In my 10 years of experience as a stay-at-home mom I've been asked quite often how I run a smooth ship and (usually) manage to keep a smile on my face.
Here are 5 tips for how I've thrived staying home with small children:
- Stick to a routine. As much as it's fun to sometimes throw caution to the wind and do things out of the ordinary, kids and adults alike feel less stress when they consistently know what to expect. As young as infancy, I've kept my kids on a routine. When they're younger than 5, it's especially nice to stick to an early bedtime routine for them. That has given me my evenings to myself, or to spend with my husband. That's a routine we've also grown accustomed to!
- Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat right, and take care of your relationship with your spouse by making date nights a priority. When my kids were under 5 that might have only happened once a month, but no matter what, don't neglect doing it. I also always have smoother days when I do my hair and put a little make-up on, even if it's just lipgloss or tinted moisturizer. I don't wear business clothes, but I also try to dress in clothes that flatter me.
- Get out of the house every day. Even if it's as simple as going to the grocery store, there should be some sort of activity to break up the day for you and the kids. A change of scene is good, right? Joining a mother's club was a lifesaver when my kids were babies. There is always someone you'll connect with and it's an inexpensive, enriching way to stay connected to others in the same phase of life. Going to a mother's group playdate once or twice a week for an hour is just the right amount of time.
- Keep it simple. Don't get involved in too many activities. In other words- say NO at least twice for every time you say YES to something else.
- Start, or keep, hobbies. Stock up on art supplies. Do some yourself along with your kids. I often tell people I have more hobbies now than I did pre-kids. I've learned to knit, play the guitar some, and I'm definitely becoming a better cook. Hobbies are a wonderful way to remember the individual you are, who is still learning and loving life, not to mention it's great role modeling for your kids. We ditched cable when our kids were very young. It can be so easy to get sucked into the "boob tube" when you're a stay-at-home mom. Ever notice it's sometimes harder to find something to watch on 500 channels than it is on 20? Better to go read or do one of your hobbies when you get free time instead.
Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of 4 young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues. Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox and connect with us on Facebook too. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com