This post was sponsored by Swimkids USA! All opinions are 100% my own!
I grew up with a hard-working mom. She taught second grade for thirty-two years and recently retired. Even to this day, she tells stories of how she went back to work 4 weeks after giving birth to each of us (even after a cesarean). She has always had regret of not being able to be home with us more. My mother has always been an incredible mom. I never felt like she was not around. She got us up and ready for school, and always managed to be home in time to help us with homework. As we grew older, she always encouraged my sister and I to make it a goal to stay home with our own children if we had the chance. I share this only so you understand, how much it has been ingrained in to me to be a stay at home mom.
Knowing I wanted to be a mom, a few months before becoming a foster mom, I put in my notice that I would not be returning to teach the upcoming year. This was a hard decision to make, especially not being pregnant or knowing what was to come. I felt silly stating that the reason I was not returning to work was to be a stay at home mom. Fast forward a couple of months, by the last day of school I was pregnant, had Isabel in our home, doing visits with Elijah, and baby Ruthy was about to be born within days!
I literally went from working full-time as a kindergarten teacher to being a full-time stay at home mom of three. No real warning or nine months to prep myself with the reality of it. If I am honest, I did not even know I had to prep myself mentally for it. I thought it would be easy. I pictured being able to keep up with the demands of the home, run all the errands needed, and be able to cook a hot meal each night! Did not think that sounded like a lot, but for me it was and still is! Now looking back at this ideal, I did not factor in taking time out for myself. Very quickly I found myself overwhelmed and did not know how to manage everything.
The more I talk to other moms, the more I find that I am not alone. Let me highlight that it also does not matter if you have 1 child or 4, being a mom brings about a new set of challenges that we do not anticipate. So what do you do to survive these new challenges?
The following is a stay at home survival guide I have created after a year of feeling like I have lost myself and talking to other moms who have felt the same.
Tip # 1 – Get out of the House: Whether you run errands, join a play group, go to the gym, or out for a walk, it is important to just get out of the house. Believe me I understand. It can feel like a task in and of itself to get everyone ready (including yourself) to leave the house, but make sure you do it. Leaving the house is both healthy for you and your children. Everyone needs a change in scenery even if where you go is the post office, or the grocery store. But mom’s lets talk about this, is that where you really want to go.
Do things your children and yourself will enjoy! Join mom groups, get together with your friends and neighbors that have kids. It does not matter what you do, but get out and try to be social. Leaving the house, somehow increases productivity. Getting out of the house gives me that extra push to get a little more done. It inspires me. The extra bonus is that when we come back, the babies are good and ready for nap time!
Tip # 2 – Free Resources within your community
- Library – Did you know that the library provides a variety of activities for children of different ages (even school aged kids). It is true! Not only is the library a free resource to provide books, read more about that here, but they offer a variety of programs that you can pick and choose which would fit your family needs. I know, I know, you might be thinking you have a newborn, the library is no place for you. The Library has programs for every age group. For babies 0- 18 months, they have a lap sit story time. Visit your local library’s website and see what programs are available for you to join today!
- Mommy and Me Classes – Did you know that certain businesses provide mommy and me classes FREE OF CHARGE! Yes they exist. Find them. I will tell you about the ones I did with my babies that saved me from going insane this past year.
- Swimkids USA is a business I would endorse any day. They provide free infant swim classes from two months to seven months of age. Let me just tell you how perfect that is! Two months is when I started feeling more comfortable with my babies outside the house and where I definitely wanted to be socializing more. I enrolled both my babies in as soon as they hit 8 weeks and we loved it. It was nice to be able to go each week and interact with other moms whose kids were around the same age. The best part is that while I get time with other moms, my baby is being exposed to life saving water safety techniques! It is for sure a win-win! For more information about the Intro to Water Smart Babies Class or swim lessons click here. As if that is not enough, Swimkids USA also offer free gymnastics classes for babies starting at 5 months to the age of 12 months. Let me tell you, this class gets you up and moving with your baby! It is such a fun class! All of the activities in this class focus on the brain and body development. For more information about gymnastic classes at Swimkids USA click here.
- Thrive to Five is a free program for families with children 0-5 to help them prepare for school. I have not personally participated in these activities, but have a close friend who takes her daughter regularly. She has mentioned that you can check out fun educational activities you can do with your family as well and she enjoys taking her one year old to these activities. This program has daily activities you can participate in at different locations and at different times. You can pick and choose the ones that are convenient for you and your family. For more information click here.
Tip # 3 – Take Care of Yourself. After Brycen was born, I became a pumping mom. I pumped every two hours to feed my son. You can read about my struggles with feeding my son in post What I Wish I Would Have Known About Breastfeeding. I was exhausted. All of my energy went to taking care of my children, cleaning bottles and pumping parts, and trying to sleep. I did not take very good care of myself and I am sure this contributed to my Postpartum Depression. I cannot stress enough how important it is to do the simple things to take care of yourself.
- Shower – It is amazing what a good shower can do. I find I am in a better mood when I am showered and dressed for the day. What do you do with the baby? I try to squeeze in a quick shower before my husband leaves for the day or when the babies are asleep. I have learned to take quicker showers. I have a friend who would have the baby in the swing by the shower, as she showered. When there is a will, there is a way! Get creative. I know another mom who showers with her two young children!
- Put on make-up / style your hair. I have to admit, I do not do this one as often as I would like but when I do, what a difference it makes to me. I feel much better about myself and more put together.
- Eat all three meals of the day. My babies demand a lot of attention. I feel like I am always doing something for one of them, so I try to take advantage of the time they eat in their high chairs. I am lucky my kids are not picky eaters, because when they are eating they are in their happy place. I am completely guilty of taking advantage of breakfast to sit next to them and get my make-up done. The truth is, I am a much more pleasant person when I get all three meals. So multi-tasking to get those meals in is a must. Take healthy snacks for on the go and keep your energy up.
Tip # 4- It is okay if you do not get everything done. My home is never clean. When it is clean, it stays all the way up until my babies wake-up and the rest of my family comes home. Take the pressure off your shoulders that all the household chores need to be done everyday and your home needs to stay spotless. I have the chores I have to do daily, and the rest I try to do once a week. Really it is up to you what you get completed each day, but try to have some sort of schedule you stick to. Do not try to do everything yourself. Your husband and children can help as well. If something does not get done, try not to sweat it.
Tip # 5 – Remember you are involved in a great work. Moms you are priceless and have the most important job. You have no days off or sick days. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take a step back and remember that your main focus is to care for your little ones. I find these feelings come up when I am trying to do too much. When these feelings arise, I normally stop whatever extra task I am working on, and play with my kids. This always help!
I hope you find good use to these tips! If anything, help you feel like you are not the only one.