July 5, 2012

The Top Five Lessons for a Stay At Home Parent

Has June already whipped right by me?

Maybe it's that I've been chasing this little bundle of fun all around!?

So much has been happening.

I have now officially been out of work and a stay at home mom for one year. One year people! I myself can't believe it really. It seems like just yesterday I was subsisting on coffee and stress and pulling all nighters to grade papers on Beowulf and why he was the greatest "immoral" (i.e. immortal) hero. Which- obviously, is erroneous on every single count.

How did I get there from celebrating summer?!

Have I been enjoying being home with my little munchkin for one whole year?


Here's what I've learned.

1. Structure Counts!

When you are on your own schedule and have no real obligations other than keeping your child clean, healthy and happy, you can quickly fall into a rabbit hole of horrible day time t.v. and wasted time.

I quickly found that by creating some sort of structure in my day I could elude insanity and keep myself, and my family, somewhat happy.

Society, I'm sure, thanks me for this.

 After dreaming, quite realistically, that I was myself a defendant in PEOPLE'S COURT, I knew I had reached a dangerously low level.After the first few weeks of t.v. induced comas I realized that too much of a bad thing is just a REALLY bad thing and I cut myself off from the boob tube.

In case you're blushing and rolling your eyes, "boob" is technically a stupid or foolish person. And momma didn't raise no fool, much less no booby.

I limit myself to one time per day and preferably only when the little pumpkin is snoozing in her crib.

(Confession: I have made a close friend with streaming online while watching home renovation shows and Claire actually dances when one tune from a popular home decoration network comes on. Epic Mommy Fail. Or, Epic Booby if you will.)

2. Reach Out!

Not to be confused with the old 80's song "Freak out!", which you could also easily do when home alone with a baby all day.

Nobody likes a dirty old freak who doesn't answer her door, so you may as well just call people and make some fun mommy and baby dates.

Warning: This does require the use of a tooth brush, deodorant and quite possibly a change of clothes and will require you to strap your child into the car seat multiple times, but the benefit of not going insane clearly outweighs the cons.

3. Shake Your Groove Thang!
That's right... I learned that I quite simply had to move my body....  A lot. I took my little sidekick out on walks rain or shine much to the chagrin of my more mature neighbors (who still think I should keep her at home until her second birthday.... seriously).

After some weeks I started to jog, which felt most like some form of sick torture.

After a few weeks of that I felt lighter (and indeed was) and started jogging a little further.

I've found that if I get my groove on early in the morning, I can be more productive and happier all around.

Bonus: Babies are happier after being outside. This is a statistical fact that surely has some scientific backing. Somewhere...

4. Ten Minutes of Magic.

The ol' ten minutes trick. Any time I feel unmotivated I use the ten minute trick- I tell myself I will give something my full effort for ten minutes. Besides, you can do anything for ten minutes! Except maybe hold your breath... or hold a handstand, or drive with your eyes closed... But that's beside the point.

The ten minute trick gets the kitchen clean, the aerobics done and even my Bible read.

5.  Stop and Smell the Baby.

This last one is obvious. The first few hormone driven weeks or months it was hard to not focus on my baby screaming her little precious head off. Then my focus turned more inward and I felt that I should be perfect because I was at home. I quickly (with some help from my husband) realized this wasn't attainable and started to stop, and smell the baby.

Let me explain. By smelling the baby I'm not implying I had a new method for deciding when to bathe her or when to change her diaper- though the smell-ometer is definitely a useful tool.

In the mornings when it was just the two of us, sleepy and warm, cuddled up in a big chair- I took the time to not worry about any of the above and just soak up the amazing moments I had with her.

I breathed her in.

Studied her.

And felt more blessed than I could have imagined.

Sometimes I get caught up again in the desire to be "doing" and I have to remind myself to slow down, stop and smell the baby.

Because soon enough she won't be a baby and won't cuddle in a chair with me on slow sleepy mornings.

So dear friends, those are the top five things I've learned in my first year of being a stay at home mom!

What have you learned this year?


Jennifer Mykytiuk said...

I love it! I think you are amazing to be able to stay home! I struggle with being productive during the summers also. I have been going to a boot camp really early in the morning. I love it because I get my workout in early AND I too feel more productive. Plus, then I am ready for my afternoon nap with Madeline! I struggle with stopping and smelling the baby too. I find that I feel the need to clean the house from top to bottom and do so many things, when what is most important is just to stop and spend time with Madeline. It is hard..., I struggle with it. She is much happier when I am present with her instead of cleaning. Way to go on your one year mark! Someone has a birthday coming up?? no?

Jen Price said...

Looks like you learned a lot! Can't believe she's already a year old!

Jay and Amy said...

I love this! I forget what it was like when I was home with just Benjamin and me. I always feel so bad that the other kids have never been able to have my attention the way that he did.
I miss those "slow" days. I realize with one child, they are never slow. But there were times I could just stop and be with him, even if it was chasing him, changing him, watching him, napping with him, etc.
Now I always have another child waiting for my attention and there is never a moment to stop and smell the baby. There are only moments to bring the baby along on the chaotic adventure!
BUT, there are moments to stop and smell the babIES. I love just sitting and watching them play together. And the individual moments I get with each of them. And I love the way they love and care for one another.
Good job at enjoying her first year, and stopping to do so. You will never regret that decision! I wish someone had told me to do more of that in the early years.

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