Becoming a stay at home mom (+ a few tips I've learned so far)

I've had many different roles in my career, and my most recent transition to being a stay at home mom has been the most challenging and rewarding yet. I've wanted to be a mama for as long as I can remember and had always hoped for the opportunity to stay home with my babies. I knew being a stay at home mom wouldn't be easy but wow did I underestimate it. Instead of the home cooked meals and projects I had envisioned, I'm lucky if I get to shower. Instead of daily exercising and trying out creative activities, it's more like figuring out how many times you can re-dry a load of clothes to avoid folding them (mamas, I know you feel me on this...). I can't tell you how many times I've grocery shopped only to realize I forgot to get the main things or how often I count down until bedtime and then spend my evening looking at photos of the baby. How's that for reality? While the transition has been a big one, there is absolutely nothing else I would rather do and I am forever grateful to have this precious time with Mills and for a husband who values and appreciates all that I do.

I have girlfriends that are stay at home moms, some that are full time or part time working moms and it's amazing how "mom guilt" finds it's way in either way. The reality is that there's no one way to be a mom and that no matter what, it is a hard but beautiful job. Here are a few tips to the whole SAHM gig that I've learned so far...

clean up as you go :: it's easy for the day to feel like an endless cycle of cleaning up messes so for me, it helps so much to clean as I go so that it doesn't pile up and take over. Little things like cleaning the dishes as you prepare lunch or taking a few minutes to tidy up the toys at the end of playtime can help so much to keep you from spending every free moment cleaning up yet another mess.

have a plan for the day :: this one is so critical for me because it seems like every time I turn around it's time for a bottle or food or a nap. If you have a plan, then you can take advantage of that time between naps to get out and about to run an errand, head to the park, or meet a friend. If you aren't intentional about your day it can fly by without getting anything accomplished which can be frustrating. Just like for a job outside of the home, scheduling your day and having a plan for what you need to get done can help keep you on track and maximize your time. For us, with Max's schedule changing so often and me being home, we live and die by our shared calendar. Scheduling even everyday activities, like grocery shopping or time for ourselves or with friends, really helps us make sure that we're on the same page.

be present :: sometimes the best plan is to have no plan and just be present. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the to do list or your phone that you forget how special the little moments happening right in front of you truly are. Being a stay at home mom means that you are there for the simple in-between moments, the extra snuggles and the new discoveries and that is the most wonderful thing so be sure to soak it up because it flies by. One day you will miss the mess, the noise, and the baby who wants nothing more than to be held.

give yourself grace and credit :: being a stay at home mom is not easy. When asked "what do you do" I often find myself overcompensating -"I am a stay at home mom... for now at least while he's little... and then we'll see... I might do design part time..". Why do I do that!? Why do I feel like I need to explain myself and my decision to stay home with my son? Being a stay at home mom has been the most wonderful and fulfilling thing I have ever done. Sure, it can also be lonely and exhausting at times but it is so worth it. It's okay to love it, it's okay not to love it - what matters is you're doing what is best for yourself, your baby and your family and that is incredible.

Sometimes simply knowing you're not alone in your feelings and experiences surrounding motherhood can make all the difference. Motherly is one of my favorite resources for mamas and their "this is motherhood" video series is so beautiful and inspiring (queue the waterworks!).

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