Today Keola goes back to work full time after spending two weeks playing Mr. Mom while I recovered from giving birth. While he’s looking forward toward the start of a new semester (he works at a university) and all the happy hustle and bustle of greenie students, I’ve been silently (and sometimes not so silently) dreading the fact that I now have the same amount of kids as I have arms. I live somewhere between “MY KIDS ARE THE BEST EVER!” and “WHAT THE HECK DID I GET MYSELF INTO??!!”
I’ve wanted to be a stay at home mom for as long as I can remember. My mom stayed home with us, and I wanted to give that same childhood to my own children. I haven’t regretted it, but I somehow have a hard time being thrilled about one game after another of concentration, coloring the exact same pictures over and over again, and building and re-building lego towers. So when the career gurus say to choose work that makes us excited to get up in the morning, I wonder if I’m doing something wrong. I decided to turn to my mommy friends on Facebook for some inspiration on how to keep motherhood exciting and received some great answers that I can’t wait to incorporate into our daily lives. I got some repeat answers so I’m paraphrasing here and adding some of my own thoughts:
Stay at home parents to small children: How do you get excited about getting up in the morning when the days get long and monotonous?
- Do something creative: Be it cooking, sewing, interior design, art, or gardening, creating something gives us positive energy and a sense of accomplishment, not to mention an opportunity for your little ones to learn something from you and see mom at her best.
- Involve your kids in doing the things you love: I love jazz music because my Dad listened to the jazz station on the radio in the car. He played jazz guitar at home, and in high school I played the flute in a little jazz band with him and some other musicians in the community. My mom gave me piano lessons from the age of 8. They both taught all us kids to read music and sing in parts. Music was something they loved and they included us in it, and were happier for it. It may have been annoying and boring when we were beginners, but now we make beautiful music together. You can bet they wouldn’t've been as excited if they were stuck watching re-runs of Power Rangers with us.
- Mix it up: Picking up some new books from the library, going to a different park, exploring a different part of your neighborhood can make a world of difference, especially when you have toddlers that like doing the same thing over and OVER and OVER again (for us it’s playing Concentration).
- Get out of the house before noon: Moms concurred, that the days spent in the house are often the most difficult and depressing. Getting up, getting ready and getting out the door turns children’s attention outward instead of on mom for every little thing. I’m personally working on getting a weekly outing routine together that includes places like the library, parks, the beach and our local Farmer’s Market. Talking about it before hand will get us all excited.
- Establishing a morning routine: Carving out some time alone in the morning before the kids wake up allows us to get organized, set priorities and be intentional about the upcoming day rather than flying at the seat of our pants trying to accommodate a list of demands from our pint-sized task-masters. This also includes a healthy dose of coffee (or some other stimulant for some).
- Don’t take things too seriously. Laugh a little: Some days get away from us despite our best efforts. THAT’S OK. This list isn’t meant to stress us out, but to make motherhood easier and more enjoyable. Sometimes motherhood is most enjoyable with the Toy Story trilogy and a bowl (or two) of popcorn. Kids are really delightful people that love to laugh and have fun. Letting go of the stuff that we think needs to get done can help us be in the moment with them.
- Put things into perspective: Most of us only have 18 years before they leave the house, but separation happens much sooner than that. It won’t be long before tickle fights, kisses, even public acknowledgement that you’re their mom may fade or disappear altogether. This little video from Gretchen Ruben, best-selling author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home (both of which I need to read) says it best.
What have I missed? How do you keep it fresh and interesting as a stay at home parent?