Since a young age I learned work ethic. I was 16 when I worked in a tiny little market that one of my dads friends owned. After that I started working for my grandparents and during that time I would sometimes have 2 jobs. Granted I haven’t worked a job outside of my home for almost 12 years, I still have a job. A big one with a big to do list. There has sometimes been a learning curve for every job I’ve ever had and since becoming a stay at home mom/caregiver to our kids I’ve learned there is a learning curve with this job too. I’m still learning at my job on the daily. Tell me if this sounds familiar
You have to accept a whole new to do list- There are days when I think, “but I don’t even know if I did anything of value today!” because everything looks the same or worse than when I woke up. In actuality, I did things. I did a lot of things. There’s a reason why people give a huge portion of their paychecks to daycares and child care and that’s because (say it with me): It’s a job. It’s manual labor. It’s taxing on every level. It’s where the bulk of your time is spent, where you work very hard and where you sometimes hide in the bathroom because you’ve had enough of your coworkers. But make no mistake, when you’re a SAHM, and you’re doing all things.
You become a student- Many times, if I look up and open my eyes and my heart to my kids I can really see them. I see them seeing this world as if it is brand-spankin’ new and I learn things from them—how to slow down; patience; forgiveness; bits of myself, my husband, members of our family, and pieces of them that make them their own. And sometimes, if I look up and open my eyes and my heart to my kids, I see that they’ve emptied all the legos everywhere and reset my phone to a mode I never knew it had, nor will I ever figure out how to change. I quickly learned that the teacher becomes the student. Don’t fall asleep in class.
You’re entitled to screw ups- Since packing up, I have thrown a lot of toys away. I knew some of the favorites but apparently not all the favorites. So when Delylah was asking for a certain toy and I knew I had gotten rid of it, the crying began. We all throw out or get rid of stuff but lately I’ve been getting rid of a lot of stuff. On purpose! Not because it’s broken or old just because I can and we don’t need all that. Then I headed down the rabbit hole of guilt, doubt of my ability to be cut out for this job, and self-loathing. And you know what? In the midst of this toy meltdown going on in my mind, I looked over at her and she’d totally forgiven and forgotten the whole episode. In this business of being a SAHM, you have to get comfortable with having “bad days,” learn from your own mistakes, and move on. Every parent makes mistakes and if they tell you otherwise, know that they are lying liars or completely delusional.
Value yourself- It can sometimes be easy to slump into that zone where you feel like you are disconnected from everyone and the world wouldn’t notice if a giant sinkhole opened up in your living room and swallowed you whole. They would. You have value. What you are doing matters. You are raising humans, the same way someone raised and nurtured CEOs of companies and the people who operate our mass transit systems and teachers and doctors and everyone in between. All of these individuals once had someone who cared for them, changed their diapers, and shaped them into the person they are today. And for anyone who doubts the value in what you are doing, ask them to watch your kids for an hour or two. They’ll gain a whole new level of respect by the time you return.
Make time for yourself- What fills your cup? Maybe it’s yoga, the gym, time to read your favorite book, or work on a project you are passionate about. For me, it’s writing. Whatever it is, make a set time each day or a few times per week to do something you enjoy. Find pockets of time when your spouse is in charge of the kids or find someone you trust to leave your kids with for a set amount of time, then go do you. Staying at home with your kids is no small job, and because you don’t get to “punch out” or go off the clock, you have to make it a point to take a break. It can wear on your psyche if you don’t take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself also shows your children that you are valuable and that you value yourself, the same way you want them to value themselves. It’s funny how that works.
Make your home a “home”- It’s where you spend most of your time and it’s not going to make you feel good if it is cluttered, messy, disorganized or chaotic. Sure it is going to feel this way much of the time, mainly because you have small humans running around and wrecking it or because you’re so busy stopping them from putting a fork in light sockets that you haven’t had time to keep it in order. But it’s important to find small, simple things that make it cozy, like a comfy reading nook with soft blankets or a decorative storage bin that hides all the toys or even something as small as a favorite mug that makes you smile. Set things up so that you have easy access to things you use and love the most.
See beyond this period- This is both happy and sad. I look to parents of older children and see that one day, these little legs and fingers and toes in my arms will be self-sufficient—that I will be given a taste of freedom that I don’t have right now. When your kids are small, and especially if you are at home with them regularly, this can be hard to see. You feel like you’ll be here forever and that they will wear you down and you will grow old this way. You won’t. We won’t. We’re in the trenches now, but it will pass. Just because we haven’t experienced that phase yet doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge that it will happen and that alone is sometimes enough to help take a deep breath, soften and gain perspective in the midst of this beautiful chaos.
Lastly, have fun. It’s very easy to get caught up in a cycle of “doing,” especially when you’re in your own home and the dishwasher and unorganized closets and washer and dryer are in your face at all times and there’s just so much to do. But we can’t forget to put the life into living. There are times I feel like I’m killing it at this parenting thing and other times when I catch myself looking around waiting for the adult in charge to swoop in and remedy this shit-show. But then I realize: It’s me, in charge of the good, the bad and the ugly. That it’s going to fly by and I need to keep having fun. That it’s as much rewarding as it is exhausting. And that’s something that warrants employee of the year, in my book. We got this!
Happy Friday! In this life we can not always do great things. But we can do small thins with great love!
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