I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost five years. I never intended on staying home, actually. I’ve been working since I was fifteen years old, and I intended to work after having my kids. But that quickly changed when I finally met my first child face-to-face. Staying home with children is not a ‘job’ but it’s still work. It’s arguably the most important work we will every do. Therefore, mama, your sanity, mental health, and happiness are extremely important. I recently sat down to write a post on how to help new moms, and this all just came pouring out of me. So it’s safe to say, it needed to be put out into the universe. Here you go. Here are my top tips for new stay-at-home moms.
Tips For New Stay-At-Home Moms
Remember, everyone’s motherhood experience is different, so if something you read here doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay! This is very much a generalization and written from my personal experience as a stay-at-home mom of five years. Nevertheless, I hope something you read here today will feel useful to you. Here are my tried and true tips for new stay-at-home moms.
01. Play music in the background.
Okay, so this one seems silly, but it truly helps lighten my mood. When my eldest daughter was a baby, I used to keep our television on in the background, just for noise, but as she got older, I knew that needed to change! Since we’ve cut our screen-time out almost completely, I now rely heavily on music for that background ambience.
To be completely honest, I’m a creature of habit. My music throughout the day helps move along our natural rhythms. I have my morning playlist (usually something folky – I like the Cabin in the Mountains playlist on Spotify) that I play while I make my coffee and make our breakfast. Then I have our homeschool Classical Music playlist. We studied Bach this past term, and now we’ve moved onto Mozart. I have some of their works on a short, eight song playlist, so we play that during morning time. I also put this on when my girls do art, just to keep the experience rich. My 4.5 year old, now says to me, out of habit: “Mama, can we listen to our Classical Music?”
Then during lunchtime, instead of music, sometimes I’ll play an audiobook for my daughter. We read very often, and I prefer reading to her directly to foster connection. However, an audiobook during lunch, so I can eat too, has been a very useful tool! If we don’t have an audiobook we’re listening to, I’ll play the Charlotte’s Web movie soundtrack, or another soundtrack she likes. She’s very into The Sound of Music right now. I never thought I’d say that about my 4.5 year old. 😉 But during this time my 19 month old is napping, and I try to let my big girl pick our songs. It’s her special time that she knows she gets to choose our playlist!
Then, I almost always play music while I prepare dinner. This can be something fun and upbeat, like Vampire Weekend, or sometimes I like to play oldies, like The Beach Boys. These songs help me feel vibrant and upbeat when I’m really tired at the end of the day. My girls and I will sometimes dance while we wait for things to boil, or heat up. It helps give us a strong end to our exhaustingly wonderful days together.
I’m going to be honest. Until I typed this all out, I didn’t even realize how much having music on during the day did for me. It’s pretty incredible. Try it out!
02. Establish a weekly routine.
When I say “routine” don’t mistake that for “busy”. I don’t think you should over book yourself to the point that you’re never home. But I do think it’s good to get out of the house! I would take my baby for a walk every day in the afternoon, just for fresh air. She and I slowly started to look forward to that time each day, and it’s still part of our routine now that she’s almost 4.5.
Your weekly routine will look different depending on what phase of motherhood you’re in. When my firstborn was an infant, we didn’t do a lot outside of our house, but we still had a flow to our day and our weeks! I usually had one day a week set aside for grocery shopping. (I still do even though my girls are 4 and 19 months. Because shopping for groceries on the weekend is so crowded!) I also had a day set aside for our MOPS group. (See the next tip for more info on that.) And sometimes we had a ballet or swim class to attend. So we spent a lot of time at home, except for a few select hours a week.
It does help me, especially now, two kids later, to know what my week will look like. Right now, I have a set grocery day, a set library day (this is soooo crucial in those early years, friends!), and a set day to meet-up with friends. The rest is pretty fluid.
Find some ways to create a flow for your week! It will help those five days of taking care of little ones feel less ominous.
03. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
I like to think that all of these points are pretty important, but this one is especially. I’ll never forget the very first mom group I attended. My first baby was around four months old. I’d spent four months sitting alone in my house, frantically looking up developmental milestones and tirelessly researching food ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute, but I really needed to talk to someone. No, not my husband, who didn’t stay home with his child all day, and didn’t really understand. No, not my grandma (who hadn’t raised kids in like 30 years). Someone who was going through what I was going through.
I went online, and found a local new mom group (otherwise known as MOPS – Mothers of Preschoolers”). I signed up, but felt nervous because I didn’t know anyone else. I almost didn’t go.
The day came to attend, and I was so unsure. It felt like the first day of school all over again. I breastfed my first baby for three years, so at four months, she was nursing pretty heavily… I knew I’d have to keep her with me, and that made it all even scarier. The other moms had their kids in childcare, but I kept G with me and hoped she wouldn’t make a noise during the quietness of listening to the speakers for the full two hours.
I walked in and felt so out of place. I could tell many of the moms already knew each other, and it made me feel even more uncomfortable. Still everyone seemed welcoming. I sat at a table, and after we listened to the speakers, we got our group assignments. It was then that I met who I now consider my best friend, E. She was honestly such an angel who appeared in my life, at a time where I felt very alone. She was in my group, and in her warm, rich, South African accent, she asked me how old my daughter was. She said hers was the exact same age.
We didn’t stop talking after that. I walked with her after the meet-up ended to pick up her daughter so G and I could meet her. We exchanged numbers, and set up a time to meet-up for a playdate. And just like that, I’d met a lifelong friend. Our families became very close. We did everything together. Attended our first ballet classes, first mommy & me music classes, we both had new babies, we struggled over heartaches. For almost three years. We truly had such a wonderful connection, and we got to raise our children together. It’s something I wouldn’t have, to this day, had I not taken that giant leap of faith and attended that new mom group all those years ago.
My point to this story is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. If a friend of a friend invites you over for a play date, do it! If you want to take a Mommy & Me yoga class, do it! If you want to join a mom group. Make it happen. It will be uncomfortable. But remember comfort = growth. Sit in that for a moment.
04. Have some “quiet time” to yourself each day.
This has been hard for me, in this season, where my 4.5 year old doesn’t nap, and my 19 month old takes one very short nap in the middle of the day, but it’s something I insist helps keep me sane. Even if it’s just ten minutes, I’ll grab some art supplies, or a toy they haven’t played with in awhile, and I’ll sit down next to them and read or drink my coffee and think about nothing. I caution you to pick up your phone during this time, only because it will make you compare your day, your house, your clothes, and everything else about yourself with the people you see on your phone. Save the screen time for bedtime if you can and just take those quiet time moments to be present with yourself! It will change your whole outlook and ground you instead of make you angry or feel like you aren’t enough.
If your children do nap at the same time – you are so lucky! Utilize that time wisely, mama!
05. Read with your kids.
My favorite thing to do in the middle of the afternoon, when the day feels like it’s dragging, or I just need to sit down for a minute, is read with my kids. We snuggle up on our couch with a cozy blanket, pick a few books from our basket, (pro tip: Keep a basket of books in each room of the house), and start reading. I’ll ready 3-4 books in one sitting if my 19 month old allows it. My 4.5 year old could listen to whole chapter books at once, ha, she loves hearing stories!
Anyway, the point is, make time to read with your kids. The benefits are abundant. Not only are you exposing your children to stories, vocabulary, language syntax and diction, but you’re also connecting with them. You’re spending TIME with them. This doesn’t take a lot of effort, but the fruit you’ll get from this practice is plenty.
It’s important to take care of yourself in these ways to keep your cup full so you are able to pour into your children each day. Being a mom is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but it doesn’t come without rough days, so don’t forget… nothing will be perfect all of the time. The best thing you can do is cherish the moments you have together, even amidst the chaos.
I hope these tips for new stay-at-home moms were helpful to you! Thank you so much for reading!