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 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Wordful Wednesday: The Zoo, the Park and the Trampoline

Since the days have been getting cooler and the days a bit shorter we’ve been enjoying the crisp air outside with our extended families. This time of year is especially busy for Michael so the girls and I are often left to our own devices.

On one such day we were got a chance to visit the Potter Park Zoo right here in Lansing with Aunt Jilnar (Michael’s sister). My sis and bro-in-law bought us a zoo membership for Christmas and it was awesome to be able to use it with her.

Since Jilnar lives in Chicago we don’t get to see her often enough, so we all really enjoyed being with her all day.

We got to see goats and chickens, monkeys and penguins. And the lions. We stared at the lions forever.

Then last week in an attempt to walk Leslie’s baby out of her, we took a stroll, hit up the local bakery Sweetie-licious, had a picnic at the park and Izzie tried the swings for the first time. Could that big ole grin on her face be any cuter? She loved the swing!

I’ve said it a million times but the friendship between Cedella and Anna is just incredibly sweet to watch. They fight like sisters and yet they can be so silly and loving to each other. But damn are they both Little Miss Bossy Pants!

(*And you know what? Our attempt helped, well, that and their family tent camping the night before she went into labor. Leslie had her baby this weekend!!!! A baby girl named Amelia!!!! So incredibly excited and happy for the whole family!)

And we finally got a chance to spend time as a whole family on Sunday when we went to our little cousin Salem’s 4th Birthday party. And though there were awesome blue Batman cupcakes, a zillion new toys and a pinata full of candy the real star of the show was the awesome new trampoline in the backyard.

When I asked Salem what her favorite present was, she said “the trampoline”. Which is easy to understand. Cause it’s pretty damn cool.

All the kids absolutely loved it. And while they jumped like crazy after the cupcakes and the candy all of us parents got to feel a bit like kids ourselves, smiling and laughing along.

It was a perfect afternoon spent with Aunt Jilnar and our cousins Mary, Glen and Salem. It’s always enjoyable to spend time with them.

How fortunate are we to have so many fun ways to spend our days and so many lovely people to share them with?

With the football season here it’s easy for our family to get so crazy, stressed and disconnected. But it’s moments like these that remind me how much we have to be thankful for.

A special thanks to the lovely Kristi at Live and Love Out Loud for the fabulous free collage templates that helped facilitate this fun post. Check out her page for some photo inspiration and fun freebies.

Thanks for stopping by and reading today! But I’d love it even more to hear from you. How do you reconnect with your family when life gets busy and stressful? Any tips for making those sparse family moments really count? Any recommendations on cool places to go with your family? Looking forward to your comments :)

Happy Wordless/Wordful Wednesday to all!!

 

 

Wordful Wednesday: First day of Home Preschool

My sassy independent smart little Monk is now 2 and a half. Ok, she’s 2 years old and 9 months. Which is just so crazy to me.

But being that she’s under 3 she isn’t old enough for any of the preschool programs in our area and we don’t want to put her in daycare just for the sake of having her out of the house for a while (not that we could afford that anyways).

So after hearing from a couple other mamas that were starting homeschooling or had homeschooled before I decided to start a little bit of Montessori-esque schooling with Cedella at home.

First things first was deciding when and how to approach things. Doing some in depth googling facebooking pinteresting research on the subject I came to the understanding that there really isn’t any such thing as a set curriculum for almost three year olds. Which was a relief.

And even more encouraging? After reading a lot of Montessori-based books and sites I realized I’ve been doing most of what is encouraged already.

We read books at least twice a day. I talk to both children constantly and explain what I’m doing. We did sign language with Cedella from 6 months on and I’ve already begun with Izzie. We encourage her to do things on her own and to ask for help when needed. She can go to the bathroom by herself, wash hands and brush teeth alone, picks her own clothes and can dress (the bottom half anyways) and put on shoes by herself. And we try to include her in the kitchen as much as possible. All things touched on in a Montessori program.

And while I always sang the alphabet song and pointed out letters and numbers to her, I owe a serious debt to Super Why and Sesame Street for teaching my kid all of her upper and lower case ABC’s and up to the number 20. She knows all her colors and most of her shapes too, though there are lots of times when she confuses one for another or just forgets all together. So looks like she needs a bit more work in those areas.

More than anything I feel like two things she would really benefit from right now is more of a structured schedule and more socialization. So in conjunction with “school” at home two mornings a week we’d add some at least one outdoor ‘class’ a week and a couple other classes or playgroups.

So last Tuesday we started our first official day of school. And the best part about homeschool? You can go in your pajamas.

Following the Montessori ideal of taking your cues and leads from what the child expresses interest in, I thought cutting and gluing would be a fun way to introduce both scissors (which she is hugely interested in but I haven’t allowed her to work with before) and glue (which she LOVES).

I busted out some old magazines in order to find pictures to cut out and glue and make collages.

She had such a great time doing her first collage that I improvised a second activity adding another level of learning.

We scoured the magazines for pictures of things that were blue. And here’s her blue collage.

Complete with a picture of the First Lady wearing a blue dress (to which Cedella said “Mrs. Bama is so pretty mommy and she’s wearing blue” Yes. Mrs. Bama. There may not have been an O there but I’m proud all the same.

And even Izzie got involved. Though in fairness she really just wanted to know what the magazines tasted like.

Though she hasn’t quite mastered scissors she did really well gluing and finding blue objects. Bottom line though? It was just so neat to watch her learn and try new things.

For our outdoor activity for the week we went on a hike with our local Moms group and BFFs Anna & Leslie.

In fact, Leslie and I had our 2 year anniversary (we met on a moms group hike when the girls were still tiny and in our baby carriers on our chests) and despite the fact that she’s about to have a baby on my birthday (only three short weeks of shopping time left for those that wanted to get me something special) she looked glowing and lovely as ever :) Love you lady!!

And on a whim, after dancing with her Teta and her Aunt Sabah, we signed her up for a pre-ballet class called Tiny Dancers. Sadly we were five minutes late, and the class had started and she was being super shy. Instead of going into the studio she stayed in the doorway of the lobby with me and the other parents for the entire class. And then cried at the end because she “didn’t get to dance”.

This is her all bummed leaving the studio. I call this photo “Sad Ballerina”. But seriously how cute is her leotard/leg warmer/Converse/sock bun combo? Love this kid.

So far I’m super encouraged by the idea that everything we do, every interaction, every outing, every silly drawing or picture, is adding to her education and independence. She really is such a quick learner and a remarkably bright child. Can’t wait to share more about this journey as we go.

Thanks to Mollie, Jen and Diana for the links and information and encouragement!

How do you encourage education in your home, whether it be reading or art or science? Any suggestions for how to add more independent activities she can do on her own?

Happy WW!! Hope the rest of your week is lovely 😉