know how people always say that staying at home means losing a lot of valuable
skills in the workplace? That you will lose touch and become obsolete? That you'll end
up interviewing for a job someday and recoil in horror when it appears that the
people hiring you are younger than your children?
I’m calling the bluff. Because I happen to believe that the things you
learn as a stay-at-home mom, those lessons that are invaluable to surviving as
the sole adult in a sea of small children, are ones that will stay with you
long after the kids are gone.
I wonder if I would appreciate life at all had I never been a mother. Would
free time ever feel as refreshing as it does now? Would I ever appreciate the
gift of tucking healthy children into bed at night? Would I ever find complete
fulfillment in simply watching the snow fall had I never seen it through a
child’s eyes? I don’t know for sure, but I will say that for the rest of my
life, I know I will appreciate the beauty in the simple things in life, thanks
to my children and the gift of motherhood.
2. Take a
When things are breaking down ... taking some kind of breather can entirely change my perspective.
wise furry friend once said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say
anything at all,” and that sentiment is so, so true. I practice the discipline
of timeouts daily in my home—but not usually for my kids. When things are
breaking down and I’m losing my patience, taking some kind of breather, whether
that be stepping out of a meeting to gather my thoughts or locking myself in
the bathroom for two minutes, can entirely change my perspective.
3. Treat yourself cheaply
moms are the queens of cheap indulgences, because 1) we don’t always have a lot
of time and 2) we’re always looking for a good deal. I can feel refreshed and rejuvenated
with simple, everyday things that most people take for granted. A cup of coffee
that stays hot? I’ve hit the jackpot, baby. An hour to read a book just for fun? What is this, a tropical
4. Learn to
really is the best medicine, whether that means learning to laugh in the midst
of trying to potty train a stubborn toddler or someday caring for aging
parents. The hard moments in life are always graced by a well-timed dose of
humor, but learning to laugh in those moments is an art form perfected by
practice. And let's be real, staying at home with kids will give you a whole lot of
opportunities to practice.
5. Stop the
a crash course in how inadequate you really are? Have a baby. Honestly, if I
had any thought that I knew anything about how to be a good parent, it flew out
the window the second I actually had a baby. While we all want to feel good
about our own parenting choices, I can truthfully say that parenting
has taught me to be a whole lot less judgmental. When I know that I am just
trying to survive the day, I can feel empathy for other mothers who are making
hard choices about breastfeeding, vaccinations, allergies, working or sleep
training. Sisterhood, my friends.
6. Quality time
wins every time
Being a good mom doesn’t mean spending every minute with my kids.
though I’m a stay-at-home mom, there are still a million and one things to do
on a daily basis, and I’ve finally learned that being a good mom doesn’t mean
spending every minute with my kids. Good parenting can come down to quality
time and that’s a lesson that spills over to every part of life, too. Time
spent time engaged with another person vs. locked on a phone or distracted by a
screen is so much better.
moms tend to think of themselves as solo warriors in a war to survive, but we
are true softies at heart who will melt at the slightest act of kindness thrown
our way. Hold the door for me? Swoon. Tell me how well-behaved my kids are?
Bless your heart. A little bit of kindness can go a long way into making a
huge difference in someone else’s day.
8. Self-care is No. 1
at home means learning, sometimes the hard way, that self-care has to come
first or everyone suffers. I’ve definitely learned this the hard way. It isn't until year seven in my motherhood career that I’m really putting this
one into practice, but it’s so, so true. Even once the children are gone and I’m
tempted to fill my free time with a million other jobs and activities, I will have
the strength to say “no” to everyone else and “yes” to myself.
9. No (wo)man is
about as introverted as they come (the fact that I’m a writer probably fooled
you, huh?) and I love nothing more than staying home with a good book and a cup
of coffee. But holy crap, has being a stay-at-home opened my eyes to how much I
need people. Even the most introverted among us will wither up and die without
social interaction, so making it a priority—even when it’s hard and inconvenient—is
a non-negotiable part of life.
at home is an experience like taking a giant mirror and the world’s harshest fluorescent
light and shining them both directly onto all of your deepest, darkest flaws,
insecurities and shortcomings. I used to think I was a pretty competent,
generally patient and overall kind human being—and then I stayed home with
four kids aged 6 and under and realized that I am a horrible, horrible person.
I will cry over spilled milk, I will lose my shit over nothing, and I will lie,
cheat, steal and otherwise commit atrocities in an effort simply to survive.
But luckily for me, I’ve also learned that tomorrow is always another day, and
even though I will fall and fall again, living a life striving for the good is
the very best kind of life to live.