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Being a stay at home mom is hard. It’s a good hard, but it’s still hard! There are some common struggles stay at home moms have, so let’s talk about what those are, and what you can do about them!
1. No time for self care
This is hard! As a mom, you always put your family’s needs ahead of your own. Someone always needs you to fix a snack, kiss an owe, help clean up a spill, search for the lost favorite stuffed animal, start a load of laundry, cook another meal, wipe a runny nose, rock a fussy baby, and on and on it goes. That’s part of serving in motherhood!
But being a mother doesn’t mean that your needs are unimportant. You matter, too, mama! Sometimes, not having time for self care is a matter of priorities.
Are you making your own needs a priority? Do you put more importance on sweeping the floor (again!) than on you resting for 10 minutes in the afternoon? Are you spending 30 minutes folding the baby’s laundry when you could be going for a walk – caring for your mind and physical body?
Let’s just rip the bandaid off and say it: housework will always be there, and you will never catch up. So be sure that you’re prioritizing what’s really important (you are – God created you!), and creating space in your days for self-care for you.
I’ve heard well-meaning christians say that since Jesus laid down his life for us, we as mothers should model that by dying to ourselves and sacrificing all – even our health and mental sanity – for our children.
But this is bad theology in this context because:
1. Jesus took his own rest and time with the Father
2. We’re not dying for the sins of the world here. We’re trying to make it to bedtime with everyone alive, and hopefully teach them a little gospel along the way!
Mama, it is good and right for you to take time to care for yourself. To go to the gym, to make your own doctor and dentist appointments, to have a morning routine. Self-care is not selfish!
2. No alone time
Oh this one is so hard for me! As an introvert, I thrive and recharge with regular alone time. As a mom of four young boys, I don’t get a lot of alone time. In fact, I wouldn’t get ANY if I didn’t purposefully make it happen!
If you struggle with not having alone time, here are some ideas to help you start building this into your day:
2. Have a morning routine – even if it’s super short!
3. Align nap times if you have two+ kids
4. Implement afternoon rest time if you have older kids
5. Go for a short walk before or after your husband gets home from work
3. Not enough time with spouse
It’s no secret that having children changes your marriage. And if you’re not careful, it’s easy to slip into permanent mom and dad mode – and let your relationship take the back seat. This isn’t good for your marriage or your kids!
Of course it’s reeeeeeeally nice to be able to go out on a date, but sometimes, this just isn’t possible. Maybe you don’t live near family and don’t have a babysitter. Maybe you can’t afford to go out – we couldn’t for years after we had kids!
So what we did was institute two practices:
Friday night home date night
Daily couch time
Friday night home date night is pretty simple. The kids go to bed at 7 or 8 (depending on age), and I make homemade pizza to pop in the oven after the kids are down for the night. Then David and I snuggle on the couch with pizza and a movie. It’s pretty easy, and super cheap! We look forward to it all week long. If pizza’s not your thing, you could do any fun meal you both enjoy. Just choose something you’re excited about!
Couch time takes a little more effort to establish, because you do this when your kids are awake.
Couch time is 10-15 minutes where you and your spouse sit on the couch and chat about how your days went.
Kids can be watching a movie, playing quietly nearby or in their rooms, or occupied doing an independent activity. This is also a great opportunity to teach kids not to interrupt conversations, and to wait patiently.
The point of this is to:
1. Hear about how your spouse’s day was.
2. Let your children see you prioritizing your marriage. This builds security for them!
3. Make time for you to focus on your spouse every day.
4. Helps your kids practice waiting patiently without interrupting.
It takes a few weeks of practice, but I promise it is well worth the effort!
David and I have also recently started Tuesday comedy nights. Similar idea to Friday night date night, but we just have some milk and cookies after the kids are in bed, and we listen to or watch some comedy together. We like most stuff by John Crist, Trey Kennedy, Tim Hawkins, Jim Gaffigan, and Ultra Spiritual Life.
You could also play a board or card game together (our favorite is this one!), sit by a fire together and drink hot cocoa, etc. Anything that you enjoy doing together that has you NOT on your phones 😉
4. Staying organized at home
When you’re home all day with little kids, it is HARD to keep everything organized! Keeping up with laundry, staying on top of dishes, meal planning and prep, family schedules and commitments, bill paying, buying clothes before there’s a dire need for size 2T pants and it’s snowing – there are a lot of moving parts to keep up with at home. Staying organized is definitely a struggle for the stay at home mom!
Here are a few tips that I’ve found help me a ton to stay organized at home:
1. Get rid of the clutter. Seriously, when you have more stuff to organize, well, it’s going to take more of your time! If you do a ruthless purge and pare down the toys, knick knacks, household items, and clothing, you’ll find it’s immediately easier to stay organized. Because you made the job smaller!
2. Delegate. Are you the only family member doing laundry? Why is that? An older child and your hubby are just as capable of switching a load of laundry as you are. See if there’s something on your plate that someone else can handle.
An unconventional view of delegating would be using more small appliances and paper plates. I use my rice cooker, instant pot, and crock pot almost daily, and they save me tons of time in the kitchen! And I treat myself to 180 Dixie paper plates at Costco every month, and it’s worth every dime.
If you have trouble letting other people take over jobs because they load the dishwasher ALL WRONG, head over to Amazon and get the book It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee. It was life changing for this recovering control freak 😉
3. Make a cleaning/household management schedule. When you have clear routines and a schedule to follow, it takes the guess work out of staying organized at home. This frees up mental space AND time, so you can spend both with the people you love!
Be realistic if you’re making your own cleaning schedule. It might sound great to have “clean windows” every week, but really? Is that necessary, or even going to happen? Stick to the basics and things that make you feel the most accomplished and relaxed at home. For me, weekly, that’s clean bathrooms, clean floors, and occasional dusting. Don’t shoot for perfection; aim for pleasant to live in.
I also jot down in my planner things like:
“Sort kids’ clothes, buy for winter”
“D needs shorts” or
“Find good boots”.
Away from home activities, our weekly meal plan and kitchen prep list, bills to pay, etc. are all listed out in my planner, too. Basically my brain on paper! A good planner or bullet journal will really help you stay organized at home. Do you have one you love? If not, make it a priority to get one ASAP!
5. Having patience
Well, I wish I had better news for you, but I am not great at this. Having patience is definitely a struggle many stay at home moms relate to!
But I have found some things help me keep my patience while staying at home with little kids.
1. Teach your kids to stay in bed. Seriously, if I know I will have a break at night and in the early morning, it helps me be more patient during the day when things get crazy.
2. Have a schedule during the day. When there’s a basic routine you follow each day, kids are generally more calm and agreeable. Children thrive on routine! So having a schedule can help you have more patience because it prevents some misbehavior in the first place.
Bonus: when you’re creating your schedule, you can strategically place outside play time or quiet movie time at the times of day when you know you struggle to stay patient. Also, a well-timed snack can boost the blood sugar and prevent some meltdowns (from kids and mom!).
For me, that means around 10:30am we take a break from homeschooling, eat a small morning snack, and the boys go outside to play for a while before lunch. We also do a short movie time most evenings between supper and bedtime.
Plan for your crazy times and head them off to stay more patient!
6. Loneliness and isolation
Another common struggle of stay at home moms is the loneliness and isolation staying at home can bring. When you’re surrounded by (adorable) tiny humans, poopy diapers, and Thomas the Train every day with limited adult interaction, it can be draining.
Add in some sickness, conflicting nap times, early bedtimes, and a spouse’s work schedule, and it can start to feel like you’re, in some ways, a prisoner in your own home.
Connecting with friends is tough when you have small children. It’s not a walk in the park to go for a walk in the park! But it is so necessary to stay connected. How do we do this when we’re dealing with these competing factors?
1. Get out when you can, even when it’s inconvenient. This means piling every kid and sippy cup in the van and going for that walk in the park with a friend. Meet at Chik Fil A and let the kids play while you have a conversation with anther adult. Go to the play date, even if the kids’ behavior isn’t ideal today. It won’t be perfect, but it will still be good!
2. When you can’t get out, use technology! It doesn’t replace face to face interaction, but when it’s winter and the kids have snotty noses, hop on Facetime or Marco Polo and have come video chat time with a friend. It’s ALMOST as good as a coffee date 😉
7. Expectations and mental load of motherhood
There’s a lot of pressure on stay at home moms to keep the house perfectly clean (always), cook delicious healthy meals (3 times every day), dress yourself and the children well (yeah and keep up with the laundry), go to the gym and stay fit, oh and have plenty of energy to share with your hubby after the kids are in bed each night.
And why couldn’t we? After all, we’re at home all day long.
Then there’s the mental load of motherhood. It’s constant. Moms don’t get days off. Even sick days are far from restful for moms, usually just being an opportunity to get behind on housework. Sigh.
It can feel like a really heavy weight to carry these expectations and the mental load of motherhood.
Mama, can I encourage you to push away from those unrealistic expectations and instead embrace a healthy balance and view of your work at home? You don’t have to conform to society’s expectations. If you’re feeling weighed down by expectations, a great place to start getting out from under that is Matthew 11:28-30. Then you can start to discern which expectations and priorities are from God, and which are from society – and you can throw those right off.
Nothing changes the constantness of motherhood, but if you get rid of unrealistic expectations, you can build some practical routines into your days to give yourself some rest – mental and physical.
I count it a great blessing to stay at home with my children, but I still relate to every single one of these struggles of stay at home moms!
Do you relate to these? Which one is hardest for you?
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