By Jennifer, The Stay at Home Mom
Long are the days, for us SAHMs. Never have I heard truer words than those of Gretchen Rubin who said, “the days are long, but the years are short.”
Yes the years are short, but today I’m focusing on how long the days can feel. Just like some days crawled by when I was sitting in an office working full-time, so do some days do the same as I devote my entire day, every day, to mommy’ing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I chose this life, and I know this season is fleeting. But that doesn’t negate the fact that by the end of every day my mind, body, soul, and spirit are completely spent.
In my three-and-a-half years of stay-at-home-mom life, I’ve learned that in order to keep my sanity, I have to have a few pockets of time that help me to recharge my battery, reload my patience levels, and remind me that there’s a whole wide world out there living life. What seems monumental in the solitude of my home is in reality just a teeny tiny piece of the universe that so calmly and consistently takes its leisurely stroll around the sun every day. I need a break in my focus. A distraction from the sun-up-to-sun-down responsibilities of keeping humans alive. And in order to do that, I’ve got to find ways to keep my days balanced, and of course, sane.
So, my friend. I come bearing gifts. Five glorious gifts. These tiny tokens can, if incorporated into any busy mama’s day, add just a little sanity so you can keep striving to be that supermom that you so badly want to be (ya know, the one you don’t realize you already ARE). I’ll leave out the one about mindlessly scrolling Instagram all through the day because let’s face it, that’s a distraction we could all live without.
1. Wake up before the kids
I know, I know. You already think I’m crazy. Due to the never-ending cycle of exhaustion that clouds our brains, we want to soak up every last drop of sleep we possibly can. Trust me, I know! I did this for years! But as time went on, and my kids actually started (kind of) sleeping through the night, I realized how incredible 15 minutes of quiet can actually be when everyone is asleep. I can sneak in a quick (uninterrupted) shower if I want, and then sit on the couch and drink my coffee while it’s still warm. Then, when the kids crack open their eyes and meet me in the quiet, low-lit living room, we can exchange some snuggles and slowly begin the countless tasks of morning. It doesn’t have to be fancy, rigid, or perfect-looking (again, Instagram never even has to see these glorious moments you get to enjoy in the comfort of your own home). You never know what a little bit of quiet time to start the day could do for you, mama! So give it a try and see what you think.
2. Independent Play
Did you know that a little bit of independent playtime could actually work wonders for your kiddo? Giving your child this time affords her the opportunity to develop skills she needs to cultivate creativity and imagination, as well as problem solving, exploration, and discovery. This one might take some time in order to teach your little one, because she’s so used to having a play buddy. If that’s the case, start by being present in her play space along with her, but doing a different activity than she is doing. You might get her started with a coloring activity, while you fold some laundry or tidy her bookshelf. Increase the minutes of time until you get to approximately 45-60 minutes per day. Most children will eventually look forward to this time, especially if you present it as a fun time of “getting to play on your own” rather than a punishment or “work.”
Once you have this worked into your daily routine, you’ll find more time to sit and sip your coffee, and possibly even read a book, while fading into the background as your child becomes lost in play. I love playing with my kiddos (most of the time), but there is something truly special about watching them become lost in play. It’s glorious. Just glorious.
3. Join a gym
Total. Game. Changer. I joined my local YMCA, and I’ve never looked back. Every year when it’s time to renew our membership, there’s zero conversation. It is a must-have in my world of SAHM life.
Many gyms offer childcare for up to 2.5 hours every day. You’ll want to choose a gym that maintains a safe, stimulating, friendly environment. One in which you feel comfortable and even excited to drop off your kiddo. The playroom at our gym is a very open space with lots of toys and windows. There are always at least two workers present, and both of my kiddos have a blast playing with other children while I exercise (added bonus, try a group fitness class!), or sit in the lobby area while working from my laptop.
Going to your gym every day (or several times every week) gets you out of the house, gives your kids a break from you, gives you a break from your kids, and allows you some much needed grown-up conversation. You’ll meet other mamas just like you, and you’ll begin to feel a sense of community and belonging. I HIGHLY recommend doing this.
4. Use nap time to do what you want
If you’re like most of us, you’ll think of a million-and-one things you need to get done in that hour-and-a-half while your kiddo sleeps. But If you’re barely hanging on by a thread, try using today’s nap time to do whatever the heck you want! Watch Fixer Uppers, order pizza and don’t share it with anyone, start a blog, take a nap, do a home workout, make a yummy desert, whatEVER! Maybe you won’t do this every single day. But there are days when desperate times call for do-whatever-you-want nap times!
5. Go to a park
Seriously. Go to a park, sit on the bench, enjoy the breeze, and tell your kiddos to show you how they play on the climber or swing really high. Better yet, try getting on the swing yourself. You might be surprised at how the stress falls off your shoulders as you glide through the air. The fresh air will do everyone some good, and it’ll get some energy out so maybe just maybe they’ll sleep through the night!
I know how it is, mama. You want to be as present as possible. Everyone tells you to cherish the moments. And you are! (By the way, just because every single moment is not your favorite moment, doesn’t mean you’re not cherishing the moments). But the whole point of keeping your sanity is so that you can truly be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. As you embrace the moments that serve your sanity levels you’ll enjoy the mommy-mode moments all the more.