How to Be Happy as a Stay-at-Home-Mom

Part One

Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM) can be challenging.  It can be lonely spending your days in a world of children, while your peers are immersed in an adult world.  It’s particularly difficult when you want to escape for adult conversation and activity, and everyone else wants to retreat from that world into solitude.

It can be frustrating when our efforts go unnoticed, at times even by ourselves!  Parenthood is the long game.  Results are slow and often show themselves very subtly.  As a SAHM you have to celebrate tiny victories.

Hinckley, Pearly Gates

The life of a SAHM often requires us to be our own cheerleaders.  We have to ask for support, recognition, and reassurance when we wish it would just come organically. 

But I assure you, there is no greater joy than that which comes from your children.  You will make no more profound difference in another’s life than the lives of your children.  And when the long-game is finally played out, there is no greater sense of accomplishment than that of rearing successful, happy children.

To help keep you focused on the prize at the end of the yellow brick road, I present:

10 Tips to help you stay happy as a Stay-at-Home-Mom: Tips 1-5 

1. Maintain a Schedule

Just like every other career, the life of a SAHM needs a schedule!  Schedules instruct us how to break down our day into manageable “chunks”.  This “chunking” teaches us how to avoid overwhelm, enables us to feel accomplished at the close of our day, and is a mental health lifesaver.

This is the #1 reason I like to adhere to a schedule: I have seen the difference it makes in my mental health.  Have you ever been on a vacation—a fabulous, relaxing, adventurous vacation—and then felt total relief and happiness to come back home and get back to your schedule?  This is because our bodies and minds crave organization. 

We need, deserve, and should have breaks from our schedule, but they should be just that: a break.  When the exception to the rule becomes every day practice, it creates disorder and leaves us feeling anxious and unfulfilled.

Personal Tip:

I don’t make my daily schedule by the hour of the day, but by how long I will spend at each activity.  This is a trick I learned the hard way.  Life, especially with kids, is too unpredictable.  If I set my exercise time for 9:00am, and then traffic on the way home from taking kids to school delays me 20 minutes, I’m more likely to skip over my allotted exercise period. 

This leaves me feeling constantly behind, harried, and I’m harder on myself all day. 

If I schedule my day by time spent at activity instead of hour of the day, I get through everything in my schedule no matter the interruptions.  Some days I might finish my day at 3:00, and some days at 6:00, but either way, everything gets crossed off my list, which leaves me Happy!  

Mom Tip:

Schedule in undivided attention play/talk time with kids.  This includes teenagers!  Let your teenagers see you put your phone down and make eye contact with them.  This reassures them they are a priority to you, which they obviously are, but you never know when they need the reassurance.

Scheduling in focused, uninterrupted “play time” when your kids are toddlers helps cement the knowledge that you are invested in them at a very young age.  It also helps you avoid “mom guilt”. 

Even when we work round-the-clock for our families, when we don’t have that undivided attention time with our kids, we can feel like we’ve cheated them somehow.  This is:

A. not true, and

B. completely counterproductive. 

STOP. 

Schedule in your day focused, manageable time to spend with your kids and cut yourself some slack.   

The Mom in E.T.

2. Take A Break

I know, Ha. Ha.

But I’m not talking about trips to the spa, I’m suggesting 15 minutes of Personal Time built into your schedule.  I actually have TWO periods in my schedule right now: one in the morning half of my day, one in the afternoon half. 

Tired of yelling to get your kid's attention?

Be flexible at first and see what works best for you and your family’s needs.  The kids might see Mom looking peaceful and happy and come to crawl all over you, but understand and be firm that your personal time is just as important as feeding your children.  

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

At some phases in our lives, personal time might come as bookends to our day: 20 minutes alone before the house is awake, and 20 minutes after bedtime (see #5).  I know others take personal time as a large lump-sum during nap time—to which I fall down in humble admiration to you, because I was usually asleep in the bed next to my kid during those blissful years of life.   

Honestly, Family Nap Time was my favorite time of day when my children were little.  Yes, there are countless things I could have taken care of during those many hours: projects, chores, all kinds of household responsibilities.  But it was in those years I learned there is nothing so soothing and peaceful as holding a sleeping baby, and 10 years later, I don’t regret one day I chose to cuddle my children over any other alternative.   

So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Whenever your break might occur, and whatever it might be: journaling, listening to a TED Talk, pampering yourself, reading, meditating, running, baking, sewing, crafting, whatever, schedule it and stick to it.

3. Don’t forget your health

The life, schedule, and budgets of Stay-at-Home-Mom often revolve around meals.  But, are we taking the same thought and careful consideration into planning our own meals as we are those of our family? 

Just like carving out time for yourself should be carefully scheduled into your day, so should what you eat.  I think I went a solid 10 years where I ate peanut butter every day.  And I’m not knocking my love for peanut butter, but it was my primary diet because I always had it in the house, and again, I was my last priority, and what I ate was even lower on my priorities.

For a lot of SAHMs, our perspective on eating is all wrong.  In what other profession do you have unrestricted access to a pantry with whatever you want in it, a fully-stocked kitchen, and as much time as you want to prep, cook, and eat?  We should all be gourmet chefs!  😛

Caffeine & Fruit Snacks does NOT equal a healthy diet. 

Being a mom is learning your strength

Trust me, you will drag through every day you don’t prioritize your health.  I went from 8-9 hours of sleep a night, subsisting on caffeine and even naps(!) to 5-6 hours of sleep and ZERO caffeine because I changed my diet and started juicing.  In addition to not getting sick anymore, feeling 1000 times better, I have so much more time

Stay-at-Home-Moms, you need your strength.  Eat well, schedule your meals, exercise, and get outside every day.  Your body, your mind, your spirit, and your family will thank you!

4. Feed your Spirit

In addition to taking care of your physical health, be mindful and deliberate to care for your Spiritual health

For this Tip, I will defer to women who are wiser and more eloquent than I am.  But, I will testify from what I have learned as a mom of 18 years, that it is vitally important to have a spiritual foundation from which to direct our children.

“Mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes.” Julie Beck

“Pick a time and place, and listen for God’s voice every day. And keep this sacred appointment with exactness, for so very much depends on it!” Michelle Craig

“Children are being born into a world where they “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).1 However, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.” Julie Beck

Stay-at-Home-Moms, we have the unique blessing of having a lot of face-to-face time with our kids.  Take advantage of that large amount of time to feed your spirit so you can teach and nurture your children’s spirits.  Heed this warning from President Russel M. Nelson:

“…if the world loses the moral rectitude of its women, the world will never recover.”

5. Set Bedtimes

You know how they say, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here”?  For me, that’s bedtime.  You don’t have to go to sleep, but “Mommy time” is over. 

Being a SAHM is exhausting.  I don’t know if a single day passes when I don’t quietly whisper to myself, “What is actually happening right now”? 

“Hey Mom, watch this!” is the childhood equivalent of “Hold my Beer!”

There has to be a limit to the crazy. 

I have 3 kids between 10-16 still at home, so “bedtime” is 9:30pm.  Period.  All parenting abilities come to an abrupt halt.  Just the other night, my 16 year-old asked why she couldn’t stay up?  I told her she didn’t have to go to sleep, she just had to go away (very lovingly and affectionately, don’t worry).  She was confused and started to respond when my husband interjected. 

“You haven’t learned yet that bedtime has nothing to do with you?”, he asked. He wisely explained to my shocked daughter, “Mama Bear here taps out at 9:30. So, you don’t have to go to bed, but you can’t stay here.”       

This is how I’m able to love my children!  We all know that once we become a parent, our brains are never free from thinking about our children.  There are no time-outs, days off, extended vacation from our worry.  So, even when my children aren’t physically with me, thoughts and concerns for them are. 

The physical requirements of your parenting time has to end at a set time—preferably more than 15 minutes before you pass out on the couch.  This way you can react to crises: nightmares, sickness, emergency calls, whatever might interrupt your night.  It enables you to wake up the next morning happy to see those beautiful, smiling faces, and start the routine all over again.   

Mom humor

Find Tips 6-10 in How to Stay Happy as a Stay-at-Home-Mom in Part Two!

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