Being a stay at home mom has always been my dream. That was the end goal. I watched my mom when I was a kid and could not wait for the day when I could do what she did. My mom made it seem so effortless. She always had dinner ready when my step-dad got home from work, the house was clean, she baked with us, arranged all of our activities and spent time with us everyday. She made us feel like her family was the most important thing in the world to her. Staying at home seemed easy.
Fast forward 25 years later. I have a family of my own and I’m home most of the time with them. I work outside of the home about 1 day a week. My dream has finally come true. However as much as I love it, IT IS NOT EASY.
I work more in my home than I do when I work a 12 hour shift in the hospital as an RN. The to-do list never ends, the demands for my time and attention do not stop from sunrise to sundown and I’m in charge of it all. One day runs into the next. My frequent coffee dates with friends slowly ceased to exist. . .I’m lucky if I get to have a bathroom break to myself! Yoga pants and t-shirts became the daily trend. I have enough dry shampoo in my hair if I light a candle I would probably catch on fire. Sometimes the only time I get to really “see” my husband is at the end of our long days when we collapse into bed exhausted managing the little people in our homes.
It can become very easy to get discouraged, disheartened and lonely in this season of life. When day after day consists of cleaning up after my littles, changing poopy diapers, chasing at least one of them down to bathe and doing endless piles of laundry you begin to wonder where you went. The routine of it all can be boring. You may dread having to wake up the next day just to do it all over again.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Wasn’t this supposed to be effortless and easy?
I do not want to do anything in my life that I resent or dread. Simple changes in my day help me find true JOY and HAPPINESS in my daily tasks as a SAHM! I decided to take back my days and my home so it was not in charge of me, I was in charge of it. MY HAPPINESS, no matter what I do, who I am or where I go is MY RESPONSIBILITY! Here are 10 habits I try to implement to help me find joy in the everyday!
- I make my bed EVERYDAY. Why? Because if nothing else gets done, that at least makes me feel I have done something. It is pleasing to the eye when I look at it and makes my bedroom feel cozy. It’s the best feeling at the end of the night to crawl into a nice made up bed, not one that is rumpled and chaotic. (There’s enough of that going on)
- Be ACTIVE. I try on a daily basis to do something active. I feel my best when I workout 3-4 times a week. It gives me more energy and helps me stay active with my kids. On the days I don’t work out or get to workout I try to go for walks with my kids, play with them on the playground or chase them around. We make sure our kids have time to get all that extra energy out, why wouldn’t we? Sometimes we don’t realize how much we need to burn off extra energy as adults . . . ex: overthinking, worry, micromanaging. I’m amazed at how much physical activity helps me with those problems.
- Have QUIET TIME each morning. This is crucial to how my day will unfold! If I manage to get up before my kids and have a moment to myself to get centered and spiritually grounded for the day I am much more prepared for what lies in front of me. If I don’t get up before my kids I still try to get them settled and have a few minutes to myself. If I don’t do this in the MORNING my day gets away from me before I know it. If all else fails there is naptime!
- Have a ROUTINE. This is not the holy grail, I do have to leave room for flexibility or I will drive myself and everyone around me nuts! However, if I have a routine that we follow at home, I know what to expect and so does my family. There are a lot less questions, battles over time/activities and more peace.
- MEAL PLANNING. This is also a part of a routine. Nothing is worse than realizing you have nothing to cook for dinner in the midst of a busy day, having to add a grocery run to the to-do list and throwing it together. Meal planning also helps me family stay within our budget. If I do not stay with in budget this adds to my worry and anxiety and this leads to an unhappy mama.
- Make time for your KIDS. This one is a biggie. I need frequent reminders myself. THIS IS WHY I’M AT HOME!!!! My purpose is to be at home with my kids and be available to them. I can’t do that if I am always caught up in a to-do list, errands, commitments with others. I try to simplify our lives so that I CAN make them a priority to let them know how much they mean to me. This does not mean I put everything on the back burner and play with them all day and things never get done. Again, I feel like a little planning and flexibility go a long way. I try to make sure during some part of my day I carve out time that is just for them. I try to put all other distractions aside and give them my undivided attention. Even if that is 15 minutes or 1 hour. Put the phone down, don’t check emails, social media or answer calls coming in. That way I feel best when I do have to go back to daily duties and cannot give them 100% of me. I know that I have been intentional with them.
- Clean up throughout my day. If I can take 15-20 minutes to clean up through out the day I feel less overwhelmed. I may think I will get it done when my kids go to bed, but let’s be real, by then mama is tired. It will have to wait until the next day and the mess will be even bigger. I usually have set times to do a quick tidy up after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then if anything needs to be done at the end of the day it usually isn’t going to take me too long or be too big of a task. Now that my bigger kids are older they help me with certain chores as well. They load/unload the dishwasher, sweep, vacuum, take the trash out, care for pets, make their beds and clean their own rooms, bathrooms. My 2 year old will help put away silverware, feed the dog and sometimes put toys away.
- Get enough REST. This is tricky and does not always happen. I try to go to bed right after my kids do. That’s usually around 830-9 pm. However if I stay up watching Netflix or scrolling my phone, I’m usually up until midnight. In the “bed” at 9 but not asleep until midnight. Nothing wrong with that AT ALL. But if I do that I am dragging in the morning and resentful at having to get up and do the “deal” all over again. So for me I try to have balance and be smart. I decide what do I want more, peace the next day or 5 episodes of The Office tonight?
- Forgive myself. Sometimes none of these things happen. I ride the struggle bus. I blow up on my kids. I hold them to expectations they will never be able to achieve. I get angry at my husband for not helping around the house more when he gets home from work. I lash out at those I love the most. I get lazy and slack on making my happiness my responsibility. This is when I need grace. I need to remind myself I am a human, with human feelings and emotion. I AM NOT SUPERMOM. I take a step back and try to figure out what is my part in all of this, what can I control or not control, what do I need to let go of or what do I need to do more of? I remind myself that I can start each day over whenever I need to. Tomorrow the sun will rise again and it will ALL BE OK.
- Plan Fun. No not for my kids. For mama. What makes you feel like your cup is filled? For me it is my afternoon cup of coffee that I get to look forward to throughout the day, a book I might pick up and read during naptime, getting lunch spontaneously with my husband, working out, calling a friend to talk on the way to run errands (without my kids), listening to a podcast. Things I do just for me. My husband and I try to make a date night twice a month our priority. Just getting dressed up to go out with him gives me so much to look forward to. Or doing a day date where we work on a project together or run errands just the two of us. We are not talking spending alot of money. I don’t have time nor money to have a weekly date with my mani/pedi girl or getting lunch once a week with a friend. I need this to be realistic. Something I don’t just talk about doing but actually do.
My success as a (mostly) stay at home happy mama depends not on what I do occasionally, but what I do consistently. When I take ownership over my life, stop being a victim to circumstances and decide to bloom where I am currently planted I am much more at peace and happy at home with my family.
I hope if you are struggling to find the joy in your days, that these tips will help you to be a happier stay at home mama!