Honestly, if you had told me that I would spend the entire first year – and counting – of Alexander and Nathan’s life at home with them, I wouldn’t have believed you! It wasn’t in my plans. I was supposed to be back in my classroom teaching by the time they were five months old. But after hitting some friction getting certified to teach in a new state, it seemed fated for me to stay with them, which I really wanted to do anyway.
I enjoy being a stay-at-home mom, but it’s so much more difficult than I anticipated! There have been many times where I thought of how much easier it would be to be working again. And my job was hard! I was a special education teacher, and until I became a SAHM, I thought I had the hardest job in the world. But I’ve made it over a year at home with my boys, and here are some of the ways I’ve gotten this far without throwing in the towel.
1. Don’t go it alone – make mom friends.
I’ve mentioned on here before (more than once) that I’m not the most social person ever. I envy those who have ever met a stranger, but I’m naturally very introverted. On top of that, being a SAHM can be extremely lonely. You don’t even have co-workers to chat with everyday. In my case, I spend all day with two people who can’t even hold a conversation in English! So one thing that’s helped me is having made friends with the moms I meet taking the twins to different activities. I’ve been taking them to Kindermusik and Baby Storytime since they were 6 months old and I’ve met some amazing women since then. Our babies are around the same age, and many either stay home or work from home, so it’s much less lonely having other women who I can talk and relate to. Plus, we love having play dates!
2. Throw your expectations out the window and allow things to be imperfect.
It’s the teacher in me. When I decided to stay home with the twins, I made a whole schedule, just like what I had in my classroom, with pre-planned outings, playtime, and story time along with designated rest and housework times for myself. This kind of thing might work for some women, but I found I had to relax and embrace the messiness of our life together. We have to go with the flow and do what feels natural in that moment or my anxiety skyrockets and I find I can’t enjoy my time with them. I’ve accepted that we may not lead the perfect, Instagram-friendly, mom-goals life, and that’s fine with me as long as I end each day with happy children.
3. Get. Out. Of. The. House.
This is a BIG one! We go out every single day. Period! The only exception is when the twins are too sick to go out, like when we had croup (both times.) I love finding baby/toddler friendly activities around town. We go to Kindermusik, Storytime at the public library, open toddler playtime at our local gymnastics center, Monkey Joe’s for indoor play, the Children’s Hands-On Museum, and every park and playground we can get to. Soon it will be summer and we’ll start going to pools and splash pads! I can’t emphasize enough how much easier things because for me when I started taking them on daily outings. They get to play, explore, and get their energy out in different environments, and it breaks up the day and keeps us from getting antsy or bored.
4. Find your “me time” everyday – even though it may not look like you think it will.
I joined the YMCA here, and everyday Monday-Friday I work out for at least an hour while they’re in the childcare room. It might not sound thrilling or even enjoyable to some, but I look forward to it everyday because it’s my time to do something I enjoy by myself. Getting back in shape and exercising regularly has helped me feel like “myself” again, battle depression, rebuild my self-confidence, and allows me to still feel like a person outside of “the twins’ mom.”
5. Use your support system. ASK FOR HELP!
Though the twins spend the majority of the day with me, I have a great team and I definitely utilize them! When my husband isn’t working, he takes the boys when I want to do things outside of the house when I may not want the twins joining me. I’m fortunate enough to have my in-laws here in town, and my mother-in-law helps me in the evenings and weekends. My mom lives in Atlanta, but she has no problem taking them for a weekend when I just want to be alone – she’s even kept them while I stayed in a hotel and spent the weekend sleeping in and hanging out with friends. Sometimes you just need a nap. If there is another adult who can see to it that your children survive while you take that nap, ASK!
6. Do what works for YOUR family.
When I decided to stay home, I was all over Google, Pinterest, and Instagram looking at other SAHMs, their daily schedule, and what they did with their kids. Some of it is really useful information! And if you’re a big scheduler or planner, I encourage you to look into it. But at the end of the day, I’m unique, my kids are unique, our family is unique. We have to create our own normal and do what works for us – not what we think should work for us because it works for others on social media, or even for other family members and friends with well-meaning advice. I became much more comfortable and at ease being a SAHM when I stopped living by the expectations I felt other people had for me and started doing things my way.
7. Embrace screen time.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I am a huge supporter of screen time if it’s used appropriately! My definition of appropriate use of screen time is when it has time limits and when the material we’re watching has educational value. We’re huge fans of Leapfrog’s The Letter Factory video. Every morning, I get the twins dressed and ready for the day, then strap them in their seats and let them watch The Letter Factory while I get myself together and our bag packed to go out. It has cut down on morning chaos so much, and I hear them repeating the phonics sounds they hear in the video. Their favorite letter is W! Sometimes screen time is a useful tool in maintaining control or a calm(ish) environment and I definitely don’t see anything wrong with it within the right circumstances.
8. Make peace with the sacrifices.
Some families can afford having one parent stay home and not see a hit financially. We aren’t one of those families. Going from two incomes to one was a huge cut and we feel it everyday! But thankfully, we’ve never been a couple that cared a lot about material things or expensive trips as long as our basic needs are met. It’s fortunate we’re happy with simple living, because right now, it’s all we can afford! And we made peace with that a long time ago. I may not be able to go get a gel full-set and pedicure every two weeks, but have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and we can still afford to do fun stuff every now and then. The rest will return eventually, but for right now, being able to stay with my boys is worth the sacrifice.
9. Try not to pray for bedtime everyday.
This is something I still struggle with. Taking care of two little boys all day can be maddening and I often find myself counting down the minutes to bedtime. But I’m trying hard not to have that mentality – at least not everyday. Because the bedtimes add up fast. I can’t believe the twins are over a year old now, so I’m trying to enjoy every minute, as crazy as I may be going at the time.