Some of you may not know that I was a nanny before Georgia was born. I had been a nanny for almost nine years to the day when I started my new journey as a mom. Being a nanny started out as a good job to have during college but transitioned into my career when I realized there wasn’t anything else I’d rather do. So when Sean and I talked about our plans once we had kids, I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and possible watch another kiddo at our house. I was sure it wouldn’t be much different than being a nanny. Boy was I wrong!
When Georgia was born in February of 2015, we had only lived in our house for about 4 months. I didn’t know any other stay-at-home moms in the area and I was one of the first of my friends to have kids. I didn’t know how to fill my day in a fulfilling way. Sean would walk in the door and I was so hungry for adult conversation I would talk at him for a good hour before even asking about his day. I felt bad for spending money when I wasn’t bringing in a paycheck anymore so I spent a lot of time at home watching court t.v. and Netflix. Having a winter baby, I couldn’t even go on walks around the neighborhood in the beginning and to say I was stir crazy would be an understatement.
Something had to give so I went to Pinterest and started searching for stay at home mom schedules and activities to do with 8-week olds. The weather broke and I was finally able to get out without 18 layers on. The internet was ablaze with ideas to implement as a stay-at-home mom and I went through a lot of trial and errors. Here are the ideas that I found helped the most.
1. Get Out of the House Daily
Leaving the house is essential to the operation of being a stay-at-home mom. It breaks up the day and kills time. Even loading my girls up in the car in the middle of winter and getting a coffee at the drive-thru while listening to some music can feel like a tropical vacation some days. (A large iced tea at McDonald’s is only $1:) Sometimes with Kerrigan’s nap schedule and lunch we only have time to get to the library for 20 minutes. We still go! I grab a book, Georgia can play with a few kids in the children’s section and Kerrigan can crawl around in the baby area. Other days we throw the schedule out the window and meet up with friends at the zoo. Just depends on what we’re up for that day. Either way, we feel refreshed when we get back.
2. Follow a Basic Schedule
When you have a newborn, there is no such thing as a schedule. Especially with your first! After 6 weeks though, you’ll begin to see a pattern and be able to loosely follow it. Write it down when you see if forming, even just for a rough idea, and see how much better you feel about having a semi-predictable day. Get dressed in the morning, get baby dressed after the first nap, eat at regular mealtimes, play, get out of the house, naptime, play, dinnertime, bath and bedtime routine, baby bedtime, relax, your bedtime.
3. Make Mom Friends
During my first nanny job, the family was involved in a playgroup that met once a week. There were about 4-5 families in it and they would take turns hosting every month. Even as a nanny, I looked forward to that adult conversation every week. I knew when I became a mom I would join my own playgroup. However, there wasn’t just a list of playgroups in our area being given out to all new moms. (I wish though, that would legit be the most helpful thing they could give you…other than a night nanny:)
So I set out to start my own playgroup and it’s been magical. Getting together with other moms once a week does incredible things for your state of mind. We rotate houses and the kids play while we chat. We’ve formed genuine friendships with each other and the kids have too! Between the zoo meet-ups, dinners out, parties, girl trips and coffee dates; we see each other all the time now but it’s great always having one weekly meet-up scheduled on the calendar. We have an amazing support system with each other and know we can count on each other for anything. This is honestly one of the most vital parts to being a stay-at-home mom but it’s truly important for ALL moms.
4. Allocate Personal Money
When you first become a stay-at-home mom, you’ll feel poor. I’m pretty sure that’s true for everyone. Well at least 99% of us. You just went from two incomes to one. So unless your partner just got a raise making twice as much, you’re going to have to cut back in some areas to make it work. Fight the urge to give yourself a zero in the personal spending budget. Talk with your significant other and budget out how much you can each spend on whatever you want. Then stick to the budget and feel no guilt when you keep up your Starbucks habit, haircut appointments or make-up obsession. Just because you aren’t bringing in a paycheck anymore doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to some spending money. You just have to plan for it.
5. Accept Childcare Help
Welcome to your new job! It doesn’t pay well, there’s no 401K and you don’t get any sick/personal/vacation days. Congratulations! Look there’s no easy way to say this but you’re now responsible for someone’s life 24/7/365. Oh, and you get to do it an extra day once every four years, yay you! So when someone offers you childcare help, you take it. Maybe it’s you MIL offering to come over and watch the kids while you get out of the house or your husband is offering to take an early morning shift a few times a month before he has to get ready for work. Your brother doesn’t mind hanging out with the kids so you can have a date night? Great, take him up on it.
If you don’t have any family nearby but a babysitter is out of your budget, you still have options. Ask another SAHM if she’d want to a childcare swap so you can both get a break. One day you watch the kiddos and the next week she does a day. Join a gym with childcare. I pay $25/month for childcare for both girls at my gym. I can get a workout in, take a shower and even relax at the smoothie bar for up to two hours a day. The kids love it because they get to play with new friends and new toys. If you have family visiting for an extended period of time, let them watch the kids for an afternoon while so you can get in some me-time.
6. Carve Out Weekly Personal Time
As important as it is for you to leave the house every day with your kids, it’s even more important for you to leave your house alone once in a while. I love hitting up the library once a week to work on the blog or walking around Walgreens after Sean gets home on a particularly grueling day. If you live somewhere more rural, make sure your grocery shopping is done alone. Go to a friends house and hang out and do your nails. Being away from your kids, housework and significant other will seriously refresh you.
Hopefully, some of these tips can help you on your journey as a stay-at-home mom. It’s not easy but it’s so worth it. Whatever your reasons are for making this transition, good luck on this path. I love my life and I wouldn’t trade anything for it. I’d love to know what help you keep sane as a stay-at-home mom!
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Taran is a self-proclaimed undomestic mom. She thrives as a stay-at-home-mom by consistently carving out time for herself and practicing realistic self-care. As a busy mom of 3, she knows that if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy! With a focus on how SAHMs can carve out time for themselves everyday, she teaches fellow SAHMs how they can do the same.