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Mar 3 2014

Ten Tricks for Staying Sane as a Stay at Home Mom

By at 2:12 pm

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I am a stay at home mom. And holy crap do I love it. I mean, wow! FOUR human beings call me mom! I am blessed, lucky, honored. In total mothering bliss! But, as being a SAHM seems to be an increasing rarity in my circle of friends, I often get asked how I manage to keep from feeling bored.

Can I tell you something? As much as I love these kids of mine, and as much as I cherish every hair on their beautiful little heads, sometimes, yes, I get a little bored. And sometimes I even start feeling like my whole identity has been consumed by my role as mother.

No matter how glad I am that I get to spend these years watching my kids grow from those itty bitty babies and into their own persons, there have been times where I have struggled to keep a hold of my own identity. Unlike a 9 to 5 job, motherhood is a round-the-clock profession, and so the lines between my profession and my identity often do get blurred. There are days where it starts to feel like I am nothing but a breeding, feeding, butt-wiping machine.

But, I’ve learned through trial and error of the last 13 years I’ve been doing this parenting gig, that if I don’t make time to do some of the things I like, then I will end up feeling resentful, then guilty, then more resentful and–well, it can get pretty bad. Terrible poetry, writing, sitting on the floor and having a big ugly cry, while watching reruns of “My So Called Life” kinda bad.

For fun, and because in truth today was an extra long day and I could use a little pick-me-up, I’m going to share with you 10 of the things that I do just for myself:

1. Hair.

I love cutting and coloring and doing crazy shit to my hair. I just do. Even though I often cover it out of my house, I still make time to mess with it every day. Any color, any style. You name it, I’ve done it. I like cutting other people’s hair so I also do my kids, and often my parents too.

2. Reading.

For years I putting reading on the back burner saying I was just “too busy” being a mommy. And then I realized that I could, yes, be both a mother and a reader. Epiphany! This past year I’ve joined a book club and everything. (So grown up, right?!) beyond that I read whatever appeals to me. If I like it then I read it, if I don’t, then I don’t. I have enough rules in my life to keep up with already. This one is all about me.

3. Facebook.

Don’t laugh. I remember motherhood before Facebook, people, and it sucked. I know you all want to believe that social media is the reason we don’t have every towel folded and every dish washed-but I assure you it ain’t. Back then it was TLC’s “Trading Spaces” and long phone calls with my BFF, interrupted every 13.5 seconds by kids needing wiped, nursed, or fed. And now with homeschooling four? Well, there are many days that Facebook is my only connection to the my circle of friends, and I cherish it. Plus, you
guys don’t even have to hear the kids screaming in the background. You’re welcome for that, by the way.

4. Music.

My husband and I met through a shared love of music. And while my husband is the only one of us who could actually carry a tune, I am a die-hard music fan. If I started a list of my favorites it would probably take over this post, so I’ll just spare you. But, I will say that my latest fad is all things Rockabilly. (P.S. remind me to tell you the story about when Elvis kissed my grandmother. No really, it happened! I swear it. I even wrote a song about it when I was 15 called–get this–Nana Got Kissed By Elvis. Unfortunately, that’s the only line I remember…)

5. Writing.

My first journal was a spiral-bound, yellow, pocket-sized notebook I had in the fifth grade where I would write my feelings about my teachers and parents. Eventually, that led way to composition books full of teenaged angst over boys and life (but mostly boys). When I found blogging in 2001 I began flooding the universe with my thoughts (lucky you) under various pen names, and a few years ago I started writing professionally. Being published hasn’t really changed anything except to give me a little personal validation. But, I’ll take it, because I really ain’t gonna get that for mopping the floors.

6. My shows.

I know, I know, typical housewife activity. But, we’re not talking “General Hospital” here–these are respectable shows like “Madmen,” “Parenthood,” and “Scandal.” They have fantastic writing, no crazy melodramatic acting. I wait until after everyone is asleep and then I watch them all by myself. ALONE!

7. Sweets!

I always have some sort of sweet hanging around that’s only for me. This will not be a long point, however, because I’m not giving up my stashes nor their locations! Bwahahaha. Nice try.

8. Shopping alone.

This one is kinda a mommy thing, yes, it is true. The kids do have to eat. But, the vast majority of the time I go shopping by myself, and that’s a ME thing. I actually enjoy grocery shopping (as do I most domestic chores), but only if I am
alone. I have tried a few times to take the kids along, but it brings out the ugly in me real fast. Now the kids only come for those “OMG! I ran out of toilet paper and it’s going to snow 50 inches over night!” shopping trips. If I do break this rule, its to allow one of the older kids along for some special one on one mom time.

9. Thrift store shopping.

I am not a big shopper. Mostly because I’m not a big spender. And maybe even that is simply because I’m not a big macher with a big paycheck. (Perhaps if I were this would change.) But, one indulgence I do have whenever I can afford to is going to the second hand shopping. I LOVE the thrift store. Especially on 50% off days. The majority of my wardrobe comes from there, as does most of my book collection. It’s like a treasure hunt! Since I gave up Saturday mornings to become Shomer Shabbos (Shabbat observant) I haven’t been able to be the yard sale queen I once was, but you can still find them here and there on Sundays.

10. Last but not least: Sundays!

For many years I home schooled, worked as a doula and worked with my husband on our web design business. I did all of this, and nothing else, for years. Every single day. Not a moment without the kids by my side–even at nighttime. And you know what? It wrecked me. I felt like an empty shell of a human being inside after so long. It was always give, give, give. And finally I was dried up and gave out. I knew something had to change. So, as hard as it has been for us to keep to, I now spend (most) Sundays doing my own thing. Now to be fair, I also do homeschooling prep, writing assignments, and catch up on officey type work, but I get to do it all alone. Or rather alone in a crowd, as I often take my laptop to a local Barnes and Noble or Starbucks. Either way, it’s a welcome change to get out of my regular routine.

All of these things are simple but they help me celebrate what makes me, me. Perhaps weekends at the spa (can I join?) or Friday night clubbing (how do you handle the hang overs?) is your thing , but the point is that stay at home parents need to make sure to take care of themselves too.

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