Mornings are a struggle at our house. Despite my best intentions, I’m usually rushing around trying to feed my kids breakfast, gulping down coffee, searching for my preschooler’s favorite superhero shirt that he must wear to school (while praying it’s not in the bottom of the laundry pile), extracting my toddler from various small spaces where he has wedged himself and attempting to shower for 30 seconds somewhere in there amid the chaos. I cannot even count the number of times recently that I have said in an un-showered state of exasperation while hustling my kids out the door and shoving a breakfast bar in my face, “I just want to wash my hair!” enjoy being a stay at home mom
My schedule revolves around preschool pick-up and drop-off, nap time and My Gym. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom and I love the stay-at-home gig, but what happened to that fun-loving girl who could stay awake past 10 PM? She didn’t have crushed goldfish and empty juice boxes littering the floorboards of her car, and she didn’t have a closet filled with yoga pants and practical flats.
So how can you enjoy being a stay at home mom when you feel like you’re losing your identity in piles of unwashed onesies and economy-size boxes of squeezy fruit pouches?
Let them watch Netflix for a few minutes so you can wash your hair. Watching an episode of Special Agent Oso will not harm your children, and you will have time to use shampoo and conditioner. Separately. Not mixing them together and smooshing them on your hair like I do when I am hurrying.
Carve out time for yourself. If this means letting your toddler nap in the car while so you can drive around and drink a mango green tea smoothie, so be it.
Continue participating in groups you enjoy. If you want to volunteer in your community, bring your kids with you as soon as they are old enough to help (as long as it’s a safe environment).
Maintain relationships with other moms. Join MOPS or a Wichita Moms Neighborhood Group. Search out play groups in your area. Enroll in a stroller-fitness class. Hang out at Chick-Fil-A and drink iced coffee with other moms while your kids play in the play place. Find your mom tribe!
Have an impromptu dance party. When I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and there’s not enough coffee in the world to get me through the day, I put on Pharrell’s Happy and dance around the kitchen with my boys.
Maintain relationships with friends who knew you pre-kids. I love reminiscing with my college bestie about our sorority days and the first time we shared an apartment.
Involve your kids in the activities you enjoy. We love browsing at Barnes & Noble – books, train table, and lots of coffee in close proximity. Another favorite is the Garden Cafe & Children’s Library at Botanica. The cute reading nooks, educational kid-friendly toys and books, stuff to climb on allow me to take a breather and regroup.
Remember activities you enjoyed before you were a mom and continue those activities. If you’re a member of the Y, drop your kids at the KidZone so you can take part in a barre class, or ask your significant other or bestie to take your kids to the park for a bit during the class. When leaving the house just isn’t an option (we’ve all had those days), my preschooler loves YouTubing kid-friendly yoga poses with me before bedtime as a way to unwind.
When you’re at the shoe store buying shoes for your toddler, grab those sexy heels for yourself a few aisles over. Who cares if you can only wear them like once a year? Staring at them in the box at the top of the closet will be enough to lift your spirits while you’re in there eating Snickers and hiding from your kids.
Make your space a calming place. When I can’t see my floor or countertops due to toy overflow, coloring books, half-eaten snacks, my coffee mug filled with wine (I’m kidding…or am I??), I grab everything and throw it into a laundry basket. The hubs helps me sort and put away after the kids have gone down for the night. With a preschooler and toddler, clutter is pretty much unavoidable, but something about having the kitchen island cleared off helps me find zen.
Implement “quiet time” every day. My preschooler doesn’t usually nap anymore, but a few hours of down time gives us both a chance to unplug from the activities of the day. Look & Find books, stickers, puzzles and letter practice on a dry erase board are some of my son’s favorite quiet activities. I use this time to tackle my mountain of laundry or eat all of the Ghirardelli baking chips in my panty, depending on the stress level that day.
Create with your child. I have two boys, but we still love making things! I have found that this time of togetherness is a stress-reliever for me and a wonderful bonding opportunity. I’m not super crafty, but love finding simple projects to work on with my preschooler and toddler.
Start a happiness jar or gratitude journal. Write down those sweet and funny preschool sentiments and your toddler’s hilarious efforts at speech. Record milestones, events and happy memories on a sticky note, then toss them into a jar. Pull one out to look at when you need to remember why being a mom is the best.