The year 2010 was a life changing year for me. August 2010 was when big Z came into our family. Prior to that, I used to be a regular working person with a full-time job, one that I was very passionate about. Had long hours working, as well as was at the forefront organizing events and the extra activities. So much so that one day before delivering, I was still at the laptop working from home, taking calls, assigning tasks and completing my transition for the maternity leave.
I was not sure of how things would pan out post big Z. The initial few months, as is for all new parents, were a total havoc. But slowly a routine set in. Mother toddler programs, preschool, play dates and lots of activities and soon lil Z came into our life. Again lots of sleepless nights, chaos but soon everything set into some kind of routine.
As time went by, schools, classes, birthdays, carpools home, cooking became a way of life. Everything else other than myself became a priority. I could not even remember how it used to be in the days before the kids came in or what I used to do all day on holidays to spend my time.
While I was super excited about the idea of being a stay at home mom and spending time with the kids, switching gears from conference rooms to play rooms was challenging. There have even been days when by 7pm I’ve called my husband and threatened him to come home immediately too.
It’s physically exhausting, mentally challenging, emotionally taxing, and can be very lonely at times.
Things have gotten easier since that first year of shock and transition, but a large part of that has come as a result of putting some practices into place. I’m a far better mom because I’ve learned how to take care of myself and manage my days. Here are some tips that I’ve put into practice
Make a schedule and then stick to it
While I was a big planner when it came to office tasks, for some reason being at home seemed informal and thus in the initial days, I used to just go with the flow. The only thing that went by schedule was nap time. Eventually, there were many days when I would still be in my PJs till evening and everything would be just all over the place.
Time can go quickly when there is no external pressure to get things done and you don’t have a deadline,” says Dr. Ludwig.
So it is very important to create a plan and schedule for the day. I started by building around the nap time – and have a different activity for each morning when the kids didn’t go to school.
This is a sample of how I started
|play dough||story||painting||paper craft||free play|
|massage + bath||massage + bath||massage + bath||massage + bath||massage + bath|
|lunch + nap||lunch + nap||lunch + nap||lunch + nap||lunch + nap|
|garden||building||friend 1||building||friend 2|
|power nap||power nap||power nap||power nap||power nap|
Eventually, I started building up on this adding my activities too like grocery shopping, house cleaning cooking etc. Also, a very helpful activity that I stated was planning a weekly menu. This helped me with groceries as well as planning out a balanced diet for us and the kids too.
About creating a schedule Dr. Tassava says “It gives some shape to the day and tells kids what to expect — kids love consistency,” Creating a plan and then sticking to it takes some iterations to figure out how much can be done in the day, but once mastered is extremely helpful and sticking to plans gives a sense of achievement and satisfaction at the end of the day as well.
Keep fit and take care of yourself
The first thing that happens as a stay at home mom is that we start neglecting our own fitness and health when overloaded. While I was not an extreme exercise person, Yoga class was something that I was quite diligent with while working. But once at home, my exercise and diet totally took a back seat. I stopped making effort to make time to exercise and even my meals were all haphazard. Leftovers from kids plates, chocolates, chips and grabbing bites as and when time permitted became a routine. As a result, weight gain, health issues started creeping up. This, in turn, started leaving me unhappy and junking even more.
While creating a schedule, make sure to include some time for any physical activity for yourself. Cycling, running, Zumba, yoga – whatever works for you and motivates you. It’s ok to take help from your spouse, nanny, neighbor or friends to make time for this. If nothing works, get an instructor home or follow videos.. This was one of my favorite videos when I just re-started yoga at home.
Groom yourself, shower and dress up for the day even if you are home most of the time. Adhere to your parlor/ spa visits or groom yourself at home – whatever works. But make sure you look good and feel healthy coz if you feel good you will surely be more productive.
Include some non-baby related activity or hobby
While taking care of the kids and house, often the entire day is spent with only home and baby related activities. This can get very monotonous and often at the end of the day could leave you grumpy and dissatisfied. Make some time in the week for a hobby or activity that is not related to your home or baby. Painting, pottery, reading, watching movies – whatever is your stress buster. Since adults do not require as much sleep as infants or toddlers, early mornings when everyone is asleep or post the kids bed time is a good time to spend some time on a hobby that makes you happy.
Do not go on a guilt trip
Often after leaving jobs and being at home taking care of the home and children, women lose their monetary earning. To add to this the fact that we are in the comfort of our homes. All this along with the constant watchful eyes of everyone around about our parenting just creates a big bundle of guilt on us.
Like everyone else, I too went through all this but after all these years I realized that the guilt affects only us and in fact reduces our productivity as well as adds to stress. Here are some tips to help relieve stress
Do not feel guilty about
- Getting help for a few hours in the day or week to give you some time for yourself
- Going out with friends and enjoying some me time
- Having a messy home
- Eating out at times
- And almost every other thing under the sun that tends to bog us down under the guilt.
Socialize with kids
Going out on play dates and connecting with mommy groups are a very good place where you would have the brightest chances of meeting like-minded people. Especially for new mommies who have just started being home with most of their other friends being at work, it is sometimes difficult to reconnect with them at the same level. Meeting other mommies with children of a similar age group will help your kids making friends too and at the same time, you get people to have adult conversations with.
Do a date night and spend some alone time with your partner
This is one of the most important practice to cultivate. With the kids constantly vying for attention it becomes very difficult to have even a single meaningful and complete conversation at home. Remaining connected with your spouse often takes a backseat. so always take the opportunity to have some quality alone time with them. Go out on a date or to a movie or you can even have one night a week planned where you put the kids early to bed and simply enjoy a movie night at home.
It is very easy to lose yourself while being at home and just go with the flow. So change your mindset. While your family is the priority, you are equally important. Love yourself, take equal care of yourself, groom yourself and feel good about yourself and see it being translated into your family’s happiness too!!!
Image courtesy : http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2009/07/in_defense_of_the_play_date.html, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5505860289/