If I could go back in time and give myself advice as a new SAHM, what would I say?
Relax, the kids will be okay. I have been known to be pretty tight-lipped when it comes to mothering. I've also been known to get stressed-out over small matters. I worry too much. I think my kids are pretty well-adjusted, but I can see a bit of over-cautiousness in my oldest - and I know it's from me.
I'd for sure tell myself to enjoy this time, because it goes by so fast. My oldest just lost his fourth baby tooth today (he's 6), while my youngest (6 months) is getting his first two teeth in. It's strange how quickly time flies. My oldest, it seems, was a baby just yesterday!
Laugh. My husband and children really light up when I laugh. In fact, they seem quite delighted with themselves when they can get me to crack up. My laugh is music to their ears.
My attitude is key. I've noticed that if I'm in a foul mood, it's likely that everyone else will be, too. I get short-tempered and suddenly all of the kids get into trouble. My husband is annoyed. The kitchen is a wreck. If I could find ways to improve my attitude, many of my days would go better. I've heard Dr. Laura suggesting that SAHMs put a playlist of upbeat music on the iPod and play that when feeling frazzled. I think it's a good suggestion.
Sit on the floor with the kids and play with them. They flock to me when I sit on the floor. Wrestling, stories, blocks, and dolls are always brought out. Kids sit on my lap. I'm at their level. If I stay on the floor with them, I remain focused on them and not distracted by chores, emails, or phone calls. I can tell that my children really enjoy when I get on the floor with them.
Sleep train your kids at an early age. I kept the hours of a baby each time one of our kids were born and then for the first year of their lives. This was because I would nurse on demand - and then nurse them to sleep. That included co-sleeping and restless nights (for baby, me, and my husband). I would also get pretty irritated during the day when I had to have a baby at the breast whenever it was naptime. It limited what I could do - 24/7. So, I strongly suggest The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West as the go-to book on gently sleep training children.
Play outside with the kids and teach them about the world. Hikes, drives, playtime at the park, gardening, or just playing in the backyard. I've really enjoyed telling the kids about the trees, the seasons, plants, animals, and clouds. I've noticed they aren't scared of chickens or picking up worms like I am. I see a strength in their curiosity about nature. I also let them go ahead and get dirty. (I just have clean clothes sitting by the back door for them to change into when they come in.) I feel like I'm passing on wisdom that I gained from my Grandpa Joe - especially when I quiz them later on what I had taught them.
Being inside so much isn't good for SAHMs! When I'm inside too long, I get a small view of the world. I get restless and irritated. When I go outside, I seem to be calmer, more happy, and don't care if the kids get all dirty (or if i do). When I garden or hike, it grounds me and helps me keep perspective - I'm just one part of this big world.
Learn (and do) a system to get my household chores done in the morning. Women long ago, like Ma on Little House on the Prairie, had specific days to do each of her big chores. She had those girls helping, too. There was no, "I don't feel like washing laundry today." Sometimes I feel like such a ninny. Ma would be ashamed of me.
So, those are some of my ideas on advice to myself as a new SAHM. Here are other mothers' advice to themselves. What would you tell yourself?h
(For more New SAHM tips, see here and here.)
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