For the first 26 years of my life, if anyone would have asked me about being a stay-at-home-mom, I would have said, “no, I plan to continue working after having children.”
Even though my mom and Dave’s mom were both stay-at-home-moms when their children were little, I don’t think either Dave or I pictured me as a stay-at-home mom — at least not a FULL TIME stay-at-home-mom.
Then we had Nora and despite my best efforts to continue working outside the home, it only took about 6 months before I quit my part-time office job AND stopped doing all my in-home organizing so I could be home with her full time. I was thankful to still have my blog and VA work that I could do from home, but I honestly hated being “stuck at home” with her every day all day.
I knew life would be less stressful for Nora if I just stayed home with her (for those of you who haven’t read my old posts, Nora had lots of sensory issues as a baby. She refused to eat when I was gone and basically cried nonstop until I returned. There were days (already as a tiny baby) when she literally didn’t eat anything for 8 hours straight when I was gone. My sister and our parents were the only people able to deal with her excessive screaming and crying… so my decision to be home was for Nora, not really for myself).
I resented that I had to stay home, I hated the lack of structure and routine, I hated giving up my “dream job” working with organizing clients, I hated being stuck inside with a crying baby day after day, night after night, and I was jealous of all other moms who seemed to effortlessly mesh their career life and family life together without any major issues.
Being a stay-at-home mom was never my “dream job” — and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to start working with organizing clients again once the kids are all in school. But right now, at this point in my life, I do feel it is best for me to be home.
Yes, there are days I feel like I’m going to pull every hair out of my head by 7:30am, days when working outside the house sound like a dream, and days when I check the clock every 4 minutes to see how much longer it will be until Dave gets home. However, I can honestly say I never expected to enjoy being home with my kids as much as I do.
Over the past few years, I have learned so much about “how to be a mom” — or at least “how to be the mom I want to be”.
One of the things I’ve learned is that in order for me to really enjoy being home with my kids, I have to treat motherhood like any other job outside the home, create my own structure and routine, and make my own plan.
I NEED a plan. I NEED routine. I NEED to feel productive.
Even though I don’t need to prepare for a meeting, finish a report, schedule an appointment, or drive to a client’s home every morning, there is A LOT I need to plan and prepare for my job as mom in order to save my sanity and feel like I’m not wasting away in my pj’s all day while my kids run around like crazy people (although this does happen on occasion!)
I certainly don’t plan our days by the minute… but by creating a basic daily routine and writing out a to-do list every day, we are ALLLLL a whole lot happier!
My Job as “Mom”
Prepping the night before:
Just like anyone with a typical job, I spend a decent amount of time preparing for my day the night before to ensure things run smoothly, that I’m on-time, and that I don’t forget something important.
- I check the weather forecast and pick out my clothing for the next day (I help Nora and Simon pick out their clothing before they go to bed).
- I make sure backpacks and diaper bags are fully stocked and ready to go for whatever we have on the schedule that day.
- I think through the morning’s activities and pack anything we might need in the car and/or stroller (packages to drop off at the post office, books to drop off at the library, goodies to bring to a neighbor, special project to bring to school, etc.)
- If the weather is nasty, I plan a couple different crafts or indoor projects I can do with Nora and Simon.
- I decide what we will have for breakfast and usually mix up some pancake batter, waffle batter, or oatmeal — and I make sure we have plenty of fruit cut up in the fridge.
- I fill the kid’s snack containers, juice cups, and water bottles.
- I look at my menu plan and pull any dinner items out of the freezer to defrost overnight.
- Sometimes I even get lunch stuff ready if it’s something that can be made the night before.
- I make a fairly detailed to-do list of anything I need to (and want to) accomplish the following day.
During my “work day”:
Obviously, being a mom is a 24/7 job, but I consider my main “work day” from the time I wake up until Dave is home from school (usually around 3:30 pm). I don’t actually have a written schedule of what we will do at certain times of the day, but I do almost always try to have a variety of at-home activities planned for various points throughout the day.
- I try to have at least one crafty activity planned every day. Many days, this is just some simple coloring pages, but if it’s a more involved craft or painting project, I try to get things ready the night before so they aren’t sitting at the table waiting for me to cut out tiny pieces or pull out 20 different supplies before they can start on their craft. (Here are some of our favorite non-messy crafts and activities)
- I also try to do at least one “sensory type” of activity each day. This could be something as simple as playing in the sandbox or hauling out our gak. It might also be something extra fun like finger painting with shaving cream, or playing with big tubs of cheerios, rice, or beans in the kitchen (one of Simon’s FAVORITE things to do!)
- We try to get outside at least once every day — but when the weather is nice, we’re often outside 3 or 4 times. We are fortunate to have a huge yard and an extremely long driveway, so we rarely need to leave our house to have an adventure outside. We do have a handful of parks close by, as well as a little nature center with hiking trails; and we will often walk or bike to many nearby stores, parks, schools, restaurants, and the library. Dave almost always takes the kids outside when he gets home from school too.
- My kids still think cooking and cleaning with mom is VERY fun, so in an effort to multi-task and cross a few of my personal to-dos off my list, I usually have the kids “help” me bake something, make part of our dinner, and clean something — even if it’s just wiping the floors or baseboards with a damp cloth. It might not be up to my standards, but it’s better than nothing!
- We watch a couple Netflix shows every day — usually for about 20 minutes after they wake up (while I get breakfast going) and 30 minutes before lunch so I can wrap up a few things and get lunch on the table. Nora usually gets to watch something “special” during the boys nap time. We usually read for 20 minutes, then she helps me make dinner, then she can either play by herself, color, work on any of her various “projects”, or watch a show while I change out the laundry, clean a bathroom, or work on a blog post for a bit.
“Out of Office” Activities:
Although much of our days are spent at home, I do try to get out of the house at least once every day. We almost always do this after breakfast — mainly because this is when everyone is well-rested, well-fed, and relatively happy. Plus, we don’t have to work around any morning nappers anymore!
- Nora gets out of the house for school 2 mornings a week and I take the boys to a free story hour program at the library one of those mornings.
- We all go to Coffee Break at our church one morning
- Our local Early Childhood Center offers 2 free play groups every month — and we can walk!
- There is a local Music ‘n Motion group that meets weekly (with crafts and snack time after)
- The kids love visiting their grandparents (or having the grandparents visit us) for a couple hours in the morning
- Sometimes we’ll plan to go to friends’ or neighbors’ houses (or have them over to our house) for the morning
- I usually run a couple errands with the kids one morning, and if I need to schedule any Doctor appointments, I ALWAYS schedule them before 11am.
Punching out for the day:
While I don’t really ever get to “punch out” for the day, I do let out a big sigh of relief when Dave gets home from school (around 3:30) and again after the kids are tucked into bed (around 7:30).
I might not have to clean up my office before I leave, but I do pick up the entire house, make sure the kitchen is cleaned up, go through the mail, finish the laundry, and then get started on the list of things I do to ‘prep the night before’ (see list above).
I do this every day, Monday through Friday… and just like anyone working a typical job, I REALLY look forward to the weekends when Dave is home!
I realize this whole “mom job” thing might sound completely ridiculous to some of you — and I’m sure it won’t work for everyone. But I KNOW there are other type-A, thrives-on-structure moms out there who can fully relate to my need for order and a sense of accomplishment each day.
Although I love being home with my kids, I do NOT love “sitting around all day” wondering what we should do next, what we’re going to eat, what we should wear, or when we’ll ever get anything accomplished.
By simply treating motherhood just like I would any other typical job, I have streamlined our schedule, created more order in our home, increased our efficiency, saved my sanity, and (hopefully) provided a fun, happy, nurturing environment for my children.
Too bad I can’t put that on my future resume!