Somehow, all of my close friends BK (code for “Before Kids“) who have kids went back to work after three months. I am the only one of our group who’s a stay-at-home mom! They often express amazement that I can get through a day with my kids at home. By myself. And I’m not crazy yet! (For the record, I’m sure they’d do at least as well as I do.)
How do I stay sane? How do I handle it all on those days when my kids won’t stop yelling, or bickering, or destroying things intentionally/unintentionally? I keep a sense of me, me as the person and not me as the mom.
Here are my top 5 tips for staying sane, staying happy, and recharging for the next day at home:
- I’m a nerd. I love learning. I hate an idle mind; in fact, I fear that staying at home and talking in terms of the alphabet and simple numbers is killing my once very active brain cells. So, I keep the busy: while I exercise or drive in the car, I play Great Courses CDs (or stream online). Some we’ve bought, some we borrow from our library. I love these!! Recent favorites include Building a Better Vocabulary, Medieval History from King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest, and Ancient Battles. If you love learning new things, try this! If nothing else, you’ll better your chances for the next trivia night – if you ever make it out again….
- Take turns choosing music with your kids. This may seem obvious, but it wasn’t to us at first. We would play whatever songs our kids requested, mostly because we love that they enjoy music as well as dancing (in endless circles) while listening. But there’s only so many times you can listen to the Sleep Beauty, Snow White, and Nutcracker Suite soundtracks in a row. So, new rule: if you pick a song or album, kiddo, be prepared for mom’s choice next, then your little sister’s, then dad’s. It’s amazing what listening to your favorite music can do to brighten your day!
- Have a passion or hobby that excites you so much, you can’t wait for the kids to nap/sleep so you can get back to work at it. I don’t mean that all you do during the day is watch the clock for bedtime (“me time”) to approach. But having an open project is energizing, and when we finish it … boy, that sense of achievement is so soul-satisfying, isn’t it?! In short, play hard with your kids during the day, and play hard at your hobby at night, and you’ll feel like your aren’t just getting through life – you’re living it to the fullest. (Shout-out to one of my favorite bloggers, Rosebud’s Quilts , who combines so well being a SAHM with a skilled hobby… she can practically sew a full quilt while her son Noah naps, and they are so beautiful! Check out the photo gallery page, too.)
- Be in a mom’s group … for nights out! Playdates are indispensable, yes, but find a close friend or three you can turn to for a drink out – and dare I say a b**ch session. Yes, complain about your kids! Commiserating is a really great form of coping. It just feels better to know some other kid eats their boogers in public. Or doesn’t wear underwear at night even though he’s 4 years old. Or whatever. If you’re worried/annoyed/angry about something your kid is doing, I guarantee you some other kid does it too, and just knowing that makes it easier to bear it the next time it happens. And besides … who doesn’t want a good friend to talk to? Last Wednesday three of us met for an impromptu drink (or water) and dessert immediately after our kids were put to bed, and we all felt much better after a few cathartic soliloquys!
- Accept that some days will be shittier than you can imagine. This sounds ridiculous, but it’s the most important part of getting through a really rough day … and we all have those! Knowing that the next day just MIGHT be better is all you need to get past the rough parts. Some call this having a positive outlook, singing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow,” or just plain optimism. Whatever it is, it helps (sometimes combined with #4). Not every day is a challenge, and all days do end. But acknowledging that some days will be downright sob-inducing is much healthier than continually being blindsided by them. And hey, it also helps to accept that every mom has rough days; probably even Princess Kate, too (please, dear God, tell me she does).
Now, these points are still a work in process for me. I struggle with this daily. I love being home with my kids, and I believe I am truly blessed to be able to share their early childhood side by side. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, natural, or always fun; quite the opposite, right? But I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Do you have any tips for staying sane?