Tips from a Stay-at-home-Mom
In 2013, my husband and I moved from our home state to Ohio. He’d graduated college and moved to Ohio. We’d intended for my to get a job while I finished my Bachelor’s program remotely. But we fell in love with the flexibility I had to handle finances and whatnot as well as the cleanliness of the house, good dinners on the table, and the lack of laundry pile up.
A lot has changed since then. We’ve moved 3 times, added 2 kids, and somehow acquired 5 cats.
Nonetheless, we still love having me stay home. Here are some ways I managed the day-to-day happenings.
I can’t stress this enough. In 2017, we had our second child. Our oldest was only 21-months and on his way to starting speech therapy and occupational therapy. I’d had a tubal with my c-section and needed to keep track of my pain medications.
Most overwhelming of all though, was our sons newborn medications. He had the various vitamins but also had a nasty case of thrush. He needed medication multiple times a day and anything that went into his mouth had to be sterilized to prevent re-spreading the thrush.
So I got a planner. Four years later, I still use a planner regularly. Right now I’m using a Rocketbook planner (which I love). It’s totally eraseable with a handful of templates and I’m a big fan. But I’ve always enjoyed Happy Planner, Erin Conder, and Plum paper.
I use my planner for a few key things:
- Finances. I used The Budget Mom’s budget by paycheck method and absolutely love it. Having our bills and amounts on a calendar, and color-coded by paycheck is a game-changer.
- Appointments and special outings. We also homeschool. This means we have a few out-of-the-house activities a week. One of them my son is about to age out of, so I’ve added some virtual OutSchool classes and a weekly science meet-up at a local-ish museum. Between this and my weekly appointments (Bipolar Disorder), I would never keep track of everything.
- Meal planning. I can’t swing dinners without meal planning. I almost never have what I need and impulse shopping leaves me way over budget.
- To-do Lists. This doesn’t happen as much anymore, but I always need to-do lists when we have a routine change-up. Seasonally I do have this require a bit of tweaking. But to-do lists allow me to refocus my efforts and find some semblance of a routine. Routine is SO important in our house.
- Homeschool planning. Each week, I got through our curriculums for the next week and brutally remove whatever doesn’t fit us. Then I list out the goals for the week and roughly decide when to do what, so that we’re working around our fun stuff.
Our routine helps me feel in control and manage to actually accomplish things. I usually spend time waking up in the morning while the kids eat. Around 7, I start getting to work on the main chores. Dishes, basic hygiene, laundry. The kids work on their morning chores with some help. Brush teeth, get dressed, make their bed, unload the dishwasher, and school.
From around 9–12, things are a bit loosey-goosey other than a snack break and then lunch. Afternoons are also fluid until dinner around 5. After that, all screens are off. I take a bath at 6 month nights, and they go to bed at 7.
We also have a bit of a weekly routine. Which, right now, is library Monday, therapy Tuesday, home Wednesday and Thursday, nature school Friday, and basketball Saturday. Some errands are managed on the weekend, but not regularly.
Homecooked Meals When Possible
I don’t beat myself up for not cooking. Sometimes it doesn’t work with our routine or… I just don’t want to cook. For the most part, cooking helps us stay on budget, feel better physically, and ground our routine more.
But, and this is huge, I like cooking for my family. I like dicing onions and garlic before cooking a hearty corn chowder with toasted bread on the side. Or beef stew. Or chili. Or stir fry. Or Curry.
Cooking feels good, so I try and do it a lot.
Laundry Once a Week
Let’s be real, for all the reasons I love staying home, laundry ain’t one of them. I generally do a load every few days, then marathon fold on the weekends. Anything wrinkled beyond wear gets thrown into the dryer with a damp rag again and folded right away.
I just can’t do laundry every day. I can’t.
Balance on a Grand Scale
I’ve sinned lately. My kids have been getting a lot of tablet time. And I’m not sweating it. The reality is that I’ve been having a lot of Bipolar cycles and it’s like 4 degrees outside.
But I learned that balance doesn’t happen in a day. Think of balance as the cumulative effect of a week, month, year, or lifetime. They don’t always play on their tablets a few hours a day. And they definitely won’t once the weather warms up.
So somedays they eat more sweets than I like. Or they’re chasing me around to tell me about their video games when I’d rather hear about their imaginary games. I sleep too much. I sleep too little.
Balance doesn’t have to be on a meal scare or a daily scale. Look at the big picture.
I have so much to learn. I’ve been working this gig for 8 years. But we’ve added on two humans who are currently four and (almost) six. I’ve only been momming for six years. I have no idea how these things will morph and shift as my kids get older. Especially as their education becomes more rigorous and not as play-based as it is now.
I want to be better at budgeting, planning, cooking, and housekeeping.
But I’m kind of just figuring it out as I go.