1.22.2009

Supermom Series: THE STAY-AT-HOME MOM

Today's Supermom is Stephanie. You can find her delightful blog HERE. Isn't she cute as a button?! And those kiddos! (Oh, and I might slightly be coveting that green bike...) Stephanie is really dedicated to her family, and I thought she would be a perfect Supermom to write about her experience as a stay-at-home momma.

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I have wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for as long as I can remember. I even majored in "Home and Family" for crying in the night! And let me tell you something, this life is better than I ever imagined it could be.

I take my title of "stay-at-home mom" quite literally. I try to stay at home with my kids as much as possible.

I am the lucky mother of 3 adorably perfect children. (I can say that because I am their mother.) Mabel, my oldest, is only 6, so my experience as a mother is somewhat limited. But as my children have grown, I have begun to realize that it is my job as a stay-at-home mom to create an environment that allows them to thrive. For me and my family, that means a slow-paced, home-centered existence. My goal is to create a life for my kids that is peaceful and calm. There is a lot of noise out there in the world. I want my home to be a refuge, a haven, and a place where that near deafening sound can be ignored for another day. As a stay-at-home mother, the home is my only domain, it is my favorite place to be, and I want it to be my children's, too.

Some things we do (and you can do, too!) to make life at home more peaceful:

On the days that errands simply can't be ignored, get them done quickly and early in the day. This allows for an afternoon of relaxation spent at home, not fighting traffic and the hustle and bustle of shops.

Limit outside activities. I think we all know how important family time is. Call me crazy, but I really believe that quantity is more important than quality. My kids are not currently enrolled in any extra-curricular activities. But they are still young, so I know this won't last forever. When they are older, and show an interest in things, I will try to limit their involvement a bit so that it doesn't interfere with family time.

Eat dinner together as a family every night. It doesn't always have to be a spectacular meal, but this is a good habit to start. A couple years ago, I read an article in Time Magazine called The Magic of the Family Meal. In it, I learned a few things, like the fact that young children pick up vocabulary and a sense of how conversation is structured during family dinners. They hear how a problem is solved, learn to listen to other people's concerns, and respect their tastes. They learn to share. Family dinners give kids a sense of belonging to their family. This is where a family builds its identity and culture. Legends are passed down, jokes rendered, eventually the wider world examined through the lens of a family's values. Not to mention that families who eat dinner together tend to eat much healthier.

Make a conscious effort to slow down. Getting the kids ready to leave the house is always something of a process, and I can likely be found hurrying my children along. But I'm rarely in an actual rush, so I remind myself that it's ok to slow down. It's ok if it takes Oliver 5 minutes to put on his shoes. A trip to the grocery store, or Nana's house, or wherever can wait 5 minutes.

Become a firm believer in doing nothing. I think kids need their own space and time to do what they want to do. At our house, "doing nothing" includes, but is not limited to: playing, coloring, reading, writing stories, building forts, having "quiet time" (code word for naps), or running around the backyard. Doing nothing is unstructured time where my kids get to choose want they do, and I don't bug them. I am lucky that my two oldest are the best of friends. They are more than capable of keeping themselves entertained, which is a great skill for all kids to learn, even babies like my Stella.

Keep things clean. In order to maintain a peaceful home, I really believe you have to have a clean home. Some days I feel like I spend my life cleaning. Other days I feel like my house is a major disaster area and there's no hope. But for the most part, I try to stick to a cleaning schedule (Mondays I do bathrooms, Tuesdays I dust, etc.). This keeps my neat-freak tendencies in check, and it means that I always have a relatively clean house. One of my favorite cleaning activities is to putter. This can be done any day, for any amount of time. While my kids are busy "doing nothing", I am busy "puttering", which means walking from room to room picking up, throwing away, and putting things back where they belong. Most of the time I count this as my exercise for the day, and I get the added benefit of having an organized home.

Speak softly, turn off the tv, and listen to pretty music. I was raised by wonderful parents who never yelled. Not once. Their example has inspired me, and I try not to raise my voice at my children. Again, there is enough of that out in the world. I believe that being a mother is a great privilege and blessing. It is my duty to be the best I can be. Somehow, I don't think raising my voice at these tender little people is fulfilling that sacred calling of motherhood. When my children watch tv, I try to limit it to one or two 1/2 hour shows a day. It's just more noise. And I love to have music playing in our home. It is usually something mellow, but every once in a while something with a good beat comes on and we let loose. Editing the noise you allow into your home from the outside world is so important.

If perchance you, my dear reader, are a high-energy person, or you are a true supermom and juggle work and home life, don't fret. It is possible to create a peaceful environment even if you like running errands in the afternoon, or listening to rock music, or you have a 9-5. The trick is to find a routine that works for you and your kids and to stick to it. Kids crave stability and attention. If you are giving them the routine and the constant, unconditional love that they need, things are going to be pretty all right most of the time.

This much I know, babies don't keep and children grow too quickly, so try to enjoy being home with them now. They will only be content to stay at home for so long, so I, for one, am drinking it up and soaking it in.

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Leslie said...

great advice and tips! stephanie is the best example of a happy stay-at-home mom that i have ever encountered. no joke. she loves her life and is proud of it, and it shows in her attitude and her kids' peaceful personalities.

and she's my sister, so i love her to pieces. :)

Shorty said...

Great post! You're the second supermom who makes lists of what chores to do on what days. I really need to implement this at my house! My son has chores for certain days, so why shouldn't I??? I can't wait to get this started!

I really like what you said about yelling. I'm one of those naturally loud people and even when I'm not trying to yell sometimes I end up doing just that. I'm going to learn to speak more tenderly!

I agree about family meals...we always sit and eat together. What a perfect time to come together each day and reconnect!

Lexi said...

I am glad that you mentioned limiting t.v. and turning on pretty music instead.

I usually try to play classical music at some point during the day for Peyton and I also don't turn on the t.v. because there really isn't anything on to watch but more importantly, he's learned how to entertain himself now instead of relying on a moving picture.

He never showed much interest in television and instead of creating and fostering a love for it, I helped him to enjoy his books and puzzles he has instead. Now he just shows mild interest in it if it happens to be on {usually when Dad is home in the evenings or on the weekends.}

Like you said, there will eventually come a time when our children will not care to be at home as much, or will want to watch t.v. more or will know what candy and cookies are {Peyton doesn't yet and he'll be two in March!}.

Until then, it makes me feel good that I can choose better things for him and evolve a love for them and hopefully he won't miss the things he DOESN'T need as much. Great post. Thanks!

I do need to work on my patience and temper though- good reminder! I actually asked for more patience at the temple today.

mrs. r said...

i love your reverence for motherhood! love it! i too agree that there is no need to yell ...ever... at the babies. and i love the way you also feel like home is the safest place to be. the sanctuary. i couldn't agree more.

you are a rockstar mom! after seeing you use a banana as a cup, i was sold hook, line and sinker.

love you, steph!

Alison Taber said...

Great post! I really need to work on the yelling, not that I even yell all the much, but like you said a little is too much. I couldn't agree more about Family dinner. I was raised in a house where family dinner was mandatory. My boys aren't really even talking yet (they are both under 2) but when the time comes, I plan to implement "Best/Worse thing about your day" Where each family member goes around the table and says what the best and worst thing about their day was. I think this is a great way to engage children to talk about their feelings, events, and anything that might be on their mind.

Amber said...

Great post. And I'm going to let her know so on her blog as well. I love reading her blog. And this was exceptionally well written with lots of good information.

Amber

{april kennedy} said...

she is a doll and so are her kids!

Can I go back and start over?! Unfortunatly my youngest is 6.

And I love the suggestion about music. Sometimes I walk right over to the TV, while kids are sitting on chouch, turn it off and say "we are listening to music now". It brings me such peace, too!

Great advice, great job!

crystal b. said...

I loved your advise! You are wise as well as beautiful! You are creating habits in your home now that will made a huge difference as your kids grow older and the world has a greater influence on them. Peace at home is huge. And there is another big blessing for what you have created -- your children's friends will feel the spirit in your home and to know more about the life you live. Press on Stephanie .. you've got it right!!!

stephanie said...

oh man, you guys are all so nice. thank you!

Mrs. Dub said...

Well, as a real-life friend, I already knew that Stephanie had mom zen down pat. Her kids are so well-mannered and adjusted, so it's clearly working. But I didn't know she was such a great writer. Excellent advice. If only my little one didn't la-la-love the TV.

Christina said...

This is so what I needed to hear. Sometimes when my days are slower-paced I feel like I need to be filling them with more- instead I need to be soaking them up. Thanks for the great reminder on treasuring this wonderful sahm job!

Anonymous said...

she sounds like a great lovely person - but a tad boring. live a little! show your kids life can also be a partay!

Lyndsay said...

Well I just posted a long comment that got deleted. Basically I wanted to say that every parenting style is obviously going to suit your children's personalities and needs best. Some households are naturally more low-key. Mine happens to be trampoline-beds and wooden-spoon-swords 24/7. Finn rolls his eyes at classical music. Of course we all need a balance of fun and serenity. And I can promise there is plenty of fun to be had in Stephanie's home.

I don't mind opinions on my blog at all. But please post with a profile. If anyone posts anonymously again, I will delete you (or at least rebuff). Backbones over egos, I say!

Emily Ruth said...

Stephanie, I am always in awe of your beautiful family. Now that you've shared your techniques, maybe I too can be such a fab mommy! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on keeping it simple and actually staying at home. I am often too busy and need to be reminded to keep a slower pace. And yes anonymous--I've seen her kids live it up too (as well as being well mannered; ). They made my sons first birthday a blast!

KatieJ said...

Stephanie is my hero. (really) I loved her ideas.

Saskia said...

I aspire to be a mum like Stephanie! What a special job mum's have and she seems to be enjoying every little minute of it.

Thanks for this great post and thank you to Stephanie for the valuable advise.

Saskia x

Shepherd Family ACAL said...

I am feeling like this is just what I need to hear, I just had my 3rd baby and life has gotten a bit crazy trying to figure out how to go grocery shopping with 3 which is causing me to have nightmares!
Thank you for your fabulous example, I love the idea that you really don't have to fill your days, I think it is a trend these days, I think it is important that children have time in their day that is not scheduled and is just theirs...I thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas!

Barbara said...

Yes, Stephanie is a great supermom and she is perfect for you series.
she is a peaceful and wonderful mom, wife, daughter, and granddaughter. She has ver lovable and beautiful children and I love them all so very much. I can say this because I am Stephanie's grammy and she really is special.

Lelani said...

What a great post! I'm live a split life: I work from home (own my business) and consider myself a part stay at home mom. I have always wanted to have a career, so this allows me to be here for my kids when needed and create my "other" life as well. I am a true believer of discipline and structure. My kids have chores assigned and we all share the work so we can have more free time. My kids are older now. My oldest is in college, then I have one who is a senior and finally my baby is 13. I am SO proud of them. I know I can walk away and that things will get done.

My house is mostly organized and clean. We always eat together as a family. TV is limited. We all enjoy music and they are all musicians. So keep doing what you're doing!! It works and it makes the home a happy, peaceful place.

Sarah said...

I love love love this post. Everything you said is so true...and makes for "good" kids.

Emily said...

Thanks for the great tips, Stephanie. I love no yelling--wow! And your advice about not stressing about the extra five minutes it takes to put on the shoes. I read an article once in which the mother said "save the relationship". She wanted her daughter to wear a specific jacket but the daughter did not want to. Finally she just thought their relationship was more important than making her daughter wear the jacket. For some reason your shoe advice reminded me of that good advise I read years ago. Thanks!

Jon and Ruthanne said...

Great post! I can relate to all of the things she is striving to do for her family. But what about her hasband, isn't he an important part of the family? I know this sight is about moms, but lets not forget about dads, they need some cheering on too!