As the mother of four and one who works from home, I can tell you that maintaining my sanity as a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom is not always easy. As a naturally cheerful person who likes to crack jokes and use sarcasm as a first language – as well as one who does full hair and makeup every single morning no matter what – I’ve found that many of the people in my life assume I’m supermom. They see me smiling and happy with four cute kids, two of which spend the day in school, dressed like I have a nanny and making jokes and they think that I have my stuff together. I’m not going to lie; I do have my stuff together. I’m organized and efficient and my kids are mostly well-behaved. But sometimes I want to lock myself in the bathroom and cry. Sometimes I want to scream at people and I feel myself losing my patience with my kids. Sometimes I do lose my patience with my kids. I want to tell them and everyone else in my life that the only time I sit during the day is in the car driving kids to school and that no, I’m not just ‘home all day,’ and able to do things for you that you’re too lazy to do. Sometimes I lose my sanity, and it’s important that I find a way to get it back.
I’ve been a parent for almost 7 years now, and I have learned a few things about keeping my sanity. My methods might differ from yours – but I know what works for me, and I know that you can find something that works for you. The key is to drop the guilt and embrace the crazy, because it’s not going anywhere. Just learn to recognize when you’re spiraling and make it a point to use one of your sanity saving tricks before you reach rock bottom.
Find Good Friends
The best thing about being a mom is that all my best friends became moms around the same time as me. One of my best friends even had twins the same week we had twins last year, so we are all on board this crazy train together. When you have a group of friends who have the same interests, the same parenting beliefs and the same feelings of craziness, you know you can pick up the phone or load up the car, show up and say, “I’m struggling,” and they’ll make you feel better in a second. It’s usually with a glass of wine and some much needed laughter, and that’s what makes me feel sane again. And also, someone always has a worse, “Can you believe my kid did that?” story than you. Never underestimate the power of a real conversation with other grown up human beings.
Make Sure Your Baby Daddy is Super Awesome
When you choose to have kids, do yourself a HUGE favor and have them with a good guy. My husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage in a few weeks and I assure you that I would not want kids with anyone else. He’s the best daddy out there. He comes home from work and he does the diapers and the baths and the bedtime stuff, and he cooks and he cleans and he never has to be asked. He’s patient and kind and generous with his time, love and affection. He rocks, and he’s never once complained when he’s come home and I’ve said, “I have to get out of here.” He kisses me and says, “Buy yourself something nice or get a massage, you deserve it. I love you,” and proceeds to be superdad the rest of the evening.
He’s also great about planning regular date nights for the two of us so we get to be adults and have a good time together, too. We know when we need a break, and we are not afraid to take it.
Get Out of the House
If you are about to lose your sanity, get out of the house and do something different. Break of the monotony of that beloved schedule and do something fun. Ask for some help from someone you love or pay a trusted sitter and get out. Take a walk. Go for a run. Go swimming, get some exercise. Do something that makes you feel good.
There are times in your life that you have to be selfish to be awesome, and parenting is one of those times. When you feel your sanity is slipping away from you one whiny, ‘Moooooommmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyy,” at a time, get your selfish on. Skip the pottery class with whiny kids and tell them you’re putting them down for a nap and reading your favorite book instead. Skip the mommy and me class for once and do something you want to do instead of something the kids want to do. You have that power, you know. You’re the mom, and also, “Because I said so,” which is mommy gold.
Things get crazy sometimes, and you have to learn to say no without feeling any guilt. You also have to learn to say no without providing an explanation. People love to ask me to do things. I have a great talent making professional-looking amazing fondant cakes and people ask me to make them for everything. At first, I did this for them. But it takes me days and my husband says it makes me, “Freaking crazy,” and that I need to stop. So I said no, and then I said no again. And now I’m happier than ever. Sometimes you have to say no and keep your own sanity. Sometimes you have to say no thanks to the play date with the woman who drains you, or the gathering that you just don’t have time to attend without stressing yourself out. Just say no to others because it’s really like saying yes to yourself. And hello, sanity.
And as a little bonus, let me tell you that it often helps when I remind myself on a particularly crazy day that this, too, shall pass. One day my kids will grow up and present with a world of issues that will make these days look like cupcakes and mimosas in comparison. It also helps to remind myself that they’re still really cute and sweet and that they probably don’t know they’re making me nuts – except that I swear I think that plan it out sometimes.
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