Because Lyndsay thinks I am a supermom (see here).
I have wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for as long as I can remember. I even majored in "Home and Family" for crying in the night! And let me tell you something, this life is better than I ever imagined it could be.
I take my title of "stay-at-home mom" quite literally. I try to stay at home with my kids as much as possible.
I am the lucky mother of 3 adorably perfect children. (I can say that because I am their mother.) Mabel, my oldest, is only 6, so my experience as a mother is somewhat limited. But as my children have grown, I have begun to realize that it is my job as a stay-at-home mom to create an environment that allows them to thrive. For me and my family, that means a slow-paced, home-centered existence. My goal is to create a life for my kids that is peaceful and calm. There is a lot of noise out there in the world. I want my home to be a refuge, a haven, and a place where that near deafening sound can be ignored for another day. As a stay-at-home mother, the home is my only domain, it is my favorite place to be, and I want it to be my children's, too.
Some things we do (and you can do, too!) to make life at home more peaceful:
On the days that errands simply can't be ignored, get them done quickly and early in the day. This allows for an afternoon of relaxation spent at home, not fighting traffic and the hustle and bustle of shops.
Limit outside activities. I think we all know how important family time is. Call me crazy, but I really believe that quantity is more important than quality. My kids are not currently enrolled in any extra-curricular activities. But they are still young, so I know this won't last forever. When they are older, and show an interest in things, I will try to limit their involvement a bit so that it doesn't interfere with family time.
Eat dinner together as a family every night. It doesn't always have to be a spectacular meal, but this is a good habit to start. A couple years ago, I read an article in Time Magazine called The Magic of the Family Meal. In it, I learned a few things, like the fact that young children pick up vocabulary and a sense of how conversation is structured during family dinners. They hear how a problem is solved, learn to listen to other people's concerns, and respect their tastes. They learn to share. Family dinners give kids a sense of belonging to their family. This is where a family builds its identity and culture. Legends are passed down, jokes rendered, eventually the wider world examined through the lens of a family's values. Not to mention that families who eat dinner together tend to eat much healthier.
Make a conscious effort to slow down. Getting the kids ready to leave the house is always something of a process, and I can likely be found hurrying my children along. But I'm rarely in an actual rush, so I remind myself that it's ok to slow down. It's ok if it takes Oliver 5 minutes to put on his shoes. A trip to the grocery store, or Nana's house, or wherever can wait 5 minutes.
Become a firm believer in doing nothing. I think kids need their own space and time to do what they want to do. At our house, "doing nothing" includes, but is not limited to: playing, coloring, reading, writing stories, building forts, having "quiet time" (code word for naps), or running around the backyard. Doing nothing is unstructured time where my kids get to choose want they do, and I don't bug them. I am lucky that my two oldest are the best of friends. They are more than capable of keeping themselves entertained, which is a great skill for all kids to learn, even babies like my Stella.
Keep things clean. In order to maintain a peaceful home, I really believe you have to have a clean home. Some days I feel like I spend my life cleaning. Other days I feel like my house is a major disaster area and there's no hope. But for the most part, I try to stick to a cleaning schedule (Mondays I do bathrooms, Tuesdays I dust, etc.). This keeps my neat-freak tendencies in check, and it means that I always have a relatively clean house. One of my favorite cleaning activities is to putter. This can be done any day, for any amount of time. While my kids are busy "doing nothing", I am busy "puttering", which means walking from room to room picking up, throwing away, and putting things back where they belong. Most of the time I count this as my exercise for the day, and I get the added benefit of having an organized home.
Speak softly, turn off the tv, and listen to pretty music. I was raised by wonderful parents who never yelled. Not once. Their example has inspired me, and I try not to raise my voice at my children. Again, there is enough of that out in the world. I believe that being a mother is a great privilege and blessing. It is my duty to be the best I can be. Somehow, I don't think raising my voice at these tender little people is fulfilling that sacred calling of motherhood. When my children watch tv, I try to limit it to one or two 1/2 hour shows a day. It's just more noise. And I love to have music playing in our home. It is usually something mellow, but every once in a while something with a good beat comes on and we let loose. Editing the noise you allow into your home from the outside world is so important.
If perchance you, my dear reader, are a high-energy person, or you are a true supermom and juggle work and home life, don't fret. It is possible to create a peaceful environment even if you like running errands in the afternoon, or listening to rock music, or you have a 9-5. The trick is to find a routine that works for you and your kids and to stick to it. Kids crave stability and attention. If you are giving them the routine and the constant, unconditional love that they need, things are going to be pretty all right most of the time.
This much I know, babies don't keep and children grow too quickly, so try to enjoy being home with them now. They will only be content to stay at home for so long, so I, for one, am drinking it up and soaking it in.