After navigating my way through a worrying pregnancy, a difficult childbirth, colic, sleepless nights and the highs and lows of bringing up a child while living on the other side of the world from my main support network, I thought I had learned everything there was to know about parenthood and kind of become invincible as a mum. That was, until I became a stay-at-home mum.
Don’t get me wrong, the extra hours that I now spend with Sophia are incredibly precious to me, and now that I’ve had a taste of it, all of the money in the world couldn’t convince me that sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day is a more desirable way to spend my time. But much like many other stay-at-home mums out there, I also have my fair share of struggles to deal with in this new full time job, which all of my experiences in my decade-long corporate career could never have prepared me for.
To you struggling stay-at-home mums (and dads) like me, I think it’s time we put aside our rosy view of life with our babies and toddlers, involving Pinterest-worthy arts and crafts, a sparkling house and organic gourmet meals made from scratch and accept that we don’t have to be perfect, we just have to do the best we can. And we can only manage that if we keep our sanity intact. There’s no one secret or solution, but here are the top tips that have helped to keep me going so far.
1. Embrace the chaos
As I have written this post, my toddler has escaped from her bed three times, spilt a cup of tea all over me and eventually fallen back to sleep in my arms (not that easy to type right now, not going to lie). I’m looking out over a messy living room and the sink is piled high with dishes. The best thing you can do in these situations is have a good giggle about how much your life has changed, and try to look on the bright side. I mean, she didn’t draw all over the kitchen floor this time.
2. Throw the schedule out the window
OK, I’m not talking full-on wild mum “let’s do away with naps today and just let all hell break loose!”, but a little bit of spontaneity can do everyone the world of good. Get out of the house, take a ball to the park, hell, climb a hill somewhere if you can. Anything to mix things up and keep things fresh (bonus points if it tires you all out before bed time too).
3. Hobbies are important
There is nothing quite as therapeutic as pouring your creativity into something that lifts your soul. And when I say something, I mean something other than your child. An outlet that is just for you, to express yourself and your passions, be it cooking, exercise, blogging, or binge-watching old Greys Anatomy episodes in a desperate attempt to relive your youth. If there’s something that makes you tick, find some time to do it.
4. Speak to other adults
Anyone else manage to go the whole day without speaking to another human adult between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm? By the time your other half arrives home from work, you find yourself speaking in baby language, pro-noun-cing your words carefully and using sign language for the more difficult ones. Make sure you pick up the phone at the very least during the day, but even better, arrange something fun with friends and get out and meet people. See point 2.
5. Join some classes
Play groups, music classes, baby yoga and baby massage…if you can Google it, it probably exists these days. Take advantage of all of these amazing classes that have been popping up all over the place for parents and young children; they are great for your baby’s development, but even better for your own social life and sanity.
6. Adults need to go into time out too sometimes
On those days where you’re surviving on 2 hours sleep, the baby throws their breakfast on the cat and the toddler flushes the TV remote down the toilet, I find it always helps to take a five minute time out away from it all. It helps you to calm down, breathe more deeply, and feel ready to face the mad house with a little more strength and decorum.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
And this one is sometimes the hardest one of all. Yes, you’re a parent. Yes, you’re trying to hold it all together for yourself, your household and your little ones. But no, that doesn’t mean you need to have your sh*t together 24/7. I certainly don’t (have a read of my World Mental Health Day post for a little more about that).
There are hundreds of different ways for you to reach out. Speak to friends that are in a similar position. Outsource tasks like cooking and cleaning around the home if you can afford it. Definitely get someone to look after your kids while you take some much-needed time off every once in a while.
If you are struggling to the point where you can’t see a way out, then you are in luck as there are some very good resources around to help these days.
One such resource is the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, an idea which evolved at Google from one engineer’s vision to change the world. This ex-employee of the world’s most famous tech company brought together leading experts from around the world to develop a mindfulness course that could teach people compassion, empathy and wisdom so that they can create a better world for themselves and the world around them. The idea rapidly gained momentum, and the Institute is now travelling the world, bringing this world class coaching to the masses.
I’m really excited to let all of you in Qatar know that this two day course will be coming to Doha on the 10th – 11th November, and I’m even more excited to announce that Follow Your Sunshine readers have been offered 5% off the cost of the course when they sign up!
All you have to do is click on the link below, and fill out the information in the online form.
There are further discounts if you come as a group of five or more, so bring your husband, friends, neighbours…anyone that you think might benefit from bringing out the best in themselves by acquiring tools for focus, self-awareness and resilience (and let’s face it, we all can).
This offer is open to all Follow Your Sunshine readers, the stay-at-home mums and dads, the employed, the students… All that’s required is a desire to become a better version of yourself! I’ll be covering the show live on my social media and I hope to see some of you there.
Sign up to Search Inside Yourself, Qatar with your 5% discount by clicking here.
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