you feel it is that you are home with your children. Make sure he is aware of how grateful you are that he supports you emotionally and financially in this endeavor, which is hopefully a joint goal between the two of you. Talk often about what you both need to continue to make this arrangement work. If he is resentful that he is the breadwinner and you are home with the kids, look into something you can do from home to earn some extra money or take a class on budgeting or coupon use to help you save money instead. There are lots of articles online for people looking to earn money from home, as well as on saving money, budgeting, coupon use, etc.
14) Make a Regular Date Night With Your Husband
Sometimes husbands feel replaced by their children in the family dynamics. This may be especially true when you are home all day with the kids and your main focus every day is their well-being. He may feel taken for granted that he works hard outside the home all week and thinks you are home playing. It's important for him to remember that the mother of his children still loves him, and wants to make him a priority too. Make a weekly or monthly date night with your sweetheart to remind him you two are still a couple. Men are not always as good as women at remembering to plan romantic interludes so that may become your responsibility. This date could include anything from going out to dinner, a movie, bowling for a few hours, to dropping the kids off at grandma's for an overnight treat. This treat would be for both the kids and the parents!
15) Delegate Housework
If your children are old enough, make sure to insist that they and Dad help with chores around the house. You are not at home to be the family maid. Young children can still do valuable work around the house which can include setting the table, bringing dirty clothes to the hamper, sweeping the entryway, putting newspapers in the recycle bin, etc. Not only will this help you out, but it will also help children feel proud of the contributions they can make to the family.
16) Have a Housecleaning Schedule
It will be easier for you to keep a schedule of housecleaning chores that you do daily rather than trying to do everything all at once on the weekend. Each day you can check the schedule and know what has to be done to keep the house clean and orderly. Once you have crossed off the items that have to be done that day, by you and other family members, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. If needed, have one day on the weekend where everyone helps out on a mega cleaning day, and the rest of the week will consist of just touch ups like a quick vacuuming job, sweeping the kitchen floor, taking the garbage out, doing dishes, etc.
17) Keep Up With Clutter so it Doesn't Overwhelm You
Try to touch mail only once when it first comes in the house. Put bills in one pile, throw junk mail away immediately, and try to attend to anything else as soon as possible. Have children pick up the toys or projects they were playing with when they are done with them. Only then should they be able to move onto the next activity. Have everyone put dirty clothes in the hamper immediately, so you won't have to go around the house on laundry day looking for dirty socks and wet towels that were thrown on the floor. It is easier to clean up one messy area at a time, rather than wait till the whole house is full of clutter and try to pick up everything later.
18) Try to Write Up Quick and Easy Meals at the Beginning of the Week
Writing a list of meals you have planned for the week will help you also write a grocery list to make sure you have all the needed ingredients. It lessens the stress and uncertainty you may have each afternoon about what to make for dinner. Having ideas already written out means just pulling the appropriate items out of the cupboards and start cooking. If you plan your meals out for the week and run out of time to make what you had planned one night, you can switch off with a menu for a different night. For example, if swimming lessons ran late on Tuesday afternoon, you can switch it out with something quick and easy that you were going to make Thursday night, and have the meal that takes longer to prepare on Thursday. On your list, write not only the main item for the meal but also side dishes as well.
19) Be Assertive
Many people will assume that because you are at home raising your children, you have plenty of time to volunteer for school and community events. In order to preserve the time you spend with your children and taking care of your family, you will need to learn to be assertive and say no when the job would take too much of your time or you don't think it would add value to your life. If you don't want to be the room mother for your kindergartener's class, say no, but offer to do something else that would add value instead. Say you are available to chaperone for school field trips, or to bake for holiday parties but you can't commit to the time it would take to be a room mother. If you don't feel comfortable being a Sunday school teacher at church, offer to be a substitute instead. The time you have to be at home with your children goes by quickly, and you may regret being over involved in things outside the home.
20) Enjoy the Time at Home With Your Children
Cherish the time you spend at home with your children. Make sure to take videos, pictures, and write down the funny stories and things they say. The time with them goes so fast that when they are grown, you will have these treasured memories to share with them and be glad you made the effort to be an at home mom and be available to your children in every area of their lives.
If you feel you need more tips, here's a book I love that is full of support for stay-at-home moms...
At Home Mom Poll
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