I’ve been home with my kids, attachment parenting, for more than 8 years now. This is the work I have always been called to do and it fills me with more joy than words can describe. And a lot of the work sucks. It is draining and demanding and Sisyphean in all the worst ways. As I finish this draft, I know today will not be a self-care day for me. Our Toddler-Bug is sick – up all night with a fever and now sleeping in the Moby like a tiny baby. I anticipate a long day. And speaking of Sisyphus, it’s also laundry day.
That said, I have found several small things that I can do as a Stay-At-Home-Mom that add to my sanity. And they are almost all very small things. Because those articles that say things like “take a weekly night with the girls” or “get out for a long walk” make me frustrated. I can barely schedule a monthly date with my husband – kids and schedules and life being what it is. Long walks with three small kids are a nice idea and often horrid in reality. This job is too tricky for big additions. So these are small things. Things you can do in just a few minutes, for the most part. Because on many days, a few minutes is all we are going to get.
1) Small Goals for yourself. What do you want to do? Buy pink socks? (That’s one of my small goals right now.) Find little things and make a list and try to accomplish them. Nothing major like “join a gym and exercise three times a week”. Try things like “go antiquing once” or “prefect a chocolate-chip cookie recipe”. This year I am dressing up in something that is a challenge for me to wear – breaking out of my jeans and t-shirt reality once a week. I post some aspect of my outfit on Instagram. I have to get dressed anyway and I feel good every week when I meet this tiny goal. I am also attempting to cook all the recipes in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Like the dressing up, I have to cook anyway and this way I am doing something fun for me. Even if all it is is pink socks, you will feel better. Promise.
2) Make a Break Out Playlist. One little playlist that can make you cry, laugh, sing… whatever you need. Take the time to make it. Put it on all your music devices. Play it whenever you need to hear it. I recommend it have “These Are The Days” by Natalie Merchant on it. Unless you hate Natalie Merchant.
3) Learn for yourself. This is related to number one, or can be. Learn something for you because you want to. Use your brain for something besides laundry and meal-planning and searching Pinterest for ways to keep your kids entertained while the baby is sick. iTunes U has free college lectures on all kinds of subjects. LibriVox has all the great public domain classic literature as audible books. You can listen as you fold laundry. Or watch a documentary instead of sitcoms. Find a skill and learn how to do it. I just learned how to crochet and I am so inspired to play more with yarn and fiber. And so far the only major things I have crocheted have been for me…not for the kids! What skill do you want to learn? What subject fascinates you? I know you don’t have a lot of time for a new hobby, but trust me on this. Learn. Your brain will thank you.
4) Open a window. We just can’t always get out for that long walk. And sometimes even getting outside is too much. But if it isn’t super-freezing outside, just open the window while you do dishes, or fold laundry, or watch that documentary. The fresh air will invigorate you. And the commitment is small.
5) Text a friend. Make an arrangement to have a texty-friend. Someone who is (probably) also a mom. Someone who you can text things like “How much do you think I would get for my kids on eBay?” and they will not take that wrong. Someone who can hear your frustration, and love you through it, and not judge your hard moments. Someone who will plot about your eBay sale with you and get you laughing. Have several of these friends. Be willing to reciprocate the love.
6) Avoid sweats. I know, it’s tempting to stay in our pajamas all day. They are comfortable. No one but the kids will see us anyway. Who cares? You do. You will feel better if you get dressed in “people clothes”, brush your hair, and get ready for your day. If you are going for comfy, get some yoga pants that do good things for you. Get t-shirts and sweat shirts that make you look good. By all means, wear comfortable clothing. But don’t give up looking like a person. Just buy things that are easy to wash.
7) 2.5 minutes in the evening. Or whenever it makes sense. When I am having a particularly hard day, I take 2.5 minutes before Papa-Bug comes home to brush my hair, put on a clean shirt, maybe switch up my earrings or wipe myself down with a baby wipe, and add a dab of perfume. When Papa-Bug comes in from work, I may still feel like a total wreck. But less than I did because I no longer look like a total wreck. I present a clean facade and that makes me feel a lot better about myself.