I’m sure by now you’ve seen the meme about everyone coming to a halt and asking stay at home Moms, “How do you do this every day?” With a majority of my country being on lockdown, and my state having a “stay home; stay safe” order, it’s my job to walk the line between taking things seriously and keeping things light. Today I’m going to explain to you a few things I do to stay sane while I’m home all day long as a Mom to a very needy six month old. Don’t worry, these are things that you can do yourself, no baby needed. So, without further ado:
How I Stay Sane At Home. (With a baby, which honestly is like a level or two more advanced than just being by yourself imo.)
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Think of your bedroom as the cubical of the most annoying coworker you’ve ever had. You have to stop by occasionally, but you try to make it quick before she starts side tracking you, talking about her dog or that new MLM she joined.
That is the most accurate way to describe my mornings. Get up, change the baby, get out. Otherwise the baby gets fussy, I get hangry, and it goes downhill faster than a kid with a sled in the dead of winter. The start time varies, but every morning is the same motion: get out before I get sidetracked and only have myself to blame. What I’ve been hearing a lot of, especially those in quarantine, is that they can’t seem to get themselves out of bed. They wake up, scroll for hours, then get up and wander to another room for another few hours, and then come back and take a nap because they have literally bored themselves to sleep. What. A. Life.
After making it past the annoying coworkers cubical without having to look at a photo of her dog, I run into the boss who hands me a piece of paper and says, “Don’t forget. Meeting in ten.” The paper reads: “If I do not have a warm bottle in my mouth in exactly 10 minutes I will scream so loud the neighbors will think you’re hurting me.” Oh yeah, the boss would be my 6 month old if you didn’t catch that.
If you don’t have a small person or fur-thing to take care of, you’re not aware of the internal battle of “can I eat or drink before you realize you’re hungry?” To which I’m sorry to inform you that the answer is always no. Not a chance. So, you feed the small dependent, change it’s diaper again, and pray to everything in the sky that the cartoon that is going to drive you up the wall can preoccupy them just long enough for you to eat exactly half a piece of toast. (Shout out to the Amazon Fire Stick for providing access to lots of great kids shows that aren’t as annoying as they could be!) 7/10 times it’ll work, and those other 3… don’t you dare judge me for passing the baby off to my hubby the moment he passes through the door so I can consume half the fridge.
Those 7/10 times though are where, in all seriousness, I’m able to decide if I can mentally function for the day. Where I have to ask myself, “are you going to Mom today, or are you going to be Alex AND Mom today?” Which, stay at home Mom or not, we all really need to ask ourselves that question so we don’t go crazy. Am I just going to be my job description today? Or am I going to be myself? I won’t lie, some days I just go with the motions and I Mom it. It’s easier. But boy does it feel better mentally and emotionally to go the extra step to be myself and a Mom all at the same time. My biggest regret would be becoming one of those parents who 18 years later they realize their brain has turned into mush and they don’t know who they are anymore. Parenthood is a gift, and it is a job description, but it is not who you are as a person. Stuck at home by choice, executive order, or simply because you have a baby to tend to; the easiest way to stay sane is asking yourself if you’re going to allow yourself the opportunity to be the real you today.
Another way I stay sane is by having little side things I allow myself time to do. Could I be folding laundry or matching baby socks? Eternally. But instead I find little pockets of time throughout the day to do things I enjoy. For example, I like to write, or make a cup of my favorite go-to tea, possibly tend to my many plant babies, or even sit on the front porch for 5 minutes to get some fresh air (and quiet time!). Finding small windows of time to recharge my battery while leaving Scott to entertain himself safely does two things: one its teaches him to think outside of the box and that I won’t spoon feed him entertainment 24/7, and 2, its gives me time to step away and relish in the fact that I don’t have to be the mom that needs to hide in the bathroom to get a break… yet. Those small pockets of time where I can selfishly zone out and think of nothing other than the task at hand are where I find my sanity. For some Moms, that time is found in bathroom breaks and microwaved cups of coffee. But for me, I’m lucky enough to have an independently entertained little one, which is beyond helpful in plenty of different ways.
If you’re a Mom who’s home by choice or not right now, soak up these moments. Your little one(s) will only be this age once. But don’t be afraid to take a step back and get a breath of fresh air; to leave the little(s) to entertain themselves briefly while you take 10 minutes to do something for yourself. Not only will your mental health thank you, but your little ones as well as you teach them to entertain themselves and think outside the box. The biggest creator of imagination is a small Child left alone to think. Remember when you’d think up the silliest things when you were that age? Allow them the opportunity to do the same. And for Pete’s sake, while you’re at it make a fresh pot of coffee and stop microwaving the same cup over and over again. You deserve better than second (or third) day coffee.
Keep pushing, Momma. You got this.