Thursday, September 22, 2016

This Is A Job


I've got a new approach to this whole Stay-At-Home Mom thing this year. Just for a point of reference, my old approach was to try to relax as much as possible, stay in my pajamas as long as possible, and try to do as much knitting as possible. But this kind of parenting was actually causing some problems. Like, when I actually needed to be getting ready my kids were always really crabby. Leaving me putting on my makeup to the tune of two screaming babies, which is not a peaceful experience.  Or when I was doing my enjoyable hobby I had this constant lurking feeling that I should be doing something else (probably because I was ignoring piles of unfolded laundry and saving dinner prep for the witching hour), making it hard to enjoy my enjoyable hobby.

So here's my new approach. I'm treating being a Stay-At-Home Mom like it's a job.  Because it actually is a job.

I've never felt embarrassed by the fact that I'm a stay-at-home mom. I've known for some time that this is what I want to be doing. I also feel no judgment toward moms who want to or need to work outside the home. But I do often feel frustrated that I "got nothing done" all day. That is, I got nothing done beside cooking three meals, keeping my family in clean clothes, cleaning the kitchen, twice, changing a host of diapers, grocery shopping, staying on top of appointments, bills, and budgets and, oh yeah, teaching about ten hours of piano lessons out of my home each week which I don't really talk that much about on here, but that's a job, too. And at the of the day when I crawl into bed my body is tired and my feet are sore from the full day of work I put in. So why do I feel like I got nothing done? Why does my life feel insignificant?

It feels insignificant because I've been treating it as insignificant.

I don't know if it was some subliminal messaging from the society I live in, or my own misconceptions, but somewhere along the road I started feeling like the things I do all day don't matter as much as the things other people do all day. And because I wasn't valuing the things I was doing, they started to seem tedious to me.


But when I really stop and think about it, there's isn't anything else I'd rather be doing. Well, except for maybe professional wine tasting. Or unless you could pay me a lot of money to knit while I watch The Newsroom. But in all seriousness, I'm really happy as a Stay-At-Home Mom. And even though my work is hidden from world and I don't receive a paycheck for it, it is real work that contributes to the well being of my family. So I'm going to treat it that way.

And this is how:

Get up. I'm setting an alarm and getting up when it goes off even if the kids are still sleeping.

Get ready. I'm getting myself ready for the day before Alex leaves the house, and then I don't need to worry about doing it later when kids are melting down for their naps.

Eat breakfast. A cup of coffee and a cookie doesn't count. Everyone does better when mama has some protein in the morning.

Make hay while the sun shines. Or rather, when the babies are happy. I'm using the morning hours when everyone is happiest to get my most pressing chores done. This is usually making sure I have dinner planned and maybe even getting it into the crock pot or oven, and doing one or two cleaning chores, like vacuuming, or a load of laundry, or emptying the dishwasher.

When I'm on, I'm on. If I were at a "real job" I wouldn't be trying to sneak in an episode of 30 Rock, or knit under my desk. (At least I don't think so. . . .) Instead of escaping to my hobbies whenever I can, I am present with my children, building train tracks, stacking blocks, and lots of nursing.

Nap time is me time. That sacred hour, that respite for the weary. When the babies are sleeping I bust out the chocolate and my knitting, or blogging, or whatever else I want to do. And because I've been on top of my chores earlier in the day, I can enjoy my break 100% guilt free.

Get out of the house. Alone. And grocery shopping doesn't count. Being a mom is 24/7 job. I'm always on the clock. But if I can get out of the house by myself once or twice a week, it's enough of a break to refresh and energize me. We're not very good at implementing this one yet. Ideally we'd have a set day and time each week that I would leave, but the craziness of Alex's school makes that a little difficult right now. But I'm trying to get out, and when I do, I really notice the difference it makes.

We're three weeks in and so far my new approach has been working really well. I feel good about the amount of stuff I get done each day. I feel like I am getting some breaks. I'm losing my temper less with my children. Some days are still hard, I don't always wake up as early as I should, or people don't always nap as long as I'd like. But at the end of the day when my body is tired and my feet are sore I take it as a sign that I put in a good day of sanctifying work. Because this is a job, a calling, a vocation. And it's making me a holier person.



15 comments:

  1. Yes! Changing your perspective is so helpful. Some days I prep as much dinner stuff in the morning or even cook it during nap time just to help in the evening. And getting up early stinks, but I know that I feel better if I can get myself ready without little people pulling on my legs.

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  2. I need to start setting an alarm so that I'm actually up at the same time as Peter. When do you get in prayer time?? I'm so bad at that in this stage of life. Maybe bedtime?

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    1. It's so hard to find prayer time. If my kids are content to play I try to do mine right away in the morning. If everyone's being crazy then I do it during the first part of nap time. I personally can't do it before bed because I just fall asleep!

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  3. LOVE this post Anna!! You hit the nail on the head for so many things. I couldn't help but laugh at the "cup of coffee and a cookie for breakfast" because I've been there one too many times. This post is going to make me feel better about the accomplishments at home as well even if no one else can see them.

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    1. I wish I could get by on cookies and coffee for breakfast because that is my favorite! You should feel accomplished about everything you get done at home. It's a lot. Hug the little man for me!

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  4. Yes yes and yes. You nailed it. I think it took me a dozen years of parenting before I realized these things but this article says them all super succinctly! Well done Anna! -MaryRuth

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  5. When we wake before the kids we like to pray Morning Prayer with breakfast. It makes me more thankful all day long to have prayed Psalms first thing. :)

    And I love your schedule. It sounds like mine, except I have to teach people in the morning. Chores I squeeze in when I can.

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    1. Gah! I don't even want to think about what it would look like if I were also home schooling. My hat goes off to you!

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  6. Great perspective, Anna! I'm trying to reorient myself similarly. It really does make the day go smoother when there is some sort of regular rhythm and intentional time spent with the children. I like your idea of getting dressed before your husband leaves too.

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  7. This is great! Excellent perspective and ideas. And you said it all without taking shots at those who have to or choose to work outside the home, which I've unfortunately seen in other articles lately. Thanks for the charitable, hopeful, and inspiring recognition of the hard work moms do.

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    1. Thank you! I am sure moms who work out of the home have a host of other stresses that I know nothing about. Motherhood is just hard all around. We all deserve a high-five. Or a glass of wine.

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  8. I'm pretty sure I need to follow your schedule for myself!

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    1. It sure works when I actually do it! Though there are plenty of days I'm lazy and nothing gets done. Like today! We're all trying to be better together.

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  9. I picked up doing these things a few years ago and it made a tremendous difference. Fly lady says a lot of these same things. I'm still working on getting back into the routine after my third baby; but, yes to all of them. Amazing, simply AMAZINGLY, the difference of the morning if I get protein or not. And for me, doing my hair and make up makes me feel so much better about myself. My standard for doing my hair is pretty low (no t a pony tail), but it helps me to face the day without wanting to hide from the kids.

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  10. I always felt I was at my best when I was an At-Home-Momma. I would try to encourage other Moms that what we do do keep the family alive every day was the best thing a Momma could do. Did everyone get breakfast, including Mom? Did everyone get dressed, including Mom? Did everyone learn something new every day, including Mom? Did everyone get into bed at a decent hour, including Mom? Successful day, if you ask me. It's hard but ultimately rewarding in that I know I did a good job getting 4 children launched well. I miss those days and wonder all the time, just how did I do it?

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