Happy Monday mamas! How has your morning started off? Smooth? Relaxed? Easy?
If you are anything like me, NONE of those adjectives work. My mornings are generally busy and chaotic right out of the gate! My 3 year old wakes up first and needs to go potty, usually resulting in mama needing to clean pee off the toilet and surrounding areas, then breakfast, juice, change of clothes and a show on TV. Then my 1 year old wakes up and needs a diaper change and breakfast. My puppy is signaling he needs to go out and he’s hungry as well. Once they are situated with morning TV, that’s my time to *try to* sneak away for computer work. I reply to emails, package Etsy orders, design SVG files and map out our day. I usually have to stop every 3-7 minutes to break up a fight or refill a drink or assist with a potty break. Around 10am we get going! It depends on the day, sometimes we get out to run errands or make appointments and sometimes its active time for all of us. I squeeze in my workout on the patio while the kids and the puppy play in the back yard. Afterwards they get a morning snack while I get cleaned up. We then have educational time, which includes reading, puzzles, coloring and building. I turn off the TV and we focus on activities that stimulate the mind. Afterwards its time for lunch then my youngest goes down for his afternoon nap. I usually allow my oldest his tablet time then, it quiets the house and gives me the opportunity to clean and do a little more work if I need to. When my little wakes up around 2, that’s when we have our second active time of the day. If we stayed home that morning, we get out for errands in the afternoon or we meet up for playdates with friends. If we went out that morning, we usually stay home and get our back yard play in then or take Freddie (our puppy) for a walk around the neighborhood. We like to be home and winding down around 4pm. This gives me the time to start prepping for dinner, finish up laundry that I started earlier in the day and try to finish cleaning the house so I can relax that evening. Note I said TRY. I get dinner made and we eat around 6:00-6:30, then its bath time and into PJs to get the boys to bed. my 1 year old falls asleep around 7:30 and my oldest doesn’t usually go down until closer to 8:30. Then I clean up from dinner and run the dishwasher. Maybe at 9 I can start winding down myself, or in many cases I’m trying to finish what I couldn’t earlier in the day.
I try very hard to keep a daily schedule. This is an important sanity saver for SAHM’s. But we all know with kids in the mix, things don’t always go as planned. All day, I am cleaning up spills, breaking up fights, soothing booboos, wiping up pee, cleaning up the same messes 20x over, fixing broken toys, finding lost pieces, refilling sippy cups, doling out snacks, taking our puppy out, changing diapers, cleaning dirty hands and faces, cleaning the high chair and bench where my 3 year old sits to eat, taking things out of the puppy’s mouth, and the list goes on. I often find that I, myself, have not eaten anything all day.
People have a tendency to think that stay at home moms have it easy without the added stress of a full time job. As a woman who has done both, I can tell you wholeheartedly that I have never done anything as difficult or as REWARDING than staying home with my children full time. With that being said, there are times that my stress gets the best of me. My husband travels a lot for work. I’m alone and without help most days. I don’t usually get breaks. Basic things like going to the bathroom or taking a shower are never done alone unless its late after the kids have gone to bed, then i’m generally so tired that its hard to enjoy it. I find myself screaming over small things, getting massive migraines that Ibuprofen won’t fix and sometimes feeling like I just want to shut down, curl up on my bed and hide from everything.
But as a mom, you can’t do that. You can’t stop. You can’t shut down. Your babies need you. So you need to be there for them. I have a series of tried and true sanity savers that help me get through those times and I hope help you as well.
1. Schedule time for yourself
One day a month, my mother in law comes over to watch the boys for the day. I get out of the house, get my nails done, maybe grab lunch with a friend and do a little shopping. Sometimes I will run errands that are hard to do with the boys with me. I may take a walk down by Mobile Bay and enjoy the peace and quiet. Its me time. Time to rejuvenate and restore myself. You can’t be there for your kids if you aren’t whole yourself. Scheduling this time gives me something to look forward to when I start to feel overwhelmed.
2. Leave the mess
Although we try to be, we can’t always be super woman. We may find ourselves cleaning all day then come that evening, your house is a mess once again. Leave it. Just leave it. Turn off the light, go take a bath or read a book or enjoy a glass of wine or do all three. The mess will be there in the morning to clean, but that time to yourself may not.
3. Get out of the house
Cabin fever is a thing. When you stay cooped up too much, it takes a toll on your overall mental health. Especially if things inside the house are bringing you stress. Take the kids to the park and relax on a bench while they play, go grab ice cream, take in a matinee. Just GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! Try to get out at least 3 days a week and feel the difference it makes in your stress levels.
4. Create a schedule
As I mentioned above, schedules are a great way to stay organized and reduce stress. Mom’s have so much going on every day, it can be easy to jumble everything up. Jobs are half done, food isn’t ready on time, kids don’t get play time and it all culminates to more stress! Take time to write out a schedule and stick to it! Decide on meal and snack times as well as play and relax times. Cleaning schedules are also a great help to me. On Mondays I vacuum and mop the house, Tuesdays are bathrooms, Wednesdays are bedrooms, Thursdays are kitchen and Living rooms and Fridays I touch up. I try to make Fridays my less busy day.
5. Reach out to your mom friends
I don’t know what I would do without my amazing mom friends. They always understand what is going on with me and often have helpful advice. If you are reaching your breaking point, invite your mom friend and her kids over for a play date. Let the kids run wild and burn some of that excess energy while you put on a pot of coffee and just talk. Being able to talk about stress and having someone listen is one of the best ways to cure stress. Sometimes when you vocalize what was causing you all that stress, you realize it really wasn’t a big deal to begin with.
6. Practice self care
It is much easier for stress to take its toll on a body that is beaten down. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat quality foods to fuel your body the right way and exercise! Start by adding an 30 minutes of sleep, one glass of water, one serving of green veggies and 10 minutes of exercise to your daily routine and see how that changes you. After only a couple days, your body will start to function better and you will be much more equipped to handle those stressful situations!
Just breathe. Sometimes you just need to step away. Step away from the screaming. Step away from the mess. Just go to your room and shut the door and breathe. As long as you know your kids are OK, just walk away and take a minute to compose yourself. Breathe, do some light stretches or just lay on your bed and shut your eyes for a moment. Whatever you need to do to compose yourself, just do it. Often those short bursts of relative calm are all you need. Remind yourself how blessed you are. You have beautiful children, a roof over your head, food on the table and clothes on your back. You give and receive love constantly. You are amazing. You are a mother.
When daily stresses start wearing you down, remember these 7 steps. Take it one day at a time and remember that tomorrow is another day.