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.