Tuesday, August 5, 2014:

How to survive Being a Stay At Home Mom

This job is extremely hard from the physicality of chasing busy toddlers to the emotional challenges of setting aside your "to do" list to keep your children engaged.  

Here is a list of things that will help you survive the early years of Stay-At-Home mommihood- hope it helps!

1. Lower your expectations.  Some days you'll be able to manage it all- You will have stayed on schedule, arrived early to activities, the laundry will be put away and, miraculously, the toys will have stayed in the playroom.  Other days you'll be running thirty minutes late to a forty-five minute Gymboree class, the wet laundry will need to be washed....again, and it will look like your home was just broken into by robbers searching for the very same puzzle piece you've spent weeks looking for.  Only the robbers were a bit more motivated and took the term, "turn this place upside down" literally.  Some days are just going to be messy and chaotic.  Try not to have an overly ambitious "to-do" list, or just prioritize one item on that list.  It's important to feel like you've accomplished something during the day, but manage your own expectations.

2. Try to get out at least once a day.  Some mornings I wake up and I'm so relieved that we don't have swim lessons or gymnastics or whatever scheduled activity I impulsively signed my kids up for.  But it's those mornings- the ones with no plans- that are always SO challenging.  The kids start climbing the walls by 10am and my easy morning of sipping coffee and watching the TODAY Show turns into pulling kids off coffee tables and wiping yogurt off my walls...again.

3.Television is Not the Enemy- we are media limited in our home.  Generally, the TV is only on long enough for me to accomplish a necessary task* (cooking, for example).  It's usually our last "go to" when independent play has resulted in one too many toddler altercations.  The key is to watch so little television (or use technology) that when you are desperate, you don't feel guilty watching Curious George on repeat.  Proactively DVR shows you like so that when the time comes, you can pull them up versus having shows that don't interest little one or, for lack of a better term, are just junk. *Maintaining my sanity IS a necessary task

4. Get comfortable with the mess.  My home is never as clean as I want it to be. Even when I have help, it always seems that they've cleaned just enough to uncover other areas that need cleaning.  I am, admittedly, a bit OCD- a complex I could indulge freely before becoming a parent.  But if I were to let my OCD tendencies get the best of me, I would not spend any quality/playtime with my kids.  Don't get me wrong- there are some days when I just can't take the mess anymore.  And on those days I revert to tip #1 and focus on one room in my home- making it my goal to tidy and clean it up by the end of the day.

5. Speaking of cleaning- hire help!  You don't need to get someone every week, we have help about two times a month.  I always try to declutter so that she can get to the big stuff (dusting, mopping, etc).  Once you get comfortable with your cleaner, book him/her for when you will be out of the house.  There is something so emotionally satisfying for a SAHM when she walks into her home- the same home that she spends so much time trying to maintain- and it's been professionally cleaned by someone whose only task is to clean and organize her home.  I am never happier than when I return home to a clean house.  Truth.  I am also never more inclined to repeatedly chant my "momtra" (more on this here) when, after exactly seven minutes of returning to our clean home, someone spills an entire squeezie pack all over the floor.  

6. Take a morning off.  The thing about being a SAHM is that you are constantly doing the same job...24/7.  You are constantly and actively caring for your kids- from the second they wake up in the morning (or in the middle of the night) until they finally go down at the end of the day.  Other adult human beings may have independent breaks throughout their day.  Time to gather their thoughts between meetings, independent bathroom breaks, lunch outings, and, if nothing else, a commute.  SAHMs don't get that.  So be your best advocate and acknowledge just how hard your day is and "block out your calendar" one morning a week, hire a sitter and do something for yourself- a mani/pedi, massage, or, as is often the case for my "me days", go grocery shopping alone- oh! What a luxury!!  No, seriously, it's amazing when you actually leave the grocery store because you've gotten everything on your list, not because your toddler is screaming or your youngest just dropped the mega-sized container of blueberries all over the produce department.

And when all else fails, there is wine.  I can always rely on wine (Thank you BabyCenter friends for pointing out this glaring omission).
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