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The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide: From Chaos to Calm

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Life as a stay-at-home mom is a rewarding journey filled with love and joy, but we can’t ignore the occasional chaos that can come with it. This week I dive into valuable tips, tricks, and techniques I’ve learned to transform the chaos into calm.

Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom

We’ve all heard the question, “What do you do all day as a stay-at-home mom?

Or “It must be nice being a stay-at-home mom and not working.

Let’s face it though, being a stay-at-home mom can be CHALLENGING.

I’ll never take for granted all the amazing opportunities I get to have with my children because I’m a stay-at-home mom but there’s so much more to being a stay-at-home mom than meets the eye.

As a stay-at-home mom, we’re trying to plan what we are going to do each and every day, planning age-appropriate educational activities for each child, whipping up three meals a day, trying to keep the house clean, the laundry done, fit in exercise for ourselves (because they say it keeps up healthy), maybe a creative break if we can fit it in and trying to figure out how to do all this without losing our minds from our kids screaming and fighting.

The question becomes… “Am I going to make it to bedtime today without raising my voice?” Maybe, maybe not…

Trust me if you feel this way too, you’re not alone mama. I’ve been there, and am still there some days. I won’t pretend like I’ve got it all figured out because this role of “stay-at-home mom” is ever evolving and I’m learning new things every single day. I may not have it all figured out but I do have some pretty helpful tips I’ve learned along the way to help you.

In this weeks blog post, I’ll be sharing my advice at a seasoned mom of four to help you not just survive but to truly flourish in the beautiful journey of motherhood while creating lasting memories. Say goodbye to the overwhelm and embrace a more balanced and fulling life as a stay-at-home mom. We’ll talk about simple steps you can take everyday from setting routines to nurturing ourselves through self-care.

  1. Routine
  2. Get Dressed
  3. Plan Outings & Activities
  4. Rainy Day Ideas
  5. Encourage Independent Play
  6. Embrace the Mess
  7. Quiet Time
  8. Technology
  9. Ask or Help
  10. Be Flexible & Realistic
  11. Prioritize Self-Care

1. Daily Routine

First up is establishing a routine. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, kids thrive on routine, and I’m sure you probably do too. I know I do. If you have school aged children, when our kids are in school, they have a strict schedule they’re used to following everyday in their classroom. It’s important that even for our non-school aged children we have a routine set in place so they know what to expect each day.

You don’t have to have a schedule laid out hour by hour if that’s not your style but a general idea of what to expect will be helpful for both your children and yourself. This routine will be different from family to family.

If your child is a visual learner you can even print a schedule to hang on the wall. I have printed a daily schedule for the kids and put it in a plastic sheet protector so that they can check off their tasks for the day if they wish. This helps them feel more in control and aware of what is happening in their life.

Our hour by hour routine is different each day. However, we have a general schedule everyday.

Mornings: Breakfast, Chores, Outing, Lunch, Quiet Time

Afternoons: Snack, Independent Play

Evenings: Bath, Dinner, Story time, Bedtime

2. Get Dressed

Part of your daily routine should be taking time for yourself to get ready for the day. I know it sounds kind of silly but the physical act of prepping yourself for your day will give you the mindset that you’re ready to take on whatever the day has for you.

Think about it, if you stay in your pajamas all day, you’ll be comfortable and your mindset will “I’m ready to have a chill day.”

In contrast, if you get up, do your hair and get dressed in an outfit you like, your mindset may be, “I”m ready to take on the day and get things done.”

It’s something that is so simple but can truly change your mindset each and every day.

3. Plan Outings & Activities

As a stay-at-home mom it’s easy to get in the mindset that we should spend our days at home but getting out of the house is essential (at least for our family). I know it can seem so daunting, trying to get all the kids ready, packing everything, and loading up. Trust me on this one, once you’re out, you’ll be so thankful you went.

There are so many different adventures and activities that you can get involved with both during the summer and school year.

If you’re looking for somewhere for your children to burn off extra energy (which are my favorite outings) consider visiting a local park, playgrounds, open fields, and walking trails. These options provide your children with opportunistic to run, climb, swing and play until their heart’s content.

If you’re looking for more educational outings, check out your local library to see if they have story time, a children’s museum, your local church may have weekly play days, or even a local MOPs group.

*If you’re not familiar with MOPs, it’s “Mothers of Preschoolers” a faith based organization that is found across the United States. I’ve been apart of MOPs in several locations and it’s the first program I look for when we PCS (move to a new location) because it helps connect me with like minded moms and gives my kids an automatic play date with other kids. During the summer MOPs usually have play dates and then meetings twice a month during the school year. Each program is different and you can click the link above to find a group near you.

4. Rainy Day Ideas

Although I have a goal of outings and activities it’s always important to know there will be days with gloomy weather. When the weather is less than ideal, it leaves us with less options for outings but that doesn’t mean it has to be a miserable day. Rainy days can be some of the best days if you’re prepare.

So you may be thinking, what are our options on those gloomy rainy days? The possibilities are endless. If it’s raining we often think we can’t go outside but that’s not exactly the case. If you ask my children, rainy days are the best because they get to dance in the rain, jump in mud puddles, then come inside to a hot bath, followed by hot cocoa. That doesn’t sound too bad does it?

Maybe dancing in the rain isn’t up your alley, no worries, there are still plenty of options. Rainy days are perfect for baking special treats, building forts, art projects, and dance parties. If you need personal suggestions on any of those, feel free to send me a message and I’m happy to help!

5. Encourage Independent Play

If you looked at this title and cringed, hang in there with me. You shouldn’t feel guilty about encouraging independent play. You spend hours a day crafting experiences and playing with your child, it is OKAY to encourage independent play. In fact, independent play is a valuable learning experience for your children. Our kids are learning essential skills like problem-solving, creativity, and cooperation through independent play. Next time you see them building a fort or pretending to be a princess and feel like you need to go over and help them, remember, your fostering their development by allowing them to play independently. Plus, this gives you a break too.

Independent play will look different at each age and if they have siblings or not. My two-year-old can actively play by himself with toy dinosaurs and cars. He has recently started playing make believe with his siblings as well. My older two (age 5 & 7) are able to engage in independent play for longer periods of time but that doesn’t make it any less valuable for my toddler.

6. Embrace the Mess

Embrace motherhood and all that it is, the good, the bad, and the mess. During the school year it is easier to carve out time during nap time or bed time for me to deep clean the house. However, in the summer, or on school holidays, with all the kids home, it’s just harder to keep things clean, and I’ve accepted that.

I wouldn’t say that we totally just let things turn into chaos. The kids have daily chores that are expected to be done but with four children under the age of 7, things get messy just as soon as they’ve been clean. Give yourself grace. You’re not a super woman, as much as you’d like to be.

It’s okay to pick your battles and mine is that the house takes a backseat most of the time because I consider other areas, like educational activities, quality family time, and home cooked meals, more important than a spotless house. Maybe your house will rank higher than other areas of your life and that’s okay too. It’s just important to remember that you cannot do it all and motherhood is messy but beautiful so embrace it as it is.

7. Quiet Time

If your kids are too old for nap time, consider implementing a quiet time everyday.

Quiet time helps calm our mind and body, and gives our kids a break from the constant stimulation. I remind my kids that quiet time is a break, we all need to reset and refocus for the rest of the day.

My toddler is still young enough that he naps so I remind my big kids that quiet time means just that, we’re quiet. We aren’t running, or jumping, or screaming during quiet time. They can choose an independent play activity such as a sticker book, puzzle, legos, or reading but they have to stay in their room and they have to be quiet.

What I’ve found is that more times than not, my kids are so exhausted from our morning outings that they end up falling asleep during quiet time. My oldest is the exception, at 7, he usually builds his legos but still about once a week he’ll also need that extra sleep.

8. Technology

I know this is such a touchy topic when it comes to mom. We all have different perspective on what is acceptable and what isn’t. I can tell you that over the years my opinion on technology has changed. When my oldest was born I was so against using technology but now as a mom of four and having gone through a deployment with my husband, I’ve learned that technology can be used for good too.

I’m not going to pretend like we don’t use technology because we do. I love getting my kids outside and enjoying nature and being screen free. However, with that said, we also use technology in our house. I have downloaded educational apps on my iPad that the kids are allowed to play. I also have set channels that we stream on our TV, such as PBS KIDS, and the Discovery Channel, for educational purposes. We also love having a good family movie night. As with anything else in life, I feel like technology can be beneficial when used appropriately and sometimes “appropriately” means when mom needs a break, I’ll turn on WildKrats on PBS or Pinkalicious. You don’t have to feel guilty about using things in moderation that make life easier. Work smarter, not harder.

9. Ask for Help

As much as we’d love to think we can do it all, remember, it’s okay to ask for help.

This was something that took me a really long time to come to terms with. I felt like if I asked for help it meant I was weak or that I would be looked down upon like I was incapable of doing it. The truth is, motherhood is honestly something that takes a community.

You were not meant to be the solo hero 24/7.

I was fortunate enough while living in Texas that we had a nanny 2 days a week and it gave me time to get things done that were important and I was able to call her in emergency situations. Now that we’re in New Jersey we no longer have a nanny which means I’ve had to ask for help in different forms.

For instance, my children’s school this year doesn’t allow siblings at school events (don’t even get me started I feel like this is just wrong on so many levels and I am thankful we’re only here short term but I digress) this meant I called my mother-in-law and asked if she could come up and help watch my younger two while I went to a school event. I’ve also had to ask her to come up and help with the kids so that I could go to doctors appointments for myself.

As a military family we don’t have the luxury of having family nearby or always developing a community because we’re only stationed in locations for short periods of time but it’s still important that we learn to ask for help when we need it. It may feel awkward at first but please, if there’s anything you take away from this article, understand that it is okay to ask for help.

10. Be Flexible & Realistic

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, I’m constantly talking about being realistic. Thriving at as stay-at-home mom truly hinders on having realistic expectations and being flexible. What do I mean by this?

Realistic expectations is having achievable goals for myself and my family. It means that I understand I’m not perfect, nor is my family, and I recognize it and set our goals accordingly.

For example, I cannot go into my day thinking that my kids are going to make if from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed without having a meltdown or fighting with each other. It’s just unrealistic.

At some point in the day I know the kids will fight, someone will have a meltdown, maybe multiple children at one time, and that’s okay.

If I set my expectations that it’s going to happen, I’m able to handle it and go with the flow.

If my expectation is that my kids make it all day with perfect behaviors, I’m going to be frustrated at the first sign of something going wrong and I’m setting myself up for failure.

Being flexible is another area that I truly believe can make our days as a stay-at-home mom so much more manageable.

As I mentioned above, a schedule is important. However, there are days that I have our entire day planned and one of the kids wake up sick and all those plans go out the window.

I have to be flexible when I’m dealing with multiple kids. As much as I’d wish things were always going to go along as planned, we usually hit some parts of the plan but not all.

For example, I have a home school curriculum I use with the kids just as extra practice. My goal was to do our curriculum 4 times a week but there are some weeks we only do it once or twice and that’s okay too. You must stay flexible as a stay-at-home mom.

Sometimes nap time is going to be missed because you’re on an outing and that’s okay too! We make things harder for ourselves when we’re not flexible.

11. Prioritize Self-Care

Last but not least, make sure you’re prioritizing self-care for yourself as a stay-at-home mom. You’ve heard it before but I’m hear to say it again, you CANNOT pour from an empty cup.

As a stay-at-home mom we are managing the household and caring for children and it’s both physically and emotionally challenging at times. Taking time for ourselves allows us to recharge and prevent burnout.

When you take time for yourself you’ll notice you have higher energy, to keep up with your children, and more patience with them. It’ll also teach your children the important of taking care of themselves and setting healthy boundaries.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve found myself overwhelmed and I’ll tell my kids, “mommy needs a little break for me time so that I can be a better mom.” This usually entails me taking a hot shower, doing a few miles on our elliptical, or going outside and drinking my coffee alone.

Your self-care will look different from mine but the premise is the same, do things that re-fuel you, things that help you take care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. When you’re taken care of then the entire family is happier and healthier too.

How Do You Survive and Thrive as a Stay-at-Home Mom?

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you found these tips valuable! Do you already implement any of these into your daily routine? Are there things you do differently? I’d like to hear more below in the comments.

If you’re new here you can learn more about me here.

If you have a topic you’d love for me to cover or any questions you can contact me here.

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