When you have your first baby, transitioning from working outside of the home full-time to staying at home with baby full-time can be a huge adjustment! Before I had Addie I was teaching middle school history and working on my master’s degree in education–so basically, I was BUSY! I was constantly surrounded by students, coworkers, teachers, classmates, etc. I remember being so excited about the change of pace that would come when I had my baby, but I wasn’t fully prepared for how massive that change would be!
Being a stay-at-home mom can often feel isolating and monotonous. Interacting with your baby is such a joy, but it does not provide the same social interactions that so many of us are used to and need. After having Addie, I remember feeling somewhat trapped. Several days, especially in the winter, we wouldn’t even leave the house (or actually basement apartment). We nursed/watched TV, napped, played, repeat. The days were often long and boring. I often went the whole day without putting on clothes or makeup!
I think every first-time mother who stays at home goes through this to some degree. Luckily, it gets easier! Slowly but surely, I figured out ways to fill the day and feel like a real, productive human being again. Now I feel like I am not only surviving life as a stay-at-home mom, but I am actually thriving in my new role in life!
Here are some keys to a thriving as a stay-at home mom:
📝 Give Your Day Structure
Planning your days out can help you to include things that you want to be doing and accomplishing rather than just aimlessly passing time each day. Routine is good for your baby and you! Try having a specific time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a routine in place for each. I also always try to plan at least one outing per day (even if it’s just the grocery store). It is also good to plan in productive time for projects, hobbies, cleaning, etc. (often during naptime).
🌳 Get Out of the House
Like I mentioned before, I try to get out of the house at least once every day. Getting out gives me a reason to get ready for the day, it makes me feel more accomplished, and it is fun for Addie too! I like to go out in the morning before lunch. I have noticed that I am less likely to be a lazy blob when I start off the day by getting out. Our favorite outings include the library (story time is a favorite), the park, the local rec center pool, the splash pad, museums, the mall, and even the grocery store. For my birthday, my in-laws got us zoo passes, so we have been doing that a lot lately too. Addie loves animals!
📺 Turn off the TV
I have a weakness for TV. It is so easy to waste a day mindlessly watching television, especially when your baby is a newborn. I would watch hours of TV while nursing or while Addie was napping, and by the end of the day, I just felt icky. I’m not saying to never watch TV, but I highly recommend limiting it significantly. Find other things to do while nursing your baby or during nap time like reading (or listening to) a book, calling a friend, journaling, crafting, cleaning up, getting dressed, etc.
👭 Befriend Other Moms
One of the major obstacles of staying at home is feeling isolated from others. It is tempting to look at other moms at church or at the grocery store and assume that they are doing so much better than you. But the truth is, most stay-at-home moms with young kids and babies struggle with feelings of loneliness.
Instead of going it alone, make an effort to befriend other moms in similar situations as you. Invite them over for play dates or meet at the park. Even when your children are too small to enjoy the company of other kids, it is nice to get together with other moms and socialize. You could even join (or create) a mommy group that meets regularly each week. It is fun to get together with other moms, plus it is eye-opening to see that they usually struggle with the same things as you!
🚵 Develop Talents Through Hobbies and Projects
Stay-at-home moms have a tendency to focus so much on their babies that they can “lose themselves” to a degree. I think that it is important to keep developing your own interests and talents–even in the busyness of motherhood. Having a project or a hobby to work on improves self-esteem and helps give a sense of accomplishment. A few things that I have been working on lately include: a crochet baby blanket, blogging, thesis research, editing articles from home, gardening, trying new healthy toddler recipes, making busy bag activities, etc.
I am not big into working out at the gym; although, I would like to be one day. Even just going for a walk or a swim helps give me energy. Before I was hugely pregnant with baby #2 I would sometimes do a more vigorous workout on our exercise bike or with a cardio video. It is sometimes difficult to convince myself to exercise, but I always feel better afterwards and it makes me want to be more healthy and productive for the rest of the day.
I love this quote! Serving others gives life purpose and meaning. When we can focus on others rather than ourselves, our own issues become smaller. Finding opportunities to serve others also aids in building relationships with others and connecting you to the outside world more. This is crucial for everyone, but I found it especially helpful once I became a stay-at-home mom. I think that trying to serve someone you know (or don’t know) even just once or twice a week can make a huge difference!