Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Stay-At-Home Mom's Guide to Survival

I have been a stay-at-home mom for six years.  It's the longest amount of time I've had the same "job."  While the pay isn't great and the hours are long (it's a 24/7 gig), it's the most challenging and rewarding job title I've ever had the privilege to have.  Throughout the past six years I've learned many lessons.  I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I've gone days without leaving my house or interacting with another adult other than my husband.  I've watched hundreds of hours of Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, and The Wiggles.  I've learned to function with very little sleep, eat quickly, and not count on getting one moment to myself some days.  Best of all, I've seen countless firsts happen for all of my children and been their first teacher to guide them through life.

While I love my "job," there are many things I wasn't prepared for when I started.  Today I've prepared a little "survival guide" for all those new (or not-so-new) stay-at-home moms out there.

No matter how fashionable you once were, you will eventually succumb to the stay-at-home mom uniform:  sweats or yoga pants and a t-shirt.  When you've had very little sleep, are being spit up on all of the time, and haven't showered, you'll appreciate the easily laundered, who-cares-if-they're-wrinkled versatility of these clothing items so stock up.  There may be a way to make them fashionable, but I'm all about comfort and practicality.  Stacy and Clinton would have a hay-day with my wardrobe.  In fact, maybe someone would like to nominate me?!

The glory days of singing in the shower for minutes on end are over.  If you get to shower at all, it will be quick and probably not without company, especially if your kids are mobile and able to open a door.    You will have several mornings when you will have to decide what is more important:  an extra ten minutes of rest or showering.  More times than not, the sleep will win out.  Better get creative with that hair or buy some cute hats.

While we're on the topic of the bathroom, be prepared to say goodbye to privacy while relieving yourself.  It is almost a guarantee that someone will follow you into the bathroom, pull up a stool, or ask twenty questions while you're there.  Just try to sneak off.  If you announce where you'll be, it's a guarantee you won't be alone.  

Enjoy the days when your child (or children) nap.  Grab a book, close your eyes, indulge in a snack you don't want to share.  Put off the chores and relax.  Someday soon, those days will end.  Nap time will become a battle you will not win.  The time and effort it takes to get them down will only result in a child who is not sleeping and a parent who is more than ready to.  

Keep a stash of your favorite treat.  There will be days when you will want to pull your hair out, scream, cry, or all of the above.  Somewhere up high and out of sight, stash something that will make you happy.  For me, it's chocolate.  Don't be ashamed to stuff as much in your mouth as you can while hiding behind the pantry door.  If it gets you through the moment, it is so worth it!

Accept that your house will never look as you would like it to.  Yes, you may be at home all day, but there are people running around that will not help your cause.  You will not have the time to deep clean frequently and toys will always be scattered around.  Stick to the basics.  If your husband chooses to negatively comment on how your house looks on any particular day, kindly suggest he clean it himself or hire a maid.

Schedule dates!  No, not dates with your husband (though those are important, too), but play dates with other moms, preferably with children near the age(s) of yours.  They will be your sanity-saver.  Don't be alarmed if you forget you're in adult company and begin conversing in the third person. Soon you will realize your mistake and stop.  No need to be embarrassed, as I'm sure they will slip up and make this mistake, too.  If the date must be at someone's house, offering your own is the best.  That way if your child spills, breaks something, or does the unthinkable on the floor, it's no sweat off your back.

Find parent and tot classes in your area.  It is a great way to meet other moms who stay at home.  Music classes are always great for little ones.  If the thought of dancing silly and singing in front of others makes you skittish, have no fear.  The room will be full of other parents just like you trying to have fun with their kids.  Before you know it, you'll be comfortable sticking out your tongue and closing your eyes while turning in a circle singing the Tooty-Ta.

Contrary to popular belief, don't expect to be catching up on your favorite shows during the day (you know everyone always assumes because you stay at home you have all the time in the world to watch Soaps and trashy shows).  Instead, be prepared to learn basic Spanish to keep up with the new phrases your child will learn from Dora and listen to the new hit songs by The Fresh Beat Band or Yo Gabba Gabba over and over and over again.  If you find yourself presenting everything in three steps, it's okay.  Dora gets to the best of us.  Hang in there!  Soon you'll be learning more than you ever wanted to know about the Mesozoic Era and humming along to catchy tunes about math concepts.  All in a good day's work!

Last, but not least, try to remind yourself at least once a day that this time will go by all too quickly.  I am more than guilty of feeling stuck in a rut, restless, and irritated by the unpleasant phase my kids may be going through.  There are times I am incredibly stressed, ready to throw a tantrum of my own, and pining for just one minute alone, but this too shall pass.  Before I know it, my kids will be too busy or too cool to hang out with Mom.  All of those days I felt would never end will have and all that will be left are the memories that we made.  Enjoy the time that you have now, no matter how crazy and tiring it may be, for someday soon we will be lonely and wishing for just one more day of the chaos that was once our everyday norm.

I always say that this picture pretty much sums up life around our house!


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