How to Stay Home With Your Kids and Not Go Crazy
Are you a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) that is struggling to find a balance between mothering, taking care of the home and setting aside some time for yourself? If this sounds like you, you’re definitely not alone.
Why you’re likely to go crazy
It’s very common to feel as though your job (and yes, being a stay at home mom is actually a job!) as a stay at home mom is not as important as someone who works outside of the home, but I can assure you that being a stay at home mom is one of the hardest jobs out there. It’s rewarding, but it’s an extremely difficult job.
The fact that you are doing it shows just how strong you are, and just how important you are. Without you running the home, can you imagine how upside down things would be? Acknowledge that and be proud of yourself!
Because you are likely at home with young children day in and day out, it’s possible to go a bit crazy after awhile. I’ve been there (many times). Cleaning up messes, playing with children, making meals. All of that stuff may seem easy at first, but it gets monotonous after awhile, which in turn can make you go a bit cuckoo.
In fact, some stay at home mom’s often wish they could go back to work – just so they can have some kind of communication with someone other than a toddler. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve ever felt like this. It’s normal.
If you really want to stay at home with your kids and not end up going crazy, here are a few tips:
Embrace the mess
Let go of your idea of the perfect home. With young children, a perfect home is not realistic. They are going to make many messes, every single day. Instead of chasing them around all the time, picking up after them, just let go of the notion that your home has to be spotless at all times. Until your kids are out of the house, it is likely never going to be spotless.
Messes mean that fun is being had – and that’s a great thing. Don’t try to prevent messes from happening. Control the situation as much as you can, involve your child in the clean up process when it’s over, and move on to the next activity with excitement – not fear of the mess it may bring.
Get out of the house
When you’re a stay at home mom, trips outside of your home are often rare. No one likes spending half an hour getting your child ready to go on a 15 minute walk. Or trying to dress a child that is throwing a temper tantrum.
But, in order to stay sane, it is highly recommended that you try to get out of the house as much as you can. I don’t mean you should go out for hours every single day, but try to go outside every other day for at least an hour.
A few things you can do:
- Go to the library
- Play outside
- Visit a friend or family member
Connect with other moms
Sometimes us stay at home moms feel like all we ever do is change diapers, clean the house, and have conversations with young ones about poop and Dora the Explorer. This alone is enough to make any person go crazy.
If you have other moms to connect with, those days that you feel like running for the hills will be much easier to handle. Your “mom friends” will understand your situation, give you tips on remedying that situation, and will encourage you and give you hope. No one understands this stay at home mom thing more than other stay at home moms.
If you don’t know of any stay at home moms in your area, check out Baby Center. There are tons of moms on there that would be happy to listen and help you through tough times.
Make time for yourself
I know that this may seem impossible, but it’s one thing that you absolutely must do if you want to avoid going crazy.
Before I had kids, I was a night owl. I would sleep all day and play all night. Then, kids came along, and they are now usually awake at 8am or earlier each day. That means that I also have to be awake at 8am or earlier each day. On top of that, I also need to make time for myself. So, I get up even earlier than my kids do – just so I can drink a cup of coffee and read in peace.
It’s absolutely crucial to have that alone time. If it’s impossible for you to wake up earlier than your child, consider asking your partner to give you some help when they arrive home from work. Even just 20 minutes to ourselves to read a book, take a shower or sit around and stare at the ceiling – you need to make time for yourself. It’s impossible to properly care for others when you are not cared for yourself.
Many stay at home moms think that because they are at home most of the day, that they are required to tend to all aspects of running the home. Keeping it clean, doing the grocery shopping, caring for the children. But you know that you can’t do it all. It’s crazy to think that any one person can manage a home and children without any help.
It is possible to do it all alone, but you will likely end up going crazy at some point, and that is what we’re trying to avoid here. When you start to feel like you just can’t handle it alone anymore, get some help.
Your spouse, friends & family, a neighbour – even paid help is sometimes worth the money. Do whatever you need to do to make sure that you are just as well cared for as everyone else.
A stay-at-home mom’s job feels like it never ends. And it doesn’t, really – not until your children are in school. Make your life easier and less stressful by following the 5 tips above.
The most important role us mothers have is raising our children to become competent and happy individuals. As a stay-at-home mom, you have an even greater influence on your child. Going crazy is not an option. If you follow at least one of the tips here, I promise that you will have some semblance of calm in your life.
I would die to be a stay at home mom- Working moms work outside the home and still have to do all that – so for stay at home moms, remember how lucky you are! Go outside, take a deep breath and regroup.- The Early years centre is also a great resource, you can meet other moms and babies and borrow toys, books etc….
Wuauuu Cassie, thanks for all these intelligent advice. I will practice all of them.
I always thought it would be so much easier to stay at home when I worked out of the house…Boy was I wrong!
Being that I am a stay at home Mom, and also work from home, I can vouch for every one of those tips being a golden gift! LOL:)
That 20-30 minutes a day to yourself, no matter what you use it for, is essential to keeping your sanity! 🙂
I agree, that time out for yourself is very much needed every day!
Thank you for this I so needed it today:)
Thanks!! I really need this today. 🙂
Of course a working mom had to comment to make sure everyone knows that working moms work HARDER and that SAHMs are soooooo lucky. That is not necessarily true. Someone is taking care of your kid while you are at work. So you do not do IT ALL. We all have our own work to do, no one is better or works harder than the other.
Lucy, my point was sahm are BLESSED and when in need of a pick me up, remind yourself of that. I didnt say anyone works harder than anyone else, all moms have the hardest job in the world and should stick together. My point was- I wish I could be a stay at home mom, so I am envious of people who have that luxury. To say I dont do it all is a huge insult and I think you need to check yourself- Seriously, my post was not to start an argument or insult anyone, if I did so- My apologies but you are considerabley rude, lady!
“Working moms work outside the home and still have to do all that”
Well I think it is rude to say that. Because you are basically saying you do way more than we do. It is just a different day.
Oh Katie, You are going to feel picked on today, I fear. I have read all the posts up to this point and can see your side as I have been there. But your use of a word like luxury are enough to boil blood. I realize the last thing you are trying to do is offend. And I understand your longing to be home with your wee one. But I must interject having been on both sides of this debate. Is that for many it is not a luxury. It is a sacrifice. Many things are given up so that we can be with our kids.
I realize you give up as well so that you can help provide for your family. But with a word like luxury and stay at home mom you bring up many negative connotations. Like the mom who feels people see her eating nothing but bonbons all day. Or moms who get to play and have no worries.
Luxury at this point in my personal sahm experience would be being able to get a hair cut more than once a year, or a family vacation, or better yet to go shopping on my own or yet even better than those to pee by myself. lol
Also, I feel I should add that working, for me, would cost more than staying home. Well, in the area we live child care is so expensive,for both kids, that I would in fact end up paying to work. Those numbers included gas and such expenses.
This why I can see a fire storm against using words like luxury.
Blessing yes! Most definitely. Luxury? That is pushing it.
But being away from your kid all the time I can see how you feel that it is a luxury.
Yes, true maybe that wasnt the right choice of words, but to me it is a luxury- and I certainly dont think stay at home moms have it easy or sit around and watch TV all day, so I dont mean luxury in that context. But to be able to not work in order to be home with your beautiful babies and watch them grow, stay with them when they are sick, laugh when they laugh, catxh every single moment in your memory.. well, thats a luxury to me. I will miss the days of my son playing, learning, laughing, crying.. to come home at night to cook, clean, meal plan, do laundry, make lunches for the next day, take out the garbage, try to get some playtime in, bath time and bed time. I understand whole hearted that sahms make sacrifices in order to infact stay home, even with working I still cannot afford 2 cars or vacations or much else than my mortgage, car payment, my sons college fund and making sure I have money for him. I didn want to offend anyone, and as moms, we all have to stick together, but thank you Rebecca for the well written comment and not snarking at me just because you dont agree- I dont want to offend anyone and luxury isnt what I meant exactly, in the terms most people would use it, so Im sorry for that as well.
I have to say I really agree with you here. I DO realize that I am very blessed to be able to stay at home with my 2 year old son, and I appreciate every minute I spend with him. But it really burns my butt that I am constantly made to feel guilty if I make mention of how exhausted I am or how little time I get to myself. I get comments on how lucky and blessed I am to stay at home, and if I’m so tired, just have a nap when he has his. (How the heck do you think I get anything done if I don’t go like stink when he goes down for a nap) I really think people think I sit around watching tv and eating bonbons all day. Also, we do without a lot of extras because we’ve made this choice for me to stay home and we’re going without my $50k+/year pay cheque. We watch friends going away on holidays, buying new vehicles, renovating their homes, etc. The way we see it, there will be lots of time to make money, but he will only be little once. But some days, I do miss having my lunch time or commute time to myself.
well said, debbie. i appreciate your comments and don’t like the accusations, defensiveness, and aggression in the thread above. everyone makes their choices and everyone lives with the consequences, good days and bad days alike. and if you’re truly dissatisfied with where your life is at, there are always options and ways to tweak things. i’m a WAHM and i have just arranged a one morning a week childcare swap with another mum i met at the playground so we each have a few hours to ourselves in the week without the high cost of finding and paying a babysitter. it involved creative thinking and taking a risk. but i’m a firm believer in taking responsibility for my happiness and finding the good in the bad days, too. there’s no one perfect way. and just as an aside, i once read an old saying something to the effect of if everyone took their problems and put them in a giant heap, then everyone had the option of taking back their own or assuming someone else’s, we’d probably all choose to have our own back.
Great article.. Being a SAHM myself I know about all the challenges.. but believe me it is worth it to spend time with your children in their early years.. even though it can be challenging at times. 🙂
The Early years centres and other Parenting centres have excellent programs for children before they have to start school.. and give young children a chance to explore an environment similar to a school set up while still having their parent around.
Its a free program here in Mississauga. Some centres even provide a snack..
Thanks for the tip on those programs. I have heard many great things about them!
I so needed this today. I’m a SAHM of 3 kids between 4mo-3yr and I’m soooo sick with an awful cold. I wish I could just spend all day in bed but there’s no such thing as a sick day for us! This was a nice read on a day I felt particularly overwhelmed.
I am so happy to hear it touched you somehow. 🙂
while i agree that being a working mom plus trying to care for a home, would be extremely hectic and a lot to fit into each day….it is seriously my pet peeve when moms consider it so much worse. it would be the last thing on the planet i would want for my family. but i think the point is sahm’s are in the same environment every minute of every 24hr day. I’m sure leaving the house for work us no cup if tea but it’s still a break from your kids and your house. it’s different…not the same and therefore can’t be compared imho.
Totally agree its two different things- When I commented-Trust me, it was out of pure jealousy! I would do anything to be able to stay at home with my baby and not have to return to work! Just as SAHMs hate the stereotype of it being easy Working moms hate that people think we dont love our kids as much or have someone else raising our babies, know what I mean? Its the ongoing struggle with all Mommys, I think! Always pulled in every which direction, never thinking you are doing enough!
For moms looking to connect with other moms in the community there a fantastic site called Life With A Baby/Preschooler.
They have AWESOME meet ups, playgroups, mom only get togethers and seminars and it’s a great chance to connect with other moms and just get out of the house – most of the activities (and membership) are free and always fun and they are in various regions of Ontario.
When I was on maternity leave, this was a lifesaver for me. Loved it.
Thanks for sharing, Laura!
I loved the entire year I got to stay at home with my baby and I hated going back to work. It is much harder for -me- to be at work on my feet all day and then have to come home and cook and clean and look after the baby. Yes someone looks after my baby all day long, but I don’t view that as a good thing. I get two hours a night during the work week with my baby and if you think that makes me lucky, you are so, so wrong. I miss all the smiles and giggles and playfulness and get the struggle to keep the routine of dinner, bath and bedtime every night.
Anyone who gets to be a SAHM should realize what a blessing it is not to miss a moment of your baby’s life, good or bad.
I have done both: SAHM for over 3 years after I lost my job plus 2 mat leaves. I’m currently working outside the home.
It shouldn’t be a competition: BOTH are hard. BOTH have their challenges. When you’re at home all day, yes, you get cabin fever and you feel like your to-do list is constantly growing. You feel guilty for not contributing financially. When you work outside the home, you feel guilty for not spending more time with your kids and for being so tired at the end of the day. You feel guilty for not going to school plays or volunteering in the classroom.
For me personally, we ate better meals and the house was tidier when I was at home. I was a more “fun” mom.
Having done both for significant periods of time, I would go back to being a SAHM in a heartbeat if we could afford it.
“It shouldn’t be a competition”
Well said! I have struggled with this so much during my first year as a parent: every decision a mother makes, from whether to breast feed or formula feed; to whether to attachment parent or not; to whether to feed organic or non-organic; to whether to feed meat or vegetarian; to whether to work outside the home or not, is wrong! No matter what decision you make as a mother, there is a smug group of mothers and experts who gleefully point their fingers and tell you why your decision is wrong. Sure, you can also find people who support your decision, but there is always that other group listing the reasons why you’ve made the wrong decision, berating you, and making you feel guilty. Why can’t mothers support each other? How hard is it to say ‘good for you for making a decision that works for your family’?
I’m on the verge of returning to work after having my first baby and I concur with Cassie’s advice. The most important thing, I think, is to figure out what will work for you so that you can continue to care for your child(ren).
There is not one right or wrong answer on this,. I do not have children yet and always dreamed of being a stay at home mom till my children were in school. Now being 28 working full time owning a home and paying bills I see this will not be a reality for me. For me and where I live there are certain things I will not go without, we will need 2 cars and our own house (my choice but I refuse to pay rent, I would prefer to pay a morgage and have it be mine) and yes money is a very large issue for me, I want to be stable and not worry about money. I would love to stay home when the time comes but fact is fact unless we can afford to have me, I will be a working mom.
I have seen it from both sides, my mom was a working single mother who luckily had my grandparents to take care of me. Where is my stepmom was a stay at home mom. There will never be a right or wrong answer it is all in what is best for you and your family. I understand both are hard work but at the same time why does it need to be a competition?
As someone currently working full time even without children I can admit I have no idea what I will do once I have children as it is I do not have enough hours in the day without children. But some how we will work it out, I think the point most working mom’s have is stay at home mom’s have more flexibility to your schedule, if your child has an appointment you dont have to book time off and than try to make the time up, you can reschedule your day to make it work.
I know some will not like that I posted and do not have children but I have seen it both ways with many members of my own family. Both have their ups and downs, that is life, nothing is perfect and in most cases most are just doing what they have to do.
Obviously a touchy subject. I never got to be a full-time SAHM even though I wanted to be, but I did have a few years of only working part-time.
I think the reality is that mostly it is just different. While there shouldn’t be a competition as to who has it worse I think human nature is that it will always be a slight competition.
I have to say though, there is something about being in the same environment day in and day out that is psychologically difficult. While I obviously never totally look forward to going to work, there are days that it is nice to go to work and know I won’t have to stare at my mounting laundry wondering how on earth I am going to get it all done.
THANK YOU, Cassie. I really needed this encouragement today. I’m a stay at home Mama of 2 and I personally do without a lot to be where I am. My children are well cared for with nice clothes, shelter, food in their bellies, and a parent at home to raise them. This Mama goes without hair cuts, clothes (I’m still wearing some maternity clothes and my youngest is going on 8 months old LOL), alone time, change of scenery, and adult conversation (I do not drive and am in a remote location, a small town with very few programs). It is totally WORTH IT though. I’d have it no other way. Sure, we could make more money, but like Debbie so beautifully put, there’s lots of time to make money. They are only little once. The first three years especially go sooo FAST. Too fast. And I am thankful for the blessing of being home. That’s not to say I have it any worse than a work-outside-the-home Mom, but rather that I. AM. EQUAL. We make about $45-50k/year with a family of 4 and we make it work, as we did with $35k/year with a family of 3. We manage.
Cassie I love all of your advice, and in my opinion this is the best article you’ve written. It was exactly what I needed. It even brought tears to my eyes! I can’t say that I have it all together. Far from it really but I have found and tried a couple of things that make my life easier. Pinterest is one. I have found so many inexpensive crafting/baking ideas on there that i do with my toddler while my baby has her morning nap and its our special time together reserved for her. We have one vehicle and no access to public transportation so my husband reached out at his work and found someone to carpool with periodically. it won’t always work out but it means that for the most part once a week I’m able to take my kids to the local free community play group where I get to participate in the activites with the kids but while being around other moms and dads because that’s the one thing I do miss about working. Being social! That’s all I’ve really come up with thus far on my own. The rest Cassie you have helped with. the meal planning, time management have really helped get my life on track. Now in terms of the craziness, I tell myself life would be so much easier if my baby would just sleep at night. Sleep deprivation does have a cumulative effect and it would be worse if I was working outside the home! Until she starts sleeping at night, if ever, I will just continue along and remind myself to count my blessings and that I’m far from alone in this journey.
As a SAHM/WAHM, I feel like I “get” both sides. When my 2 yr old naps, I work – either dishes, or supper prep or meeting deadlines. When bedtime comes – ditto. Some days I just want to curl up in a ball and cry…or bash my head against a door as I deal with another dirty diaper while I juggle another work assignment. But I just DO IT. And that’s what Mom’s are good at doing. There is no right or wrong (same with breastfeeding vs. formula). You do what works for YOU, and recognize that as long as your child is loved, you’re already on the right track.
To keep from going crazy, I do try lots of things:
1) Library outings (they put on lots of song/story times)
2) Time outside (jump in puddles, build a snowman, or just run around; today we coloured snow with food colouring)
3) Playdates (kids play with kids while moms talk – a win, win)
4) Prep supper the night before: I cut veggies, cook rice…try and get the basics completed the night before, so I can toss things together at naptime
5) Organize your day: schedule in specific times for reading, eating etc., it really helps the time go faster if you have a rough outline of what to do when
6) Join online forums (I LOVE the Chronicles of a Babywise Mom group on Google – regardless of what you think about Babywise)
7) Have a place for EVERYTHING. I clean up twice a day (at nap time and bedtime), and I can do it in about 2 minutes because everything has a tote or storage box or shelf where it fits. It makes such a difference.
For WAHM – it’s tough.
1) Talk to your boss and explain when your child is teething/sick and how you might be a bit delayed
2) Use a timer: I put 30 minutes on the timer and force myself to focus on work for that stretch of time
Whew – I have so much more I could write…but the little one just woke up from her nap (crying), and I have a work deadline at 5 pm! Must run 🙂
I have been a SAHM for 13 years. My kids are now 16 and 19. I worked for the first 4 years of my oldest son’s life.( I was quite young when we had him.) It seems as soon as they started school family stopped babysitting and I could not find a job that would let me off at 2pm to pick up kids from school.
I love my kids, but was not meant to stay home with them. I planned to go back to work as soon as my youngest started grade 1. Then we found out he had Autism. We then factored in daycare for two kids, gas, extra car and expenses, wardrobe etc. and going to work would cost more then I could ever make. So here I am at home 13 years later.
It was a very lonley time and I battled it and was quite depressed and angry for years. The last few years though I have accepted it – finally. The way I look at it now is – I had the kids, they needed someone to be home and look after them and what makes more sense then their mother doing it? The reasons why I am still not back to work are the same 13 years later – my youngest has Autism, he is incapable of doing some things on his own and getting home on his own from his school which is 20 mins. away is impossible. We have no family help. I think I will be a stay at home mom until my youngest son is able to be on his own, which may not happen. We have our own home, two cars and are debt free except for the mortgage and have always watched friends and family go on vacations and buy this and that only to find out that they were in tremendous debt in the first place.
What is the point in keeping up with the Joneses when they themselves are in debt and can’t afford the lives they are leading? They have to work in order to pay the debts.
We all make choices that are right for us and we should all support each other in these choices.
I love the section on Getting Help. In general, it just seems hard to ask for help sometimes, for various reasons – not wanting to inconvenience others or ‘burden’ them or just afraid to admit that we need help.
I have followed your site for awhile Cassie and find it fun to learn more frugal ideas. Thank you so much. Keep on doing what you’re doing. I have never commented before but felt the urge to do so with this article. I have been a SAHM for 12 years with 4 children. I call myself a domestic engineer. 🙂 Have I loved every minute of it? Heck no! Would I do it again? In a heart beat. There is no other place I would rather be right now.
Moms need to do what works best for their babies and be confident in their decision, not defensive.
So, in answer to your question… Here’s how I stop from going insane:
1 Go with the flow.
2 Stay positive. Don’t be so hard on myself.
3 This too shall pass.
4 Laugh, have Fun!!!
5 Have good all out sobbing “ugly” cries once in awhile.
6 Don’t compare myself to the zen, have it all together mom next door (seriously, she does live right next door to me.)
7 and finally, sometimes I think what do I want my kids to remember about me when they look back on growing up? Do I want them to remember me as the crazy frazzled lady or the mom that likes to rock out in the kitchen to Taylor Swift?
Hope this helps.
I love this read! Somedays are so long! I work very part time, and get to spend about 5 days a week with the kiddoodles. I have 3 under 3 and somedays are crazy!!! Especially if the twins are teething, everything is going crazy, cheerios are flying, snot is running through the house like a river and I think someone prob just pooped again. If all of these things start happening and my head is gonna explode I must 1. stop 2. gather all children into the livingroom. 3. put on lady gaga, or some other Grown up (but no swears) song, 4. Break it down. HARDCORE. seriously, if your dead tired it gives you instant energy and makes the kids sooooo happy! any age can do it! and i take turns picking all three up. This is to be used in emergency situations! in non emergencies it’s ok to use kid music… LOL. Also, I find just playing in another room helps a lot for some reason… Just my 2 cents! Thanks Cassie you are awesome sauce! x0
You say in your article Ummmmm…..NOT!! Your stay at home moms job just gets busier when the kids go to school. Homework, sports, school projects, lunches, friends, forms to sign and more to organize and oversee. Good luck if you think it ends when they go to school!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good suggestions! what I wanted to do now for my toddler is to go to the drop-in so he can play with other kids and I will have also the chance to meet other moms but it seems that it’ s not going to happen as I am still sleepy in the morning as I work late nights 5 days a week! Yes, I have a full time job and I am a “stay at home mom” during the day!
I went out with the kids a lot when I was on mat. leave, or when I’m taking care of them. I find it much “easier” to take care of them when we’re out somewhere or during activities.
I don’t keep a perfectly clean house… I like my “down time” better… and cleaning is a never ending job when you have kids; you do it, and five minutes later, it’s dirty again!
And I have my personal time; I play hockey once/twice a week & go out with friends once in a while.
I also spend time relaxing after the kids are in bed.
I have a supportive husband, that doesn’t mind sharing the house work & taking care of the kids.
All little things that make a big difference in my life & make being at home an enjoyable thing.
I wish I could be a stay at home mom… unfortunately, I have to bring in some $$$!
I am a SAHM by choice gave up my career to stay home until all my kiddies are school age! You tips are so true. The hardest for me was to embrace the mess. It’s not an easy job but it is by far my favourite!!
this is wonderful! I wished I did that when my kids were smaller but I do now. They are teenagers and it is way to busy to clean up all the time.
This was all good except the get outside every OTHER day. For real? We go outside every day. We do something out of the house every day whether it’s a simple walk, grocery run, haircut, playing in the yard, etc. I can not even imagine staying indoors all day with three kids. It would have to be zero deg outside before I would do that.