I’ve got to be honest, this has been an off week for me. My husband has been extremely busy with work, and my kids caught a nasty stomach flu that has rocked our boat for several days. (So far only the kids, Lysol wipes are my new BFF).
So I’m taking a break from minimizing with a post that I hope some of you can relate too. It seems the more moms I meet, the more I find are in a similar situation as me. Moms that are fortunate (and happy!) to be at home with their kids, but have husbands who have to work long hours and/or travel to make it all work.
So…if that is you, even just some of the time, here are some things that I personally have found to make this time alone a bit easier.
Our kids feed off our moods, if you’re allowing yourself to succumb to bad moods, guess what? So will your kids. And grumpy kids are so not fun (like not at all). Negative, self-destructive thoughts about your situation will creep into your mind during these long days, but it’s important to stop them before they eat away your happiness. Try focusing on the blessing of the job (I know, I know this is a hard one!!). If you can’t stop the mood, try letting yourself cry for a minute. The key is to go there but not stay there; let yourself be sad or angry and process that feeling…but then get the heck out because that’s not a good place to live. I’m not gonna lie, I have to do this quite often. It really helps get the stress out before my husband comes home, that way I’m not as likely to take out my frustration on him. Because although yes, motherhood is hard and we have every right to feel this way…taking it out on our hardworking husbands is not the answer nor is it helpful. Trust me, they feel bad enough about missing out.
Tackle a project.
Nothing sucks out my will to live like watching endless hours of useless t.v. (ok dramatic I know, but I know this because I’ve done it). I really get a renewed sense of purpose when I tackle and accomplish a project. Whether it’s finally putting away that heap of laundry, reading a book, decluttering a room or refinishing a piece of furniture to sell. The sense of accomplishment can really boost my mood (and improve my life). Bonus if you can find a way to make some money doing it! I am a freelance graphic designer on the side and I love to use some of my time to tackle projects that keep my skills sharp. Think about what you love and how you can put it to use – you never know, you might be a budding entrepreneur!
Nothing shakes a bad mood like some exercise. Especially if it’s out in the fresh air and sunshine. My personal favorite is a simple walk. It kills that extra time between dinner and bedtime in the evening and gets the kids out to work off those end-of-day wiggles. If not in the evening, the pre-naptime walk is a fantastic way to guarantee you’ll get some good naps (and some alone time). When the weather doesn’t cooperate, I stick to the treadmill or a workout on YouTube. Not my favorite, but it is definitely better than nothing!
Distribute the fun.
Know your spouse will be gone for a week? Plan one fun thing per day to give the kids, and yourself, something to look forward too. It doesn’t have to be big and expensive, just fun. Our favorites are going to the zoo, the splash pad, the park, Tuesday 1/2 price movies, walking to the ice cream shop, hiking at the local recreation area, visiting the lake, story time at the library, playdates with buddies. You get the idea. Every community is different and every community has their own unique things to do. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t get discouraged! There are so many free options out there, you just have to know where to look. Other moms are a wealth of knowledge, tap into your friends for ideas.
Get creative with self-care.
I get it. Self care is a big deal right now. I know you can’t pour from an empty cup, blah blah blah. It’s just that sometimes you have no one else to take your kids for a few hours so you can get a latte and a pedicure. We live far away from family and I can’t afford to pay a babysitter every few days when I need a break. What I’ve learned after four years of this schedule is that it doesn’t take much to give me a little more fuel to get through the day. Some things I love to do for myself are getting a cup of my favorite coffee to sip at the library, taking a good book to the park to read while my kids play, or soaking in a hot bath after the kids go to bed (or nap). Maybe you’ll even get lucky and find another mom who is desperate for some alone time too so you can arrange a child care swap with her a couple times a month to squeeze in some of that much needed real alone time.
Create a clutter free living space.
We’ve all got enough on our plate to manage without adding a bunch of useless stuff to take care of! A clean house eases anxiety and reduces stress. This pas week, with sick kids and an absent husband has been really hard, but not as hard as similar situations have been in the past. I honestly think its because I’ve created better order in my house so when life happens and I’m up to my waist in puke covered laundry…I can just focus on that and not on the piles of junk on my counters.
What are your tips for going it alone? I’d love to hear any suggestions you have!