21 Secrets to Being a Happy Stay at Home Mom
Whether you’re about to transition from working mom to stay at home mom or have been at this stay at home mom gig for a while, there are secrets and strategies you can implement today to become a happier, more fulfilled full time mom. The best things you can do now to be a happy stay at home mom are simple, having the energy and the courage to implement them isn’t. Stick with me and resolve to do at least 3 of the things you find on this list in the next week. I promise, you won’t regret it!
Social Media – Avoid it Completely, Almost
This one is a double-edged sword but also one of the best tips on this list.
I highly recommend you limit your social media use and attempt to break the addiction you probably have to mindlessly scrolling those apps on your phone.
Social media leads to comparison – “she does all of those crafts with her kids and I never do it because I dread the mess.”
“Karen always makes home cooked meals but I’ve ordered take out 3 times this week and it’s only Wednesday.”
The only way to stop the comparisons is to get out of your own head and build your confidence, but that takes time.
Breaking your addiction to social media doesn’t have to.
Now here is where the hypocrisy comes in.
I absolutely used social media to grow my mom tribe when I was a new mom and it was a game-changer.
If you can be strong enough to join local mom groups to find play dates without getting sucked down the rabbit hole of social media, that this the best case scenario.
This brings me back to my point about the benefits of social media and it being a double edged sword.
Having mommy friends to bounce ideas and anxieties off of was so incredibly important after I had my first baby.
I joined a Meet Up walking group for moms in the new town we moved to and forced myself to go every day.
I still remember the anxiety I had going the first few times.
My doula gave me some amazing advice that helped me push through.
She said “when I was looking for friends, I joined Meet Up groups. I was more nervous than going on a first date, but now I can’t imagine living without those women.”
That is EXACTLY how it felt.
Only, I think a first date is actually less stressful.
When you’re walking into a new group of people, it’s like being the new kid on the first day of school. There are already cliques and people that have well-established friendships and you’re the new kid.
BUT, sometimes you meet some amazing people you can’t live without.
One of the women I met in that group watched my kids while I had two of my babies. We also just went on a beach vacation with her and her family last year.
I can truly say I don’t know how I’d live without her friendship, even though we now live many states away from each other, and we only met because I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to go to that stupid meet up to make mom friends.
Working Mom to Stay at Home Mom
If you’re really struggling as a stay at home mom, I think it’s so important to look at the reasons behind that.
For me, at first it was the loss of my job.
Our first baby came 5 weeks early, so I really thought I had 5 more weeks to prepare myself for leaving my position.
That meant 5 more weeks of adult conversations and feeling productive throughout the day. 5 more weeks of bringing in an income and feeling like I was contributing to our household financially.
When I was thrust into being a stay at home mom with a preemie overnight, it completely rocked me.
I missed the hard work of the working world and the fringe benefits that came with it.
The challenge and professional status and potential to grow in my position or even move to a different company if I needed to in order to keep growing.
I missed the schedule of a full-time job.
It took me a while to get into the swing of things, but it wasn’t until I had more of a schedule in place that I started to feel better.
It wasn’t until I started this blog that I started to feel fulfilled again.
Being a mom is the hardest job out there, but sometimes our worth or even our enjoyment is so tied to our working status that it’s too hard to let go of.
If you are the mom that has been thrust into becoming a stay at home mom and you just can’t get out of the working mom mindset, maybe a part time job is in order.
There are so many things you can do from home, like starting a blog, that clean lead to part-time work that gives you a sense of fulfillment without having to give up your stay at home mom status.
I fought this one for a long time, but the truth is, nothing quite gets rid of anxiety and dread of stressful days like a daily routine.
My reasons for avoiding a routine is I felt like it set us all up for failure.
If I was going to be a stay at home mom, I was doing it for freedom from routine – wasn’t I?
I didn’t want to have this set schedule of “wake up at 6 am, breakfast by 6:45, morning walk at 7:30, etc.”
Instead what I’ve found works for us is more of a loose list.
We wake up at no set time, the kids play while I make breakfast, then we have breakfast before we start home school, etc.
Now I don’t feel as restricted by self-imposed deadlines that I can’t possibly meet every day.
Instead, I feel slightly grounded in the sense that I know what we’re doing that day and what steps to take to get there. It allows me to kind of mindlessly go through our mornings while I’m waking up without trying to rush us along for no good reason.
Morning Routine – Set Yourself Up for Success
Do you ever have those days that just start off crappy and it sets the tone for the entire rest of your day?
You’re a mom so I already know you do.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about morning routines that don’t make me hate being home with my kids all day:
I have to do something for myself first thing in the morning – even just a hot cup of coffee. Then I have to lower my expectations.
My morning cup of coffee is a non-negotiable because it may be the last thing I do for myself all day. It sounds terrible, but it helps take that resentment away that starts to build up when I feel like being a mom is a thankless job.
Having low or no expectations is also key.
I used to make elaborate breakfasts for my kids and lay them out on their divided trays and feel like I hit the pinnacle of momming, just for my kids to still complain about whatever was or wasn’t on their plate.
Now if I make an elaborate breakfast (like once a year), I understand that I’m doing it for me to scratch my creative or over-the-top-mom itch, not to impress tiny people that are incapable of being impressed by such things yet.
Be Honest about Your Biggest Challenges – Then Ruthlessly Tackle Them
This one was hard for me because the solutions always seemed to instill more guilt.
For example, our sink was always overflowing with dishes when we didn’t have a dishwasher and it was a constant visual reminder of what a failure I am.
Then my husband would come home from work, without complaining, and start scrubbing dishes after being on his feet working a manual labor job all day.
I swear a little bit of me died inside every day that happened, and it was literally most days of our lives.
I finally needed to accept that I couldn’t keep up with the dishes and just bought paper plates and plastic silverware, but here’s the kicker: I waited until I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after our second baby to do it.
Actually, it was my husband that bought the paper plates and silverware, it wasn’t even a realization on my part. It was survival.
This is what I’m getting at.
Be aware of your survival strategies before you end up in the throes of depression from trying to juggle it all.
If you’re keeping your kids alive AND reading about how to be a better stay at home mom, you’re already super mom.
You don’t have to impress anyone and if you feel like you do, we need to start creating boundaries around that.
You owe yourself and your family your own happiness.
Figure out how to get even the most disgusting house under control here.
Nap time – how to maximize your free time
I guard nap time with my life.
Sometimes, it’s my time to blog or clean or just put out fires getting things done.
Sometimes, it’s my nap time too.
Almost every day, it’s my only alone time for the entire day.
Nap time needs to be flex time based on how you’re feeling that day.
If you put too much pressure on nap time to be all the things, you will end up creating stress that you just don’t need.
That leads to creating anxiety in both you and your kids that they go down for a nap on time, etc. Instead, just accept whatever kind of nap time the day throws you and know there is always tomorrow.
After all, sometimes, phone calls have to be made with screaming kids in the background and that is 100% okay.
The key, in my experience, to a good nap time is to try to be as consistent as possible.
When my babies are tiny, they kind of naturally take two naps a day – one about an hour after they wake up and another around 1 o’clock.
After that, they have to fall into my flexible schedule with the rest of the family.
That means their new nap schedule is about 5 or 6 hours after waking up.
If we wake up at 8, they go down for a nap around 1 or 2.
If we wake up at 6, usually to make it to an appointment on time or something, they go down for a nap around 12 or 1.
Sticking to a loose nap schedule like this makes our days way more predictable without creating the stress of specific time blocks.
Are you sensing a pattern here?
Daily Schedule for Stay at Home Moms
You know by now how I feel about schedules, but if we can make a schedule into a help instead of a stress-inducing nightmare, I say we go for it.
My daily schedule looks like this:
Wake up, try to get coffee made before anyone else wakes up
Do a quick breakfast plan based on whatever we have in the kitchen that’s easiest
Pull out home school supplies and decide what are our “must do” items for the day
Feed the kids breakfast – bonus points for healthy food options
Get everyone started on some sort of home school while two kiddos work on Reading Eggs on my phone or our iPad
Free play with anything other than screens
Quick clean up before lunch
Plan lunch that hopefully doesn’t involve fast food
Some sort of social interaction – the park, gym class for homeschoolers, etc. On days that we have soccer or gymnastics/ninja classes, I don’t worry about this one
Attempt to get a load of laundry started – I try to do one load a day
Decide on a dinner plan
Evaluate my relationship with each of my kids – did I lose it today and yell? Who got the least of me? Spend quality time with that kiddo while my husband hangs out with everyone else. Sometimes he starts dinner.
Eat dinner together as a family
Beg everyone to help clean up the house after dinner while trying not to get too frustrated that I have to ask a million times
Hang out as a family – play a game, watch a show, etc. This is also inconveniently the time we usually run errands like going to the grocery store.
Try to spend quality time with my husband at the end of the day
That’s seriously it.
Our daily schedule is so unstructured that it’s almost nonexistent, but this is the general outline for how our days go.
Mental Health for Stay at Home Moms
All of these things add up to better mental health, but let’s dive into this one a little bit.
As someone who has completely neglected self care in the name of being a busy mom, I can tell you that when it backfires, it backfires wildly.
When I ended up with postpartum depression after our second baby was born, I learned that prioritizing maternal well-being isn’t selfish – it’s 100% necessary.
Small things go a long way, like getting fresh air every single day.
Learning to walk away when things get too stressful before I get too upset and can’t get into a better head space for the rest of the day.
Putting too much pressure on myself to be a perfect mom.
Learning to keep a positive outlook and taking enough time for myself (which usually means just decompressing with my husband at the end of a long day) has worked wonders.
Whatever this looks like for you, make it happen.
Maybe it’s catching p on your favorite shows, creating a to-do list for the next day to make you feel more in control, or just taking a little time to catch up with family members via text or quick phone call.
There is no such thing as a perfect mom just like there is no such thing as
Set Goals – But Keep Them Simple
Like in my example about homeschooling in our daily schedule, you have to set goals to feel accomplished, but they don’t have to be huge.
Simple things like getting fresh air that day or spending a few minutes of quality time per kiddo.
Having a plan for meal times so you aren’t spending time stressing about dinner each night.
Aim for at least one play date a week to try to keep your sanity.
Decide to own your own journey and stop comparing yourself to everyone else.
Refuse to put in long hours after your kids are asleep just to get to a to-do list that will still be there tomorrow.
Make a simple plan for your day and then just work the plan. This means having to put forth as little mental effort as possible so you have more to live to the little people in your life.
The only thing I want you to take away from this list is that you are already a good mom. You are searching for better ways to take care of your children and to be a happy stay-at-home mom. That alone makes you a rock star in my eyes. These examples are just some different ways I’ve coped with being thrust into stay-at-home mom life. I truly hope you find some solutions here that make even a small difference in your day to day life.