How to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom

Learn to appreciate the “Sunday Scaries”. You know that feeling of dread you get on Sunday night knowing you have to go back to work the next day? The unwelcome reminder of all those responsibilities you hid from for the past two days?

It still happens, even when you don’t leave your house. I used to think that once I didn’t have an office to go to, once I didn’t have to put on semi-formal clothing (I was a paralegal), I wouldn’t get as stressed anymore. Sunday nights would finally just be a relaxing end to the weekend and nothing more. I was wrong. The anxiety still creeps in just as I’m settling in for the night and I still get nervous about the week ahead of me. The difference that I’ve come to realize, though, is that, this time around, I really love my job. The stress that I feel is much more welcome because it’s completely worth it. Being a mom is stressful as all get out and exhausting but, it’s also the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I can finally say wholeheartedly that I love my job. The stress that I feel is because I’m responsible for taking care of the most beautiful, little girl and that helps me manage the anxiety. It’s natural to still feel stress and even dread at the thought of having to resume full-time childcare for another week, even if you love doing it, and it’s completely ok. Being a stay-at-home mom is tough and the Sunday Scaries are a normal part of that.

Leave the house: It is so easy as a stay-at-home mom to just stay at home. Everything your baby needs is there, you don’t have to put on real clothes, and it’s a HUGE hassle packing up the diaper bag and loading baby into the car. Don’t let yourself get stuck. Make an effort to leave the house at least once a day; it’ll get easier the more you do it. Not only is a connection with the outside world beneficial for you, just seeing that the outside world is still there where you left it but, it’s good for your baby as well. Your little one needs to experience everything and get used to being a part of the world. The earlier you start bringing them places, the more often you pack that diaper bag, the easier it will be. I struggled with this for a long time. My postpartum depression kept me imprisoned inside because I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I quickly realized that this was only making the depression worse and I was holding my daughter back as well. Do yourself a favor and get out of the house. The beauty of being a stay-at-home mom is that, you’re free to go wherever you’d like with your little one…even if you’d much rather stay at home.

Along with leaving the house with the baby, it’s just as important to leave the house by yourself. You may not be able to do this frequently but, try to leave the house by yourself at least once a week. It really does wonders for your mental health – even if you just go for a quick walk around your neighborhood.

Take Advantage of Nap Time. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to “sleep while the baby sleeps”. It’s just not realistic. I think I took one nap while Lilly was napping the entire 9 months she’s been alive. My husband even documented it.

What I will tell you, though, is that nap time is when you’ll actually get stuff done. Or, if you’re like me, sometimes you’ll just sit there and mindlessly scroll through Instagram because your brain just needs a little break. Whatever you decide to do while baby is asleep, this is “you” time. Time that you don’t have to be “on” (besides keeping an eye on the baby monitor). I’ll usually spend Lilly’s morning nap doing chores and then the other naps (she’ll usually nap about three times a day) watching trashy tv, Instagramming, or playing Minecraft. I’d like to say that I spend my time crafting, learning a new language, or cooking but, I personally just don’t have the energy.

Don’t sweat the loss of income too much. Ok, this one was tough for me. I didn’t think it would be a big deal but, I really enjoyed earning a paycheck while I was working outside of the house. To be honest, stay-at-home mom should be a salaried position but, unfortunately, it’s not. I don’t even miss having a traditional job; I hated commuting to an office just to be stressed over a job I didn’t find rewarding but, money sure is nice. My feelings on this confuse my husband because, he makes enough to support all of us but, there was just something about having my own paycheck that felt good. Now that that’s gone, I feel really dependent on my husband and, being the daughter of a single mom, part of me hates that. But it’s important not to stress about this too much. Although you aren’t getting monetary compensation, you’re being rewarded in other ways. If you can’t do without a paycheck, try to find part-time gig or a *legitimate* way to work from home. But beware. There are so many scams out there for people that are desperate and so many people that have fallen for them trying to get others onboard. As stay-at-home moms, we are prime targets for pyramid schemes. We are the ones these companies reach out to the most because we’re usually the ones looking for a side hustle. We are the ones they try to seduce with promises of free trips, cars, and a lavish lifestyle. Don’t fall for it. Whatever money you stand to make, if any, isn’t worth it. Pyramid scheme, multi-level marketing, whatever you want to call it…don’t buy the lies. You’ll get roped in and realize that it’s not as great as they make it sound. Honestly, I’m kind of afraid of getting backlash for writing this but, I’ve seen and heard too many horror stories. Better to just not have an income.

Rediscover yourself. Before having a baby, your whole life was about your own hopes, dreams, wants, and needs. You had a unique identity and you could do whatever you wanted. All of a sudden, there’s this new kid on the block draining you of all your energy, and your sense of self is starting to fade. This can happen to all moms, stay-at-home and working but, I think it’s harder for stay-at-home moms to manage. Personally, I struggle with who I am on a daily basis. Everything about me changed once Lilly was born. I went from Lisa to Mom Lisa and I have no idea who Mom Lisa is. I know that I’m good at taking care of my daughter and I know how to keep her happy but, what makes Mom Lisa happy? Who am I aside from being a mom? This ties into needing to leave the house but, it is important to mention on its own. It’s important to take the time to figure out who you are aside from your new role; this is something I’ve been trying really hard to do. As a stay-at-home mom, it’s easy to let yourself fade into the background. That’s how it started to feel for me; I felt like I became part of the house or something. Essential but almost inanimate. Who am I when I don’t have a baby on me? What do I like to do when I’m not changing diapers? I love being Mom Lisa but, regular Lisa’s still in there somewhere too.

Make other stay-at-home mom friends. You’re going to need other adults to hang out with. Being stuck at home all day with a baby would drive anyone up the wall and adult interaction is the best. Having adults around that understand what you’re going through is even better. Friends that will understand your being late because your child had a blow out right before you were supposed to leave the house. Friends that can help if you left the house without wipes because mom brain is real. This is also a great way to get out of the house. I definitely feel more motivated to get Lilly’s diaper bag packed when I have friends waiting for me. Mom friends also know the importance of sticking to a plan. Before we had kids, it wasn’t a big deal when plans fell through with little notice. Nowadays? Friends better be 100% sure that the plan is a-go before making us go through the trouble of getting ourselves and our babies ready. Mom friends understand this. Mom friends don’t let mom friends do all that work for nothing.

It’s ok to not be ok. Ok, this is a big one. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard and it’s ok to struggle with it. Don’t let anyone make you feel invalidated or like you have it “easier” because you don’t work at the office from 9-5. Screw that. You work 24/7 and deserve to complain and vent about it if you need. Since my husband works, it’s like working a 9-5 and being on call all night. It. is. tough. I love my job but sometimes my daughter is an asshole. That’s just the truth. And no one really talks about how hard it is. We post the good moments on Instagram and make it look like a breeze but, in reality, we’re losing our minds half – if not most – of the time.

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I love being a stay-at-home mom but, it’s definitely the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. So much harder than I thought and much more tiring. There are days where I do wish I had a traditional job to go to, just to have a break but, I would hate to miss out on all my daughter’s important moments. Our society puts so much pressure on women to “do it all” and it’s crap. A mom who works outside the house all day is no better than a mom who stays home. A mom who stays home isn’t better than a mom who works outside the house. We are all rock stars and we all love our kids more than anything. We should be allowed to do whatever we think is best and whatever works for us.

I used to give myself grief because I felt I wasn’t “doing anything” and that, somehow, not making money meant I was’t contributing. 9 months of being a full-time, stay-at-home parent has definitely cured me of these negative thoughts; it is INSANE how much I do every day. I’m not earning a paycheck, so what? I’m taking care of my sweet, baby girl and her beautiful smile (now with 4 teeth included) is the only reward I need.

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