Dear Stay-at-Home Mom,
If you had told me 10 years ago that I would end up being a stay at home mom who home-schooled her children, I would have straight up punched you in the throat—then laughed. Then probably punched you again. I’m only telling you this to give you a better idea of your author. I didn’t plan on this role, but I didn’t plan on marriage or children either, and I had no idea how much they would turn my life and my heart upside down—for the better!
Maybe this was always your dream, or maybe you fell into this role as I did. Regardless, if you’re a SAHM, you probably need some encouragement and, most likely, some sanity today. And if you’re having an awesome mom day, then rock on! I love those days! But save this for another day because this job, your job, often lacks encouragement, and as wonderful as this role can be, it can be really tough, too.
This is what leads me to a little gift I have for you. I want to give you an extra “s” in your acronym. SSAHM. That extra “S” represents the “Sane Stay-at-Home Mom,” and I want to share a list with you that will help you become exactly that!
Here are 8 tips to being a Sane Stay-at-Home Mom:
1. Don’t defend yourself.
This is a choice that you and your man have made, and you don’t have to defend yourself to anyone else who might ask why you “don’t have a job.” That includes you! This is a tough one because I feel like the SAHM role is constantly undermined in the media, the world, and sometimes even in our own minds! One time, a guy asked me why I was wasting my marketing degree and International MBA at home when I could be making a lot of money and making a big difference in the world. I’ll be honest, that stung a little! Partly because those were questions I had wrestled with on my own. But at the end of the day, I am making a difference. It might not be on a grand scale, and I might not see it until my children are grown, but I am making a difference in their lives. Don’t defend yourself. You made a choice. Walk boldly and confidently in that decision.
2. Remind yourself that you are valuable.
In the same spirit as the previous tip, part of not needing to defend yourself is to often tell yourself the truth about who you are, what you do, and that it matters. You are there for your husband and children in so many different ways (budgeting, cleaning, educating, organizing, cooking, endless laundry folding), and yet it can often be thankless and can feel like you haven’t accomplished much since you never get time off, you’re not paid, and there are no promotions to be earned. To make it even more difficult, you rarely get to cross things off your “to-do” list because every day, the list starts completely over! That can be discouraging for a goal-driven person, but the little things matter, and they eventually add up to big things and big fruits.
You made a choice. Walk boldly and confidently in that decision.
3. Never stop learning.
There isn’t a lot of extra brain power going around due to the constant interruptions. I remember going on a solo trip to Haiti for a few days and laughing out loud after about 24 hours because I thought, “I’m smart! I forgot I was smart!” When you rarely have a complete thought due to the consistent needs of your family, it can be very exhausting to your brain. Have an outlet. Figure out something that is interesting to you and pursue it. This may not be an everyday occurrence, but at least a few times a week, you can usually find a way to pursue a passion or interest.
Whether it’s health, finances, reading, writing, essential oils, or a subject you want to learn more about, take some time and devote it to that. I think resentment would easily set in if you never created time to pursue your own interests or dreams. The constant demands make it seem impossible, but it’s not. Little steps are better than no steps. You will respect yourself more, and so will your family if you make yourself a priority, too.
4. Husband first, kids second.
Kids tend to take over our lives, but when we don’t get this order right, everyone suffers—especially the kids. One day, they won’t be living with you anymore, and you could end up married to a stranger. Nurture your marriage. Date nights don’t have to be extravagant nights out. They can be a card game with a glass of wine or a picnic dinner on the porch. Just take that time to reconnect. You will enjoy your spouse more, and your children will see firsthand what being happily married looks like, which does more for their sweet minds than you know.
5. Eat right and exercise.
This is basic information that can literally help anyone, but it’s so easy to have that cup of coffee in the morning and be busy all day, only to find yourself starving in the afternoon and reaching for the easiest thing on the shelf. We take time to feed our family but often forget the importance of feeding ourselves! There is a reason they say to put on your oxygen mask first on a plane. Nutrition can quite literally make or break you both physically and mentally.
Did you know that a recent study points to sugar as a cause of depression?1 And did you know that exercise and eating fruits and vegetables is a cure for that? A friend of mine did something simple: She simply ate whatever healthy meal she set out for her young children. If she cut up apples and carrots and hummus, she took some time to eat that, too. At the very least, you can make yourself a green smoothie first thing in the morning or during that afternoon hump when you feel like giving up on life. Eat clean, and do not eat processed foods. Think: nutrients. Will this nourish me or poison me? You will be surprised by how much these two things will change your countenance and outlook, not to mention your energy levels! (Want to get started but not sure how? Here are a few basic steps.)
You will respect yourself more and so will your family if you make yourself a priority too.
6. Don’t compare yourself.
There will always be some rock star mom who holds a full-time job and runs marathons while the organic bone broth simmers in her perfectly clean home and Mozart plays in the background for her children, who are learning their sixth language. There will always be a mom who is more organized, who does meal planning better than you, who is more “Pinteresting” in every way, and whose children seem like Einstein angels while yours are eating their own boogers. You’re doing the best you can. Some days are better than others, but show yourself grace! We are all works in progress. And in an age where everyone just shows the shiny parts of their lives, it’s easy to feel inadequate. Get off social media every once in a while and be at peace with who you are, where you are, and what you are doing. Contentment is one of the greatest gifts no one ever talks about! Also, let’s stop judging ourselves and each other. Women can be harsh, but moms can be brutal!
The fact is, there are all kinds of moms out there because there are all kinds of people. Co-sleepers and baby-wisers, vaccinators and non-vaccinators, working and staying at home, breastmilk and formula…you get the idea. There is so much that can divide us, but honestly, everyone comes from different backgrounds and has different circumstances, and they have really good reasons for the choices they are making. Rather than focusing on the differences, what would it be like if moms supported one another for the sheer fact that they are moms, for crying out loud? It’s a tough job whichever way you pick to do it, so maybe less jeering and more cheering? We could all use that!
7. Find some quiet time.
I can’t overemphasize this enough. From the moment you wake up until the moment you put your head on a pillow, someone else needs something from you. Whether it’s your crying baby, hungry toddler, upset child or teenager, or the physical and emotional needs of your husband, you are in constant demand. If you don’t take time to get “filled up,” you will not have anything to give out and will start running on fumes until you crash and burn. If that looks like taking a bath after everyone is asleep or getting up early to have a cup of coffee by yourself in the quiet, just take some time to think, ponder, pray, and meditate. Read an encouraging book. Get lost in a good novel before bed. Take a walk in the beautiful outdoors. Listen to the music of your choice. Just take a moment. There aren’t many of those in a day. You need it, and it’s not selfish. Heck, I don’t even get to pee by myself! But you can and have to find those moments and guard them like the chocolate bar that you’ve got hidden in the broccoli bag in your freezer. Put down the never-ending to-do list and just be still. And if you can afford it, grab a sitter once in a while and take some time to yourself. Even once a month can be a wonderful thing to look forward to. The dishes will be there when you get back.
8. Be present and thankful!
Last but not least, taking time to be thankful can actually help you be present. This season you are in right now, no matter how difficult or how wonderful it is, is ephemeral. Enjoy it. If you can’t enjoy it, figure out how to grow in it and learn from it. Whatever season you are in, there is something to be thankful for. Maybe even take some time to write it down. You will be amazed at what this does for you, and there will be far fewer regrets later on when you look back on your life because you didn’t miss something you easily could have or didn’t get to appreciate while you had it.
It’s a gift to be at home. It doesn’t always feel like that, but it is. There is no one who can do this job with the detail, intimacy, and love that you naturally have for your family. You are irreplaceable, and whether that is recognized out loud or not, you hold a special place in each of your family members’ hearts, and their lives would not be the same without you. So stay sane, my sweet stay-at-home mom. You are far more valuable and loved than you will ever know.
Need some more encouragement, Mama? Start here:
We Worry About Screen Time for Kids, but What About Us?
A Little Encouragement When Motherhood is Disappointing
To the Mom Who’s Lacking Self-Confidence: Do This
Raising Great Girls: How to Do the Job with Darlene Brock
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: How to Raise Responsible Kids: Tips for Every Age – 087!