10 tips for enjoying life as a stay-at-home mom
I’ve recently written about some of my struggles with being a stay-at-home mom, but today I want to focus on the little things I do to enjoy this season of life. Since I only quit my job as a reporter less than two months ago, I’m still in the process of figuring this whole stay-at-home thing. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far. I guess we’ll have to consider this post Part I of many.
1. Get on the floor
I might have a to-do list to tackle and feel like I don’t have time to play with Baby G. But as soon as I get on the floor and win a big dorky smile from her as I crawl around pretending to be a monkey or something else equally undignified, the to-do list grows dim and I remember why I’m doing this.
2. Capture moments
I’m learning to not take any of Baby G’s stages for granted, because each one is gone almost as soon as it arrives. Even a day that feels rote is special because never again will she be in this exact stage. I look back on photos from just a month ago and I’m amazed at how much she has changed since then. So I take photos and videos, and I send them to Joe so he can share those small moments of the day with me. Sometimes I’ll post them on Facebook so my extended family and friends can keep up with her life. If I really want someone to swoon though, I send pictures to her grandmas. They are guaranteed to drool over every photo I send.
The more I smile, the more smiles I get from Baby G, a very worthy investment. Plus did you know that the act of smiling actually changes your mood?
4. Do something indulgent everyday
Even high-stress career women outside the home take breaks during their workdays. So when Baby G is sleeping or self-entertaining, I do something for myself that is not on my to-do list. This could be taking a longer-than-five-minute shower, scouring Craigslist for antique furniture, reading a chapter of a book, whatever. The only catch is that I’m not allowed to feel guilty about it.
5. Go for walks
I’ve already written about how walks are the key to gratitude. I’ve never been huge on working out (need to get better about that), but I do love taking walks. If I am walking with the stroller uphill, I can get my heart rate high enough for cardio benefits. Plus both the baby and dog enjoy the outing.
6. Don’t get obsessed with Internet mom forums
Since the beginning of my pregnancy, I’ve been involved in the “January 2013” birth club on Baby Center. The group has more than 15,000 members and at any given time, at all hours of the night, there are thousands of moms online, posting forum questions and interacting. While I’ve found the birth club useful on more than a couple occasions, it’s easy to get sucked into the paranoia that infiltrates a moms group like that. Every time I log in, I read forum posts about babies younger than Baby G who are several milestones ahead of her, and I wonder if I’m an inferior mom or if Baby G is delayed in her development. Then there is the “train wreck” aspect to these forums – the constant threads titled “Well, it finally happened, he left me,” or “I knew he was cheating” or “My mother-in-law tried to poison my baby.” It’s hard to look away from this kind of material, but really, how am I benefitting anyone by spending my time eavesdropping like that?
7. Don’t get caught in the social media comparison trap
It can be tough when my single acquaintances from college are posting pictures of their trips to Paris or their fabulous jobs on Facebook, but I try not to compare my life to anyone else’s. Social media makes it easier than ever before to get caught in the comparison trap. But I remind myself that I’m only seeing a sliver of that person’s life – maybe that girl taking spontaneous trips to Paris is lonely and longs for a committed relationship like I have. Maybe the married woman with the fabulous job is struggling with infertility and the pictures of Baby G on her newsfeed rip her apart. My point is, we just don’t know what people’s lives are like beyond what they post on social media. It’s not fair to compare my real life with someone else’s Instagrammed life.
8. Listen to music
And it doesn’t just have to be kid music, although Pandora has a cool “family folk songs” station that I enjoy. But I’ve had fun exposing Baby G to all types of musical styles. We often tune into a local public radio station that plays everything from big band and raggae to bluegrass and latin pop. Baby G is already learning some basic dance moves, such as “the bounce” and “the sway.”
9. Reclaim the living room for yourself in the evening
Once Baby G goes to bed, the first thing I do is hide the piles of toys that ammassed on the floor throughout the day and light a candle on the coffee table. Then I have a glass of wine, or tea, or whatever, and relax. Paula from “Faithful in the Little” recently came up with a list of ideas to set a relaxing mood in the home.
At a later time, I hope to write about my faith journey. It’s a bit of a messy story so I’m saving it for later. But I’ll say here that throughout the day, I utter small prayers of thanks to God. I don’t set aside time to do this, it’s just a part of my day. It helps me remember my purpose and keeps me grateful for this season in life. I don’t mean to alienate anyone here. If you don’t pray, then meditate, be mindful, whatever. For me, I pray.
What are your tips for enjoying your life as a mom, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or working mom? Have ideas to add to this list?