Being a SAHM, is hard work, it’s never ending hours, often thankless and undocumented (expect for now we have social media as an outlet for our day to day woes). I once had some lady tell me I was lazy for being a SAHM, and I think my eyes almost fell out of my head! Not only is being a SAHM challenging, but often our pride and dignity get squashed when we compare ourselves to mothers who work. When we see photos on social media or know what our money making friends are up to, it can make you feel pretty worthless somedays. Here you are calling it a triumph of a day for wiping poo off the floor and baking some cookies… and what other people are doing at work, might seem much more glamourous.
And, there are lots of reasons why one parent ends up staying at home with the kids!
But, no matter what our reasons for being a SAHM (stay at home mum or SAHD, stay at home dad), or part time SAHM, these are the things over the years (going on 8) that have helped me thrive. After giving a short poll to my readers, they resonated with a lot of the same…
Self Care is not a buzz word.
It’s your right and your duty. What is self care, really? Is self care being able to pop a pimple uninterrupted, or take a shower and shave both legs at the same time? Um… No… It’s far more than that. Self care is something you do on a regular basis to INCREASE your energy. Think exercise, yoga, meditation, massage, going to the chiropractor, sleep, eating healthy food, health or meditation retreats, etc. I put this one first, because shit rolls down hill. If your energy is low, you’ve got nothing else to give. Every day, I carve out at least 20-30 minutes (sometimes more) to do some breathing and meditation. Yes, the kids get impatient waiting for me to finish. Yes, they interrupt sometimes. But, I HAVE to do it. It’s a non-negotiable.
Your partner’s days off are YOUR days off.
If your partner works the typical full time 9-5, he/she usually get two stupid days off to fit everything in. It’s never enough time. They want the break because they’re tired of being at work. But, you also need the break! These two days are the only days you have an extra set of hands at your disposal. Don’t be afraid to ask for YOUR things on these days. These are days you can get your haircut, get some decent exercise, or even spend a glorious hour at the grocery store alone.
Honour your own hobbies and sports and allow yourself to be inspired.
Sewing? Rock climb? Surfing? Marathon running? Knitting? Playing music? Writing? Whatever your passions are. You might have to ask for it. Maybe even put up a fight for it. You have a right to your creative outlet! And, you may also find new creative outlets now that you have kids.
For example, I wanted to make winter beanies for my kids, so I learned to crochet. It was something I always wanted to do and now that I was home, I (sort of) had the time. The kids and I spent lots of time on youtube watching tutorials. I was wondering if the kids would be annoyed that I was taking time to do something for me, but they actually found it enjoyable to watch and learn too! Now they have an appreciation for crocheting and the older one can do a little bit of it herself!
Mandatory quiet time, naptime and quiet days.
The morning is our time for activity, the mid-afternoon is time for rest. It’s the sleepy time of the day anyway, during mid afternoon, so it fits in perfectly with the rhythm of the day. Most of the days we sleep, (my big kids, 5 and 7 still take naps a few days a week). I don’t really allow screens at this time, because although screens are ‘quiet‘, they agitate the mind, so it’s not really ‘rest‘. But, if screens helps a tired mama get some rest, then so be it! We also have quiet days, when we don’t have anything scheduled and we stay close to home.
Mingle with like minded parents.
Playgroups, baby rhythm time, parks, facebook groups, you name it. Find people that YOU LIKE to connect with. It will take time to find the friends who are like minded-ish, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll never find another parent who does it exactly like you, but if you can find enough in common, then SCORE! There’s nothing worse than trying to hang out with other parents when you have to defend and explain your every action. I mean, you can sort of get along for a while, but it gets tiring after a while.
When my daughter was 4 months old, I went to a playgroup and the mothers were unintentionally horrible to me. Nobody talked to me and they basically told me to come back when my daughter was older and could play! I was like… “Um… I came to playgroup FOR ME!” It turned me off of playgroups for years, but luckily, I tried one more time and the next time, I found a new group formed from a baby wearing facebook page and made some fantastic friends that I still hang out with today. Don’t give up if you haven’t found your people yet…
Get out of the house (but with awareness).
It’s important to get out of the house when you’re a SAHM. The kids go stir crazy without it. You all need stimulation. But… it’s important to be really mindful of how much you go out, why and when. Sometimes, we go out just to distract ourselves from unpleasant situations and feelings, and then we come home still feeling tired, run down and end up chasing our tail all day because of it!
Declutter and Minimalise Commitments.
I know, I know, minimalism is a buzz word too! But, for real. The more crap you can cut down on, the easier your life is gonna be. Having less clothes (both for you and the kids), means less clothes to wash. Having less toys, means less toys to put away. Doing less extracurricular activities means you and the kids will be less tired. If you have less scheduled activities, you’ll have more time for being spontaneous and creative and those times can be really fun too. I let my oldest daughter do two scheduled extracurricular activities that’s more than enough! It’s not easy to declutter and minimalise with kids, because they’re always accumulating ‘stuff‘, and they always want to do ‘stuff‘, but if you can do your best to reduce it, life will be so much easier.
And, sometimes we fill our day with endless activities out of the house, in order to distract ourselves and fill the day, but doing too much can also leave us feeling really depleted and can make our kids feel unsettled.
Avoid the things that will make you exhausted.
Being tired does not have to by synonymous with being a SAHM! There’s only a few reasons why a SAHM can’t also be well rested and sometimes it’s unavoidable. But, if you think about the things that make you exhausted. Is it going to bed too late? Is it going out of the house for long days, to tire out the kids? Is it dividing your attention all day between social media and the kids (that can be super exhausting for your brain to switch back and forth, I’m speaking through experience!). Maybe MORE exercise may actually increase your energy? Maybe you’re feeling deficient in something and really need to get that naturopath or doctor to find out why. Whatever it is, simply identifying it and be more aware of it, will help enormously!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Most of us in our society have a super huge hang up with asking for help. But, in reality, most people ENJOY helping! Think about how you feel when you help someone out who’s in genuine need of it. It makes you feel good, doesn’t it?! Asking for help is just as much for you as it is for the helper. I had to move house when I was 7 and 8 months pregnant and I HAD to ask for help. My husband tried to do it all himself, and I said, “Nope. We need help!” People were happy to lend a hand and I felt relieved to have asked.
Don’t expect your partner to read your mind.
It may seem obvious that you need the dishes done, or that the kids needs to brush their teeth ASAP, or that you NEED to go for a walk because you ate an entire block of chocolate that day… but it’s not always so obvious from your tired, just-got-home-from-work partner. Rather than stewing because you’re asking for the 3,489 night in a row for him to take out the garbage, just ask. Even if they give you attitude for asking the tenth time after no reply… you can just say, “I just wanted to make sure you heard me…” Because, honestly sometimes they do forget, or it’s just not that obvious to them.
Practice Democratic Parenting.
Democratic parenting means, sometimes it’s your way, sometimes it’s my way. Everyone’s needs get met in the family as best they can and it keeps everyone pretty happy. I wrote a blog post on it here in much more detail you the benefits of democratic parenting.
Use Social Media and screens without going too far down the rabbit hole.
Social media and screens are literally a life safer for SAHM. You can stay in touch with family from 10,000 miles away. You can connect with like-minded people in a split second and you can have your questions answered in record time. You can look up answers for impossible questions. You can all enjoy a show (and yes, use it as a babysitter sometimes, let’s be honest). But… try not to get so sucked in or let the kids get sucked in. Writing, reading or seeing the wrong thing can turn your whole day upside down. It can make you mentally unavailable for your children. It scatters your thoughts and scrambles your reasoning powers. It can shorten your fuse and make the day suck. Talking from experience here, unfortunately.
Know when to walk away. Screens are a very powerful tool and we’re only just getting used to how they affect us. If my kids spend too much time on screens, it backfires. It’s nice while they’re sitting there all quiet and still, but later, there’s usually hell to pay if I let them watch for too long, in the form of melts downs, inability to focus and so on. Some people and kids can self regulate much better than others. A lot of times kids beg for screens when they might be seeking some connection for you. It’s a tricky situation to navigate!
Get involved with the community/volunteer.
Maybe it’s a church? Or a non-profit organisation? We have a community garden that we joined 5 years ago and the kids love it. I also organise meditation courses. Even if it’s just a little bit of time a year, giving back to the community, or being involved really feels good. You meet people from all different walks of life and being involved with the wider community, gives you a greater sense of purpose (not that you need one, but you know what I mean). And, community service is something that all children should participate in because it also gives them that sense of belonging and social responsibility.
Thinking about some sort of work?
I really enjoy working a little bit. But, depending on the work, working from home mostly sucks. If you need to spend more than an hour a day on the computer, or answering phone calls when it’s your day on kid duty, it’s gonna be hard… actually, impossible. You won’t be able to give either the kids or the work, the attention it needs. Although there are some out there, there’s no magical job that’s easy to do from home with kids at home. So, if you want to try something, find something that’s worth your time and money. I try to do most of my part time work from out of the house and I really enjoy it. Some of my work is from home, and that part is ridiculously hard. I have to get my husband to be in charge of the kids when I work from home. I much preferred the stepping out of the house to work and so do most other stay-at-homes who work little part time.
The good thing about being a SAHM is that I never feel like I’m going to regret this. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone who stayed home when their children were young, say they’ve regretted it.
Honorable mention for surviving being a SAHM: coffee, wine and chocolate! Of course, I don’t actually advocate using stimulants… I don’t even drink coffee or alcohol… but when you’re desperate.
If you’re still feeling depleted after doing all of these things, it’s possible that you’re deficient in something or have an imbalance. I highly recommend seeking help from a naturopath, ayurvedic practitioner or your doctor, to find out the underlying reason.