MOTHERHOOD: LIFE AS A STAY AT HOME MOM (PT.2)

It’s been over one full year since I left my job in government public relations and marketing to stay home full time with my babies and boy has it been a year! It’s been a year full of so much joy, so many memories, so much exhaustion, and so much growth. 

Being a stay at home mom is nothing like what I expected.  And to be honest, I’m not sure what I expected.  Perhaps it was this vision I have of a 1950’s housewife who was impeccably dressed with a perfectly styled and clean home and dinner on the table. And maybe that’s how life was back in the 1950’s.  But my experience staying at home with my kids has looked a lot different than that.  If you follow me on Instagram you only see the highlights of me being a mom.  But in reality it’s very over-stimulating, it’s exhausting, my house is never, ever clean and the laundry is never done or folded. And I don’t cook. Thank God for my husband who goes to work to provide for us and then comes home to cook us dinner (it really is not an activity I enjoy). 

So what is it really like staying home you ask? Well it’s loud for one. The days feel really long sometimes (but yet somehow nothing ever gets done and there’s never enough time to complete my to-do list). At times it can be incredibly stressful. At the stage of life I’m in with my kids, I have one child who wants my undivided attention and one child who needs my undivided attention. And sharing that attention equally doesn’t always happen. It’s a constant battle between which child needs my attention at that exact moment. And sometimes they both do. It’s a balancing act that takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience. And a lot of grace for yourself. But our days are full of imaginative play, lots of snacks, some boo-boo’s, lots of cuddles, messes everywhere, and just a lot of fun. There are some really beautiful moments. But it’s not easy. It’s definitely not easy.

As I started thinking about this blog post and what I wanted to share I knew I wanted to share how much I enjoy staying at home with my kids and it’s a decision that although I’ve questioned, I know it’s the right one. But I also want to be honest and share that I’ve had a lot of moments of struggle. I think being a parent right now in general is just insanely difficult.  We are dealing with a pandemic that’s not going away, a winter full of severe viruses that the world hasn’t seen in decades, constant social media sharing and perceptions, political and social turmoil, an increase in anxiety amongst younger people, and everything else in between. It’s hard and it’s exhausting. 

But being at home is truly a beautiful experience. Over the past year I’ve come to realize more and more that choosing to stay home with my kids is one of the bravest decisions I ever made. And I say that because prior to staying home I felt like I was confident in who I was and my abilities. Being a mom and one that stays home 24/7 has had me questioning and at times reeling at who I am. In the midst of all the chaos and sleep deprivation, I’ve lost track of hobbies that used to bring me so much happiness. I’ve had to learn how to be a doctor, therapist, and a manager. I’ve had to re-learn how to be organized and how to multitask. I always thought I was great at multitasking and perhaps I was in my career, but I’ve learned that multitasking as a stay at home parent is a completely different ball game. In a span of two minutes you can be making breakfast, helping a toddler go potty, soothing a one year old who just face planted, cleaning up a mess from the dog, and who knows what else. I’ve felt frustration, exhaustion, and insecurity in my ability to manage all the things that happen at home. When I envisioned staying at home I never envisioned I would lose myself in the process.

But, I’ve also learned a great deal about myself and found a different version of me. I’ve learned that I don’t like to be over-stimulated and that my coping techniques are, well, not great techniques. I’m learning that remaining calm, kind, and patient are the most difficult skills to master, but they also help tremendously to manage the meltdowns that occur throughout the day. Everyone says make sure you take time for yourself. But that is much easier said than done. I’m learning that small victories for yourself, even if it’s for five or ten minutes, goes a long, long way. I’ve picked up new hobbies such as painting with watercolors and growing flowers – two things I can do alone or with my kids. Being at home has definitely been a learning curve in how I manage stress and multiple tasks at once and how I take care of myself. But I feel hopeful that I’m making strides in the right direction to find myself again and to feel more confident in my ability to be a great mom. 

Now, enough with the struggles. Being a stay at home mom is the greatest. I do not take this opportunity lightly and I know many parents would love to be able to spend all day every day with their kids. Being with your kids all day kind of makes you feel like a kid again. It’s amazing to watch their little imaginations at work. Right now we are in the midst of pretend play – dress up, parties, fairies, going on trips – it’s all the things I loved to play as a kid. Both kids also love to do crafts and paint. It’s truly so remarkable to watch them paint a picture and be so proud to show everyone what they created. We keep as busy as possible, especially during the winter when it’s hard to get outside. Summertime is our favorite though. All three of us love being outside, riding bikes, swimming, playing on our playset. There is just so much to do in the summer and I’m pretty sure I lived my childhood outdoors so I want the same for my kids.

We are getting to the stage where the kids are even starting to play together. Lilly is almost 4.5 and Teddy is 1.5  Teddy is just enamored with his big sister and wants to do everything she does. And for the most part, Lilly is team Teddy and will let him tag along. And even recently I’ve heard her say “Teddy come play with me.” And THAT makes my heart so happy! I grew up with four siblings and to this day they are my best friends. I pray every night that Lilly and Teddy have the same relationship that I have with my siblings and that they are always there for each other, always respect each other and are always kind to each other. I genuinely hope they always love each other’s company and choose to hang out as they grow older. 

One of the things that I am 100 percent confident in is my ability to connect with and communicate with my kids at this stage in their lives. More often than not I can anticipate their next need or want. I can usually sense a day or two before they actually get sick that they are going to get sick. I can understand what they are saying when no one else can. Whether it’s their developing language or gestures, I know what they want. And I think being with them all the time gives me this ability and for that I’m so thankful.

Watching my kids day in and day out live only in the present moment without regret of the past or fear of the future has been a beautiful gift and a good reminder to do the same. Kids have so much life, energy, and joy and it’s hard not to feel those things when you are with them. I always tell Rob that their laughter is like music to my ears.

I’m so thankful for all the people in my life who have and continue to support me on this journey of motherhood. It really does take a tribe and I’m lucky enough to have some really amazing people in my tribe. I never imagined that blogging would connect me with so many other moms, but it has! My friend Taylor has been one of those people that has helped me through some really challenging times. We often swap stories and experiences or go to each other for advice, as our kids are about the same age. She’s also sharing her experience as a SAHM and some really great ideas for what works for her. Head over to her blog to read her experience and give her a follow on Instagram!!

So at the end of the day, although it’s crazy hard, I would not change anything about being able to stay home right now. If you made it this far, thank you! This is a post I’ve had in my heart for a long time and it’s nice to finally share it with the world. And if you came to this post to see what exactly my days look like, then I’ll be sharing that on my Instagram soon! Think of it as a “Day in the Life” post!

Happy parenting!

Slainte,

Shannon

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