Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to be a stay at home parent and NOT go crazy.

If you just had a baby, you're thinking about having a baby, or you're currently working but are thinking about staying home with your babies- this post is for you. Maybe you're terrified that you'll be bored out of your mind or drained or chained to your house- this will possibly give you hope that there's no reason being a stay at home parent has to be like that at all.

First off, let me say I recognize the gift that it is to be home with my children for the time being. Yes I'm the super-entrepreneur type and YES believe me when I say I have dreams and goals for the future- but I also recognize how precious this time is that I get with our kids at home. Since we spaced our babies so close together, everything is sort of going to happen at once. As soon as one kid reaches a milestone- forget it!- the next one is right behind. In a way its like triplets (cue the Moms of triplets who would vehemently disagree with that statement). For now there's just LOTS to do at home, daycare would be LOTS of money, and the result is that it's the smartest, wisest and best thing for our family if I'm at home right now. After Isaiah was born I got stuck in a rut and felt so trapped. It was a huge adjustment. Over time I've figured out not just how to survive- but to thrive as a stay at home parent. Oh and despite my fears- I love being here. My days are full, very rarely boring, and usually productive. Here's how I make sure things go that way:

1. Start the day with a positive attitude.
When I wake up I try to kick start my day with a large amount of coffee and the things I want to do the least- change everyone's diaper, make breakfast, put the kids clothes on, throw in a load of laundry, and unload the dishwasher. Once I get all of the mundane (daily chores are not my strong suit) out of the way, I spend some time centering my heart and mind on truth. I have a list of truths that I read daily to get my mind on track. Here are a few on my list:

You are the wife and mother your family needs; no other woman would do better than you can for your family. 
You are beautiful. You are strong. You are capable.

You are loving. 
You are life-giving. 
You are loved.
 (from Lysa TerKeurst)

I can't afford to have a single thought in my head that God doesn't think about me. (Bill Johnson) 
What is inside of you will be what is displayed for those who are watching your life to see. 
(think your kids, your spouse, friends, strangers...)

Maybe this is the true secret to being fulfilled and content - living in the moment with God, defined by His truth, with no unrealistic expectations for others or things to fill me up. Not reaching back for what was lost in my yesterdays. And not reaching for what I hope will be in my tomorrow. But living fully with what is right in front of me. And truly seeing the gift of this moment. -Lysa TerKeurst

2. Get dressed.
This is a big one and yes there are days where I don't pull myself together until three pm, but to be very honest those days are rarely productive. I'm not saying this is essential, but it's essential for me.  I've gone through times since becoming a Mom where I'm not as good about getting myself ready in the morning, then other times where I'm really on top of it. Generally I have noticed the pattern that I'm happier and my family is taken care of better when I take care of myself, inside and out. You're worth spending $20 on your monthly manicure. 

3. Make sure you have friends. 
I know this seems obvious, but I really believe its one of the most neglected aspects of motherhood. People are surprised to hear how much I leave the house by myself. Even some of my friends wonder "...How?!" For me getting away and spending time with friends is essential if I don't to be depressed and lonely- that's the honest truth! I know that about myself.  If you suspect it might be the same for you, then get that once a week (at least) get some social time in. It can be hard but if you make habits early on in your life as a parent I think it's easier. 
Andrew and I know that each of us need individual time away. He needs alone time to play his guitar, read, or even just sit and watch sports. I need social time with my friends because I'm the "extrovert" out of the two of us. I spend time keeping in touch with my 'people' DAILY, talking on the phone, text messaging, emailing, and having visits. I know that the investment I have made in other women has created a network of mutual support for the kids and I throughout our days. So maybe say YES to that next invitation to go out for coffee or drinks one evening! It will probably refresh you and give you some much needed perspective.

4. Don't stay home all the time- At least one outing per day!
I've written on this topic before (click here) but want to mention it again because it is a huge part of my life. Getting out of the house can be really hard with small kids, but its something I've learned I just need to do. Like exercise- the motivation isn't always there but if its just 'what you do,' it makes it easier. I try to leave the house at least once each day. Yes you might have to move more slowly, but you can do pretty much anything with kids in tow. I grocery shop, take them to the library story time, go to the zoo, the beach, the city, etc. 
I can remember when I first had Isaiah I was so paranoid of germs, driving him in the car, or even walking around Target in case he got fussy. By the time my third baby was born I had all three out walking through Philadelphia on a rainy day with a newborn strapped to my chest in her sling. When she got hungry I stood in a public bathroom and nursed her while the kids huddled around and played in the sink. We all survived and had a great time! With that being said, adventures are waiting! Being spontaneous keeps me from thinking every day will be the same. Maybe it will for you, too.

5. Don't forget who YOU are.
This one is huge. Yes, right now you ARE a parent. But lets not forget- that's not all of WHO we are, even though it can feel all-consuming at times. Remember your dreams, goals, and other relationships. If you're married- you're a husband or wife. You're a friend to someone. A son or daughter. An artist. A chef. Amazing at math. A writer. A musician. There are lots of aspects to your life besides parenthood! Lay out (tentative) plans for your future. Get a hobby, or rekindle an old one. Spend time on dates with your partner, enjoying each other and doing things together. 

So what keeps you going? Is there anything you need to modify to be happy right where you are as a stay at home parent?
















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