I started a little series on Staying at Home last week after getting a couple questions on the topic. The first post was about determining the right timing. Keep in mind, I am not June Cleaver 🙂 My posts simply recount my journey and what, so far, is working for us.
As you can imagine, staying at home is not a glamorous job. Unlike working in the corporate world (which I’ve only been removed from one year), you rarely get pats on the back, thank yous or monetary raises. But what most stay-at-home moms will tell you is that what you do get from this ‘job’ is worth the loss of corporate perks.
By the time I left the working world, with nearly 10 years of experience under my belt, I felt very confident in my abilities as an employee and what I could deliver. Switching to a stay-at-home mom has challenged me in ways I never imagined, leaving me questioning my disciplining techniques, wondering if I should have handled something differently, wishing I had more of a knack for homeschooling, feeling guilty for wanting just five moments of peace…and the list goes on and on.
In many ways, staying home has humbled me as I’ve been able to narrow my focus to just my family. I’m grateful for the opportunity, and at the same time, I’m still trying to figure out ways to do things better, more efficiently, more patiently.
One thing I’ve learned through this year-long journey (so far), is that you still have to make time for you. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that I’m supposed to be doing: caring for my kids and husband, cooking, cleaning, shuttling kids, volunteering and helping others, etc. I can see how it’s possible to lose yourself when giving so much to others.
I went through a rough patch when Beau was so sick this winter. My days and nights consisted of taking care of him, attempting to keep things normal for James Michael, cooking for my family and cleaning came last, but still made the list. It was a blur of a couple months where I stopped blogging and stopped working out. I didn’t have the physical or mental energy to do either. So I get that sometimes, it’s hard to avoid times like this when the atypical seems to drag on and on.
But barring that rough patch, I’ve tried my best to keep some semblance of self, of the me apart from mom and wife. Why? Because I truly believe that doing so makes me a better mom and wife. Instead of giving less, as it may seem, I feel like I can actually give more, with a better attitude. It also helps me to focus on tasks I don’t enjoy, such as cleaning, when I know I have to get it done so I can do something for me.
Having me time is going to look different for everyone, depending on hobbies and interests. For me, my top activities are baking, blogging, reading and working out. I do like getting together with my girlfriends, but outings like that require schedules lining up along with someone to watch the kids, so they only happen periodically. I really love the women’s bible studies I’ve been able to participate in on Thursday mornings at our church. Because childcare is offered, it’s time for me to connect with other women and build relationships, as well as grow my own spiritual relationship. Those relationships have given the boys and I countless opportunities for play dates, which is good for them as well as us moms.
I won’t lie, it’s near impossible to make time for me every day. Something will come up: the boys’ naps will barely overlap, the house has to be cleaned for guests, or another ‘have-to’ must be completed in the time that I would normally set aside for me. But that’s to be expected; that’s life with kids. I would say that, on average, I get me time about five times a week–sometimes it’s 30 minutes, sometimes it’s 1.5 hours. I take what I can get and use it for me. During my first trimester, I used it to lay down and rest while I was feeling so nauseous and exhausted. Nowadays, before baby girl comes and I have a little energy, I like to blog or bake.
Critics may argue that I should spend that kid-free time getting caught up on housework or chores. But you know what, I believe the saying that “Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids.” I think I’ll settle for being just a good mom any day.