It’s easy to lose yourself in motherhood when you’re a stay at home mom and life revolves around kids. Find out how to stay sane and avoid burnout while raising little ones.
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I’ve been a stay at home mom to three kids for over a decade now. There have been ups and downs of course, but I notice that there was always a theme during the “down” moments.
I felt like I had lost myself somewhere along the path of feeding babies and bathing sticky children and keeping my kids from drawing on walls with sharpie. Maybe it was the exhaustion. Maybe it was the repetitiveness that comes with the day in and day out of being home with the kids.
But I always felt I needed something more. Something for myself.
I hope I don’t need a disclaimer here to point out that of course I love my kids. Of course I chose to stay home with them. And of course I’m not going anywhere. But even if all those things stay true, I can also have the opposite be true at the same moment: that I felt stuck. I felt alone and lonely and knew that I needed more in my life. I was getting closer and closer towards burnout.
And I think most stay at home moms feel this way at some point. And if you haven’t felt that way yet, you haven’t scrubbed hardened pureed baby squash off the floor in the bathroom. Why is it there? Why is hardened? I don’t know. But here I am, on my hands and knees, scrubbing.
I am more than a floor scrubber.
I clearly needed something for myself.
But that’s hard to do when your one boss screams for you to come wipe their butt and the other boss won’t let you put them down and the third boss is having a meltdown about socks.
The Key to Saving Your Sanity
This mothering gig isn’t easy. But we need something to get us through it and I figured out a trick a few years back.
Now don’t laugh, but one thing that can save a mom’s sanity is a hobby.
You’re laughing aren’t you?
I know. I did too when someone told me to find a hobby.
What do you mean ‘find a hobby?’ I’m a mom. My hobbies are peeing alone and folding laundry on a Friday night.
But hear me out.
Find something that you love to do. Or something that you’ve always wanted to do but never got the chance.
It will fill your soul. It will give you the much needed mental and physical break so you can come back ready to tackle the toddler who refuses to stay in her bed and the preschooler who all of a sudden won’t eat green food.
You need something for yourself or on the really tough days you’ll feel like you’ve lost a little—or a big—piece of yourself.
Have no idea where to start to even pick a hobby? I didn’t either at first.
Here are three ways to inspire you to figure out what you could do during your much deserved “me time.”
1. Think back to when you were a little girl…what did you want to be when you grew up? A ballerina? A teacher? An athlete? A baker?
Try that. Do that. Scour through your local park and rec, community college, craft store, and library catalogues and you will find adult classes that your 8 year old self would love. Go take an adult ballet class at the local park and rec. Volunteer at the local library once a week and read to kids. Join an adult soccer team. Take a baking class at the community college.
2. Another way to find a hobby is to pick from one of these three. Or better yet, one from each of these three categories: something that will make you money, something that will keep you healthy, and something that lets you be creative.
Money– This is seriously how Etsy got started. Have a hidden talent that you really love that can also bring in some cash? Double bonus! Some ideas to try: writing, baking, art, t shirt designing, jewelry making, party planning…what are you really good at???
Healthy– Staying fit and healthy is way more fun if you truly love what you’re doing. Then you can enjoy yourself as you run, practice yoga, ride a bike, play a sport, swim, or try water aerobics. I seriously took a synchronized swimming class one time and laughed my way through it as I tried desperately to get into formation. And if you look for a gym with free or cheap child care, then you’ve solved two problems in one.
Be Creative– Love to craft or make gifts for people? Like to sew or knit or paint? Or would you rather write poems, write stories, draw, dance, or scrapbook? Go for it. And if you can figure out a way to make money while you’re being creative, jackpot! You can start your own etsy shop!
3. Still haven’t figured out anything that calls to you? Create a “bucket list” for things that you’ve always wanted to try. What’s on your list? Maybe it’s learn a new language, or play a musical instrument, or sail a boat on your own.
These are all things you can take classes for! Learning to sew was on my bucket list so I took a class at a local craft store. I walked away with a pair of purple pajama pants that I sewed on my own. I discovered that one pant leg is shorter than the other and I don’t love sewing. Not the hobby for me. But I’m glad I tried it. Because now I know.
Because here’s the real secret about mom hobbies: It doesn’t matter what you choose. It really doesn’t. As long as you love it and you choose to find time to do it.
Sometimes, that means the dishes will have to wait. The hardened puree on the floor isn’t going anywhere. You can clean it after you take some me time for your new hobby.
And I know you don’t have the time for a hobby. No more has the time for a hobby. We’re beyond busy and probably exhausted. But you have to make the time. Carve out the time. Protect the time.
Because it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes. You’ll be a happier, and therefore better mom for it.
Related: Overcoming Mom Guilt
And if you get lucky and happen to love a hobby that makes you money or helps you lose the last of the baby weight, who knows? You could come home with some hard cash or ten less pounds.
And who could say no to that?
Nicole is a mom of three loud, exhausting, and surprisingly determined kids. She’s a recovering elementary school teacher, a food allergy mama and spends her free time making sure my daughter’s IEP accommodations are being met. When she’s not in her car driving carpool, she lives a perfectly unperfect suburban life. She’s just desperately trying to keep it all together until bedtime. Coffee helps. Follow her at Coffee and Carpool, Facebook, and Pinterest.