If you currently have the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom, congratulations! Your job is one of the most important out there, as you are tasked with the primary responsibility of raising your children and making memories they will carry in their hearts for a lifetime. That is no small order, and the obligations and duties that come along with that can sometimes consume and overwhelm you.
When it comes to our little ones, we very easily make them a priority over ourselves. We will give them a bath, while forgoing a shower ourselves. We make them a lunch, and only have time to snack on their leftovers before chasing after them. While they get in their enviable nap time, we hurry to pick up their toys, pay a couple bills, get dinner ready, or one of a thousand other to-dos on our plate that day.
So what are you to do? In the midst of all this chaos and responsibility, how can you focus on keeping your sanity and staying motivated? With how quickly time flies, how can you pause and cherish the memories you are making during this special time in your life? Here are a few tips to help you not lose your mind as a stay-at-home mom (or dad!).
[divider]Take Care of You[/divider]
Before you can begin to do your best at caring for your children, you have to be healthy and feel good about yourself.
Refresh Yourself and Smile
It is so important to find some time in your day to get dressed, clean yourself up a bit, and smile in the mirror. Parenting is exhausting, and you may feel like you look one step up from a zombie; but give yourself the gift of a smile and realize that your inner strength and beauty will shine brighter than your dark circles and messy hair.
Work It Out
You don’t have to spend hours at the gym, but sneak in at least a half hour of exercise during the day. This may mean waking up a little earlier or perhaps incorporating your children into your exercise. Kids love to do what their parents do, so try a home workout they can do along with you in your living room. Go for a long walk or get outside and play your children’s favorite sport with them.
Fuel Your Body
Even though it is so easy to skip meals for yourself, your body will run out of steam if you don’t eat properly. Rule fast food out as an option for your family—instead, stock your pantry with fresh fruits and vegetables and healthier snack alternatives you can grab and go. Not having time is no excuse!
[divider]Prioritize Your Time[/divider]
Some days the time flies by, and other days feel like they just won’t end. Knowing your time priorities can help to ensure you don’t lose control over what’s really important.
Sleep—Just Do It
The elusive sleep is not something to ignore. Your body completely shuts down when you don’t have sleep, so you must ensure you are getting what your body needs. The rule of thumb of sleeping when your kids sleep is a good one to follow. If they are early risers, bump your bedtime up earlier. If they sleep in a little, rearrange your mornings so you can join them. The flexible schedule that comes with online schools is a terrific benefit when it comes to getting enough sleep for you and your children.
Plan Out Your Day
Having a daily schedule to follow will help to get everything done, beyond just keeping your kids fed and alive. Have a set time for chores—even preschoolers can learn to pick up their toys. Establish times for free play, times for homework, times for educational games or outdoor play, times for meals/snacks, and times for being quiet or napping. Following a daily schedule will allow you to plan for all the “to-do” items on your list while your children are busy with their activities. This will also allow you to not be preoccupied while enjoying time together, because you know that you will be able to tend to your tasks at a predetermined time later in the day.
All this said, there are days when schedules go out the window. Time with children is completely unpredictable, and there will be those days when absolutely nothing gets done. You must accept that this is both normal and acceptable. Your house does not have to be spotless. Dinner does not have to be straight out of a magazine—sometimes, straight out a cereal box is just perfect. Do not let yourself stress over such things, and don’t be afraid to reach out for some help when you need it. Everyone needs help with their jobs at some point, and a stay-at-home mom is no exception. Embrace that fact.
[divider]Escape from Your House[/divider]
As easy as it may be to fall into the habit of just staying at home all day, it is critical to your sanity that you make intentional plans to get out of the house regularly.
Open the Door
Make it a rule that if the sun’s out, you’re out. The outside world is one of the best educational classrooms, so make plans to get out there and explore it. For days when the weather is not as nice, visit libraries, museums, indoor play areas, or just go grab a cup of hot chocolate with your little ones. The key here is to give yourself a change of scenery and a way for you and your children to interact with others.
Also of paramount importance is getting out of the house alone, with your spouse, or with some girlfriends. You need adult time, so join an adult league sports team or plan regular nights out with friends every week. As important as your role is as a stay-at-home mom, you also have the internal need to fellowship with those your own age. You need that time to discuss grown-up topics and to get a break from always being “on-duty.” Don’t feel guilty about this time away from your kids, as it will help you to come back refreshed and ready to give them your full attention the next day.
Take great pride in your work as a stay-at-home mom and don’t allow your exponentially complex job description to overwhelm you. Just like a professional athlete has to allow his body to recover and takes steps to avoid injuries, stay-at-home moms must do the same to prevent burnout and to sustain their strength, day in and day out.
You already know that your role as a mom benefits your children in a number of ways. Find out how your role as a Learning Coach might also benefit them. Visit K12.com to learn if an online education might be right for your child.