How I Stay Sane: a SAHM Guide

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 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Love Meetup.com

Or rather this post should be titled ‘How To Make Friends for Grown-ups’.  People say that when you have a baby everything changes.  You don’t go out.  You don’t have any more fun.  Your drinking and partying days are over.  You lose all your friends.  And you know what ‘They’ are right.  The reality is that while all your single friends are going out for sushi and a movie or heading downtown to see the latest Detroit garage rock band or meeting up on a whim to go do karaoke at the local dive, you are rocking a teething child while singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ for the 20th time in a row.  As much as we want to get back to ‘normal’ we don’t have the spontaneous freedom that our previous lives offered.  There’s always a grandma or a babysitter to consider.  And for me there’s always an hour and a half drive just to see my old friends.  So how does a new mom in a new city find a playdate for her little one or a couple of ladies to go walking while simultaneously commiserating with?  Thank the universe there’s a little website called Meetup.com!!   


So many of my blogging friends live far away from their families and close friends.  I’m guessing that like me that’s why they started blogging.  To update all their folks on their little nugget’s progress.  But for me it became much more than that.  A way to ‘talk’ to people about what was going on with me while I was trying to figure out how to be a mom.  It almost seemed easier than picking up the phone and calling folks that I assumed kept very different hours from me and were too busy to chat about my leaky breasts.  I say assumed because I don’t really know.  


Many close friends just seemed to fade away from me once Cedella was born, and though we still talk on occasion, sadly, our friendships aren’t nearly as close as they once were.  I’ve never figured out why either.  What I did or didn’t do.  Why they’ve never come up to visit us.  Did we suddenly become less interesting cause we couldn’t go out all the time?  I’ve chalked it up to busy schedules or being out-of-sight and out-of-mind.  It used to upset me quite a bit, it was incredibly lonely being in a new town, without anyone to relate to and on top of it being 6 months pregnant and unable to do anything ‘fun’.  But dwelling on losing friends is hard to focus on when you’re trying to navigate cloth diaper stains or transitioning to solid foods. 


Once Cedella was born it was even more challenging to figure out friendships.  I knew that even though they were miles away my mom and my sister would always be there for me.  And they have been in spades.  My few close girlfriends that stuck by and maintained our connection lived far away.  But somehow they still managed to come visit and make a weekly phone call to my sleep-deprived ass.  I love them even more for sticking by me and giving me encouragement, listening to all my complaints and allowing me to live vicariously through their still-single exploits.  And thank the universe for my amazing MIL and her family.  They have invited us over every single week for home-cooked Lebanese food and always made me feel like I was at home.  They include me in their shopping trips and girls-only outings, and we always have an open invite to swim in their pool or just to socialize for a while.  I don’t know what Cedella and I would do without Teta.  So here I am, blogging my heart out, having lovely phone chats with my far-away friends, building my relationship with my in-laws and yet I have nothing to do and no one to spend time with during the day.  I found myself becoming resentful of my SAHM status, even volunteering to work at my husband’s store just so I could get out of the house.  I LOVE shopping and even I was getting bored with shopping (crazy, right?).  It was time for me to find some friends…


So why was it so hard to make friends here in Capital City?  It should have been easy with that whole crazy new mom magnet thing.  It’s like we can smell the spit-up stains and are drawn to each other like tractor beams.  Several women had babies around the time Cedella was born in our circle of friends.  And then there were the three lovely ladies we met in Natural Childbirth class.  But not one of the new moms we knew really ‘reached’ out to me.  I say this, despite the lameness of the excuse, but in truth I didn’t really reach out either.  Though I did plan a couple of outings with the moms and babies from childbirth class, I was the only one to take that initiative.  Guess the other ladies already had a full support system of family and friends around them up here.  I really need to do that again…



As moms we eventually think that we need our infants to make ‘friends’ and the search for a playdate group is on.  Let’s be honest, when you’re a baby you don’t have to do much searching for friends.  When do children really even start ‘playing’ with each other beyond taking toys from one another and trying to get what the other child is holding?  Let’s face it, if your Mama sets you down anywhere near another child your instantly friends.  Cedella’s social skills are pretty astute, albeit worrisome to her father.  She is the classic flirt.  The waves a silly little princess wave, followed by a big ole smile and some batting of the eyelashes.  Then she goes in for the kill…the movie star kiss.  Boys, girls, infants or toddlers.  She wants to make out…now!  


I had no idea how to find a playgroup.  Then I read this hilarious post from Diana over at Hormonal Imbalances about her less than perfect first playdate through Meetup.com.  That’s when I went into full on research librarian mode.  Spending hours sifting through mom groups, playdate groups and miscellaneous women’s groups I finally found the group for me, henceforth known as The Group.  But I certainly didn’t expect joining said Group to be like applying for college.  


I had to fill out an extensive application about myself including describing myself as a drink.  I seriously AGONIZED over the answer to this question.  I didn’t want to turn anyone off and I didn’t want to misrepresent myself.  Should I be a Caramel Marvel – latte, sweet, brown and full of energy?  A fine glass of Bordeaux – sophisticated, complicated and paired perfectly with a leg of lamb?  I mean what kind of question is that, anyways?  I went with a Jack and Coke cause I’m a little rough around the edges.  Apparently this was acceptable because I was asked to fill out the second application.  


After spilling all my personal details and committing to being a really active participant in The Group I was welcomed in and asked if I wanted a personal meeting with The Group Leader.  Ummmmm, huh?  Do I need a face-to-face interview on top of the 2 very personal questionnaires?  I just wanna hang out with some other moms!!  I skipped the face-to-face cause it seemed unnecessary and scrolled through the upcoming events.  Jackpot!  I spotted a 2 mile Babywearing Nature Hike.  Exercise?  Check.  Baby bonding?  Check.  Fresh air?  Check.  Hanging with other moms?  Check.  The hike couldn’t come fast enough.  


I planned our hike-worthy yet still fashionable outfits the day before (thanks to Diana) and left early to make sure I wasn’t late.  When I got there (five minutes late) there were 5 other moms with babies strapped to their chests.  I put Cedella in her Baby K’tan and joined the group.  After some brief introductions we were off on our hike through a beautiful wooded nature preserve.  Immediately everyone kind of buddied up.  I was right in the middle with another mom with a little girl.  Turns out her little girl is just 2 weeks older than Cedella and the two of us chatted the entire time while the girls babbled back and forth.  We had so much in common it was ridiculous.  Conversation was super easy and we didn’t miss a beat.  By the end of the hike I knew I had to get up my courage and try to make friends. 


But how?  My friend Eliza at Postcards from Parenthood agonized over this exact same moment hilariously here.  Do you blurt out how much you have in common we MUST exchange information?  Do you hand someone a card with your name and number on it?  Do you let the moment pass and just hope you run into them again somewhere?  Well as I’m sure my mother can attest to, I don’t have a shy bone in my body.  And it seems that New Friend and I have that in common to.  We both agreed to meet the following week at the Mom Yoga event.  Perfect…a second date ; )


Now I don’t mean to be creepy and sound like I’m trying to date this other mom.  But isn’t that what it’s like?  You’re looking for that one person that shares your values, laughs at your jokes and understands what you’re going through.  Someone to hang out with and get together with.  Someone to talk to that actually wants to hear what you have to say.  New Friend is just that.  


We met at the Mom Yoga group and I met The Group Leader.  Let’s just preface this with the fact that I knew it was a bit odd that several of the meetings take place at a church.  But when I was asked if I was coming to the Bad Girls of the Bible event, I knew that maybe it was a bit too religious for me.  That being said, all the women were really kind, totally welcoming and friendly.  After the class was over New Friend and I made plans to get together for a walk with our girls the following week.  


Our first walk was amazing.  We walked further on the River Walk trail than I’ve ever made it on my own.  We talked and talked and talked.  The girls talked and talked and talked.  We’re both breast feeding and co-sleeping and she’s even trying cloth diapers!!  We’re both from the burbs of Detroit, we’re both away from our moms and sisters, we’re both into reading (in fact we were both reading The Help at the same time!).  She had me at “I usually know I’m going to like someone if they swear and drink”.  Yeah…that’s how I pick friends too.  It’s just one of those friendships that was meant to be.  


Apart from hanging out and walking with New Friend at least once a week, Cedella and I continue to go on the hikes once a week…though the Michigan winter seems to be rapidly approaching.  But we keep joking about taking up snowshoeing.  Somehow I think we’ll actually talk each other into it.  Regardless, our girls LOVE each other as much as any babies can love one another.  They smile and laugh at each other and are constantly giving kisses and hugs.  New Friend is just the thing I needed to remind myself of how awesome it is to be a SAHM.  


While I thank Meetup.com for introducing me to New Friend, I am at a loss at a couple of other aspects. It seems like The Group is kind of cliquey.  Not in a Mean Girls way, but in a hard to break through the circle kind of way.  Everyone is nice and polite, but they all know each other SO well and here I am, the New Girl just trying to add my two cents into any given conversation (cause we all know I’ve always got an opinion).  I’m going to try a few other outings and see if I can break through.  If not, oh well, I’ve got New Friend and that’s fabulous to me.

Cedella passed out after a really exhausting walk…