By Elena Donovan Mauer
No, we’re not talking about gossipy storylines you’d see on old episodes of “Desperate Housewives.” We’re talking about the know-how they have for staying organized, keeping connected and just plain staying sane.
GO WITH THE FLOW IN THE BEGINNING
You might consider yourself type-A but when you’re home with a brand-new baby, give up everything you knew about structure and control. “When you have a newborn, there is no organizing your day. You sleep, feed, cuddle, change and repeat,” maggiesmom says. For some women, that means a lot of letting go — it’s tricky at first but just remind yourself that this is temporary.
“I used to get bored when my daughter slept to the point that I’d go in and wake her up from her nap just so I would have something to do and I missed her,” TrishTex42 says. Don’t do that! Instead, just take the day minute by minute — enjoy a little nap of your own or call a friend to reconnect — this time period is short-lived. “Now that she’s a walker, when she naps I collapse onto the couch and dare anyone to speak to me,” TrishTex42 says.
… BUT THEN GET ORGANIZED
Our stay-at-home mom friends tell us that a loosey-goosey daily routine doesn’t work forever. Eventually, you’re going to have to plan out your day so that you manage to squeeze in baby-mommy playtime, naps, feedings, any chores and errands you’ve got to do and maybe some other stuff. Of course how you plan it is totally up to you. “I made myself a home binder with everything I need for home — a cleaning schedule, financial information and more — plus monthly calendar and places for to do list,” kallysue says. You don’t have to be that organized; you might just need a mental plan.
JOIN SOMETHING — MAYBE MORE THAN ONCE
We know it’s a stereotype that stay-at-home moms are lonely, but feeling isolated can actually happen pretty easily, unless you make an effort to prevent it. The most popular way? Getting involved in a moms’ group or some other activity. “I joined a play group through Meetup.com,” goldiealto says. “It was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever done. We’ve made some really great friends and it helps us get out of the house and do fun things.” Of course, it’s not always a perfect solution — you might find yourself in a group that’s not right for your personality or that meets at a time you can never make because it’s during baby’s nap time. Adds goldiealto: “If you try out a group that’s not the right fit for you, don’t be discouraged from trying another one.” It’s worth it to look hard for something you’re really enthusiastic about. “I just joined my local Mom’s Club chapter and so far I love it,” frankiesjenny says.
YOU REALLY CAN’T DO IT ALL
Now that you’re not working, you might be trying really hard not to spend any extra money, but there are certain times you really will need to give yourself a break — set aside some money to make a splurge here and there when things get too hectic. And don’t feel guilty about it. “I was home for about four years and hated it by the end. Definitely get someone to clean every once in a while, and make sure you get days off when your partner isn’t working. Hang in there!” ldtinagirls34 says.
NOT GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE IS A RECIPE FOR INSANITY
“I realized I had to just get out of the house for my sanity and theirs,” says Gritchacha, who had trouble in the beginning days of “staying home.” What helped was making sure she got out of the house every day. Don’t freak out about it — baby will get used to being out and about, and you’ll get in the groove of what works for you both. Now, Gritchaha says, “my girls are my little entourage; they go with me everywhere, rain or shine, and I love it. We go to the gym almost every day, run errands, hang out at the mall, to the library, to a friend’s house for a play date, whatever.”
DORA IS GREAT, BUT YOU NEED YOUR OWN ENTERTAINMENT
One of the toughest things stay-at-home moms say they have to deal with is the lack of “grown-up” interaction throughout the day — add that to the monotony of household tasks, and it’s enough to make even the most passionate mama a little loopy. “Sometimes it feels like all I do is clean, cook and do dishes. It’s never ending!” crolalupe says. “One thing that helps me is listening to podcasts and audiobooks. It helps to keep my mind occupied while doing mundane chores. If I just use one side of the ear-buds for my iPod, I’m still able to keep tabs on what the kids are doing too. Podcasts are free on iTunes, and I find audiobooks through the library.”
DON’T EVEN TRY TO BE SUPER MOM
Super Mom doesn’t exist! So as much as you want to be able to keep the house spotless; have your baby in designer, stain-free clothes; and make the best chocolate chip brownies on the block; you might just stress yourself out in the process. Remember that part of the reason you’re staying home is to enjoy your child’s early years. Kristielee33 says it best: “I definitely understand the desire to have a clean house and gourmet dinner and the laundry all done. But where did those standards come from? There is something to say for just getting into the mess with them. Don’t worry about picking up, worry about making memories with them.”
DO A BABYSITTING SWAP
Need a little break but don’t want to hire a sitter? “Find a mommy buddy,” Krabapplechic says. “Someone who can watch your kids one day every other week, and you can watch theirs, so you get a real full day off without any additional cost to you.”
TEACH YOUR CHILD TO PLAY BY HERSELF
Obviously, you’re going to hover in the beginning, but eventually when your child is old enough, you’ll probably have to wean her off of having your constant attention. “I refuse to give my daughter all of my undivided attention all day — I would go nuts. Sometimes that means she walks in circles from her playroom to the kitchen, but it does create some time for me to get things done.” This will also be helpful at times when she’ll be away from you, like when you hire a sitter or she goes to preschool — the more she gets used to having some independent time, the easier separation may be later on.
EMBRACE MEAL PLANNING
Chances are, you’re the one in charge of meals, and that can actually be a lot of pressure. Not to mention, it’s time consuming. But with a little extra forethought, you can take out some of the guesswork and maybe save yourself a few trips to the supermarket. “I plan two weeks’ worth of meals in advance, so I can get all the grocery shopping done in one trip, and I don’t have to figure it out every day. It can be tough.” Bluebird72 says.