8 Survival Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms

February 5, 2014

I remember it vividly. My husband kissed us good-bye, and as the door closed behind him, I stood there half-smiling/half-terrified with a toddler weaving figure-eights between my legs and a fussing infant in my arms. Rain tapped on the windows. I heard his car engine start and pull away. And at that moment it happened. At that moment, I officially became a stay-at-home mom. I looked at the clock: 8:32am. Now what? Panic. What am I going to do all day with an infant and a two year old all by myself? I fumbled through the closet with my free hand to grab the play dough bin. Okay….I got this….I can do this….(insert jovial wink and smile). At 8:54 he was done playing with play dough. Wait, what?? Three hours until lunch, 4 hours until nap time, 11 hours until my husband returns home from work (if I’m lucky). Holy crap. I need a plan. A survival plan…..

Three years and another kid later, I have a handle on this SAHM thing, but it wasn’t always this way. What do SAHMs do all day? We work our asses off, dressing, cooking, feeding, cuddling, playing, comforting, rocking, changing, disciplining, cleaning, correcting, laundering, teaching, driving, encouraging, supervising and sometimes we even squeeze a meal in for ourselves…. standing up most likely. This job is no joke. It’s grueling. It’s lonely. It’s never-ending. But most of all, it’s special. In an effort to make the most of my days at home with the kids, I’ve figured out a few things that work. Here are 8 survival tips for stay at home moms.

stay at home mom survival

8. Make a plan the night before. Don’t wake up and think, “Oh, I wonder what we should do today?” When you have a kid hanging on your leg whining for breakfast, while the other one needs a diaper change, and the other one NEEDS you to change the channel….you don’t have time to figure out the local happenings and/or who is around for a playdate. Do it the night before when they are sleeping.

7. Get out of the house. If you stay home all day you will go insane. Your kids will go insane…. and your house will be an insanely messy. Even if you just go outside, get out of your house. Get fresh air, see fresh faces…and yes, the supermarket counts. And so does Target. God bless the person who invented car-carts.

6. Exercise. I don’t exercise to be skinny or to be in shape or whatever… I exercise because it is the only time in my day that I can complete a thought without interruption. I don’t get to exercise every day. In fact, I have to pay a babysitter if I want to workout during the week, but it is worth every penny. No exercise = no time to think = trouble sleeping = stressed out mommy = unhappy kids = bad. No babysitter? Stick your kids in the jogger or do a yoga video during nap time. In the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work.”

5. If it’s free, you should be there. Be “in the know” of local free activities. Locate every playground within a 10 mile radius of your home. Oh, and libraries……Libraries are my new best friend. I never thought I’d say that. Story times/music hour = one hour of your day that you don’t have to do anything except take videos of your kid singing “The Wheels on the Bus ” and make sure the snotty kid sitting next to you doesn’t snot on your kid… or you.

4. Don’t be afraid to give out your number. That’s right. Pick up other moms. Trust me, they are dying to be picked up. A stay-at-home mom can never have too many mom friends. The blonde at the playground, the brunette at your mommy-and-me class, the red head  who lives in your neighborhood…..Yep. They all want to be picked up and they all want to be your friend. So call them and say, “Hey, so I was thinking our kids could have a playdate if you’re interested??” Translation: I was hoping you could come over with your kid to distract my kid from me for a hot second so I can have an ounce of adult conversation. Mommy friends are essential. Yes, you will likely talk about nap schedules, and your kids’ eating habits, and midnight wakings, but it’s okay. She is an adult capable of speaking in full sentences and she needs you as much as you need her.

3. Do something for yourself once per week (at least). Being a SAHM is as full time as jobs can get. There are no sick days, there are no lunch breaks, there are no 4pm latte excursions….unless you happen to be driving and pass a Starbucks drive thru…… and after you settle the who-gets-what-cakepop-debacle, turn the music up, breathe deep and enjoy that much-needed espresso. Need more? Leave your kids with your husband, the grandparents, an aunt, or a babysitter and go get a manicure and don’t feel bad about it even for a second. Your kids will be fine and they need a break from you as much as you need a break from them.

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2. Break the rules. YOU are the boss. Whatever YOU say goes. So your kids want to wear pj’s all day? Fine by me…. (and less laundry). Skip school and go to a kid museum? Why the heck not! Ditch the nap to meet friends for ice cream? Of course!….How many people at the supermarket tell you, “They grow up so fast….(sigh)….” These are WISE people! Listen to them. Break the rules (once in a while) and live in the moment.

1. Enjoy the time you have with your kids. Being a SAHM is a special thing, but eventually it will expire. Eventually you will either go back to work or your kids will be all grown up. Be a kid again. Get on the floor and play. Go outside and run around silly. Put on some music and dance. Try not to worry about the cooking and cleaning. Try…..I know this is hard. This is really hard for me. But whenever I let go of those things and focus on enjoying my kids…. you know, “let loose” a little, I never regret it.

  • TIna
    February 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Lindsey! I loved this post =) I will most definitely be using some of your tips! Love the pick up another SAHM – Thank you for sharing. xxoo – Tina

  • Stephanie
    February 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Priceless advice! Three kids later and I do almost all of your 8 items, except #3… that is the hardest but I’m trying!

    • Sisters to Sons
      February 5, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      You’re right… that is the hardest! It’s funny how the littlest escapes… even 5 minutes alone…. can feel like vacation!

  • Jessica @EatSleepBe
    February 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Terrific post. It’s been a little while since I was there, working from home while my kids were small, but this is all so very true!

  • Barb @ A Life in Balance
    February 5, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Awesome advice! I wish someone had said this to me many many years ago when I first started staying home.

  • Pam
    February 5, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Great advice and inspiration 😉

  • Carrie @ Chockababy
    February 5, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Yeah, we are totally on the same page today! Except the “skip school” part. Planned? Yes. Unscheduled. Heck no! I was counting on one less child that day! 🙂

    • Sisters to Sons
      February 5, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Totally on the same page! Love your post!

  • mom
    February 5, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    probably learned all your dance moves from me……

  • Joanne
    February 6, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Just love this blog. Speaking from experience – everything you said is SO true.

    • Sisters to Sons
      February 7, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Thank you Joanne!! and thank you for validating my thoughts with your experience! So glad you like my blog…. THANK YOU for reading!

  • Lizzy Spohr Russinko
    February 6, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Enjoy the time! So true. I take time every day to be mindful about really appreciating the time with my daughter. I need the practice for when Baby #2 arrives in May… 😉

  • Life with Kaishon
    February 6, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Great advice! I always wanted to be one! I keep telling my husband that we need another baby (or ten) so that I can fulfill my dream : )

  • ClassyMommy
    February 6, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Love this post. Such excellent and true advice. Thanks for the reminders. New moms need this perspective and advice on Day 1.

  • Katie
    February 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Such great tips, Lindsey!! All moms can related to each and every one!! Well written, as always!

  • Elisabeth
    February 9, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    I love this! I have been both a SAHM and a working mom ever since my first child was born 21-1/2 years ago… and have at least 18 more years ahead with the arrival of our precious #8 two weeks ago. (Yeah, 40 years from first diaper change to the last one’s first day of college… Yikes! LOL)

    I think the “break the rules” tip is the most important. Make the rules that work for you and your family, but never be a slave to them! They are a tool… you are the boss.

  • Tess&Carter'sMom
    February 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    My new rule will be to break at least one rule per day. Love it. And p.s. no snow days either. whatsupwitdat?

  • Kaytlynn
    February 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Hi Lindsey! Your mom mentioned your blog to me at the Evans’ house on Christmas Eve and I’ve been reading ever since! I love it, your posts are hilarious and relatable, even as a non-mom 🙂 Hope all is well!
    -Kaytlynn (Chris’s fiancée)

    • Sisters to Sons
      February 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Kaytlynn! Made my day!… glad the non-moms can relate too… keep reading and you will be super-prepped if you guys decide to have kids!Can’t wait to check out your blog… I never caught the name on Xmas but now I have it!

  • Suzanna
    February 16, 2014 at 9:22 am

    This is a great list! As a new mom who will have to go back to work soon, I will be implementing these a little differently than a SAHM but I will definitely be implementing them!


  • Julie
    April 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I featured this blog post on my blog’s facebook page. Thought I’d share some blogger love! 🙂

  • Sabrina Q.
    July 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Great post! When my kids were smaller, we would go to the local movie theater to watch older movies. It was free at the time but from what I understand, it is only $1.00 or $2.00 per person now. They have age appropriate movies for little kids and a different set of movies for preteens. They offered it twice a week in the mornings. Thanks for sharing.

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