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: A Very Benihana Birthday

Ok…so it wasn’t Benihana. The restaurant is called Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse. And we go there as a family a lot.

But Michael keeps calling it Benihana. Even though we’ve never actually been to a Benihana, because of that episode of The Office. A Very Benihana Christmas. It’s when The Office was still funny. One of our favorite episodes of television ever. If you have Netflix it’s Season 3 Episode 10. But I digress.

Friday night was my birthday. Whoop whoop! Another year under my belt. And for those that are wondering it was lucky number 34.

34 isn’t lucky, is it? Didn’t think so. But a lady dame madam girl can dream right? I like to dream that I’ll turn 35 and all my wrinkle and pimples and weird saggy areas have magically melted away. I’ve got an entire year to work on that vision board…

I have always liked making birthdays a big deal. I think cake, flowers, cards, extravagant gifts and parties are all par for the course. After all, this is the day you (or me) was born!

My favorite thing to tell those that I really and truly love is that I am “so happy you were born today”. Because it’s true. Being born is something magical and special and amazing. Something to celebrate.

When it comes to birthdays my expectations have been, historically, pretty high.

And then I met a guy who doesn’t dig making a big deal out of most occasions and holidays, let alone birthdays. He doesn’t dig cake. Doesn’t care at all about cards (not even painstakingly handmade collage cards that his girlfriend slaved over for days). Plans and parties just sound like hassles and chaos to him.

But one day he made a plan ::gasp:: and surprised the hell outta me when he proposed in front of a big group of friends on New Years Eve.

So I married him. :)

Now? We’re back to no surprises, no plans and no big deals.

For the past few years since living in Lansing we’ve made my birthday into our annual trip to the cider mill & pumpkin patch.

But this year? Nada. No cider. No pumpkins. No family day. No plans.

And guys? It hurt.

I was sitting at home on Friday afternoon, while everyone, including my husband, took a nap. Drinking a birthday beer, watching Friday Night Lights, balling like a baby.

Granted, he’s been working so incredibly hard. So hard that he barely sleeps, let alone have the time to make plans. He also thought I said I didn’t want to go, though what I said was that I wanted to go to a new place, not scrap the idea all together.

Did he get the flowers and the extravagant gift and the card? Yep. All three. But all I really wanted, really needed, was a day to spend alone, doing something fun with our little family.

We haven’t had that in months.

I need to accept that this is just the busy time of year for him at the store. That this won’t last forever.

Until then I will need to work on lower my expectations and being in the moment.

Despite the pity-party I had for myself all afternoon, we actually did go out on the night of my birthday.

With the girls with babysitters we were free to enjoy an adult night out. My sis Tracey braved rush hour traffic while wearing a dress, just to spend my birthday with me.

So me, Michael and Tracey went out and about around downtown Lansing for dinner and drinks. We met a few friends at the local dive bar. I even ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. We rocked out to the jukebox and drank like fishes.

And all we got was this one grainy picture of me and Tre in our awesome dresses.

When I say that I had an “awesome Friday night” it is code for a “wickedly hungover Saturday”. Like “I’m going to die” wicked. Tracey helped with the girls while I recovered. Now THAT’S a birthday present! Thanks Tracey. *Also someone please remind me that shots are for 21 year olds and not 30-somethings, ok? Thanks in advance!

Sunday, thankfully I was totally recovered by then, we headed down to the Benihana Kyoto restaurant for the Sims Kid Trifecta Birthday party.

My sister, brother and I are all born within two weeks of each other in late September-early October. Yes, people, do the math. Our parents always had really lively New Year Eve parties.

That being said, we’ve always ALWAYS had a big family gathering for all of us at once. It’s just much easier that way. Why would we shirk tradition for this birthday then? We wouldn’t. So bring on the group meal & cake.

So Kyoto, like Benihana, is a restaurant where the table centers around a grill where the chef cooks your food in front of you. Dinner and a show. There’s something about the meal being cooked in front of you that is at once fascinating and kind of awkward. Though it doesn’t seem to bother Grandpa at all.

Like Japanese-chef-accidentally-cracking-a-raw-egg-into-your-water-glass awkward. True story. Happened to Tracey this time.

Something about the crazy exhaust fans and clanking spatulas really bothered Cedella. She had her hands on her ears the entire time he was at our table.

Izzie on the other hand? Totally fine. Not bothered by the noise as long as she had rice or noodles or carrots in her mouth. This baby loves food.

Finally a family shot. Though it’s not in focus, and it looks like Michael and I are being posed by someone in the Sears Portrait Studio, I still love it. It’s US!!! We ARE a family!

And Cedella with chopsticks? So cute.

She actually got them to work for her. Genius child that she is.

Though I may complain and may expect more than what I’m given I am truly thankful. Because these lovely, crazy, silly, smart people? They are mine. And I adore them so. *Someone please remind me of this at Christmas time, will ya?

So now it’s your turn. How do you celebrate birthdays in your family? Big deal or no big deal? Any special traditions? Any suggestions on how to make birthdays more important to someone who doesn’t think they are?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Happy WW!!

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!!