I was born with a melancholy personality. It’s true. I have a natural tendency to be slightly gloomy, and I’m totally okay with that. In fact, I might be a little too okay with that… a little too comfortable with an “eh” fog hovering around me.
I know, I know, that’s the first paragraph anyone would want to read when studying up on how to be a happy stay at home mom. You come here looking for inspiration and you get Eeyore instead. The bad news is, yes, I struggle with stay at home mom depression from time to time but the good news is I also know how to enjoy staying at home.
I can stay home like nobody’s business.
I’m not sure how anyone can enjoy being a work away from home mom, since most days I don’t even want to interact with one person outside of my home, much less be forced to engage the world for a minimum of eight hours a day five days a week. But that’s my introvert-ness talking.
As a homeschooling, stay at home mom who rarely leaves her house (I’m talking didn’t need to cancel anything when a pandemic hit), if I didn’t enjoy it most of the time I would be in big trouble. And so would my family.
A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is decay in his bones.Proverbs 12:4 NIV
Umm… yea. That’s a big indicator that what I am, my family is also. What I do, how I act, what I value, and say, and watch, and read, and all of the things… they overfloweth to mine kin folk. So embracing this melancholy ickiness as totes normal, always and forever, doesn’t quite seem like the best plan.
Once you label yourself a SAHM, it’s almost like every other label, word of description, or key characteristic of yours gets thrown out the window… which is a weird phenomenon (I like that I just got to make you say this word in your head) when you take any other “career choice” into account.
If you’re a nurse you still might be asked what you like to do for funsies. If you’re a teacher people still assume you have a life every weekend. If you’re a stay at home mom it’s like a slow, tilted nod of understanding is all you get… “Ahh, I see, you have no purpose. So admirable. I could never do it.”
Here’s the thing… I’d be mad at that assumption if I didn’t so often run into the same problem while making small talk on a play date I accidentally agreed to. So many mamas look at me like a deer in the headlights when I ask them “so what do you do?”
Blink. Blink. “I’m a mom. I mom.” Blink. Blink. Blink.
I’m sure this scenario infuriates you. The nerve I have in that generalization. But think about it in your own life… what might you say if someone asked you, a stay at home mom, what you like to do or make time to do. Do you have an answer?
Carving out some healthy habits is a good start to developing and maintaining your individuality… a key component when trying to figure out why you may not be a happy SAHM in the first place.
I’ll break this one down in a lot of detail in a future post, but consider how your day might be different if you consistently woke up prior to your babies, enjoyed a hot cup of coffee (without needing to pop it in the microwave twenty times) while reading the bible and fleshing out scripture in your journal. For me, when I don’t have this, I’m starting the day from a deficit.
2. They have a creative outlet
The year my oldest was born, I started a blog. A friend texted me that I should and I said okay and did it. Over the last 8.5 years, my blogs have changed (titles and topics) but the overarching theme of needing that outlet to be my creative self has not. If you write, find somewhere to write. If you draw, draw. If sing opera, hit the high notes, sister.
If you need somewhere to start, begin with journaling and check out this post for some pointers!
3. They have daily rhythms
I think of my day in blocks of time. Before kids are up, family morning time, school time, lunchtime, nap time, afternoon oh my goodness my toddlers are hungry hungry hippos time, dinnertime, between dinner and bedtime craziness, bedtime, relax before my own bed time.
That’s our family rhythm. And having that makes me feel like I’m slightly in control of my day which gives me a real confidence boost to remember when I’m being ordered around by my two year old tyrant.
4. They determine and focus on their values
This is another lengthy post in the making, but the short and sweet version is this: when you know your values, you make decisions based upon those preset guidelines. It takes a lot of decision making out of your day. And if you’re anything like me, by 6pm anyone can do anything because I don’t have enough brain waves to think about redirecting or stopping them.
The more I can do on auto pilot, the happier a stay at home mom I am.
5. They create margin in their schedules
Busy, busy, hustle, slay, busy. That’s the mantra for current culture. I personally believe that being packed in like a family of sardines between events and to-do lists is a ticking time bomb on the verge of explosion. Kids need space to be kids. And you need space to be you.
Side note: read Margin by Richard Swenson. You won’t be sorry.
6. They set goals
Why does it feel weird to say stay at home moms should set goals? Like, we’re people, too, with ambitions, driven by purpose, chasing dreams, and pursuing callings! All babies sleep eventually. Take the opportunity to hash out some goals, even if the only goal that manages to make it on your vision board is “get more sleep.” We all start somewhere.
7. They spend less time on their phones
Remember when you didn’t know everything that was going wrong in the world and how you were still somehow able to live as if it didn’t affect you, because it rarely did? Your soul was so happy then.
The fact is, stats are in, we are not designed to carry the entire planet’s burden (and side note, if you’re trying to save the planet itself, check out what scripture says is going on with this world). But we choose to assault our senses with all of the news we can physically consume in a day, anyways. Put the phone down. Happy stay at home moms don’t scroll all day.
8. They practice self-discipline
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.Hebrews 12:11 NIV
I know it seems like you don’t want to wake up when your alarm goes off or that you really do want to eat that ninth cookie or that you really don’t need to wash clothes for your family, but forcing yourself to do things purely because they are good for you to do, in the long run, has a two fold outcome:
You feel confident because you made smart, intentional choices.
Plus, you reap the rewards of smart, intentional choices.
And what say you concerning that little note about peace in the aforementioned verse? Sign. Me. Up. For. That.
9. They exercise controlled flexibility with their schedule
I literally wanted to write “be flexible” but I’m not sure I’ve ever been flexible a day in my life yet I know I’ve been happy, so is flexibility a prerequisite to that elusive not so elusive stay at home mom happiness? Yes and no. Yes in that you have toddlers or babies or little humans with their own feelings and agendas and whatnot, so having a daily planner made of stone tablets seems like a really bad idea. But no, you don’t have to be willing to throw all of your plans out the window every day.
I used to joke that I needed three days notice for any spontaneous activity. But really, I just like to be able to decide to move homeschool time from 9am to 10am whenever the mood strikes. I’m crazy like that.
10. They move their bodies
This is pure science. Exercise creates feel good hormones. Feel good hormones feel good.
11. They spend time outside every day
I can say this because I live in Virginia where our temps range from 45-70 in any given January. I’m not sure if I would include this on this list if I still lived in Upstate NY, but that’s neither here nor there. Fresh air does a body good. Nature reminds us of the majesty and beatify of God. And where else can you freely linger sans mask without receiving death threats?
Good all around.
12. They meal plan
I don’t love doing it but I love having it done. I’m totally flex here (oh, I am flexible!), I just like to make lists of things that I can make. And then when the time comes, I figure out what I can thaw quickest because I’ve surely forgotten to take anything out of the freezer, and I make that.
13. They have scheduled bedtimes for their kids.
I really don’t know how any mom can remain in good spirits when she doesn’t know when her babies will next be asleep. Listen, I love my kids. Love, love, love them. They are the joy of my every day, a light in my life, and my most sacred calling on this earth. But if I wasn’t counting down the hours between periods of sleep, I wouldn’t count at all.
I need down time. Alone time. Thought processing and sensory unwinding time. I used to feel guilty admitting that. When I acknowledged my need in this area, I became a happier mom.
14. They make time for alone time.
Totally piggy backing off of the last habit, this is so important. Even if you’re not an introvert. Even if you don’t like sitting still or thinking or reflecting. There is something to be said about having time away from other people’s opinions, inputs, or interjections. Practice some breathing exercises, pray, meditate on God’s word, and enjoy the sweet sound of silence. Hallelujah and amen!
15. They have a prayer life
Again, let me do a little hop skip and jump from the last point, and super highlight the importance of praying regularly. As I recently read in my friend’s blog post on Well Words, praying is not about doing something for God, but rather just the opposite.
Spending time with the Lord is not something I do for him, it’s something he does for me.Jennifer Hayes, Well Words
Never underestimate the power of prayer and the way that this one simple, often overlooked habit, can transform your heart and life.
The fact is, friend, there is nothing not purposeful about homemaking, homeschooling, and all of the home-esque things that keep a stay at home mom like you busy. Raising babies, creating an atmosphere of safety, love, and belonging, washing dirty dishes, wiping dirty bums, it’s all so very important. Impactful. And good.
The point of this post is not to make you feel as if you’re not doing enough, but rather to remind you that being a stay at home mom isn’t the end of you. It’s not all of you. And it’s not your only source of happiness (which is good news if you’re not happy with it).
There are hard days. Always. And depression can creep up (even if you can’t bring yourself to call it that). And isolation, especially right now, smack dab in the middle of 2020, can cause feelings of extreme unhappiness or despair.
But if you give yourself time to get it together, and grace to mess it up, you can develop some or all of these habits that will set you up for happiness in the every day ordinary mundane moments of stay at home mom-hood.
And if you don’t want to do it alone, sign up for the sunrise tribe and receive notes of encouragement and tips to help your journey to be still and still become all you were created to be!