Saturday, August 6, 2011

How staying at home works for me

I like staying at home with Teddy and even though I am sometimes very happy when bedtime rolls around, I thought I would share how I make staying at home with a very active one year old work for me…

*With the disclaimer that some of these things probably won’t work for you. We live in a big European city and have access to certain things which are hard to get in the States- I mean how many of you could really get by without a car? I know in Minnesota it is next to impossible. However some of these things can also be modified to meet your lifestyle. No gyms close by, or not in the budget? What about having the hubby watch the baby while you do an exercise video/garden intensively/do yoga/do Wii fit, a few times a week?

So without further ado, here are the things I do which allow me to truthfully say that I absolutely love being a stay at home mom!

In no particular order:
  • I spend a lot of time outside.
We live in a big city where everything is in walking or bus/subway distance. The only time I use the car is pretty much to do one big grocery trip a week (with visits to closer smaller markets, and the local farmers markets throughout the week), and to visit friends who live a bit farther out. Being outside so often and walking so often feels good and energizes me. Even on the days where I just feel like lazing around at home getting out makes the day go faster and Teddy loves it. I live in a super rainy gray climate so for you lucky ducks with nicer weather it has even more of an effect!

  • I have an awesome rechargeable cordless sweeper/vac.
Teddy is super messy and cleaning up after him after every meal or after he came in from outside used to involve using the broom and dustpan and crawling around on my hands and knees- not fun, and then often after that also pulling out the vacuum. Now that I have the sweeper I just do a quick sweep with it after every meal or whenever I see some stuff on the floor and it is so quick and easy. It is also especially great for sand after he comes in from playing in his sandbox. I wasn’t sure if it would really be worth it since we have a great vacuum but it does make a difference to have something without a cord which can be used on the little messes plus it is a normal height so I am not getting on my hands and knees all the time. The only problem is that it only works with hard floor surfaces but that is what we have in most of the flat so it works for us.

  • I work out, often!
There is a fitness center and spa 10 minutes walking distance from our house. The fitness center offers free childcare- which is run by great women and is also in an awesome space. The fitness center is also a spa so membership includes access to lots of different saunas, whirlpools, a swimming pool, tons of courses etc. Now we super lucked out having this so close to us because going there is great in so many ways. 1. I get a short break which can turn what started out as a rough day into a much better one. 2. I can relax and sweat it out in the sauna, work out, or take a course- no matter what I leave feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. 3. It helps me stay in shape which makes me feel better about myself.  The going often part is important because once it becomes part of my routine I am much more likely to just go and feel good. Whereas after a few days of not going the excuses start piling up and I get a lot lazier about it- forgetting how good it feels!

  • I meet up with lots of other moms!
We go to friends houses, to the playground, to the zoo (we are members because it is only one train station away), to the lake, and we meet up with other moms and their kids. It is great to see other little ones and enjoy them while moms do the same with Teddy. Plus it helps keep things in perspective; sure their little one might be a great eater but he also does some crazy high pitched shrieking thing which would drive me crazy. Plus moms “get it”, they get how rough and how awesome parenting can be and how some days you are just trying to make it through while others you keep tearing up because you can’t believe how lucky you are. Or at least the moms I like to spend time with do. I try to make sure to hang out with people who while they enjoy parenting also enjoy going out, spending time with their partner and friends, spending time on hobbies, as I find the talk that is focused solely on children gets old pretty fast.

  • I do my nails!
During nap time or right after Teddy goes to bed I do my nails 1-2 times a week. Nothing special I just throw on a bright happy pink or red and that is that. I do it because having painted nails helps me feel polished, and when I pick up one of Teddy’s toys for what feels like the thousandth time during the day, I see my nails and think- those look good!
  • I do my make-up!
In the morning, Teddy causes havoc in the bathroom while I do my make-up. It doesn’t take me more then 5-10 minutes but it makes me feel better about myself to think that I look halfway polished when I see my reflection throughout the day. When I look put together I think that I naturally tend to act that way too…. Sometimes ;)
  • I pick up things constantly.
I don’t let Teddy play with too many toys at once, and I only keep a smallish amount stored in boxes in his room and the living room. He can pull out the boxes himself and does but we always put things away after he is done. This involves just throwing everything back into a box so it takes under 30 seconds. I also am constantly moving things back to their rightful spot since Teddy likes to “help” by moving things to fun new locations. In some ways it can be frustrating to constantly be picking up, but I love that at pretty much any given moment you could enter our flat and it would look decent. Not perfect by any means but I try to keep clutter to a bare minimum- papers and plastic gets recycled right away and I don’t like knick knacks. Tables are always clear of everything besides fruit on the dining table. This is mainly because Teddy would just throw or break it but it also makes me feel less stressed to see our flat this way. Somehow everything seems more manageable when I see a lot of empty surfaces and minimal clutter. I have really had to work on this though as my natural attitude is to kind of ignore messes so picking something up right away has been an adjustment, but a good one!
  • I get my sleep.
Sleep is “my thing”. I think we all have something that we need to get, that we aren’t really willing to compromise on, and that is important to us. For my husband and I, it is sleep. So we get it. Teddy sleeps through the night and goes to bed between 7 and 8 depending on how the day went. Then we expect him to sleep till 7- haha expect, we would love for him to sleep till 7 and he sometimes does but other days he gets up earlier at 6 or 6:30. I’m not willing to get up that early so I give him a bottle, and bring him into our room. He then proceeds to play with blocks and books which we have in our room, but also crawls over us, crawls on top of nightstands, turns on and off our reading lamps, and causes a bit of mayhem. But the key thing is I am lying in bed half asleep and he is safe and I stay in bed till 7. It works for all of us and I feel pretty refreshed most days.
  • I keep music on throughout the day
I finally found a radio station I love and so I keep it on all day long. Teddy loves to dance to it, and I enjoy hearing music which also makes me want to dance or puts a smile on my face. I think time goes faster when I have music on during the day.
  • Use part of nap time for me time.
I try not to spend nap times cleaning although I do sometimes use part of the time to prepare a meal, even then I try to make sure that I leave at least 30-45 minutes for me. I read a book or the newspaper, eat something, surf the net, whatever I feel like doing. I think it helps me recharge and prepare for the coming 4-7 hours of Teddy time. Plus since Teddy is not cool with me doing these things while he is awake (well the eating is OK if I plan on doing lots of sharing J) it is nice to do them without stress or rushing.
  • I do stuff with my husband.
Once Teddy goes to bed and my husband and I have finished everything we need to get done we like to do something together. We play strategy board games, or the PS3, or sometimes we watch a show together but in general we tend to do stuff that allows us to talk and laugh with each other. We also go on dates pretty much at least once a week. Sometimes we go for dinner or meet up with friends and go dancing but sometimes we also just go for a walk. Either way it is nice to have nights to look forward to, and to spend time with my husband as just a wife.
  • I do stuff without my husband and without my son.
I do girl’s nights where I meet up with friends for drinks and chatting. I also go to a bi-weekly stitch and bitch group, and other hobby related activities. All of those things happen at night so they don’t actually cut into my parenting time but I am also trying to get a new thing started where my husband watches our son for a weekend afternoon and I do some stuff which I would love to do on my own… like shopping! Or going to the library without having someone whining after 2 ½ minutes!
  • I don’t hold myself to unattainable standards.
Although I do have an “ideal parenting style” which I try to be aware of, I also know that I’m still a young, new mom who is going to make plenty of mistakes. We’re all human and mistakes help us grow. Every day there are countless things I do which I could have done better when it comes to parenting but I try to focus on the good stuff and work on changing the other stuff as it comes. Laughing things off normally feels so much better than getting angry and frustrated; even when I feel about ready to explode because seriously why does changing a diaper need to take over 10 minutes of struggling and chasing, and oh gosh he just peed on the carpet again, and, and, and. But then I think about this cute chubby little boy running around, stopping to pee somewhere and me chasing him with a diaper and I realize it really isn’t that bad, and then he smiles at me and looking at that gorgeous chubby little face I can’t help but smile back, thinking the whole time I have it pretty darn good.