Sanity saving tips for stay-at-home moms

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At the time of writing this, I have four children aged 11, 9, 5, and 2, which means I have been a mom for over a decade – and during all this time, I have been at home with my children, whether “just” a stay-at-home mom (more than a full-time occupation in itself!) or, in recent years, also a freelancer juggling writing and editing jobs and publishing her own books.

I have home educated and done crafts, started a garden and changed a gazillion diapers, milked goats and potty trained, nursed four babies and broke up countless fights, treated children and chickens for lice, kissed boo-boos and wiped noses. Now that I have preteens, I constantly find myself having conversations with kids who are convinced they are infinitely smarter than I am.

It has not always been easy. There were (and are) days when I just wanted to get away for a bit. There are frumpy days, dragging days, tear-my-hair-out days.

But I still wouldn’t trade it for anything, and with time and the gift of perspective that comes with it, I have learned to lean on a few strategies that help me keep (somewhat) sane.

1. Be realistic. I know that there are going to be all kinds of days. Sometimes we are all sitting in peace and harmony around the table and I’m doing fractions with the older girls while the little ones are coloring. Sometimes my kids are doing their best to get the house demolished. Sometimes I have plenty of energy; sometimes I’m down with a stomach bug or just feel blah. But whatever happens, you get to have a fresh start the next day.

2. Focus on the basics and prioritize. I used to iron. I never do that anymore. I don’t do labor-intensive recipes and I don’t wash my windows from the outside. I know that I do a staggering amount of work each day and I refuse to feel guilty about not cramming in more.

3. Don’t let things pile up. If at all possible, wash those dishes before you go to bed. In the morning, you’ll be glad you did. The longer you leave things to pile up, the harder they are to tackle eventually. I keep laundry manageable by sticking to throwing in a load every other day and having it folded and put away before the next load is due to wash. I do a tidy-up several times a day and try to clean messes (such as a dirty stove) as soon as they pop up. I don’t do it because I love to clean (ha!), but because I hate being overwhelmed.

4. Delegate! There is absolutely no reason your children should expect you to do things for them which they can do for themselves. Insist that everyone picks up after themselves, serves themselves, and helps out with age-appropriate chores. Very young children can learn to pick up after themselves, keep their play area tidy, and wash their glass after they have a drink. No, it isn’t always easy, and yes, I struggle with this, but I refuse to raise little entitled layabouts who expect full room service.

Don’t forget to enlist your spouse if possible – just because you are the one who stays home, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself. You are always on duty and deserve a break (more on that in a bit).

5. Don’t compare yourself to others. We all have that friend with the immaculate living room and the kids who all play cello. But guess what? We are all different. Be kind to yourself. Think about what would happen if you stopped, for just one day, doing all the myriad of “nothings” that accumulate during each 24 hours – mopping up spills, keeping everyone clean and fed, tackling the garbage and all those little “insignificant” jobs your family only learns to appreciate when you happen to fall sick. Yeah, you see my point. Don’t judge by performance – evaluate by work performed, and you’ll likely see you’re already doing awesome.

6. Take some time off and break the routine. When was the last time you read a good book? Spent time on a hobby? Took an unplanned hike? Called a friend? Got enough hours of sleep? Had a bath without someone banging on the door? Be honest, and you’ll see that you deserve some pampering.

While it isn’t always possible to get time alone, you can also be refreshed by having a break from routine with your children – a picnic, watching a movie together, putting your feet up while little ones play in the pool, even just curling on the rug as you read side by side with them.

Don’t feel guilty – there is always more work to be done, and life is too short. So do what you can to grab that portion of joy and beauty in your day.

Author: Anna

An Orthodox Jewish wife and mother enjoying a simple life with her family and chickens, somewhere in the hills, in Israel.

6 thoughts on “Sanity saving tips for stay-at-home moms”

  1. The 13th year of each of my kids was SO HARD…there were much harder days to follow with one child, but I remember those days. I had one kid I told more than once: “I DO HOPE YOU solve ALL the problems of the world while YOU are STILL SO SMART…cause I assure you, you will eventually loose all that smart!!” It was called “feeling your oats” in our day. Let me tell you, we mostly kept our smart mouths to ourselves too…twas much safer that way!! I tell my daughter who has 2 smart alecks, to give them more to do…more chores, when they give her a bad time!! Fortunately now, oh so many years later, none of my kids talk smart to me anymore…not that we see eye-to-eye on everything either. But I am glad they can be at least respectful now!! When the hormones begin to rage, kids seem to have a tough time controlling their mouths…just seems to be how it is!! Glad you have some youngers too…at least you have some to enjoy extra perhaps, when the olders are a pain!! We had bedrooms for each kid…2 of them were not fancy believe me, but each had a space that was only theirs…and there were days I told them all to go to their rooms for an hour or so, as I needed some peace and quiet!! Hang in there dearie!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! When I recall what my mother had gone through during my teenage years, whatever I’m dealing with so far is peanuts 😁

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  2. Boy, howdy! Looking back, I am amazed my parents allowed me to survive to adulthood! It probably tells you all you need to know when I say I went to a boarding school for six of my school years.

    Hang in there, Anna. You may decide to send the crew to public school when they are in the upper grades and then you will have some time to yourself. By the way, what it this ‘washing windows’ of which you speak? I iron, but I don’t do windows!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post and great advice for moms! Yes, I am glad you refuse to raise little entitled layabouts – we already have enough of them in this world and don’t need any more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whenever I see any displays of entitled attitude I list all the things I was expected to do myself at their age – despite the fact that I was an only child.

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