The Stay At Home Mother’s guide to being a SAHM or SAHD

I never in my life thought I would be a stay-at-home-mother.  It’s not me. I am a worker. I like being around grown-ups and I crave success.  Yet, I cannot get myself to give up my life as a SAHM for the daily grind… yet.  That being said, clearly from yesterday’s post Parenting from the Weeds, I am not exactly the world’s best or most patient mom.  However, I have a super bad ass BOSS baby so I must be doing something right!

My parenting style definitely stems from the Do-What-You-Gotta-Do mentality and trusting my instinct.  Sure, I read those silly parenting books, but they kept contradicting each other. So I just do MY best.  Sometimes it works sometimes it does not.  That's really parenting right?

After 16-months of trial and error, and learning from my mistakes, I think I have a pretty good thing going with this SAHM business. Below are my top five tips that work to keep me a semi-sane SAHM....
Tell me that face does not say...
I may or may not have done something very naughty...

Without further ado…

Get over yourself.

I think the first rule of being a SAHM or SAHD is understanding that you CANNOT do it all.  I was so upset at first that I could not care for my son and the housework.  I honestly could not understand how I was home all day and could not get a load of laundry finished. Eventually I learned that it was all about priorities.  My first priority was/is Oliver, so I made sure he had all he needed, and sometimes that meant letting the laundry sit.  

I now pick my battles.  If the laundry needs to be done then that, plus Oliver, is my focus for the day- not cleaning the whole house and having a four-course dinner prepared. 

BONUS TIP: Other SAHMs I have talked to said they do one big chore during nap time each day of the week. For example, Floors on Mondays, Bathrooms on Tuesday and so on… This may be perfect for you.  However, for me I think naptime should be your rest time too, so don’t over due it, or you will still be worn out at the end of the day.

Create a safe place

You need to create a place in your home that you can set your baby down in and walk away. (I do not mean for an hour!)  When Oliver was a baby it was his crib.  I admit, if I was really about to loose my patience I would put him in his crib with his mobile on and sit on the couch for five minutes to breathe.  Sometimes he would fuss and some cry, but at all times he was safe and I was getting the break I desperately needed.  Now that Ollie is older, his safe place is his Pack N' Play in front of his TV with the Wiggles on. I have toys and a pile of books in his pack n play for him to play with and the monitor pointing right at it. (That’s right I let my kid watch TV before 2 years old. Judge me. I don’t care!) He is happy to be in the Pack N' Play, and I am happy to get things done, or just lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling for ten minutes.  We all need a break and the safe place makes it happen.  Tip: No Pack-n-play…Try the highchair with a snack.
I LOVE this photo.... it's a 10-month old Ollie!
At this age I never took my eyes off of him, so he hung out in the living room with me.
Again, this is a 10-15 minute fix. Not a babysitter! 

Play with your Child(ren), don’t just go through the motions.

I find that if I really sit down to play with Oliver with excitement then we both have fun.  What I mean is, Hot Wheels can be fun if I relax and play with them, not just go through the motions to appease my kid.  When I go in to play with him, I leave my phone on charge, so I don’t check emails or social media. I go in to play with him looking forward to our time together.  It makes SUCH a difference.

Get out of the House!

The minute I get cabin fever from being home, I pack up Ollie and we go on an adventure- make no mistake, this is a daily occurance!  I have to. If I don’t break up the day then I go a little crazy.  Sometimes we walk to the park, or go to the zoo, or just go to Target. Or if the idea of taking your wild animal into any public establishment induces a panic attack, then just go to a coffee shop drive-thru and get yourself a drink, and the beast a snack.

Good Times!
TIP: Look on websites like Plum District or Groupon for local deals on places for children.  I learn about children’s places I didn’t even know existed through those sites. You could also join a mommy’s group or baby and me Yoga or sign up for swimming lessons!

This Too Shall Pass

It really is a blessing to get to be home with your child, even if sometimes it feels like a punishment from the land of Karma.  You will never ever get these years back, so embrace them.  When you think you are going to lose your mind, drop your bub in the safe place, take a few deep breaths, then go back and look at your beautiful child. Be thankful that you are there to share every milestone, first word, achievement and smile with him.  There are so many working moms and dads out there that would give anything to trade places with us SAHM & SAHD.  So when you are feeling overwhelmed and even annoyed with being a SAHM or SAHD, remember this too shall pass, and when it does you will miss it very very very much.

Have a tip for being a Stay At Home Parent?  Please share!

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April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com


Kristy J said...

Love the post!! All very important tips. I let Avery watch TV, not stupid things, but he watches Baby Einstein or My Baby Can Read. It gives me the 15 or 20 minutes to sit and drink my coffee and read your blog :-)

Anonymous said...

No tips since mine is a "daycare baby", but I had to comment on the TV before 2 thang. BFD. I let my 19 month old watch Sprout TV in the evening while I'm trying to prep dinner (if Pappa isn't home) & one of our favorite parts of the weekend is from 8-8:30 on Saturday morning when we ALL watch Peep & the Big Wide World followed by Pocoyo!

"Well, it's a sunny day
I feel brand new
There's about a million things
That I could do!
Would you like to
Do them, too?
Well, it's a big wide world
And it's waiting for me and you"....

Stephanie said...

Thanks for posting this! I'm staying at home until I go back to work in August. My baby boy is two months old and sometimes I feel like I am completely losing my mind. This helps, especially the tip about actually playing with your child. I know this time will go by fast (and sometimes I wish it would speed up!) so it's good to remember these things. Thanks!

Alissa said...

Thanks for posting this! I admit... I am jealous of you SAHM and SAHD... I wish I had the ability to be one, or at least part-time. Loved your "safe-place" idea. When James was little it was easy to just put him in his crib... now it's a bit more challenging. I might have to try the pack-n-play idea. And the "Getting over yourself" tip, I struggle with this daily!! But I've started making lists each week of the big chores I want to get done and cross them off as I do them. It makes me feel a littl more accomplished.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this post. I think these tips are all super awesome. As a STHM, I can totally relate to all your feelings. And seriously, what was the TV made for if not to entertain a less than two year old while you can get something done right? Nothing wrong with that as long as its not an all day everyday thing. And about the parenting books, I totally agree with you. They are, for the most part, silly.

The only tip I would add here is that as a stay at home mom, if that's what you want to be, you gotta decide that it is what you want to be. Once you get it in your mind that you aren't missing pay checks and raises and rising up the corporate ladder, but instead you are gaining valuable time with your child, memories (nothing beats the first step!) and you aren't having to choose between work and family. I had a hard time with this but once I started looking at things that way, I became much happier with my role as a stay at home mamma. It's all I'd ever want to do now.

Unknown said...

Awww- great post April! It's so true- the grass is always greener- going back to work is absolutely heart wrenching, but staying home 24-7 may put you in the looney bin (trust me, I've almost admitted myself in several times)... and I had to laugh about priorities over chores. See, I tend to do the chores while he's awake because it doesn't take brain power usually- so I literally had him on my hip yesterday while mowing the last half of the lawn (the front half he was in his stroller, the back half he played on the porch- so okay, the side of the house...) anyway- that's the only way I can get any "brain" work in during his naps (or take a nap myself on the rare occasion)... getting out of the house for adult time is a MUST! If it weren't for the volunteer work at the hospital I'd definitely go bananas. But even when it's bad, just remember it goes by too quickly and you'll miss it all before you know it!

jonelle said...

Great post and great advice! I totally agree about the going out with the kids part. Sure, kids can be fussy sometimes, but taking them out for short trips is pretty fun too!

Heather @ US-Japan Fam said...

Great post!! There are an abundance of over (and under) -doing moms out there and it's nice to read how a regular mom gets through the day! My lil' one is almost 6 months and I'm juggling a new business and a couple of side projects. He's definitely my top priority but it does get tough, and frustrating, but when we have our tickle sessions on the bed...there is nothing better in the world!! ^_^