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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How Do I Entertain My One Year Old All Day Long? (Part 2)

If you missed Part One in this series, head here first to read that post about Being Productive and making time for Creative Play. To be clear, this series is specifically about those first two years of staying at home when you have ONE very small child with you all day long. 

When almost everything you do on Monday needs to be done again on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday, you start to feel like you're running with a parachute on your back. Your life is Groundhog Day and you're Bill Murray, "It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey and it's gonna last for the rest of your life." Pretty soon you're ready to get in your car and drive off - anywhere - to do something -anything- that reminds you who you were before Disney and diapers became your to-do list.

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
When I'm able to take off my mommy cape and enjoy something other than parenting a few times a week, I have more energy and excitement when I re-connect with the kids. On days I don't have anything scheduled, I reach outside my little world by emailing an old friend, writing a letter to a grandparent or calling my sister, my mom or a girlfriend. Connection doesn't necessarily require a babysitter but it does require intentionality.

After the laundry is put away, the blocks have been stacked and toppled, the treadmill has been conquered, lunch has been eaten and The Hungry Caterpillar has been read and re-read and then read again - my favorite part of the day arrives. Quiet Time. Year after year, I make it through the long mornings of motherhood knowing this sacred time awaits when the clock strikes 2pm.

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? 


  1. I think scheduling face time as well as quiet time would also benefit myself as a working mom outside the home. Staying engaged with likeminded women is tough when momhood hits! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. So true! Might even be more necessary to schedule these things as a working mom. I think so often working moms don't give themselves the freedom to do many things other than being with their families in their limited "free" time. Thanks for reading Ann!


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