The kids have been back to school for a few weeks now and the summer months are a fading memory (except for the heat that is still a daily reminder). That being said, I am still reviewing summer in my mind and processing a few feelings I noticed as back to school grew closer. There was a period of a couple weeks where I tried to just “let things go” and just “go with the flow.” Let me tell you, that did not work for me. I would get in bed at night and be so anxious about the day. I had no metrics by which to measure the day by. Yes, my kids had summer days (mostly orchestrated by me) full of playing, swimming, and eating snacks, but what about me?
I am an ambitious person. Growing up, I loved school, studied hard, was excellent at making goals, and accomplishing them. I went to college, got married, had a baby, and went to graduate school. Up until that point, I always had tangible metrics of how I was doing. I could see what needed to be done and I could see results. I also had ambitions to be a stay-at-home mom. I think the world sometimes tells us that that is not really ambitious, but I feel like it is.
My husband and I knew that was what we wanted for our family from the start. We worked hard. I supported our family financially for a time while he finished school, we both went to graduate school, were careful with our money, I took side jobs when necessary. We prepared for it! So I feel like actually becoming a stay-at-home mom was a big win for me—I reached another goal on my list.
However, once you are a stay-at-home mom, often the outside, tangible metrics all but disappear. I remember talking to a mom friend once whom I truly admire and look up to for all that she does as a stay-at-home mom. I also saw so many similarities between us when it came to ambition, goal setting, and being task-oriented. So I asked her for some advice. She said, “If I’m going to choose to do this, I’m going to choose to do this all the way. It’s going to be my job.” That has stayed with me for years.
No one is really checking in on you to make sure you are doing your job as a stay-at-home mom, the people you manage are pretty unpredictable at times, and it’s really up to you what your day to day looks like. So what do you do? Well, I decided my experience as a stay-at-home mom was just as much about me as it was about my children. I wanted to look back in 20 years and feel fulfilled and successful at my “job”.
It’s important to remember here that everyone is different. We all have different strengths, talents, likes, dislikes…and that makes our experiences unique. In case you need some inspiration (or to see what you don’t want to do, ha!) here are some ways I work to feel “fulfilled” in my job as a stay-at-home mom.
**A disclaimer before I start. This is for ME as the mom. Yes, of course, my kids are wonderful and amazing and being with them almost all the time is a huge part of being a stay-at-home mom. And that definitely fulfills me in some ways. But, it is also still MY life and I want to look back and feel like I made it be a life that I loved in ALL aspects**
Figure out a way to measure your day.
For me, this is all about having a routine. I have come up with a short morning, afternoon, and evening routine for myself. A way to get myself going, recharge, and decompress each day. Without this, I begin to feel a little off balance and that just grows into feeling a lot off balance.
Set specific connection times with my kids.
Life for moms is BUSY. Whether you work outside or inside the home, it just is. I was finding myself getting in bed at night thinking, did I just do stuff during the day? Or did I connect? So recently, I came up with a few points of connection for the day. In the morning, I greet my kids by name and with a hug. On the way to school, we say a prayer together and I say a few positive things to each of them. Simple, but profound.
After school, we eat a snack together and play a game at the kitchen table (we haven’t been perfect at this since school started, but we’re trying!) At bed time, I put aside dishes or whatever at least 20 minutes before bedtime and go upstairs, sit in the chair in the playroom and start reading out loud. Within minutes (seconds sometimes), all my kids are close by listening. Those are just a few ideas, find what works best for you.
Make my to-do list and plan for the future!
I take care of most of the bills, appointments, and other home management tasks for our family. Setting aside a time of day to go through all of these makes me feel accomplished and fulfilled. Setting up a cleaning/organization routine also gives me a great sense of purpose. These tasks calm my anxiety, make me feel productive, and give me those tangible check marks I look for. Just like in a typical job, you can plan for the future.
What are your goals as a mom? For your children? For your home? What opportunities do you have with the time you are given? You can have short-term and long-term goals as a stay-at-home mom!
Finding fulfillment and direction as a stay-at-home mom has been more of a journey than I expected. But the truth is, I love being a stay-at-home mom! I don’t have a timeline for when it will end, so I want to look back years from now and feel like I made the most of it.