Part of the constant struggle of being a SAHM for me is staying busy. Not that I can’t always find a cobweb that needs sweeping or a dish that needs washing or a sippy cup full of spoiled milk that needs tossing, cause I can.
When Cedella was born and I was all alone with her all day I can remember how much I felt the urge to clean everything, always, non-stop. Then when I was IM’ing with friends a week or so ago (Hi Ashley and Nicole!!) I was reminded that in those days, keeping my child alive, fed and clean was priority one. Keeping the house clean was two. Keeping my husband fed and clean was three. And me? Well…I was probably around number 1001 on the list of priorities.
Over the past three years I have really expanded my social circle in Lansing and am so incredibly happy to say that I have real friends here. Friends to go to movies and awesome new restaurants with, that don’t mind if we talk about kids and husbands all night. Friends that are just as nutty and obsessed with baby carriers as I am. Friends that don’t look at me funny when I’d rather give my girls garlic, lemon and honey than antibiotics when they’re sick. And friends that I can trust the birthing of my babies and my kids lives forever after with.
It’s not easy this whole motherhood thing. But knowing that I have these woman, well that helps so much more than I ever imagined it would.
So with this incredible social circle I am able to keep sane on any given week.
What are my other secrets?
Secret #1: Getting out of the house!!!
It sounds simple. But anyone that has a 3 year old will tell you that getting them dressed and out of the door is a feat in and of itself. But add a second small creature (and their belongings) into the mix? Well you might as well be packing for a trek to the moon. So leaving the house with two may be intimidating and even sound counterproductive. But just the act of getting everyone into the car and heading out for an adventure is enough to clear any bad moods and put smiles and giggles back into the day. Fresh air and some fresh tunes on the stereo = happy family.
Secret#2: Get Involved in Local Groups
I go to about 4 or 5 meetings/playgroups a month. Once a week at least. Counting it up that way seems like a lot, but it’s so worth it. Not only did getting involved in a local mom’s Meetup group help me to meet one of my closest friends, Leslie, it brought Cedella her BFF Anna. So thankful that for the small time I participated in the group I was able to meet Leslie (she gets bloggy with it at Pretending to be a Grownup, go visit her so she’ll write some more :)), and from there Katie. And being involved in both the local LansingBabywearers and Delta-Waverly La Leche League has allowed me to meet and befriend so many awesome mamas like Gwen, Cindy, Kristy, Meghan, Jessie, Zaje, Mia and the aforementioned Nicole and Ashley. Not to mention our amazing birth center (which sadly closed in October) which brought me so many more life-long friends like Annie, Heather, Molly, Clarice and Audra. Finding all these outstanding ladies to connect with has been a life-saver. Knowing that there’s always someone to vent to or get suggestions from keeps me from feeling like my children are conspiring to kill me. Thanks ladies 😉
Secret#3: Getting dressed
Now I love my yoga pants as much as everyone else, don’t get me wrong. I can be found in them pretty constantly when I’m in the house. But I do not wear them in public. Unless I’m literally going to a yoga class. When I leave the house I get dressed like I would have when I had a job. Granted I wear more jeans than I would have to work, but jeans wash anyway sticky kid handprints better than dress pants. And I wear makeup. Full face, definitely mascara, sometimes lipstick (but usually chapstick). Every time. It makes me feel like a whole person and not only somebody’s Mommy. Though it may be hard to find clothes to accommodate both my mama body and my fashion sense (see RANT here) it’s worth it to find fun clothes that make you feel good about your self. Yes, it has meant buying a bigger size than before I was pregnant. But it’s worth every penny to feel cool and confident and ::gasp:: sexy again. Also, by getting yourself in order you project the image that you are organized and have things all together. That leads me to…
Secret #4: Let the House be Messy
Being all put together and fashionable in public no one will ever know or even care that your house is a total disaster. Because if you can put on mascara before a playdate who cares if your sink is full of dirty dishes, right? But seriously this is one of the biggest things I’ve had to let go over the past 3ish years. Since becoming a SAHM there is such a battle over what my actual role and job is. Am I Chief Child Care Provider only? Or Nanny with a splash of Housekeeper? Some days I feel like I’m an all-out indentured servant. But it’s ok, because after nearly a year of caring for a small child and trying to keep my house immaculate I gave up. Toys are always on the floor, there’s always a laundry mountain in the corner of a bedroom and there are dishes in the sink. And you know what else? My children are clean and smart and loving. They have oodles of time to play and learn and laugh with their mama. And that is really more important than spotless floors, no?
Secret #5: Invite Someone Over
But whenever you’re feeling like the entire cluttered mess is getting out of control and you just can’t take it anymore…invite some friends over to play, or better yet, for dinner. Cause then you have to clean the house. And usually you only have like two hours to do it. I get more done in that way than I ever do when I have a full day with nothing on the schedule. And usually it stays that way for days after. I hit every single room (except our bedroom) and the whole house is wonderful for at least a week. I’m seriously considering weekly dinner parties…
Secret #6: Stop doing things that you’re not getting help with.
Or perhaps my most important tip for household woes. When my husband stopped putting his dirty clothes in the hamper (cause I’m not his mama and refuse to pick his dirty drawls up off the floor two feet away from said hamper) I stopped doing his laundry. One day he had no clean underwear. He was a little pissed. I was more pissed. For the most part he’s pretty good about getting the things in the hamper now. And doing dishes. And every once in a while he surprises me by taking the garbage out before I’ve removed it from the bin and propped it up against the back door. It’s the little things…
Secret #7: Alone Time/Mom’s Night Out
And my above all gotta-make-time-for-it secret is to get out of the house with only other ladies in tow and have some fun!! It could be dinner and a movie or dinner and drinks or just dinner. Huh. Apparently my girl’s night outs always have something to do with food. Or drinks. Well, let’s be honest, that’s a great place to start. Whatever you do make it a regular thing. I still go to the book club at my old library, driving over an hour in various weather conditions once a month to see my amazing book-loving friends. Not just because I can’t find another book club but because it’s my thing, my regular monthly night to talk to other adults. It is like air to me at this point. Plan these things in advance and just do them. If someone asks you to go do something without your children for heaven’s sake just. say. yes. And at the end of the night, when you’ve had a great time, schedule the next one!
Hope that some of this Mama wisdom is helpful to you. As always take it with a grain of salt and use whatever works for your family. But please, remember, your family only runs well if it’s engine, it’s brain, it’s soul, it’s Mother, is doing well. Take care of yourself and everything else will fall into place. We as mothers and women need to start treating ourselves with respect and loving ourselves. Cause we really do make the world go round.
Love to each and every one of you who reads this.
Photo from one a Ladie’s Night Out last summer. These ladies. They help me stay sane by getting a little crazy. If you know what I mean 😉