So as promised, I told you that I would start talking about being a stay at home mom more. Not that dealing with sick dogs and babies doesn't qualify, but its time to move on to other things. Incidentally, we all caught the cold this week from our son. And he has an ear infection. But we are all healing and dealing with it. I have to admit that staying home and taking care of him is so rewarding. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
Anyway, when we first moved here and I had just quit my job, we were living with his parents while we built our house. So being a stay at home mom really didn't sink in until we moved out and were finally on our own. Our son was 6 months old then and I had to figure out how to take care of this baby and a house and all that comes with that pretty quickly. After the unpacking, I started thinking how can I make this fun? I certainly didn't want to get swallowed up by daily chores and daily baby needs that I lost myself or my sense of identity. I mean, if I surrendered to every mess, every piece of item left out of place, every little re-organizing task and projects around the house, I would be consumed by this house. I would definitely be lost and feeling like I want to be at work and then feeling guilt by that for not wanting to be home with my kid. I am sure many of you moms out there struggle with this concept. Some woman working feel bad they aren't at home or can't be at home and women at home feel like "I wish I was still working at a job I was really good at" and then feeling guilty that we are not just over joyed to be here with the little ones. I know some women have a much better grasp on this than me, but for me, I didn't want to feel guilty. So I decided to treat this stay at home job as a job. At least the house chores part of it. So this how I have managed to love what I do and not feel like I should be anywhere else.
Laundry gets done and put away (every week I try to do all sheets and bedding as well)
Deep clean kitchen
During the summer, our dogs shed a lot, so I vaccuum again
Load and/or unload the dishwasher with the dishes from the night before
Keep kitchen and living room picked up
Pick up around office, bedrooms, just the house in general
Thats it. Every two weeks, I do extra's that I see is needed. I mop every couple weeks. My HUGE pet peeve is sticky (yes I know I have kids and I can't help the sticky) but the reason I only need to mop every couple weeks, is because I am constantly on my hands and knees cleaning up dropped food, spills, splatters and any sticky spot I see daily. I clean our white stone fire place every couple weeks because my little 17 month old loves to walk on it and so it gets dirty...and its white! Why didn't I think more about that when I was choosing colors?
As for errands, those are done on an as needed, hows the kid today basis. If we are having an off day, then the grocery store can wait. I NEVER subject my kid to errands if he is not happy. I only do errands after breakfast or lunch, when he is well fed, well rested and happy. Believe me, if you take this approach, you will never be THAT mom who is in the store with a screaming baby. We try to do errands a couple days a week. More on my baby rules and how I manage to have a happy baby nearly 24/7 in the next blog.
I do have my house rules for me.
1. I stop working when my husband gets home, or if he gets home early, I stop working after dinner. I usually start dinner while my son eats his dinner and we eat after he goes to bed or while he plays in the living room. So, we rinse our dishes from dinner and the pots and pans and leave them. I know for some people, this is unthinkable, but I can deal with dishes in my sink over night mainly because I feel like quality time with my family is more important than the dishes when I know I can get to them first thing the next morning. And it HAS to be first thing or it does drive me crazy.
2. No chores after our son goes to bed. I do pick up toys in our living room but thats just so we don't trip as we are walking through at night.
3. No chores on weekends, with the exception of dishes since I do love to cook. Here's the thing: laundry piles up, dust collects, dog's shed, clothes aren't put away, my husband is notorious for leaving socks and shoes everywhere, and this, plus many other things, can and WILL get dealt with on Monday. The weekend, I am off. Just like with my old job (I worked 4-10's, meaning I would work 7a-6p Mon-Thurs when I did work) I quit when its quitting time and I start the next morning when its go time.
4. I clean and do each chore usually when my son goes down for his nap. He helps me with laundry and making the beds sometimes, but everything else, when he sleeps, I clean. When he is awake, he has my full attention. Which is why, when he eats, the kitchen gets picked up and dinners and lunches get made.
By doing this and making a schedule for me, I have been able to not feel like I work a job that is ongoing 24/7. I mean, I already have a little boy who needs me from about 7:30a-7:30p and right there, thats a 12 hour day. It may not always be difficult since he is so happy and such an amazing kid, but we do have off days, where he's not happy with just doing this or that, so I have to get creative and find new things for him to do. When we have days like that, 12 hours seems like 100 hours and I am ready for bed at 8. :) So by allowing my house chores and duties to stop at 7p and on weekends, I can relax knowing that my house is always well taken care of, just in due time. In the meantime, I spend time with my son out and about doing fun things and spend quality time with my husband after our little pumpkin is tucked away at night. Everyone in the house is taken care of, has time for them and I have time for me once the chores are done and he's taking an extra long nap.
On weekends, it gives me a chance to let daddy and son bond while I got get a pedicure or a massage or, hey just go in the other room and watch food network or blog without a cute little kid trying to type with me or change my channel to Mickey Mouse. And the best part, is I never feel guilty that I should be cleaning or doing something productive because I know I already planned to get everything done...starting Monday.
I close this entry by saying that I love where I am today. I love everything about staying home and I love my house (my messy on weekends, but really clean during the week house). I am not a perfectionist and I am no Martha Stewart, but I am a mom who wants and needs a clean house in moderation. I am a full time, fully committed mom when my son is awake and as a result, our son is happy, adapts well to things and is overall very well adjusted. I take pride in this because I feel like I try really hard to give him attention and independence at our own pace and he doesn't just get independence because I'm doing a chore, its because I let him go off and explore and discover and play by himself while I watch from a far. I hope that for any moms out there who feel overwhelmed, can learn to take each chore and each day, one chore and day at a time. Learn to relax, really take time for yourself because you have enough going on and you are already stretched way too thin. So regroup and enjoy the long naps by reading a book for you and enjoy weekends by actually taking them off and doing something fun.
**Quick side note: I will be having another baby in November. And these two kids may not nap at the same time. So for now, take everything I wrote into consideration that I have one kid...who still naps. As I learn how to adjust with kid #2, I will update my methods and schedule!