So you’ve left your job to stay home and raise your kids and take care of the home. Of course, you want to do the best job you can! Here’s how to be a good stay-at-home mom and help your family thrive.
Watch your attitude and your tone
Do you wake up every day feeling like a martyr? There are the kids, the laundry, the whining, and goshdarnit, doesn’t anyone appreciate you around here?
Stop right there.
The first way to make your family miserable is to be miserable. If you stomp around the house expecting praise and gratitude, you will never get them. If you work harder and harder trying to get people to appreciate you, you’ll just make yourself unhappy and the people in your life will never understand why.
If you find yourself snappy and cranky, take a little break until your attitude feels more positive. No one is making you do half of what you’re doing. Calm down.
You might think that running yourself ragged is the way to make your husband and kids happy, but let’s think about that for a minute: has anyone ever really loved someone because they work so hard? Nope. Other aspects of your personality are much more important for your relationships and your life.
Be pleasant, be happy, and stop the grumpy act. It’s not getting you anywhere.
And remember, being a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and it’s not the hardest job in the world.
It’s still a job to stay home and take care of your family. And they need dinner. Like… every day.
If you manage to get a meal on the table every night, half of your job is done. It’s so important. Now, do we make dinner at the expense of our mental health? Of course not. (See #1.).
But let’s be honest, dinner does not have to be that hard. Here are some practical ways to make sure it happens every night:
- Make a list of last-minute meals you can whip up in a hurry
- Start prepping before the kids get home from school so you don’t get sidetracked
- Set aside a day of the week to take stock of your ingredients and order groceries (take advantage of a free pickup service!)
However you do it, just get it done. If you want to do a good job with this, feeding your family is not optional.
Keep the house clean (enough)
It’s amazing how messy a house can get with small children in it every day. The good news is, they can start helping you clean up very young. and most of the messes they make only take a few minutes to deal with.
And of course, keeping your home looking nice is about more than cleaning up toys.
Find a cleaning schedule that works for you and add to it over time. If you’re complete chaos right now, start with these simple tasks:
- Do a load of laundry every day: start to finish
- Run your dishwasher every night and unload it in the morning
- Set a timer for 15 minutes before going to bed and declutter your living spaces
- Spend 20 minutes during the mid-morning cleaning one room of the house.
This very simple routine will take you far. Most husbands don’t expect a perfectly clean home; they just want to come home from work and not be overwhelmed by clutter.
Plan fun and special things
Okay, enough of the mean talk.
Staying home with your kids gives you the gift of time and opportunity. You don’t have to wake up and go to work every day, so your creative energy can be focused on your family.
This does not mean you have to do expensive crazy stuff like plan elaborate birthday parties or buy endless crafting kits that your kids will use once and never look at again.
You can do this however you want. Start simple traditions that your kids will remember and that put happiness into your home life.
- Serve homemade hot chocolate on the first frost of every year
- Adopt a kitten
- Go on a walk every Sunday and collect rocks and leaves
- Work together to memorize a seasonal poem once a month
- Go to the library once a week as a family and get a new audiobook to listen to
- Take advantage of nearby farms for strawberry picking and pumpkin picking
The possibilities, of course, are endless. But as the mother of your group, you have the lead the way on this sort of thing, or it will likely never happen.
A child’s world is only as big and happy as you make it.
Forget the myth of “quality time”. Quantity of time matters too.
If you’re constantly leaving the house and leaving your kids with a babysitter or relatives, you aren’t really being a stay-at-home mom. Right? Of course, doing this occasionally is good and healthy. But a large percentage of your time should be spent at home, with your children.
Give your kids the gift of independence
Now taking care of your family is one thing, but micromanaging your kids is quite another.
So many stay-at-home moms, particularly those who were successful in the world before having children, pour all of their energy into their children. And the focus and intensity can be a bit much: for them and for you.
So while you’re busy making dinner, cleaning the house, and taking breaks to keep from going insane, let your kids be.
Having trouble getting space from your kids? Here are some ideas:
- Institute a 1-3 pm quiet time. Little kids can nap, older kids can read, have screentime or play quietly.
- Make a baby-proof area where young kids can play alone for a few minutes while you get dressed. (A playpen is fine!)
- Schedule some easy snacks that children can prepare themselves.
- Encourage your kids to get lots of exercise, do chores, and stay busy without constantly relying on you to entertain them.
Set an example
Motherhood is a powerful thing. You are an early and important example for your child, the most important one they will ever have. Think of your bad habits… they probably came from your pareents.
There’s no need to beat yourself up over every mistake, but keep in mind that you’re being watched and emulated.
Do you complain and drink too much after a bad day? Do you feel like quitting when things get tough? Do you speak badly about your husband when he’s not around?
Your kids are watching.
Stay at home moms have a big job
But there are so many ways to do it well.
You’re probably doing a better job than you think.
And if you aren’t, it’s easy to turn it around. Just wake up, day after day, and do your best.