When I discovered I was pregnant with my firstborn, I knew immediately I'd stay home with her after the birth. The preconceived notions of what stay-at-home moms do were somewhat at the forefront of my reasoning, and I had no idea how difficult it would be once she was actually in the world. Before too long I had to find ways to make time for myself as a stay-at-home-mom. If I didn't, I definitely would've lost all sanity. Even now, as I work from home and remain the primary caregiver to my 5 and 10 year old, it's just as important as it was then (if not more).
Making the decision to stay home full-time wasn't an easy one. While I wasn't raking in the dough at the time, what little I did make helped secure the shared finances between my partner and I. With my upbringing being so turbulent, I always knew once a baby was in the picture I'd have to be home, somehow, someway, even if only a short while. These beliefs are deeply rooted, cemented by a lingering fear of leaving my children with anyone, really.
So while the decision to stay at home with my children was relatively easy, being a stay-at-home mom is anything but. As a result, I have learned the only way to really get through the day-to-day (and in a way that's beneficial for everyone) is to find time to focus on myself, and only myself. Sounds impossible, I know, but I promise it's possible.
I'm one of those people who will not speak to you, acknowledge you, or even look at you until I've had that first cup of coffee. I'ver never been a morning person but, after two kids, I'm even less of one. I hate mornings and morning sunshine and talking in the morning and anything that has to do with a morning, until my caffeine has a chance to kick in. It's nothing personal, of course. It's just who I am.
When I brew this coffee, and pour into my mug, I like to take in those moments, quietly reflecting on the days prior and how the day to come will play out. It's really for everyone else's benefit than my own to just leave me be, and let me savor. Please.
Being home with kids all day while my partner works outside of the home (especially in the summer) means making sure I get out of the house before he leaves to get a run in.
While I loathe exercise in general, running clears my mind and helps me work out any anxiety I've been carrying so that each day is a clean slate. Without this mandatory peace, I'd be groggier, grumpier, and probably not as present for my children as I want to be.
Honestly, most days I live in sweats and a comfortable shirt. My hair is a mess and I'm makeup-free. If I know I'm not going to see anyone or go anywhere, why go to all the trouble? Some days, I get ready anyhow, because it gives me more confidence to face the day. When I feel good about myself, there's little I can't do (even if taking my eyeliner off at the end of the day is a pain).
Being a work-at-home writer for many years, I don't only see it as a career but as an actual lifeline on days I feel like I'm failing at everything else.
As long as I can remember, I carried around a notebook to write (even in school). It was, is, my greatest escape. When I'm not writing, I like to read. While not always books, I scour blog posts, news articles, and anything else to keep my brain sharp enough to handle two smart kids. Plus, it helps me stay connected to the outside world while in the comfort of my home.
Since my kids were babies, all sleep times have been more important than anything else because it allows me the quiet time to reset. This is especially important on days I'm overwhelmed and frustrated. Time away from them, however short, helps me be a better mother, partner, and woman.
Plus, it's the only time I can watch reality TV in peace.
My oldest has always been mega independent (to a fault) but I'm grateful for it now that she's nearing her teens years. My son, on the other hand, is the baby (even at 5) and requires a little more attention and care. They're different kids.
However, I aim to encourage both of their play times be independent of me at least a little bit each day. This allows me to get things caught up, have a minute to myself, and let them work out their issues without me.
I used to very much be a people-pleasing "yes" person but when you're a stay-at-home mom, ain't nobody got time for that! Sometimes it's necessary to say "no" because I'm only one person while my partner is at work, and I can't do everything. Saying no sets boundaries with others and allows me to find a moment to breathe.
Delegating doesn't always go as planned and sometimes I end up doing the things I've delegated that didn't get done. It doesn't stop me from continuing the practice, though, because I want and need (and deserve) time to myself. That time won't come if every waking moment to myself is filled with other people's things.
It's no easy feat to make sure I get a little "me" time every day, but I've found it's so very necessary in order for me to be all the things my partner and children need from me.
Being a stay-at-home-mom means making a lot of sacrifices. Much like working moms, we're always striving for ways to be the best we can be. So honestly, by taking time for yourself each day, somehow, you're doing your family a favor because once you've taken care of you, you can give them the best. Not just what's left.