There were a lot of factors that led to us deciding that I would stay home with Caroline. I suppose I have my former 9-5 to thank for giving me the incentive I needed to try SAHMing, because they informed me that I’d have to come back to the office full-time when Caroline turned 6 months old. No more days working from home. Not good, and definitely not part of the original plan.
I’ll admit that I was a little angry at first, because I thought the arrangement I had with my employer was working out nicely, but I digress. I won’t go into a description of how the whole situation transpired because it’s lengthy and pretty boring. I’ll say that it was very typically corporate.
I posted a few months back on Mom Meet Mom and briefly discussed some of the challenges we faced, and how I was hesitant to take the plunge. Here was the kick in the pants I needed, right? Ask and ye old universe shall provide.
So here I am. Yay!
My first day of SAHMing was 10/01/13. Here’s a run-down of what I did: stayed in my jammies for about 3 days, played with Caroline, let the laundry and the dishes pile up. You know, the really important stuff. Pretty boss.
After about a 2 weeks of similar willy-nilly behavior, I found myself feeling kind of lost and a little sad. Surprising, since I was expecting greater levels of sunshine and lollipops. In an arbitrary (and feeble) effort to bring order to my days, I declared that Thursdays would henceforth be laundry day and felt a little better.
And so it went. More jammies, more playing, more dishes, a somewhat smaller laundry pile (diminished on Thursdays) but still the sense of drifting and still the tinge of blueness.
My day-to-day life lacked structure. I was learning that it’s a bad idea to entirely wing 6/7 days of the week. Caroline’s schedule was generally the same (wake, eat, play, nap. repeat.) and that was good, but I was setting no goals for myself and had no expectations to complete much of anything. I felt better after I made Thursday laundry day, so more of the same must be better…and if that was true, I should make every day a ‘day’, right?!
Yep, I stupidly went in the other direction. I tried to make a recurring schedule for every day of the week. Grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, errands; the list went on and on. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday–all with assigned activities and tasks. Even worse, I tried to follow a strict hour-to-hour daily schedule. I was turning myself into a crazypants.
But, as Steinbeck foreshadowed, my best laid schemes often went awry. The baby would sleep longer or shorter, I would get less done than I thought I could, or the tasks I assigned myself to complete while she was awake would be cast aside in favor of stacking blocks, playing peekaboo or keeping her out of the Christmas tree/TV stand/toilet/etc. I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that I frequently ended up disappointed when things went unaccomplished because of this snafu or that one.
I was perplexed.
“How do other moms do it? Is there a book I should read? An insightful mom guru? A sub-Reddit I haven’t discovered?” I thought, anxiously. “Surely I could arm myself to the teeth with information and reign supreme over my SAHM-dom.”
(BTW, a quick Google search for “how to be a stay at home mom” returns ‘about 272,000,000’ hits. You know–272,000,000ish, give or take a few hundred thousand. Clearly, no lack of source material. Ain’t nobody got time to read all that, tho.)
So, here’s the skinny: The answer is that there is no damn answer. I was clearly not prepared for my life to change so dramatically, but I’m pretty sure now that there are no books I could have read, gurus with whom I could have consulted or gods to whom I could have sacrificed a chicken that would have prepared me for the task. The thing about any kind of momming is that you just have to DO IT. Switch out your crazypants for big girl pants, hitch ’em up, swallow your pride and learn from your mistakes.
What works for me? Let’s be honest–nothing works perfectly, and I still find myself caught somewhere between “my life has no spontaneity” and “my life is nothing but spontaneity.” What works one day might not work the next. You might find yourself in a nice little pattern for a few days that gets totally effed when the first tooth comes in.
I’m finding that for the family Kelly, it’s best to have a general idea of the tasks I should complete each week, to roughly sketch a meal plan for two weeks or so, and to clean the messes that are most egregious. I still will always choose stacking blocks over sorting laundry, because obv. Beyond that, I try not to take myself too seriously because the only thing that helps is the development of ulcers. Or nervous tics. Or shingles.
I do make it a point to spend some time each week doing something in the non-mom realm, and I think that’s super important. That’s probably the only “MUST-DO” I would recommend. For me that’s riding Oliver, errands without the baby, running; whatever I can manage to do alone.
So mom friends and non-mom friends–if you come to my house on a Thursday and it’s covered in crusted-over lunch remains, there are tupperware containers, dish rags and errant toys strewn across the kitchen, and I’m looking especially unkempt, bedraggled and potentially odiferous–do everyone a favor by pointing and laughing at me, and then snap a photo because I’m going to want to laugh over it…right after I finish this load of laundry.