A Year in the Life of a Stay at Home Mom

It was August 4th of last year that I wrote my first post on this blog. I had just embarked on an adventure of being a stay at home mom. I was married with three kids and the financial realities of returning to work seemed to be staring me in the face. For just a net loss of $300 a month, I could stay home with my kids. It made sense. And, I got to be around my crazy little people more. I was all for it. The problem was, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

There are a lot of lessons you can learn in a year of being a stay at home mom. First, it’s the title. “Stay at Home Mom” always called to mind visions of a woman in an apron, with pearls on, and high heels. She was baking her children cookies as an after school snack, while folding laundry, making dinner and organizing the upcoming PTA event. She had it all together. My portrayal of  “Stay at Home Mom” couldn’t be farther from that. In the beginning, I’m not sure I even wore pants. There were days when I would drop my oldest at school, still in my pajamas and when it was time to pick her up that afternoon, I’d thrown on an outfit, just so people wouldn’t catch on. Oh, who am I kidding? There was no outfit. It was yoga pants. Thus began my “Mommy Uniform.”

In my mind, a Stay at Home Mom was this whole other mindset. It was something that said “I AM MOM!” above all else. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I cherish them. But, these SAHMs (it took me a while to figure that acronym out, by the way) always seemed to be a step above in motherhood. And I hate crafts. How could I be that woman?

Beyond the title, being a stay at home mom also meant a lot of other things. To some of my friends, it meant free babysitting. I mean, I was home anyway, right? Sometimes that was fine, sometimes not so much. It also meant people assumed a lot of other things. Like, say, I had nothing to do all day. Oh, I had tons to do every day: mainly, chasing around three kids and trying to clean and keep clean everything while they trashed the house. All. Day. Long. It would crack me up when my Ex would say things like “If you get bored…” Um, no. I’m never bored. Lots of other things, but never bored.

It amazes me how much SAHMs can accomplish. I still feel like an outsider, even a year in. I don’t know what I should be doing half the time. Actually, it’s not that I don’t know what to do, I’m just looking for a more efficient way to do it. I know the laundry, dishes, cleaning all needs to be done. But how do I do it so it looks like I did it? As in, how can I keep things tidy with little people tramping through like a tornado?

Here’s some other crucial things I learned over this last year as a Stay at Home Mom:

1. Brush your teeth when you first wake up. You may never again get the chance.

2. Drink coffee. Then drink another cup.

3. Read the paper, watch the news, read online reports, something. Stay connected with the outside world or you will become like the unibomber shacked up in a cabin, covered with hair. Which leads me to number four…

4. Shave your legs. When your kids can practice braiding using your leg hair, you know its been too long.

5. Set up play dates. If you don’t know of any, ask. Look at the local churches. Ask friends. Get out of the house.

6. Fred Meyer is good for shopping, but it’s not okay to be your second home. You can’t just roam the aisles. It’s creepy.

7. Get dressed in the morning. This means finding a matching outfit and applying make up. You should even brush your hair. The other parents will appreciate this attempt at social niceties.

8. Learn the other SAHM’s names. And their kids names. And if you secretly call one of them “Cankle Mom” in your head, don’t accidentally call her that to her face. Same goes for her kid. “Flat spot” is not a nice moniker for her adorable infant.

9. Make a plan. What do you want to accomplish that day? Write it down. Then, cross it off when you’ve accomplished it.

10. What’s for dinner? Do the freezer dig in the morning, that way you won’t be frantic after school.

11. Set up a snack shelf in your fridge for your crazy little people to pick from. They can have anything they want from that shelf without bugging you to make them something. Fruit, veggies and yogurt are good. Oh, and none of that requires you having to clean up afterword.

12. If you don’t recognize the number on caller ID, don’t pick up! It’s a telemarketer and they are more than thrilled to have found a SAHM to harass mid-day. Don’t answer it!

13. Put your phones on silent at nap time. Some a-hole will, undoubtedly, call and offer you the latest 37% APR credit card directly after you’ve gotten your little one to sleep.

14. Do something for yourself at nap time. Read a page from a funny book. If you haven’t read any of Jenny McCarthy’s stuff, pick it up. It’s quick and funny and doesn’t require a lot of investment from you.

15. Find out what the day is. I’m serious. Half the time, I only know the date because my nine year old daughter tells me.

16. Laundry really does need to be moved from the washer to the dryer before day three. Day three and the funk sets in.

17. It’s okay to throw something truly funky away. That sippy cup of milk you found rolling around in the back of your minivan weeks after you thought you’d lost it? Do not pass go. Do not collect $100. Throw that funk away. And, Dear Lord, do NOT open it first.

18. Speaking of funk… make sure you’ve showered. It’s hard, I know. Find a time to take one. Sesame Street is great entertainment for that quick cleanse.

19. Don’t let the channel vary from PBS. Anything else and your kids will be demanding the toy or toys they saw advertised for the next 90 days. It never stops.

20. Try to limit the number of times you drop the F bomb around your kids to, say, 10 a day.

21. Watch what you say/do around your kids. It will come back to haunt you. 

22. Pray. Pray with your kids. Yesterday morning, my kindergartener prayed that I wouldn’t be so bossy to them and then he prayed that he wouldn’t be such a fighter to his sister. Lord, you’re hearing this, right?

23. Ask for help when you need it. You’re not super woman. Neither are any of the other moms. They’re just pretending.

24. Don’t forget, you’re still a woman. You remember that concept, right? A person. A person who smiles, laughs, hangs out with her friends and cracks a raunchy joke once in a while.

And… finally… number 25…

25. Always check to make sure you don’t have poop on you before you leave the house.

 

Now, I have a request for you. What’s your favorite post of mine from the last year? And, if you could add anything to my list of things for Stay at Home Moms to remember, what would it be? I am happy to say, by the way, I do remember to put on pants these days…

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amy
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 16:38:58

    This one is a new favorite – you’re too funny. :). However, previous posts… Enjoyed the one on circumcision, and giggled over your son having his hands on his junk ALL the time. (Okay, I sound like a perve…everything I can recall offhand was penis related!). Loved the restaurant high chair poop post – think I laughed until I was crying on that one. And, finally, cried right along with you over the “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” post… Raw, real, and totally relatable.

    Reply

  2. Amy Newman
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 22:43:43

    This is the first time I’ve read.

    My tips:

    It is okay to let the kids occasionally (okay, maybe a bit more than occasionally) eat hot dogs for lunch. And to call all non-hot dog related meats hot dogs, if that’s what it takes for them to eat it.

    It is okay to be in the same room with your child and not play with her, if she is happily entertaining herself. That is an important life skill. And she probably needs a short break from you as often as you’d like one from her.

    Reply

  3. Shea
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 00:10:55

    Great post. This is the first one I have read so I will have to say it is my favorite. :).

    The one thing I would add to this post (which also solves one of your dilemmas – how to keep the house looking tidy) is that just because you’re a stay at home mom does not mean you are everyone’s slave. Kids still need to clean up after themselves and the room should look just as it did when they got home from school by the time dinner rolls around. The same is true between dinner and bedtime. If they take out a toy, game, whatever they put it back when they are done.

    Kids learn by having chores and taking the responsibility for doing them right the first time. Let them put their own clothes away, clean their rooms, make their beds, help put away groceries etc.

    Here’s a great way to teach them both about money and responsibilities. When my kids were you they each had a list of chores to do. Some daily and some weekly. I gave a value to each chore and the total value of all chores was their weekly allowance. If they didn’t do their chores or didn’t do them correctly they lost that portion of their allowance. Believe me it only takes one or two weeks of not getting an allowance or only getting part of it for them to realize mom is serious.

    Reply

  4. Clarice Uttke
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 07:03:06

    I love all of your posts! This is a new fav. Stuff your now Kindergartner 🙂 says was always funny as well as how you manage to go out in public with 9 kids, Mommy Uniform, uh the list goes on. I would add just relax, find some YOU time andtake advantage of everyone’s offer to babysit, watch the kids, listen out for trouble whatever you wanna call it 😀 Keep posting I love your blog! It’s seriously booked in my iPhone 🙂

    Reply

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