I have been a mom for approximately 3,253 days.
(That's nearly 9 years, but counting days sounds much more dramatic. And I am nothing if not dramatic.)
If I am being conservative, I have probably been with my kids for 90% of those days.
Because we don't have family in town and my kids have never been in school, the only breaks I get from them is a few hours of week when Brett is home with them (and I leave the house even if I have nowhere to go) and a few weekends a year when Brett's mom and dad graciously keep them.
This is not bragging.
Believe me, if my mom or mom-in-law were in town, they would be tired of me by now with how much I would ask them for help. I mean, just ask Brett's mom. She casually mentions she has a day off of work, and I practically pack my kids' bags before her sentence is finished.
This is also not complaining.
This is the life I have chosen.....and a life I love 90% of the time.
Brett is an awesome dad, but building a business requires tons of time and energy...and he gives all he has to our business and our family. During easier seasons of life, I had more breaks...and I look forward to those days in the future!
This is purely a fact. A fact, I would venture to say, is true of most stay at home moms.
(Working moms, you know I love you and value you!! I know what you miss in quantity time, you make up in quality time. So this is not 1% a slam. It may just be less applicable.)
Because I've had to attempt to keep my sanity in tact for approximately 51,000 hours (is my drama making you feel for me?) and somewhat entertain my children, I've figured out some ideas along the way for dealing with the gloriously long days.
These are not rocket science, and I've probably mentioned them before on here. But sometimes in the monotony of your days, a fresh idea can spark new life and joy into your journey....and make you remember how much you love this job!
10 Ideas To Survive Motherhood On The Long Days:
(Everyone knows to go to Target or the park, so these are more creative--and inexpensive-- ways to spend your days.)
I mean, who among us hasn't experienced this?
That's Luke, not Levi. I don't think Levi has ever been in Target. I have raised the white flag of taking toddlers to the grocery store.
1. Anyone who has read my blog for awhile probably knows that I solve most every whining problem with water. Bath tub, pool, water table, kitchen sink....I don't care what it is. If it has water, it instantly invites children in and changes attitudes.
Caleb at our house in Kansas. So little.
When Caleb and Chloe were 1 and 2, I think they took like three baths a day during long Kansas winters.
2. If water is not a possibility, outside is a close second. If you have a baby that just will not quit crying, a walk in the stroller changes everything. Even if the baby continues to cry, the screams are way easier to withstand when they aren't reverberating off of every wall in the house.
Outside is a good decision at any age. Even if it's cold, bundle up. It's worth it.
Outside and water = double win!
3. Strap the kids into the car and drive. I don't do this as much anymore (because, as I've said a million times, KIDS GET EASIER!), but I did it ALL THE TIME when I had three babies under 5.
I would drive to a McDonald's like 20 minutes away (there was one closer, but it was too close), order a Diet Coke, park the car, and just sit.
I would drive back home, reenergized to make it through the day....having spent $1 and some gas.
4. Find a coffee shop with a play area, invite a friend, and go! Because these places cost money, there are usually less kids and therefore, more relaxing than, say, Chick Fila.
(I am all about going to any play place, but if you only have little kids, those play areas are anything but relaxing. Now that my kids are older, I send them in and pretty much ignore them---and the stares of the moms sitting in the room---but that's a relatively new phase for me.)
The coffe shop/play areas seem popular, so maybe there is one in your area! Even if you aren't a coffee drinker (I'm not), there are usually delicious treats. Eating your feelings is an essential part of surviving motherhood.
If a friend can join you, even better! Friends are also essential to survival (says the extrovert).
5. Watch your favorite TV show (or read a book, if you have more brain cells than I ever did). There is always the temptation to do one more load of laundry or load the dishwasher, but some days (read: a lot of days), you just need to leave those undone and veg out. You really cannot overestimate the power of relaxing.
6. Eating out with a one year old is never worth it. This is the opposite of an idea, but it will save you a lot of frustration. If you're like me, you eat out to get a break (from cooking, cleaning, thinking, etc). Going out to eat with a one year old is the exact opposite of a break.
Save yourself the frustration, and get take out (or delivery). Put the kids to bed early, and enjoy an in-home date night with your husband....or if you're a single mom, yourself!
7. Stop reading articles about how TV will destroy your child and turn the stupid thing on. Turn on Dora (if you can stand it), and boom, they get a Spanish lesson for the day. Now you can feel less guilty about TV and look impressive when your toddler counts to ten in Spanish (no one ever has to know where they learned it).
8. Most super fun, exciting, homemade Pinterest inspired crafts for kids that take you hours to create will hold their interest for about 14 nanoseconds. So let go on the guilt you feel for pinning a million of them and doing exactly none of them (unless you enjoy doing them....then be you and party on).
Painting with shaving cream. Super fun. For like 3 minutes. The clean up took forever....and stained my grout!
It is so cliche....but a box, some kitchen utensils, and a bowl....are free and way more fun.
And if you choose to go beyond that, choose small projects. Kids are super fine with simple. It's adults who try to make it all SO. AWESOME. It doesn't have to be.
Save the Pinterest stuff for when you have grandkids. I sort of feel like that's the time for those.
9. Invite a friend over and linger together as long as possible. Nothing gets you through the early days of motherhood (or any days, for that matter) like a good friend. It takes work, yes, but it is always worth it!! (On a similar note, try to say yes as often as possible to playdate invitations.....it is SO. MUCH. WORK.....but really, really shortens the long hours in a day).
10. Even the longest, hardest, worst days end. I can remember very few days as a mom of only little kids feeling like I had rocked the day. Most days ended in exhaustion, frustration, guilt, and wondering if it would ever get it right.
Those little babies and toddlers that are so, so hard (even when they're so, so cute) grow into the most precious kids. What you are doing is worth it. You see such little fruit. Experience such little victory. But the fruit and victories come. I promise they come.
Survive the day. Do whatever it takes to make it til bedtime. Even if it's letting go of ideals of what you believe makes a good mom. There is still time; there are a lot of days left to figure it all out.
But for today, put your kids to be early, watch some trash TV, and down some ice cream.
There is always the hope of an awesome tomorrow.