They’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Stay at home moms have one of the hardest jobs I know. Compared to my 3-days a week part-time job, staying at home Thursday-Sunday with the little one, my work there is a breeze.
I’ve read plenty of articles in the magazines I’m subscribed to, along with tons of online blog posts and tips. Most of them give you un-realistic expectations of what it will be like to stay at home with your child so I wanted to give you the honest truth about my schedule and what I do to stay sane.
First things first…
1. Our apartment is baby-proofed
Every morning before I go in to get him out of bed I pick up the remotes and anything else that I know he will want to get into. It’s a quick check that keeps me from morning meltdowns and tantrums that come with this lovely age. It also means I’m not running after him every five minutes pulling something out of his mouth, or taking something he’s not supposed to have, from him. We keep things he doesn’t need to get to in our bedroom or up on the counters. There are guards over the plug-ins and even better guards where things are plugged in so he can’t sit there and play with the outlet. All the cabinets have baby locks on them, so for the most part, he’s got his room full of toys and he brings them out into the rest of the apartment and it’s okay. It’s perfectly fine for me to be able to not have my eyes on him all the time. And that’s step one to staying sane.
2. I lock the door when I have to go to the bathroom.
There are so many mothers out there that complain about not having privacy or losing it when their child is born. But I can sit in the bathroom and listen to know what is going on, and he’s perfectly fine being by himself for 5 minutes or so. (This is a great reason to REALLY baby proof your house) This is a great way for him to become more independent and know that I don’t have to be within inches of him at every moment of the day. I’ll be the person to tell you… It’s okay to leave them by themselves for a few minutes and the more often you do this, the better off you will be in the long run. They will be more emotionally strong and will not bawl every time you leave the room. And again, it’s okay. I promise.
3. Nap time is MY time.
I will put him down for a nap, which usually lasts for two and a half hours, sit on the couch and wait for the cooing and baby babble to stop, and then I light a candle, grab a snack and choose one of my favorite activities to do. Today he was especially grumpy before I put him down, which in-turn made me a little more stressed than usual. These days are the days when I grab a book or magazine, a cold drink like ice tea, and sit out on the porch while he sleeps. Once I know he’s asleep usually I can get by with leaving the door cracked so I can hear if he cries, but this gives me a sense of independence which is hard to come by when you are alone with a child all day. But don’t worry, it’s normal to feel this way. You’re allowed to get overwhelmed, you’re allowed take a break and sit outside while they nap. It’s okay, I promise. If you still feel guilty, set aside an extra hour of playtime dedicated to helping them learn something or just to make them a little more happy. There, feel better? 🙂
And the last and final thing…
4. Babysitters are your best friend.
You deserve a night off. You deserve a date night, a movie night or even mid-day date to go kayaking. Take time for yourself, take time for your relationship. Once you have kids, it’s all about your kids all the time… And there is nothing wrong with that because they need you. But be strong enough to realize when you, and your partner need a break too. If you counted how many things you did for your children vs how many things you did for yourself, you would be astounded. Make sure you’re making time to work on yourself, or your relationship. It still needs love and affection. It still needs the amount of attention that you give to your kids. It is always going to be about your children, but without your happiness, it’s going to be hard to make anyone else happy. Make sure you’re giving the love an affection that your relationship needs too.