One Choice That Helped Me Love (ish) Motherhood

A year ago I started doing something totally counterintuitive for me, making a choice that goes against every extrovert bone in my body— I started staying home.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for four years now so that’s not what I mean, I am talking about actually being inside the house. Denying my pull toward playdates, children’s museums, zoos, quick service restaurants, and elaborate outdoor adventures we mostly stay home during the week.

I cannot convey how much this goes against how I am wired or would naturally spend my time if I didn't have kids! It is on my bucket list to live in a dorm again someday, or in some kind of Super Commune where everybody shares everything (like Sister Wives without the sex part). I told Michal last weekend that I would love to live in an apartment building if we could find one with 3-4 bedrooms and he looked at me like I was crazy. I would be a great target for any up and coming cults that are recruiting in the area and might have actually liked living in Communist Russia. 

Honestly staying home almost every day came about not by choice but by circumstance (we live in a rural town far enough from things that going places is a whole process + now that we have 4 kids I don't have the patience to strap everybody into their carseats more than once a day, so how would we get home?!) and I have been surprised to find I love it. I never would’ve chosen this way to raise my kids but I can say it brings me so much more peace and joy in my motherhood than I had when we lived in a big suburb and I took my kids out every day.

But if you offered me a move to the suburbs or the big city I would pack my bags in a hot second! 

During our busier season in Des Moines, I had two kids and felt like I could revolve our schedule around my plans since both weren’t in school and didn’t have any activities. So every day we ate where I wanted to, shopped for what I needed, and hung out with the friends that I loved. I am thankful for the deep friendships I formed but I can look back and see all the ways my kids were exhausted. 

You see, I was giving all my energy to getting them out of the house, making it through our activities without them having a breakdown, rushing them back home in time for naps or dinner, and then I was so exhausted by our outing I wanted some “me time.” I gave the best part of my self to the outing and by the time we got home I didn’t have much left over for the kids. 

Also, this:

Now that we go out so rarely, I can tell my kids are happiest the days we stay home (my daughter still goes to preschool so we get our booties out the door to run her down the road). My older two are extraverts like their mama, thankfully they have each other and pretty wild imaginations. They rotate between crafts, toys, running around outside, and reading. In the winter I let them watch tv on the days they don’t nap and first thing in the morning so I can stay in bed longer and so I don't have to talk to anybody before 9 am.

It wasn’t always this way either! I think all of us had to “learn” to stay home. In the beginning, we could barely make it a day. By 5 o’clock everyone started fighting, I literally felt trapped and suffocated by the walls of my home, and I was already planning at least three places we would go to the next day. Eventually we were able to stretch our days at home into two in a row, and now we are up to three! 

Those first few months learning to stay home I honestly would walk from room to room with my cup of coffee bored out of my mind. ALSO, it was so much easier just to clean the house and then leave it for the day— or who I am kidding, we would trash the house in our hurry to get out the door, leaving diapers and spilled coffee in our wake but at least I didn’t have to look at the mess all day while we were at the zoo or the mall! 

While we're home, I actually try to get a few chores done but don't compare yourself to me-- my housekeeping style is half-hearted at best. Each day I do the same things— rotating the laundry, unloading the dishes, picking up the living areas/kitchen, cooking our meals and some days I add in extras like vacuuming/dusting or cleaning the playroom. Does that sound exciting or what?! And that is just how I spend my “free” time when I don’t have to hold two babies at once and can strap one on my back! 

I honestly get super lonely. That is one of the reasons I blog! My saving graces are music on Pandora, phone calls, my favorite podcast, and watching the opening monologues of Ellen or The Tonight Show. By the end of the day I will sometimes be so over all of it I will park myself on the couch and make that my parenting “command station,” yelling orders and staring at the clock until Mike gets home. 

Exhibit A, a text to Mike last week-- he doesn't answer my phone calls unless they are preceded by a text that reads"S.O.S," which makes me confused because why wouldn't he want to know how many glasses of water Archer dumped on the floor or what I ate for lunch that day? 

All of this has made our transition into having four babies relatively “peaceful” (I clearly have super lower standards for peace or a weird definition of it!) and very, very joyous. People often say, “I don’t know how you do it!” I think to myself, well I really don’t have to go anywhere and my kids aren’t in a lot of activities yet so instead of being stressful, this season is really sweet. The slow pace of life used to feel so monotonous but I think I have gotten used to it for now. I am no longer surprised by the fact that everything is the same, day after day… after day… after day. And I always remember that these years will be gone before I know it and I will be missing our simple schedule big time!

If you are an on-the-go-mama, please don’t feel guilty! I really think if I had the option available I would still be that way. But if you are considering trying to stay home more, I can say the benefits for us have been saving money, less temper tantrums, and a slower pace of life that has helped me enjoy my kids far more than I did a few years ago.

Don’t get me wrong— I cannot WAIT for the day that I shlep my yelling big kids around in a minivan, eat meals on the run, and sit next to other mamas at practices talking their ears off, but for now it’s me and these little people and all my coping mechanisms— best friends to call all day long, a stash of cupcakes in the freezer, and the coffee maker on constant drip.

*EDITORS NOTE** I almost didn't publish this. I wrote it two days ago. Yesterday was AWFUL. Everything went wrong! I had to add the "ish" to the title of this post! 

These are just a few examples but I think there are seriously hundreds. Don't read if you don't have kids or are pregnant with your first:

Archer dumped 2 boxes of spaghetti on the floor, the thin kind that is impossible to sweep up so you have to pick each piece up with your hands
Emmy and Mack got into my essential oils and I found them vigorously washing eucalyptus off their hands and our whole lower level smells like an Altoid
Emmy cried for 30 minutes because Mack chucked a sippy cup down the hallway and it drilled her in the nose, Emmy cried for 30 minutes because she fell off the table, Emmy cried for 30 minutes because I disciplined her for the oil incident, Emmy cried for 30 minutes because SHE STABBED HERSELF IN THE EYE WITH A TOOTHBRUSH?
Archer spent the morning substituting talking with a super high pitched shriek, prompting me to say: "What fresh hell is this?!" the first time I heard it
Nobody napped (love you, Daylight Savings Time)
Charlie spit up so much on me it soaked through my underwear (of course this happened IMMEDIATELY after I FINALLY got dressed at 2 pm and FINALLY bathed him for the first time in 2 days)
By the time Mike got home at 8pm I silently handed him the baby and went to take a bath with a plate of chicken nuggets (it was the first thing I ate since breakfast) 
I ran out of hot water because I did a dozen loads of the damned laundry
And lastly, as I got out my freezing cold skin started stinging and turning red... because I didn't know they had dumped the oils all over the bathtub too!

and worst of all-- we were all out of desserts/snacks SO I HAD NO WHERE TO TURN BUT GOD

1 comment:

  1. I love this! As I prepare for Baby #3, I have been telling my husband that I think staying home more is going to be the key to my success/survival (same thing, right?). When we lived in apartments, we were on the go CONSTANTLY! But it kind of forced us to be. There wasn't much space inside our home and if the kids wanted to play outside we had to literally drive somewhere for them to do so. But I find the whole process of getting all of us ready and packed up and strapped in to car seats SO exhausting. I can see why it creates a more peaceful and enjoyable life with kids these ages when you stay home more, so I'm thankful to have a house and a yard now.

    I get excited every time I see that you have a new post! You always encourage me, and I'm sure many other mamas as well so keep it up friend :)


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