As a stay-at-home mom, it often feels like the entire day boils down to what fun thing I did and if there's something other than frozen pizza for dinner. Did we go to the park? A+ in Motherhood! We stayed at home and watched Mickey while catching up on laundry and bills? Well I can always try harder tomorrow.
To avoid the feeling that my identity and worth are wrapped up in what I accomplish each day (which is often nothing beyond keeping my children alive and fed) I try to incorporate two things into my routine that have nothing to do with my role as a mom - connecting with community and recharging with quiet. These are the mom-equivalent of putting your own oxygen mask on before assisting another.
Unless you are fortunate enough to live near other women staying at home with a child the same age as yours, connecting with your community doesn't happen spontaneously during the day. Social media makes us feel like we're connected to hundreds of friends and family, when in fact we're settling for two dimensional picture of what could be a 3D experience. Seeing pictures of your best friend's baby is nothing like hearing her tell you the birth story. Posting a picture of your little guy and reading the sweet comments doesn't fill the same hole that writing to your grandmother would. I adore social media (hello, I'm a blogger) but I can't fill the need I have for authentic relationships solely by scrolling through Instagram.
I love scheduling face-to-face connections into my weekly routine so I don't have to think about it. A few avenues I've found for connection throughout the years of staying at home are:
- Signing up for a Bible study that provides childcare during the day
- Participating in my local MOPS group (Mothers of pre-schoolers)
- Attending the same group exercise class at the gym regularly
- Volunteering at a nursing home - cannot tell you how much joy a baby brings to this place!
- Mentoring high schoolers through the local church
- Becoming involved in a small group with other couples at the same stage of life in the evening
- Going out for coffee with a girlfriend after the kids are in bed
If you have a one year old at home, this is when they take a nap - but the genius of Quiet Time is that it never has to end. I currently have a 7 year old, 5 year old, 4 year old and 22 month old and our home is (relatively) quiet each day from 2 to 4pm while the littlest one naps. My older kids read books, play with Legos, color or do puzzles. Occasionally I'll let them watch a movie (especially in the summer when all rules go out the window) but for the most part it's a time for them to be alone - a rarity in our full house- and to recharge. I plan on keeping Quiet Time around until they are teenagers and start taking naps again.
Quiet Time is when I engage my heart and my soul in a meaningful, non-mommy way. This blog was born because my first child napped a solid four to five hours each day at home in his crib. It was awesome - and boring. Writing began as a way to pass the time and connect with the outside world, and now it's one way I recharge and connect to my own soul. Maybe for you recharging looks like doing yoga or reading a book. Find something that energizes you during that brief quiet window each day. Maybe that's when you call a friend or write a letter or take your own nap. (If you're pregnant or have a newborn, please, just take a nap.) Maybe it's when you work on your side business or sew. On some days quiet time is simply me sitting outside in the driveway with a Diet Coke and a blank look on my face. The point is I use this time to do something that fills me up, not drains me. When your precious little one wakes in the afternoon, you've got to be energized and ready - they don't call 4-7pm the witching hours for nothing.
Give them an engaged mom, who knows that she has been productive with her day, who has filled her heart and soul with the connection of community and has recharged in the quiet, a mom who is ready to play with and love on them with the best she has to give until bedtime. When I schedule these four things into each day, I'm amazed at how much peace I have with this stage of motherhood and how free I feel to be present with the amazing kids I get to raise.
Are you currently making community connection and time to recharge a priority in your daily routine? Is there anything I've missed that's an essential to surviving your stay-at-home life with a little?