A note from Big Nugget:
I am grateful to share a contributing post from my friend Jessica. Our paths crossed thanks to Instagram a couple of years ago (possibly more). I have learned so much from the bits and pieces of her life she gracefully shares.
To find her on Instagram, click here. I highly recommend investing some time into her feed. She not only lives a refreshingly unique life, but radiates love, positivity, and honesty through her pictures and words.
Thank you Jess, for your knowledge, love, and support!
To learn about the “A friend of the Nuggets” project, click here.
I have been a SAHM now for a decade! I can’t even believe that is possible. I have always strived to help people from as far back as I can remember. I was advised at a young age to not only use my experiences—both negative and positive—to help others and to sympathize with them, but to also be honest, honest about my experiences and how they make me feel. So here is my response to your call for help. Here are my personal top 5 things I’ve learned over the past decade and am still learning to do as a stay-at-home and very-part-time-working mama. In no particular order:
#1 Have less stuff! This is one that I have really only been practicing diligently over the past year or so. We all can do with less things. Kids don’t need all the toys and we don’t need all the clothes (or whatever the thing might be). Less stuff means less stuff to clean up and less clutter and less mess. For a long time I was the “be ok with the mess mom,” but then I realized my mind was way too cluttered, my kids couldn’t focus, and I was always secretly annoyed with the mess even though I said I was “ok” with it. Reading, watching, and listening to people speak about minimalism and intentional living really motivated and encouraged me to find ways to tailor those things to our life and pick and choose things that I could easily implement.
#2 Keep a schedule. There is a delicate balance to all of this. It’s easy to become too rigid in any area like getting to the point where you freak out over one left out toy or one missed nap. Having a schedule really helps keep things predictable. Everyone, including the kids and daddy, know what to expect. Which leads to…
#3 Have short-focused bursts of working within that schedule. When baby naps and big brother doesn’t, then that can be some quality one-on-one time with him, or it could be time he does an independent activity while you do a little work. Kids learning to be independent is a life skill. Quiet time is my sacred time and a must for this SAHM’s sanity!
It’s truly amazing how much can be accomplished in really short periods of time. A veteran SAHM once told me you can accomplish so much in 5 minutes. If you’re overwhelmed with the kitchen mess, set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes you can be done no matter how far you get. It’s always fun to see what happens when you get to that magic number 5.
Honestly, there are times I write the same sentence 3 times, or forget to save something and start feeling really annoyed with the kids because they keep interrupting me as they need their butt wiped or need help with opening a snack. Things that I shouldn’t be annoyed with them for. Those are the times I stop and realize I’ve got to much going on and I need help. Daddy has to take the kids for a few hours so I can really focus and get stuff done.
#4 Balance and communication are key. Be purposeful about how you balance your time. Obviously everyone needs you and everyone’s needs are going to be different, but always remember to make time to spend with daddy, even if it’s staying up a little later to watch a movie or just hang out. He’s going to be the one who’s there when the kids are grown and gone. Continue to nourish that relationship otherwise you run the risk of waking up in 17 years to a nonexistent relationship.
Being purposeful and realistic about the time you spend with your kids is important as well. You are a stay-at-home mom which means you are with these children TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN! You win the argument for who spends the most time with their kids, but how is that time spent? Is it going to the library and reading books together, or is it eyes glued to the tv or iPad. (And no I am not anti-tv or electronics. It’s that balance thing again.) It really goes back to those bursts of focused attention balanced with independent time. It’s ok to check Instagram. **Gasp!** Kids need to learn that working and playing independently is ok.
And lastly #5, which I guess should really be #1, but this is one that even after all these years I’m still working on and would be why I’m up past midnight writing this….take care of yourself. If mama is not well, who will do all the things. I’m not the best example of this, but the following are some of the things I personally try to do. I go grocery shopping alone and sometimes treat myself while I’m at it. I close the bathroom door and lock it. (Yes, sometimes the kids will stick their fingers or even notes under the door, but they survive.) I have at least one mama friend—maybe more—who I can talk to or realistically frantically text or snap telling them about the poop I had to clean up off the floor, or about how I’m going to loose my ever-loving mind, or even to gush about how so and so just wrote the letter “A” for the first time. You know why you have them? Because they care. They get it. And because you will do the same thing for them. You will see each other through those tough days because there will be lots of them.
Taking care of yourself and giving your self lots and lots of grace for all the times you screw up will help get you through to bedtime! We hear it all the time; we are not these perfect little boxes. We are messy, loud, stinky and emotional and that’s ok because we love fiercely and will take on the world for the ones we love.