Being a stay-at-home mom almost always means compromising. Unless you've always wanted to stay home in order to take care of your children, you're likely making a choice to stay home because childcare is too expensive, you couldn't continue on in your career, or your priorities simply shifted. Even though there are certain things every stay-at-home mom has to give up, there are things a stay-at-home mom should never sacrifice, too. In fact, I would go so far as to say your sanity, healthy, and sense of self depend on you refusing to budge in certain areas.
I'll admit I wasn't the type of person who always wanted to stay at home. In fact, when my partner and I got married we talked a lot about him staying home with our future children. Eight years and a very different life later, it made the most sense for me to stay home for the first 15 months of our daughter's life, and it took me a little while to realize that I needed to make sure I wasn't compromising on certain things in order to keep my sanity.
The combination of instant protective mom emotions and being the one in charge of my daughter's every need all day long turned me into a total control freak for a little while. Once I realized there were some serious things I needed to keep for myself, I started to loosen my grip and have a much healthier relationship with my partner and my daughter.
I'm a firm believer that nap time should be your time. It's so tempting to want to clean up the morning's messes or write some emails, but after a few months I realized I needed to just turn my brain off for an hour during nap time in order to be a better version of myself for the rest of the day.
Peace & Quiet
At the end of most days I was so sick of my own voice — and anyone else's voice, for that matter — that I just wanted to sit in the peace and quiet once my daughter went to bed. It took a little while to get my partner to understand why I didn't always feel like talking (or listening to anyone else talk) once my day was over.
Moving Your Body
I hesitate to call it exercise, because that makes it sound like more work, but moving your body obviously helps give you more energy for chasing small people, or rocking even smaller people, all day long. If you can swing it somehow, moving your body so that you take care of yourself and your health shouldn't be something you should sacrifice as a stay-at-home mom.
Time With Your Partner
When my daughter was younger, my partner and I would often trade off who was responsible for her when he walked in the door from work. Then we realized we needed to prioritize our time together, too, even if that was sometimes during the day so we could have a conversation without being so exhausted.
As a stay-at-home mom, I was rarely able to finish a whole conversation and it was exhausting to have playdates where I'd only ever get half a sentence out before I was interrupted by a toddler or a baby who needed my attention. I realized that while I saw my mom friends frequently as a stay-at-home mom, I still really needed to make time to see them without our kids.
I think I ate cereal and M&M's for most meals while I was a stay-at-home mom, only really managing to put together dinner because there was someone else there to eat it with me. But if I get to stay at home again, I'll be making sure I get proper meals, especially breakfast, and hopefully have more energy throughout the day.
It used to take me the entire day to drink one cold cup of coffee. Even going to a coffee shop for a nice latte meant barely touching it while trying to wrangle a baby.
I know being a mom in general means being covered in goo most of the time, but you shouldn't have to sacrifice your own cleanliness as a stay-at-home mom. There's got to be a plan you can make with your partner that results in you getting 10 minutes for a hot shower every morning or evening.