Mom Life

The calling to be a mother is one of the most important roles a woman can ever undertake, yet it is also one of the most difficult. Momlife is filled with long days and nights, as well as the uncertainties of raising little souls into capable adults, and it also comes with tremendous amounts of love and devotion.

Despite the great effort and care we moms expend on our children and taking care of the homes we raise them in, society doesn’t always reward us for it. In fact, the role of stay-at-home mom is often seen as a profession not worthy of praise, as in when people say, “oh, you’re just a mom.”

Many of us are criticized by society for “wasting” our talents on motherhood, or not contributing to the economy by working outside the home. We are also sometimes seen as old-fashioned (a derogatory term in their minds), repressed or even lazy, as reflected by the common question, “what do you do all day?”

But society’s idea of stay-at-home moms is terribly wrong. What we do is incredibly important, as giving the world children that grow into emotionally secure, bright, and functional adults will ultimately make our world a better place in which to live.

So it is important that you, Mom, realize just how important you are to this world. You must see your worth and learn to value it, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, and finally, discovering how you can better connect with your children.

mom kissing the cheek of her baby boy.

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The importance of being a stay at home mom

The woman who I consider my mentor on mothering, the great Sally Clarkson, says this about the importance of mothers and homemakers in her book, The Life-Giving Home:

How we need more ‘homemakers’ so that all who live in this transient, contemporary world might have a place to belong, to feel loved and valued, to serve and be served, to give and receive and celebrate all that is good.

This is our main purpose as moms: to love and value our children, and to give them a place in which to feel that love. And there’s no better way to do this than to be continually present with those children.

What are the benefits of being a stay at home mom?

Staying at home with your children reaps a great deal of reward, chief among them is the ability to grow a strong mother-child bond, which is foundational for their development. You also get to directly influence them with your values, and are able to witness their milestones first-hand: their first steps, first words, etc.

When you stay at home to raise your children, you do not experience work-related stress, or have to ask permission from anyone to take days off to be with your kids when they are sick or when you want to go on vacation.

You have more time in which to take care of your home and prepare healthy food for your family. When you put in 40 hours of work at an office, plus commute time, then add in cleaning tasks, laundry, grocery shopping and cooking, there isn’t a whole lot of time left for leisure or to play with your children.

In fact, being a stay-at-home mom is seen by some as a luxury…for the spouse. When Mom is at home during the day, and can take care of the household tasks, run errands, manage doctor/dentist appointments and be at home to receive packages or wait for a repairman, it takes some of the stress off of Dad, to allow him to work without worrying about the kids. It frees up the weekends to be able to relax together because there is no rushing around to get all the household stuff done before work starts again on Monday.

What are the benefits to a child when they have a stay-at-home mom?

In addition to the numerous benefits that a Mom receives when staying home with her children, the kids get several advantages as well.

First, and most importantly, young children fare best when they are cared for at home by a parent. Not only do they experience less stress and better health, but they also have fewer behavioral problems.

In fact, Jane Waldfogel, of Columbia University School of Social Work, believes that
“the loving care of parents is difficult to replicate with other caregivers because it’s typically parents who care for and love their children with the deepest levels of devotion.” The bond created by the parents allows the child to feel secure.

On the other hand, two studies have shown that kids that spend a majority of their day in daycare “experienced higher stress levels and aggression as opposed to those who stayed home”.

Children in daycare also have a more difficult time forming an attachment with their parents, and as a result, tend to be at greater risk of depression and anxiety. Attachment insecurity is “also likely to contribute to social withdrawal, and boys that do not have a secure attachment to their mothers are more likely to exhibit confrontational and aggressive behavior.”

But advantages that come from having a stay-at-home mom were not just experienced by very young children. Older children benefit from Mom being at home as well.

Eric Bettinger, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, cites studies that observed the improvement in academic performance of older children that had a parent at home:

The results suggest that even older students in middle or elementary school could use guidance from their parents. For years, we have known that parental presence is extraordinarily important in the very early childhood years. What we’re finding is that parents continue to be important much further along in a child’s life than we had previously thought.

With such a large collection of data in support of stay-at-home motherhood, it’s difficult to argue against it. But living as a stay-at-home mom does have its challenges.

mom and son touching foreheads together as sign of affection.

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How can a stay-at-home mom be happy?

While it’s wonderful to be able to stay at home to raise your children and avoid the stress that an outside job brings, being with your children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week can take its toll.

As a matter of fact, a poll conducted by Gallup showed that stay-at-home moms feel more worry, stress and depression than mothers who work outside the home.

The authors of an article in the London Journal of Primary Care sum the problem up well:

For tens of thousands of years, new parents would have spent many years in extended families learning the skills of parenthood by osmosis from their parents, grandparents, aunts, older siblings, cousins as well as having responsibilities for their own younger brothers and sisters. Today, few parents get this opportunity to be immersed in early family life as extended families. Living in close proximity is largely a thing of the past…A first-time pregnant woman today often only has her pregnancy (a mere nine months) to prepare for being a parent. They can therefore be hit hard by the shock of being a new parent and feel very unconfident about how to bond and care for their baby.

Because we tend to live apart from our extended families, and often have little or no practice at child care, or support during the difficult days of caring for a newborn, we can naturally become sad, depressed and even angry.

But this is not how we want to live our lives! How can we change from being a depressed mama to being a happy mama for our kids?

Change your perspective about motherhood

Oftentimes, we dismiss our status as “just” a mom, when in fact, as we have seen above, being a stay-at-home mother is so incredibly important for the well-being of our children and family.

Evangeline Leclaire, writing at mother.ly, encourages moms to recognize the power in the decision to become a stay-at-home mom. She says that, “by embracing and owning your decision and your role, you’ll feel more empowered and in control.”

Rachel Norman, mom and blogger at A Mother Far From Home advises moms to do these things when they are feeling down about their role as mom:

  • Don’t say, “I’m “just” a mom.” When someone asks what you do, instead of talking yourself down, take pride in your status as a mom.
  • Don’t equate money with importance. Just because you don’t earn money for raising your children, it doesn’t mean that your job is not important. There are many jobs that are extremely important, but don’t rate a high paycheck.
  • Reframe your perspective. Instead of dwelling on dirty diapers and feeding messes as burdens, think of them as the way you teach your child to function for themselves.
  • Purposefully enjoy the little moments. Even during hard, tiring days, you can always find something to cherish, like the pitter patter of little feet or adorable little questions.

three ladies standing together and laughing.

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Make some mom friends

The part of motherhood that can sometimes be the hardest to endure is the loneliness and isolation, especially if you do not happen to live near extended family.

That’s why it’s important to actively search out other moms who can become your friends.

Mary Mulroney, writing at Life as Mama, knows how valuable having mom friends is. She says that “it’s nice to have friends to talk to and spend time with on those days when we need a little extra pick me up and need someone to talk to who knows exactly what we’re going through.”

It’s also nice to have a friend that can swap babysitting with you or have playdates for the kids.

Create a stay-at-home mom schedule

Being a stay-at-home mom can become especially tedious if you don’t have any rhyme or reason to your days.

That’s why creating a schedule for yourself is so helpful. You can organize your time and create routines so that your days are not only more interesting, but so that you can make sure you have set times in which to get the household tasks and errands done.

Self-care for moms

While reframing the way we think about motherhood, making friends, and creating a schedule are very helpful in increasing the quality of our mom life, we also need to make sure that we are caring for ourselves–physically and emotionally.

Self-care is especially important for moms because if we are tired, burned out and feeling sick, we cannot care for our families as well as we should.

Gretchen Rubin, author and happiness expert, recommends that we treat ourselves like a dog. What she means is that we should treat ourselves at least as well as we would treat a pet dog; we would never allow our dog to go without fresh food and water or regular walks for exercise. And we would always make sure that our dog had regular medical check-ups to make sure that he stays healthy.

Yet moms are notoriously guilty of neglecting their own needs. How can we start taking better care of ourselves?

When thinking about our self-care, we should consider 5 aspects: sleep, exercise, health, mind and heart, and appearance.

woman asleep in bed.

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Sleep deprived, mom? Tips for better sleep

Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a true hardship for moms, especially when their children are very young.

And that can be a big problem. According to an article at Harvard Health Publishing, “chronic sleep loss can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power.”

Regular lack of sleep can also mean that you have trouble controlling your emotions and making decisions, and be at greater risk for depression.

While we can’t force our babies to sleep through the night in order that we gain a full night’s sleep, there are some things we can do to get as much sleep as possible.

The National Institutes of Health recommends these practices for getting better sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine, especially late in the day
  • Stay away from artificial light from phones, televisions or other screens before bed, as it can signal the brain to keep awake
  • Spend time outside and be physically active during the day
  • Keep your bedroom as quiet as possible
  • Take a hot bath before going to bed in order to feel as relaxed as possible

To this list, you might add one more suggestion: don’t stay up after the children go to bed in order to get some kid-free time.

So many of us who are in the midst of babies and toddlers crave time to be alone, to watch a television show or read an adult book without little ones hanging all over us.

Unfortunately, if you’re sleep-deprived, it’s best to forego this alone time and go to bed…every minute of sleep counts!

If you’re really having a hard time getting enough sleep because your kids are up so often during the night, consider laying down for a nap when the baby naps (even if you have laundry to do or dishes to wash…they can wait). Alternatively, you could hire a babysitter or ask a friend to come stay with your kids while you take a nap upstairs.

It might sound silly to go to such practices, but when you are chronically sleep-deprived, even just 2 hours of sleep can greatly change your perspective on life!

woman stretching while outside exercising.

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Exercise tips for moms

In addition to making sure that you get enough sleep, you should also try to get regular exercise.

Exercise benefits a person in so many ways: it can strengthen our muscles and cardiovascular system, it can improve our mood, and also help us sleep better. Because of these benefits, I believe that exercise can help us become better moms.

If you are suffering from back pain or a protruding “mommy belly,” you can use exercise to help alleviate both problems.

However good exercise is for us, we often feel link we can’t fit it into our schedule. The Daily Burn recommends that we get exercise done early in the morning in order to make sure that it gets finished, and to treat our workouts like a non-negotiable appointment.

But exercise doesn’t always have to look like a 45 minute session at the gym–there are so many other ways to fit a workout into your day. These helpful tips for busy moms will help you get your daily requirement of exercise.

Taking care of your health

Sleep and exercise are important for your physical health, but if you aren’t eating healthy foods, you won’t feel your best.

Feeding yourself well involves lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, very little sugar and a good vitamin supplement.

You also need to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor, just as you make sure that your kids are going to their well-child appointments.

nurse taking the blood pressure of woman patient.

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Nurturing your mom heart

In addition to taking care of our physical needs, our emotional sides also need tending to.

Sally Clarkson, mother of 4 and author of several books on motherhood, understands this well:

Burnout is always a possibility for those of us who are called to serve friends, family, and others longing for home. Take care to fill up your own soul so you can then give back to others. You matter so very much.

Because stay-at-home mothers are prone to depression and isolation, and tend to prioritize their children’s care over their own, we sometimes forget that we have interests and desires.

So it is important that we pursue—in whatever capacity that our season of life allows—-our favorite hobbies, friendships and other interests.

Take time to date your husband to ensure that you are connecting as a couple on a regular basis. (At home dates count just as much as outside dates, if budget is a concern.)

Finally, cultivate your mind by reading good books, studying the Bible and listening to podcasts or audio books regularly.

Taking care of your appearance

While this last aspect of self-care for moms may seem a little frivolous, it is the opposite; caring for your appearance is important for your well-being.

Oftentimes, many stay-at-home moms spend their days in yoga pants because they feel as though they don’t need to really get dressed if they’re going to be at home all day.

We also tend to spend more effort and time on our children’s clothing, while we wear the same tops, pants and shoes for years.

But this trend isn’t too good for our outlook. According to research quoted in Reader’s Digest, “how you dress can change your perception of the objects, people and events around you.”

So if we are trying to combat the sad or lonely feelings that are described by moms in the Gallup poll mentioned earlier, we should make an effort to dress in a way that makes us feel happier.

Research reported in GoodTherapy supports this idea: “The strong link between clothing and mood state suggests we should put on clothes that we associate with happiness, even when feeling low.” Or taken a step further, we should put on clothes that make us feel happy, even when we think it is a waste of time.

One way to ensure that you have up-to-date outfits in your closet that are casual enough to wear around the house, but nice enough to wear to doctor appointments or to playdates is to invest in a capsule wardrobe.

One of my favorite capsule wardrobes is the SAHM Casual Wardrobe Basics Builder from Get Your Pretty On. (affiliate link) It is a guide to creating 20 different outfits made from 20 wardrobe pieces…many of which may already be in your closet.

In addition to clothing, it’s important to invest time and effort into skin care, hair care and make-up, as your budget allows.

As the research shows, getting dressed and ready for the day helps to improve your mood. And that happier mood can rub off onto our children, making for a better day all around.

young child helping mom in kitchen.

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Connecting with your children

The whole point of becoming stay-at-home moms is so that we can connect more deeply with our children.

And it seems to us sometimes that this is a complicated process which requires lots of planning and expensive trips or birthday parties.

But surprisingly, connecting with your children is much easier and simpler than many of us believe.

According to teacher and mom Christie Burnett, the things that kids most remember and cherish are the little moments that you spend together.

These little things can look so simple: playing board games together, reading aloud, looking at photo albums together, or making crafts. Parenting coach Nicole Schwarz has a great list of 50 simple ways to connect with your kids, if you need more ideas.

The key is to purposefully create these moments. Turn off the technology, listen to and empathize with your children, and also make time for 1-on-1 time with each of your children.

Kids crafts and activities

Crafting together is one great way to bond with your children. Try making these fall crafts for kids, these winter crafts for kids, or a back to school teacher gift.

Kid-friendly activities are always a hit, especially with younger children. Take a peek at this summer activity list for kids, as well as the Summer Fun eBook for lots of ideas for having fun.

Holiday celebrations

While simple moments are remarkably memorable for kids, they also love and cherish holiday celebrations as well.

Birthday parties are always a great source of memories for many children. And while some parents seem to go overboard on planning kids’ parties, a simple party can also bring a child a great deal of happiness.

If you don’t have any already, take some time to brainstorm some holiday traditions that you can start with your family. Making Christmas ornaments together might be a start of a fun tradition, or your might want to start baking Grinch Cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve.

For other minor holidays, I love doing holiday breakfast celebrations, as suggested by Gretchen Rubin. It takes a minimum of planning and effort, but it is certainly fun and memorable.

Reading and music

The last meaningful way that you can connect with your kids is through reading and music.

Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word.

Reading picture books to young children also can help them settle down before bedtime; besides, there’s nothing better than cuddling up together with your kids on the couch or in a comfy chair and reading books together.

Childs cup on top of a pile of kids books.

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Even after children learn to read for themselves, reading aloud to them is still a good idea. You can often read more advanced chapter books aloud to them, exposing them to higher-level ideas and storylines. This list of 100 Best Read Alouds (link to Scholastic) should provide you with plenty of book ideas.

In addition to expanding your children’s brains with the written word, exposing them to music from a very young age is also beneficial.

According to Bright Horizons, music does several good things for a child’s brain:

…Academic achievement isn’t the only benefit of music education and exposure. Music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness, including intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. It helps the body and the mind work together. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression. For children and adults, music helps strengthen memory skills.

In addition to the developmental benefits, simply put: music bring us joy.

Playing music in your home during meal time, play time or while in the car is a great way to help your kids get these benefits. Any type of music is beneficial, although scientists believe that the complexity of classical music is slightly better for improving spacial reasoning.

Between connecting with your kids through reading and music, holiday celebrations, and simple activities, as well as caring for your physical and emotional states by investing in friendships, exercise, good food, and hobbies, you should have a better picture of how fulfilling and worthwhile a life as a stay-at-home mother can be. May we all see how important we are to the world.

To help you find ways to combat the stress of mom life, I’ve created a printable worksheet with quick self-care ideas that you can download for free!

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