Being a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) is hard work. It can be extremely overwhelming at times, often exhausting, days crammed with tasks to be done and lists to be checked off. Here are some habits which can help you be a more effective SAHM, and hopefully, avoid burnout.
Without a doubt, having a fixed day-to-day routine is crucial to maintaining your sanity, and allowing you and your family to manage time well. While there’s no need to time-table every single activity during the day, it helps to have systems in place that, over time, will pretty much feel like clockwork to your family. For example, let’s look at morning preparations for school – who wakes up the kids, which parent prepares the breakfast, is it bath before breakfast or the other way round? And so on….
Habit #2 – Pencil in me-time and date times
Mums, you are humans too, and we all need our times of solitude, pockets of rest and time to ourselves, without the care and frustrations of handling our children’s daily lives. Do take time, on a regular basis – it could be weekly or monthly, but definitely not yearly! To just do the things that energise you, that help you refocus and relax. You can spend time on your own, or meet up with friends. Time with your spouse is also a non-negotiable, let’s not forget that a happy marriage really does make for a happier family.
Habit #3 – Be disciplined about sleep
It’s easy to get caught up in surfing the Internet and rushing to finish all manner of chores, once the kids go to bed. Resist the temptation to get it all done in one night – rather, spread your load out over the week, and protect your night-time rest as much as possible. Sleep early, rise early, and look forward to the day ahead.
Habit #4 – Stay hands-free
As much as possible, connect with your children face-to-face whenever you have the opportunity. Don’t let them, or yourself, hide behind a computer or smartphone screen excessively. Seek to maintain eye-contact, to ask thought-provoking questions, to listen, to enjoy the company of each other. Our children grow up all too fast, and moments like these may never come again. That’s not to say that you have to cut off all media. Rather, use media with moderation, and focus more on building the relationship. A closer relationship and sensitivity to your children’s needs and moods is also a key factor in reducing the amount of tantrums you have to manage.
Habit #5 – Stay connected
Do find a group of SAHMs that you can connect with on a regular basis, be it through phone or email or face-to-face. Having the support of like-minded peers will encourage you tremendously in your role as a SAHM, and provide you with a community for discussing the hard parenting issues like discipline, eating habits, toilet training etc, which in turn is going to increase your effectiveness as a parent.
Habit #6 – Prepare healthy snacks and meals in advance
Many SAHMs prepare stocks and purees in big quantities, then freeze them up in one-meal portions to be used later on. This saves you time and effort, and makes your food go a long way. It also means you have more control over what goes into your kids’ tummies, instead of whipping out often-unhealthy snacks or ordering fast food when you have no energy to cook that day.
Habit #7 – Organize your diaper bag(s)
Getting the family out of the house is often a haphazard and rushed affair, and you can save the hassle of scrambling to pack your diaper bag by simply having a better system of organization. Invest in a wet-bag or diaper pouch that contains all your essentials for diaper change. Have separate pouches for medicines, distractions (toys, rattles etc), and one empty one for soiled clothes. This way, you can just grab the necessary pouches and stuff them into your bag before you leave the house, instead of having to hunt down and pack the individual items. Check out what are some of the things in our mummy’s bags.
Habit #8 – Recognize and accept your limitations
Don’t compare yourself with other SAHMs. Recognize that everyone has their own inadequacies, struggles, personalities and sources of support and help. Remember that what you might see on someone else’s Instagram or Facebook is often just a snapshot of a good moment in their day. So don’t beat yourself up for being seemingly less patient or capable. Celebrate the small achievements in your everyday, like being able to cook a new dish, or managing your child’s temper tantrum in a calm manner.
Habit #9 – Stay calm
This is so much easier said than done, but the most effective SAHMs are not the ones who are running around in a fluster all day long. Remind yourself to enjoy the present, and to be less concerned about being on time than being late with a purpose. Find ways to keep your head in all situations – for example stick encouraging post-its on your bathroom mirror or fridge door, keep a carton of your favourite fruit juice in the fridge for taking a refreshing swig every now and then, leave the radio on for some comforting murmur throughout the day, or count slowly to ten each time you are about to explode at someone.
Habit #10 – Give thanks
At the end of every day, take time to reflect on the day that has gone by, and give thanks. If it has been a good day, that’s awesome! If not, take stock of what went well and what didn’t, and consider any changes you could make to your routine or way of doing things in future. Bottom line, don’t focus on all that you couldn’t or didn’t do – look for the little things to celebrate, and the small steps of change to take.
By Dorothea Chow