So, you’ve decided to stay home with the kids. Perhaps you’re having your first baby and have realized that daycare costs just don’t make sense for you financially. Maybe you’ve been working towards this goal for a few years now and have decided to make the leap. Or perhaps you’ve recently added a second or third child to the mix and staying home suddenly makes sense. Whatever your reasons, staying home with the children can be an amazing experience – but it also takes hard work, planning, and dedication. The days can be long, exhausting, frustrating and lonely.
So how come some moms seem happier than others? How come some seem to enjoy the days? Sure, we all have days that are tough. I’m the first to admit it! And true anxiety and depression is NOT what I am talking about here (please see a professional if you are experiencing these feelings!). I’m talking about staying positive throughout the day, staying optimistic, and enjoying your time at home with your kids!
How can you tap into this to truly enjoy being a stay-at-home mama? Here are 14 habits that happy moms incorporate into their daily routine:
- Happy Moms Look the Part. Yes, lounging around in your sweatpants might sound divine, but you’ll feel better if you get up and get dressed first thing in the morning. You don’t always have to be completely done up, but I can guarantee you will feel better, look better, and do better when you take a few minutes in the morning to make yourself presentable.
- Happy Moms Sign up for Stuff: Sign up for at least two activities. That’s right. Two. If it’s not financially feasible, then commit to attending a weekly free event, such as a story time at a local library or bookshop. Get out your calendar, iPhone, or day-planner and schedule them in. It’ll give your week structure, it’ll engage your kiddos and it’ll allow you to make new friends or at the very least discuss the weather without having to explain why clouds get full of rain.
- Happy Moms take a Break! Book a few hours off for personal time if you can. If hiring a sitter isn’t an option, plan out a weekly grandparent visit, neighbor babysitting swap, or time in your partner’s schedule to watch the kids. During this time, treat yourself to a solo grocery shopping trip, a pedicure, or an hour in a coffee shop with a book. You can also get your personal time in by joining a gym. With childcare. You’ll get two glorious hours to yourself – use it for the showers, the protein shakes, and the exercise!
- Happy Moms Find their Tribe: Find a group, any group! Facebook has an entire world of local moms who are always up for playdates, hikes, meet-ups and more! Don’t be shy, mama. Go make some friends. We are social creatures and being in the company of a 2 year old all day every day isn’t healthy for anyone. Your little ones will love meeting new kids, and you’ll enjoy it too! If your live in a remote area, move often, or are shy, start by joining an online group. Finding connections online with likeminded individuals can be freeing, whether you’re able to meet in person or not.
- Happy Moms Let Their Kids do Their Thang: It’s not your job to entertain them every minute of every day. From a young age, teach them that it is OK to play alone. Babies can play alone, toddlers can look at books, and preschoolers can have quiet time in their room, even if they no longer nap.
- Happy Moms Know Are Intentional. Attack staying home like you would a work or school project. Come up with a mantra, a brief description of your goals, and think about the why of your reasons for staying home. Write it down and refer to it often. You don’t need to run your home like it’s a small business, but identifying some tangible goals will help to remind you of your intentions. For example, you might say “My goal is to spend time making memories with my kids, being a good role model for them to learn how to deal with their emotions, and to provide them with healthy meals.”
- Happy Moms Have Rules & Schedules. Children do best when they know what is expected of them. They push boundaries because they crave some structure and they want to know what you’ll be there to gently guide them. A basic routine will give both of you an idea of what is to come. A sample routine at my house looks like this:
6:00-6:30 Wake up. Too early, I know.
8am: Play, watch a show, eat breakfast, get dressed, play
9:30 or 10: Go do an activity
12:00 Eat lunch then nap
2pm – Play outside or in the playroom, maybe run an errand
4:30 Play/bug me while I make dinner/ engage in general witching hour activities like whining and sibling blaming.
5:pm Eat dinner
5:30pm: Books, watch a show, maybe play outside
6:30 Bath, story,
8. Happy Moms Let It Go: Don’t be hard on yourself. You don’t have to do a interest-worthy craft every day. Your house might not be perfectly tidy, ever. Don’t get so caught up in doing chores that you don’t enjoy the little moments. Realize that you won’t have good days and bad days – you’ll have good moments and bad moments.
9. Happy Moms Take Care of Themselves: Take care of yourself throughout the day. That means staying hydrated, freshening up, squeezing in a phone call or visit with a friend. Your kids aren’t the only ones that need to have a nice day. If you’re packing snacks for the kids, bring along something for yourself. Put on your sunscreen when you’re slathering it on the little ones. Remember that you matter too.
10. Happy Moms Don’t Care What Others Think: Don’t get caught up in what other people think about your parenting choices. If your aunt doesn’t think you should be breastfeeding, whatever. If your mom thinks your son should be going to bed later, whatever. If your mailman wants to know why the kids are screaming…whatever. You get the idea. A happy mama doesn’t have time for drama.
11. Happy Moms Live in the Moment: Thinking about tomorrow or worrying about yesterday take up entirely too much time. To truly engage in a moment, experience a day, and enjoy your life, you must learn to live in the present!
12. Happy Moms Play! Last week, I had a pillow fight with my boys. We spent a good 20 minutes chasing each other around the living room, attacking each other with pillows, making up rules and laughing. It was SO. Much. Fun. Sometimes, as moms, we are so busy making sure everyone is dressed, fed, getting along, changed, and alive, that we forget to just play.
13. Happy Moms Have Hobbies: Having some sort of a creative outlet or hobby is so important. It can be anything from gardening to planning travel, writing, running, or crafting. Never stop learning, trying new things, creating, flourishing as a woman – not just as a mama.
14. Happy Moms Are Spontaneous. Yes, it is important to have rules. Yes, it’s important to have structure. Yes, bedtimes, routines, nap times are important — but it’s also important to be able to ignore that every once in a while. Shake things up a little! Stay out late, skip a nap, stop for ice-cream – make a memory. You can fall back into your routine tomorrow!
How do you stay happy as a stay-at-home mom? I would love to hear your comments below – is there anything I should add to this list?
PS. If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy my recent post – 5 Ways to Wake Up Happy Tomorrow or if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’ll probably want to make sure that your husband or partner reads this piece on what to say to you at the end of the day!