I was watching one of my favourite influencers Sinead from The Beautiful Truth recently and she was talking about the repetitiveness that sometimes comes with staying at home and minding kids. And she is so right, kids, unlike some adults, are creatures of habit so routine suits them well. And we as parents, once a routine is working, are loath to change any aspect of it until it needs to be changed. However, in doing so it is sometimes easy to get stuck in a rut where everyday begins to feel like groundhog day. I have always found this to be particularly
prevalent when the kids are really small, when you’re bogged down in the early stages where the days revolve around naps and feeding and cleaning and washing, these times are also often accompanied by sleepless nights so you end up just surviving by just getting through each day the same way.I’m four years at home now, I honestly can’t believe it’s been that long, and for me I have thoroughly and wholeheartedly enjoyed every single day. Even the hard ones when I used to have the guilts for leaving my then 2 and 4 year old watch tv while I sat for what felt like (and actually almost was!) hours on end trying to get a very cross baby to nap. But then hard is all relative isn’t it and that phrase ‘this to shall pass’ is often a motto that many a parent will mutter. And accept that there are days where you’ll be on the back foot, days that never seem to end, but as the other saying also goes, the days are long but the years are short. It’s all about a balance of power, between putting the kids needs first and yours, and that’s a constant pull and tug!
Anyway here are some of the simple and keep in mind, it’s taken me four years to get here! Change doesn’t happen overnight and it takes effort.
Find your tribe. This to me is the single most important thing. I am not from where I now live, in fact I am from about 4 hours away, my husband is from a different country so it is fair to say we were proper blow ins when we landed in Cork. I do have to say too that Cork people are insanely friendly so that helps! Anyway, I started by joining the local toddler group and dipped in and out of that for the past 7 years. And it was there that I found my real close group of friends, whose kids are the same age as mine so in so many ways our lives are intertwined and it’s just lovely. We meet about 3 times a month together in one of our houses and we may or may not have kids hanging off us, it’s relaxed and we rarely talk about the kids! We also go out for dinner together from time to time to mix it up and it’s such an important part of my life now, that interaction with adults and like-minded people, to have a laugh and chat about things outside of what consumes us daily is just so refreshing and so important. Get out of the house to a crowded place. Myself and Alice often go to a coffee shop together and I love it, we’re lucky there are so many nice, relaxed and busy places near us I have lots of choice and even if it’s just coffee for me and a bun for Alice it’s a break from the house and the cleaning. I love to bring the girls after school too for a treat but that’s considerably less often that I go with just Alice because the afternoons are generally dominated by homework and activities but it’s nice to break it up for them too.
Get creative in the kitchen. I’m not the best baker or cook in the world but that doesn’t mean I don’t love doing it. Mondays and Tuesdays are usually my days for baking, myself the 3 year old make energy balls or bake bread or make soup or whatever but its a lovely way to spend some time together and to try something new. I love to try out new recipes for dinner just to challenge myself and to challenge the girls tastebuds. It’s only something small but its a great way to inject a bit of interest into the day.
Leave the cleaning. This one I have sort of learned to live with. Cleaning a house when you’re at home minding kids is a completely useless task, ok obviously one that has to be done too but you have to be able to step away from it too and give yourself a break. I generally leave the breakfast things in the sink until the lunch ones pile up and wash them altogether in the afternoon, this means I feel like I’m not physically tied to the sink which I literally could be and the sink would still be full by the time I’m freed.
Pick a hobby or take up a new skill. You all know I’m creative and I love to do things at home that are productive but that I can do while the girls are floating around playing. Things like making bits and pieces on the sewing machine, or crochet, or painting or making beaded bracelets or bake a cake, ha I’m beginning to sound like a perfectly zen mother, I’m not but whatever it is there is always something we can do regardless of skill level. It’s just nice to create something so that at the end of the odd day you can look back and feel like you achieved something outside simply keeping the kids alive! Or it could be a new skill, there are lots of courses you can do online, I’m only just getting into that headspace myself but I suppose over the last few years the work I do online is my way of carving out a new skill for myself. It just gives you a small bit of identity outside ‘just being Mum’ which FYI is perfectly fine too!! Read a book. Some of us are lucky enough to grab a few minutes in the day, when the baby is asleep, the others are at school and the cleaning can take a back seat for a few minutes, and it’s in those moments I love to read, purely for the escapism. We are all probably tempted to sit down with our phones and fly through Instagram stories but try reading a book instead and transport yourself to a place where you’re less likely to feel inadequate!
Get outside and meet people. Honestly I feel like I could spend the entire day indoors cleaning, putting kids to bed or feeding them but fresh air is so important. We are lucky enough to have a playground on our doorstep and it’s a great way to get some fresh air and also to get out and socialize, the one near us is rarely empty and there is nearly always another mother or father there like me who is more than willing to have a chat. Be open to it, if your kids are swinging beside each other or whatever just make a small comment and get the conversation going, it’s not in everyone’s nature to do that, I’m outgoing but I’m crap at small talk so it takes effort but it’s worth it, especially if you’re kids aren’t in school yet it could be the only adult you see outside of your husband and the postman so make it count. Get dressed up. Somedays I get asked at the school gate ‘oh are you going somewhere nice you’re all dressed up?’ and I’m like, no I am that somewhere nice, the school gate is as good a reason to get dressed up as any!! Really it’s a mental thing for me, mixing it up clothes wise means I feel pulled together and I feel good. I know it probably sounds totally frivolous but it’s important, it keeps me being me, obviously I love a bit of athleisure but I love to dress up too and even though I may have no where to go it doesn’t matter I do it for me.
Get away! This for me is probably the single most important aspect of being a stay at home mother – I need a break at the end of the day or week. I love running and going for a walk so I try to do that as many evenings in the week as I can, its fresh air, its headspace and its peace and quiet – even when you’re at home and they’re asleep they still need you so escape for a half hour and give yourself a change to breath in pure peace and quiet. I also try to get away at the weekend, it might just be to do the shopping or pop into Fermoy or down to Mahon Point or the cinema with friends, whatever it is it’s a break and I for one need that.
So those are the little habits I’ve gotten into over the last few years that certainly make my weeks fly by. It’s also busy with four so I rarely have time for monotony anymore but I still do all these things to keep my mind engaged and interested and not let it turn to mush by letting my entire day revolve around requests for sippy cups and whipping bottoms!