This question has been posed to me as a SAHM a few times. And it always kinds of baffles me. I only have 1 kid. Wouldn’t a mother who stays home with 3 or 4 know a lot better than I? But then I remember that since Luke doesn’t have any siblings to play with, all of his attention and playmate expectations are on me. And it may be harder for a parent with 1 to fill up their day with activities – whether they be fun, learning, or to pass the time – and still feel like they haven’t turned into a mush-head (I mean that kindly! LOL) toddler for the duration of it.
Here’s what I do:
1.) First and foremost (and probably the hardest) – FIND A TRIBE!
Your tribe might be a friend or sister that also stays home, your retired grandmother, another mom you meet at the library, a whole team of women that you workout with, your mother in law who has Fridays off, a friend who works part time. Whoever it is that you know has time off during the week, stay in contact with them. It may just be grabbing coffee, meeting at the park, or walking around Target – you will want to fill some of your days with people who aren’t under the age of 5. Also, we love to go to lunch with friends or family during their work day. You can fill up a whole week of meeting people for their lunch break and they love seeing your little one! #winwin!
2.) Free/cheap activities are your friend.
Check Facebook for nearby events, print coupons for the aquarium/zoo/indoor playgrounds, go to the trampoline or bounce house parks for the day, buy a book of crafts that you and your little can do together, go on walks/hikes to new locations that have a playground or large grass area for a picnic or running around, attend the farmer’s market, hit up the public pool, join a movie program for kids at your theatre, attend church events like vacation Bible school. All of these things can be done and are even more fun with your tribe person(s) as well!
3.) Organize your day around nap time. (But also be flexible!)
If you’re doing something fun and don’t want to break for nap – by all means skip it! If your precious angel turns into a not-so-precious devil when they skip nap – then by all means, break for naps!! I like to organize our days in before nap and after nap increments. (If you do 2 naps a day then adjust accordingly.) Before nap is breakfast and an outing (see #2 for ideas) and after nap is TV/craft/independent playtime – and sometimes when I’m tired of entertaining him or get bored it’s all three of those! Luke usually wakes up around 3pm and Brandon gets home around 5:30pm so after nap doesn’t take any planning on my part. If we do a longer outing like zoo or aquarium or swimming then we have lunch wherever we are at and he sleeps in the car. I still put him down for a nap when we get home and if he isn’t tired then he has to stay in his room for the allotted nap time. He usually plays quietly and ends up falling asleep. I’m a mean mom by today’s standards!
4.) Find a hobby…or 3…even better if it pays!
This one is so important to me! I love to explore and do a lot of stuff so I’m always trying something new. Even if it is just watercolor painting or reading or starting a Netflix show or opening an Etsy shop – have something that is just for YOU! My hobbies right now are BLOGGING (that’s my biggest one), taking photos for my blog, helping my parents with their business by working from home a few days a week, coaching gymnastics (that was one of my jobs before I had Luke) one night a week, selling LipSense, and writing a novel. I also read and have a Netflix show that I watch (just finished The Office and now watching Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce). This is what I do on my downtime, during nap time, and when Luke is playing independently. I tell him, “Mama is working right now,” so that he knows I am not 100% at his disposal.
5.) Plan your day the night before or plan to stay home and do homemaker
My sister is also a SAHM so every night we kind of touch base on our plans the next day. It could be as simple as this, “We are going to Stroller Strides in the morning and then Target for some birthday party shopping.” Those activities take up time before nap and then we have lunch/nap/after nap/daddy’s home! Having a plan for the next day helps you get out of the house so you don’t have to clean up the same mess 5 times. Am I right?! Now when it comes to doing homemaker stuff – I am not the person you want to talk to. I dread it and I’m not very good at it. I’m trying to find joy in the more mundane tasks but I usually have to PLAN to clean my house. Don’t judge me! So I will text my sis, “Staying home tomorrow to do chores, catch up on laundry, and play.” If you don’t have someone to text then tell your hubby or your kid! I talk to Luke all the time as if he understands everything I say – I think that’s helped him have a large vocabulary. LOL But in the same way your working spouse has a plan for their workday, it will help to have a plan for yours!
Some photos from our adventures together:
I hope this inspires any mamas out there who are feeling stuck or bored! You are doing an amazing job at one of the most important labors of love!! Your little ones adore and appreciate you!