23 Ways to Become a Happier Stay at Home Mom
Once I got on board with the idea of staying at home, I began to count down the days until I was ready to wave au revoir to my cubicle, my stack of filing, and my J-O-B. I was so excited to create fond memories with my kiddos, hang out at the park and the library, bake cookies, and greet my husband with a sweet kiss every evening.
The first couple of weeks at home were an adjustment, but relatively blissful nonetheless. After a couple of months, reality set in, and I became pregnant with my youngest daughter (#4).
When my expectations did not match my reality, I became frustrated and ultimately depressed. My whole world felt like it would cave in.
Have you ever felt that way?
Looking back, I now see that what I really needed was a plan. Not just a plan to take care of the housework, school stuff, appointments, and everything else. I needed a plan to take care of myself.
As a mom, it can feel a bit self-serving and indulgent to carve out time to feed your own spirit. Especially if you are a stay at home mom (and particularly if you lack your own source of income). This may seem backward–but making sure your own needs get met is the best way to become a happier and better mother. A happier mom often means a happier family. If you have trouble motivating yourself for your own sake–your husband, kids, or other loved ones are a good enough reason to get the ball rolling. Your motivation doesn’t have to be perfect or even the noblest.
Just. Get. Started.
I know how easy it is to come up with reasons why you can’t take care of yourself the way you want to. Maybe you’d like to take an exercise class or go on a trip, but it’s not in the budget. I hear you girl, I’ve been there.
Here are several things I have done or am currently doing to take care of myself and ultimately, become a happier stay at home mom.
23 WAYS TO BECOME A HAPPIER STAY AT HOME MOM
1) Spend the first several minutes of the day being still.
For the past few years, I’ve started my day talking to God and reading His Word. When I started building this habit, I literally just read a devotional or a single verse and talked to God continually throughout the day as situations arose. I don’t always make time for long, lavish quiet times, so I still follow this structure on days I’m running behind. When I skip it altogether, I can definitely tell the difference in my mood and the way I handle situations. Prayer and meditation have been instrumental in cultivating a more positive mindset, setting the tone for a [generally] happier day.
2) Move your body. But only on the days, you want to feel happier.
Exercise is SO good for your body, mind, and spirit. The benefits go on for DAYS. Endorphins are not a joke, y’all. If you are prone to anxiety and/or depression, moving your body is the #1 thing you can do for yourself to stabilize your mood, and can even prevent depression in the future. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or running to reap the benefits. 15-30 minutes a day is quite enough. I’m trying to build an exercise habit now, so I’m starting with 15 minutes a day. I only do stuff I like–so walking, yoga, and living room dance parties with my kids are where it’s at. As a bonus, I can do all of these things with my kids. Quality time + exercise = congratulations–you’re a time management boss.
3) Eat well. While sitting down.
I’m not going to tell you what to eat here, just gonna offer solidarity here by asking if you’re tired of living on a diet of leftover bites of mac and cheese and rogue animal crackers… it’s pretty easy to just eat what your kids are eating and get meal times over with. But how does your body feel? Food is meant to nourish your body and allow it to function well. Like today, I ate a few carrots with my mac and cheese. Look at me, making better choices.
I might as well be talking to myself here–food is a sticky subject for me. Over the years, I have put more on food than it was meant to carry for me. I’m slowly moving toward a more balanced diet, one tiny change at a time. One change I am making is that I have started eating more meals while sitting down at the table, instead of hanging at the counter while my kids eat. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist, says that your body cannot properly absorb all of the nutrients it is meant to when you eat while stressed. When you allow yourself to sit and relax during meals, your calories go to better use.
4) Make a weekly coffee date at home with your husband.
Once a week, I got up a little earlier to have a coffee date with my husband before he left for the office. I’m not a morning person by ANY stretch, but that time became sacred, and one of my favorite reasons to hop out of my warm and cozy bed. If your kids are not early risers, this is a great way to get in some uninterrupted quality time during a busy week.
5) Plan a fun date night at home.
If you’ve ever googled anything to the effect of “how to keep your marriage fresh,” you know that regular date nights are easily in the top 3 recommendations. You don’t have to hire a sitter or hit the town–there are plenty of fun things you can do at home (or within a 20-foot radius of your house). With a little creativity, you’ll be able to light a spark in no time.
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6) Reach out to a friend to say hi, or invite them over for coffee.
Don’t worry about the laundry, the dishes, or the floors. One of the best ways to become a happier stay at home mom is to lend an ear or a hand to another mom.
7) Get dressed, even if you’re not going anywhere.
Sis, I don’t know about you–but I am much happier when I like what I see in the mirror. It’s much easier and more time-efficient to commence the morning in last night’s yoga pants–but I feel more energized and ready to slay the whole day in a cute pair of jeggings and a punchy red lipstick. Don’t believe me? Try it. I dare you.
8) Stay in community with others.
Join a small group, MOPs group, meetup, or stroller exercise group. If you can’t find a group, start your own. Moms are better (and happier) together.
9) Carve out some time to volunteer.
Serve at church or your community. We can give back and bless others out of gratitude for what we have been given. Don’t be surprised if, in giving back, your cup overflows as well.
10) Make space for a hobby, and use your gifts and talents to bless others.
I love using my creative gifts to sew costumes for my kids on Halloween and make heart-shaped pancakes for Valentine’s Day. Who knows… maybe your hobby can bring in some income for you. If you like to write, starting a blog is the way to go.
11) Acknowledge your feelings and LET THEM OUT.
Are your kids getting on your nerves? Is your husband getting on your nerves? Feeling worn out, stressed, or anxious? Don’t just suck it up, buttercup.
Bottling your feelings can lead to greater stress and even physically-manifested health problems. Need an outlet? Some of my go-tos are prayer, journaling, blogging, and talking to a friend or counselor. If you’re more of an internal processor than a talk-it-out-er, doing something physical is a great way to relieve stress.
12) Sit down and play with your kids every day, at least for a few minutes.
When I am intentional about playing a game, reading to, or dancing with my kids, they are much happier and less clingy. When my kids are not fighting for my attention, then I am happier.
13) Accept your imperfections and forgive yourself.
As a recovering perfectionist, trying to do everything right all of the time is impossibly exhausting. Perfectionism is an enemy of joy, especially in motherhood. You are all the mom your kids will ever need. Period. A wise friend told me that our job is not to be perfect moms raising perfect kids but to teach them how to live in an imperfect world.
14) Speak life into yourself through Scripture or daily affirmations.
We have to learn to be our own biggest cheerleaders. When lies threaten to steal our joy, we must encourage ourselves with the truth. I like to keep uplifting Scriptures posted around my home where I see them often.
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15) Give yourself a bedtime, and shut down electronic devices an hour or two before bed.
A rested mom is a happier mom than most you will ever meet. Even though you may need to stay up late to do some work, or catch up on housework, or prepare for the next day to do it all again–you need sleep so much more than all of those things. I understand it may not be as simple as peacing out for the night, bidding your responsibilities adieu. However, with a little creativity, you may be able to batch some tasks and maximize your time during the day so you can get yourself to bed at a [more] decent hour.
16) Drink more water.
There are lots of things you can do to jazz up your H2O. Add lemon or infuse other fruits. Having a special cup inspires me to drink more water throughout the day. A more hydrated mom is a happier mom.
17) Get off that trendy diet (unless it was medically prescribed).
Eat well, nourish your body, and enjoy an occasional treat. I feel like eating should be one of the least complicated things, ever.
18) Don’t try to overhaul your diet, your marriage, and your homeschool routine all at once.
Unless you’re trying to have a nervous breakdown. Ask me how I know. Go ahead, I double dog dare you.
19) Leave little love notes in your husband’s pockets, car, lunch, or anywhere else he can find them during the workday.
I like to text my husband pictures of me and the kids sometimes, with a note thanking him for working so hard, or something else I appreciate about him. It really makes his day and helps me to keep gratitude at the forefront of my mind. I need those reminders, too, especially when I’m not feeling the love.
20) Speak life into your kids through Scripture and affirmations.
Notice the good you see in them and cheer them on.
21) Get the kids involved in housework.
Show them how to do each task, and let them fly on their own. For a while, it may seem like you’re doing double work to clean up after them, but that’s only because you want it to be done right. [Ask me how I know.] There are tons of age-appropriate chore lists if you need a guideline. They will learn, and eventually, their contributions will actually feel helpful. One thing I’m trying to remember that the goal is not a perfect house, but developing my kids’ character. In the process, your patience will be developed as well. Win-win, mama. Teaching your kids life skills is also so great for their confidence.
22) Keep a little breathing room in your calendar.
Avoid overbooking yourself and your family. A bit of downtime is good for the soul.
23) Give yourself GRACE, mama!
You only get this one life. How do you want to live it? The only day you are guaranteed is TODAY. And you can actually enjoy it.