Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Are you also a stay at home mum? Want some suggestions on how to not go completely crazy? I am a full-time stay at home mum, Miss C is just over 2 and Mr I is 3.5. They don’t go to daycare or anything, it’s just me and them. Most call me crazy, haha! A stay at home mum’s survival guide – toddler edition, here are 10 tips!
1. Be Consistent In Getting Yourself ‘Ready’ For The Day
Unless I’m really unwell, I have my morning bathroom routine I do every day, even if I’m not planning on going anywhere. This includes: wash face, brush teeth, brush hair (and usually straight back into a mum-bun), deoderant and moisturize my legs (this is a new one I’ve added since my kiddies now a bit older). I also always get dressed into new clothes – even if they are different pyjamas… haha. Doing this really helps me feel fresh and ready for the day, and not like a complete sloth. Basic hygiene is not a privilege, it is a necessity. If you need to turn the TV on for 20 minutes so you can get these things done – then do it. Sometimes I pop the children in a small bath to splash so I can do these things in peace, which also means still being able to keep an eye on them. Of course, you can also get your children to do these things at the same time as you (the brushing teeth and hair at least!) Your morning routine might be different to mine, but these are the things I like to do to feel human. It also makes it feel less daunting if you do decide to go out somewhere, as you’re already half-way ready!
2. Break Your Day Up
It’s 6am, your children are awake and maybe even already driving you crazy. You have the whole day ahead of you, and bedtime seems awfully far away. I feel ya! I mentally break my day up into sections and find this helps me get through it easier. An example is:
Morning: breakfast, getting us all dressed, putting on a load of washing/hanging washing, followed by either going out, going outside for a play or setting up an activity of some sort, like playdough or blocks, and then morning tea.
Late morning: lunch, tidying up, housework, another activity
Midday: books and quiet time/naps
Early afternoon: bring in washing, pull out meat for dinner, TV time
Mid afternoon: play outside or go to a playground
Evening: cook dinner and eat, clean up and bath
Night: play, TV, books and bed.
This is just a rough outline, but I find it helps the day not feel so long, if I break it up into sections, mentally.
3. Always Have A Backpack Packed And Try To Get Out Of The House Regularly
I know this is easier said than done, but I find we all go a bit stir crazy if we are home too much. Even if we just go out for an hour in the morning, it can really help the rest of the day be calmer. I have a backpack that’s always packed with the essentials – wipes, spare undies/nappies and hand sanitizer. When they were younger, I used to have a few little quiet toys also (small books, favourite rattle etc.) This way, if you do go out, all you need to add is water bottles, some snacks and anything else you might need for that particular outing. On that note, another tip is to always bring snacks. Even if you are just planning on a small outing, it’s better to be prepared. Sometimes a snack can save a tantrum. Snacks are often a lifesaver for me, in the car in particular, and can also help keep them awake if you are like me and try to avoid car naps, so they then can nap at home.
4. Quiet Time Is Essential
This is a huge one for me. The middle of the day (approximately 12.30-1) is quiet time, for approximately an hour. Even if they don’t want/need a day sleep anymore, it’s still crucial to have downtime…for everyone’s sakes. We usually go out in the morning or afternoon, so we are home in the middle of the day. This also really helps break the day up. Mr I rarely day sleeps anymore, but I always put a nappy on him (in case he does fall asleep), give him some warm milk and pop him in bed and say goodnight. If he doesn’t sleep, he then gets up and plays quietly in his bedroom. This gives him some downtime, he is less overtired and cranky in the evenings, and this also gives me a break. If you have a toddler who is starting to refuse the day naps, I strongly encourage you to still enforce quiet time.
5. You Don’t Have To Run Your Home Like A Kindy Every Day
Always remember, some days are for growth and beautiful memories. Other days, are just for surviving, and that’s okay! There’s a lot of pressure to always be engaging our children in stimulating activities and always teaching and entertaining them. If you are a full-time stay at home mum, this is next to impossible. We all need down time, and it’s also good for your children to learn to play independently and not to be reliant on you for their entertainment constantly. Some days, I feel energized and great, I get heaps of housework done and lots of activities/quality time with my children. Other days, it’s toast, takeaway and TV. It’s all about balance. Your sanity is also important, and we are only human… we all need to relax and recharge!
6. Stay Connected
This one is crucial. You still need to stay connected to the outside world, to other mum’s, to your family. It can be easy to get lost in the ‘bubble’ of mum life, and the never-ending housework and tasks. I am constantly staying connected through social media and messaging, it only takes one minute for a quick text to say, ‘how are you?’, or ‘thinking of you.’ Although we are blessed to be living in a time where we can stay connected so easily, there’s nothing like real human contact. We go on regular play dates. Socialising is not only great for my children, but also for me! It’s amazing how much better you can feel after having a real, face-to-face chat with another adult (even if you do have a million interruptions).
7. Fresh Air And Vitamin D Does Wonders
I cannot stress this enough, especially if you have toddlers, it is absolutely crucial to get outside! Whether that be in your own backyard, at a playground or just going for a walk. The Vitamin D and fresh air is good for us. It tires the toddlers out (win!) and there’s also ample opportunities to develop gross motor skills, ball skills, imaginative play, and most importantly, have fun! Unless it’s pouring down with rain, we go outside every single day… even if it’s just for half an hour. It also helps break the day up, and is especially helpful if everyone is going a bit stir crazy inside. Just a change of scenery can provide that much needed variety to achieve a more peaceful day.
I know, self-care is a very popular topic these days. This is because, it really is so important! As a stay at home mum, it can feel somewhat pointless doing ‘beauty’ regimes when you are just at home a lot of the time, and only your children/spouse see you. As I mentioned earlier, I have my morning routine I do every day, but these are only basic hygiene practices. It is still just as important to do other things that make you feel good. For me, that is doing a face mask, painting my toenails and washing my hair. Some people, might prefer to read a book or have a hot bubble bath. Find something that you really enjoy (maybe it was something you did regularly prior to mum life) and something that makes you feel good. When we feel better about ourselves, that in turn, makes us better mothers and improves our overall wellbeing.
9. Find A Hobby
Up until I started this blog, my main hobbies were watching Netflix and scrolling through social media, haha! I have really enjoyed having a hobby that is more mentally stimulating, something I can do when my children are sleeping, that I enjoy. I know some other stay at home mum’s who have hobbies such as jewellery making, gardening, puzzles, playing instruments and writing novels. It is great to keep our minds active and to have something to look forward to doing, outside of our regular duties.
10. Involve Your Children In The Housework
Housework is never-ending and a large part of being a stay at home mum. I know that involving the children is often easier said than done, and not always appropriate. Some days, I don’t mind it taking an hour to do the dishes with my children helping, however, other days, I turn the TV on to occupy them so I can smash the chores out in 20 minutes, and we can get on with our day. However, where possible, involving your children in the housework has lots of benefits. Firstly, it allows you to get the housework done, without leaving them to trash the rest of the house or scream the house down. Secondly, it teaches them that housework is a shared job – they help make the mess, they help clean it up! It also fosters independence, and teaches them different vital life skills. Obviously, the degree in which they can help, really depends on their age. I have two toy vacuums, that my children often use while I am vacuuming. It is also not uncommon for me to let them have a turn of the real vacuum, while I am picking up toys out of the way. Another job my two love helping with is cleaning the shower and bath. They each have their own clean sponge and help me wipe over the walls, whilst also enjoying splashing in the water. Mr I likes to help me put clothes into the washing machine, however, I am yet to get him enthused with helping hang the washing on the airer (any tips?). They also both love helping me unstack the dishwasher, and as I mentioned before sometimes assist with the dishes (especially if I’ve only got a few to do). Personally, I believe it’s a great life lesson to teach them that sometimes there are things we need to do, that we don’t particularly enjoy, but if we all help and get it done, then we can move on to more fun activities. You can also, of course, make a game out of certain jobs to make them more exciting.
I hope you got some useful tips reading my version of a stay at home mum’s survival guide! Thanks to my fellow stay at home mum’s who gave me some insight on some of their top tips. Feel free to add some tips of your own!