It’s kind of odd being a stay at home mom much of the time. People have such varying expectations of you. Some figure you for lazy. Others know how much work you do. Too often immediate family takes you for granted.
There’s a lot to get done every day, and never enough time. You could drive yourself crazy with stress, but you’d be better off figuring out how to make the most of being a stay at home mom. With the right perspective and some good family support it’s a lot of fun. The parts where the kids are silly and you get to see them reach so many milestones are always fun, but some days you’ll wish the stress and noise would give you a break.
1. Take a break for you.
That’s right. When you need a break, find a way to take one. It won’t always be easy, but you need to take time for you.
The problem many stay at home moms have is that they’re on call 24/7 and they don’t ask enough help from their husbands. It’s that feeling that he works all day, discounting what you do all day yourself as just part of the deal. The simple truth is that you’re working hard too; it’s just a different kind of work, a different kind of hard. Much of what you do may seem like play to others, but if someone else did that for your kids, you’d probably have to pay them.
That’s why you need and deserve breaks. Children are demanding little rascals. You need a break so that you can deal with the demands in a better frame of mind, more relaxed, and with plenty of time to pursue your own interests.
There’s no good reason to drop all your interests just because you’re raising children, and many good reasons to keep them up. Reading to amuse yourself is a good example for the children, as is showing them that you have interests outside of their care. Nothing selfish about that. Instead you’re teaching your kids about things you like to do and that they can amuse themselves when you need time for yourself. You may still have to keep a bit of an eye on them while you pursue your interests, but the independence they learn in playing on their own, or with siblings and friends is a great skill.
2. Take time for your marriage.
Your kids need you quite a bit, but so does your husband. You need him too, and you both need time together. Make time for it.
Dates don’t have to be fancy, or even away from home. Put the kids to bed, shut off the TV or put a great movie you’ve been wanting to watch together, just make time for the two of you. A special dinner, some massage, even just talking, whatever sounds fun to the two of you.
That’s not to discount getting out on your own away from the house and the kids regularly. It’s just to point out that you don’t have to pay for a babysitter if you want to be spontaneous or the budget doesn’t work out. When you can get out together, do so. Have some fun.
It’s important to keep that connection in your marriage. It’s good for the both of you and a great example for the children. They need to know that your partnership as a married couple is a vital part of life.
3. Take time for your friends and other family.
Being a stay at home mom can be really lonely if you let it. Don’t.
This is a good time to quit talking about the kids and remember who you are. It will help encourage you to keep up your other interests, and of course it’s fun to have time with your own friends.
4. Take time for your career.
That’s right. Just because you’re a stay at home mom right now doesn’t mean you should neglect your career entirely. Stay at home moms have a lot of options right now to be there for their families and still either work from home or keep learning so they don’t lose all their work skills. Make the most of these opportunities.
This is important even if you think you’ll always be a stay at home mom. None of us know what the future holds. Death, divorce, layoffs, disabilities, all these things can mean you suddenly need to plunge back into the workforce. You should prepare in other ways financially as well, but keeping up some sort of job skills or running a home business can mean a lot in the long run.
There are a lot of ways to work at home, whether you telecommute from your usual career, freelance, take a simpler job that can be done from home or start your own business of one sort or another. The internet gives you more possibilities than your own mother had for an income from home.
You could also take time to further your career. Night classes, online classes, take something that will give your career a boost later on. Most of us don’t remain stay at home moms until retirement. Better to work to advance your career than to fall behind because your skills are out of date.
5. Have pride in your work as a stay at home mom.
Despite the common description, you aren’t “just” a stay at home mom. There’s nothing so little about it. You do complex, challenging work. Don’t minimize it. The work isn’t for everyone, but what job is?
You know you don’t have that much time for sitting and watching TV. Your day won’t sound like much to some people, but those who have been there know how much is really involved. Have a little fun talking about it when the topic comes up.