If you have wondered how to be a happy stay at home mom, I get it because I have, too! I have struggled to find joy and fulfillment in the mundane acts of motherhood like repeating myself and wiping boogers.
How to really be a happy stay at home mom probably has different answers to moms across the board, but I believe with my whole heart in these few simple hacks that help me tap into my joy, worth, and fulfillment every single day. Read on to see how to feel fulfilled and full of joy as a stay at home mom!
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I was going to write a post on a Mother’s Day gift guide for this week. I even have it drafted, but my heart wasn’t in it.
It felt dumb for one, because ya know, can’t leave the house. And it felt trivial, too, because I’m seeing so many people struggling to be filled with joy during this weird and uncertain time which is surely history in the making as we speak.
I just posted on Facebook yesterday about how I have been struggling during quarantine. I was great for the first few weeks, honestly. Joey took some time off work, we unplugged, I dove headfirst into the deep end of homeschooling my two preschoolers, and I soaked the family time in deep.
But eventually, he had to go back to work, and I did, too. Now we’re on week 7 or 17 of quarantine; I don’t know anymore. I work from home 30-40 hours a week, he’s back to work, and I’m here trying to stay caught up on cooking, cleaning, intentionality, self care, raising kids, teaching kids, and blogging / writing / creating, with two preschoolers and a 1 year old who honestly, aren’t the best conversationalists.
I’m trying to keep feeding them more vegetables than tortilla chips and keep a standard on screen time so tablets don’t become my babysitters (which the lockdown has so rudely taken). Sleep time is a battle. Sibling squabbles are a battle. Cleaning up is a battle. Their listening is as shoddy as Ohio weather the year is was snowing in May. The days have been long and the weeks have been longer.
But one integral thing to finding joy during quarantine, or any other time, that I love is the ability to choose our mindset. There’s a handful of things that have helped me, and I want to share them with you!
You might have to do them 95 times a day. That’s OKAY, and even normal! I have to keep resetting, and if you need that too, you’re in good company.
How to find Joy and Fulfillment as a Stay at Home Mom
1) Grace x 1000.
For myself, for my kids, and from Jesus. Both accepting His grace and extending it to myself and those around me. Resting in the reality that I am truly doing my best, and that is enough.
I love cooking homemade everything, but a few nights ago, tacos for dinner were my best. My kids need a bath, I overslept yesterday, I have been drinking coffee by the gallon, but I am doing my very best, and my best is enough. And friend, so is yours.
Be okay with lowering your standards for a minute. Life is weird right now and it won’t always be this way. Allow yourself time to adjust and be okay with the adjustment period.
2) The 60 second rule.
I like to do this thing where I just either stare at my tantrumming child for a second, or send her to her room until she’s calm (or at least calmer) because I need that second to make sure I am responding and not reacting.
I need to make sure I am disciplining in love to teach her something, and not punishing because I’m angry or annoyed.
Yesterday, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ella knock Lexi down for funsies. Sophia’s jaw was at her knees when I asked Ella if she did it. Ella’s deer in the headlights look gave her away before Soph almost pulled something in her neck to give Ella up.
I did the classic initial, point your finger, use your mom voice, “You never, EVER, push her down. Do you understand?”
At that point, that song from Madame Blueberry where she was buying too much stuff at Stuff Mart came on in the background. Life went into slow motion. Ella threw her chin to the sky, her jaw dropped open, her eyes clenched shut, the snot and tears spicket was flung on in full force, andddd she used her voice. The groans of my windows gave way to cracks that spidered outward.
The sound barrier broke… And I needed 60 seconds. Obviously coffee was in order, so I started making my second cup, as I started at my slow-mo, sound barrier defying child for a minute or two.
If I would have responded immediately, I would have reacted in Mama bear anger because she knocked down my defenseless one who can’t stand up for herself yet. Her greatest line of defense was giving Ella a stink face over her shoulder from her belly down position she was left in.
But taking that minute allowed me to react from a place of calm to teach her, rather than a place of anger to punish her as an outlet for my own emotions. Honestly, don’t we all deserve that much?
3) Allow yourself to simply “be” when you need it.
Sometimes (when Joey is home), I go to the bedroom for 10 minutes and just be. It doesn’t usually last more than 90 seconds without a tiny knock, fingers under the door, a distant, small voice asking where mommy went, testing both doors, or a “Mommmm let me in”, which may or may not be followed by big voices and golfball-sized tears.
That’s fine. Mommy just needs a minute. If you need a minute, I encourage you to take it and take it now. It can do wonders.
4) Read a great book.
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis was and remains one of my favorite books of all time. I started re-reading it a few weeks ago, and have been surprised by how much I have forgotten. This time, I’m underlining and making notes because there is so much wisdom to be gleaned. As much as I don’t agree with certain things the author has done, this was still a great book that really sprung me into my own personal growth journey.
5) Choose joy and gratitude with intentionality every single day.
While we’re talking about one of my favorite people that exist, I would be doing a disservice to not mention her 90 days challenge, Start Today journal and choose joy movement. My Start Today journal is one of my favorite things that I own! I talk more about that in this post.
Your ability to see your blessings is a byproduct of what you’re allowing yourself to think and fixate on. You have to choose to see them. If you’re always looking for cars, you’ll always see red cars.
Choose to look for thankfulness and joy, even if that means you have to create moments of joy. Create moments to laugh with your kids. Tickle one until they’re belly laughing, then get the other one in on it. Tell them a corny joke. Laughter really is the best medicine!
6) Have a hobby.
For me, right now, it’s what you’re reading! My blog has come to mean so much to me, and with God’s help, I see great things for its future. 🙂 If you’ve ever been interested in starting a blog, you can start here today!
Before it was TJT, it was hobbies. I’ve done everything from crafting to coloring to making wreaths, to painting, to yoga. Painting, yoga, wreath-making, and crafting are still some of my favorites! If you don’t have a hobby, you have got to read this!
7) Serve others.
It is not all about me. Serving others helps you realize that in a real way. Look for the needs of others and ask God for opportunities to help where it’s needed. You might be surprised what He brings along!
8) Choose life words.
You have what you speak. If you say you’re sad or unfulfilled, if you say you’re always angry, if you say your kids drive you nuts… Guess what? You’ll find those things remain true and feel bigger and more true the more you say them.
If you say “I am so thankful”, “I am so happy”, “I am full of joy”, “I have so many blessings *then name them*”, guess where your focus is going to be? You don’t always feel them when you say them, but the more you say it, the more true it will be in your life.
To go along with this, weird mom tip: as often as it’s possible, choose the positive version of whatever you’re saying to your kids. I used to think this sounded so cheesy until I tried it. I don’t know what it is, but there is something so draining about everything out of your mouth being negative: no, stop, don’t, you can’t, etc.
So flip it. Focus on what they can do instead of what they can’t.
“Stop screaming!” > “Soft / small voices, please.”
“Don’t hit your sister!” “Kind hands, So and so.”
“Stop getting out of your bed.” > “Stay in your bed please, it’s rest time.”
It helps maintain calm and it’s less exhausting for you, too.
Y’all, I’m D O N E with quarantine with a capital D. It has taken all my help with an exception of my husband. I used to have days almost every week where the girls’ grandparents kept them. I was able to drop them off to go work at coffee shops, or Joey and I could go out for a date with food I didn’t have to cook. Our last date was Rummy and popcorn on the couch at 10:00pm.
But I have to keep reminding myself, God made everything good in its season. That’s all this is. Everything is a season, and all seasons go as quickly as they come. This too shall pass, and it’s my prayer that by the end of it, we’ll be better people for having lived through it.
I hope and pray people are more joyful, more thankful, more kind, and more in love with Jesus. He always works all things together for the good of His people, and I’ve already seen that happening. He is always good, even if we don’t understand.
10) Time with Jesus.
Every single day. Worship music on repeat and worshipping as a way of life. Worship in the kitchen putting the dishes away. Do it while you’re working. Do it while you’re cleaning, and let the kids see you. There is not a cookie cutter way to worship and it belongs beyond simply being in church, because we are the church.
It belongs in the intricacies woven throughout the fabric of our life. Prioritize time in His word. I mean, think about it: how do you build trust and form a relationship with anyone? You spend time with them. To build a relationship with Jesus, you have to do the same thing: invest your time. It won’t be a wasted one.
Listen to faith builders, because faith comes by hearing, so let yourself hear the Word of God and hear it often. Jesus never has and never will fit in a box we could ever put Him in. He loves us and wants our lives, not just our Sunday mornings.
11) Get outside and absorb what’s around you.
Every single day it is warm enough, we get outside! I don’t know why outside air is better than house air. It’s just a thing. Sunshine is also an amazing mood booster. Even if you can’t go outside, open a window and the blinds. It does wonders!
A few days ago, I took a book outside and read while the girls played. I got interrupted every 9th word, but that’s fine. It was mostly to bring me flowers and other randoms in the yard, so it was actually super sweet (joy moment)!
12) Have a schedule.
I believe strongly in the benefits of a schedule for everyone, including stay at home moms! I talk more about time management in this post, but basically, it helps everyone to know what is coming, what is expected, and to have a sense of predictability.
13) Remember that your worth is found in Jesus, not your accomplishments.
Mama, this one is so very important! It has been said over and over, “I’m enough,” but I have qualms with this quote because in and of ourselves, we are not enough. If we were, Jesus would not have had to take our place on the cross. But He did it anyway, with you in mind, because you are just that valuable to Him.
This is relieving to us, though, if we allow it to be because it takes all the pressure off us to “perform”. It takes the weight of trying to do all the things off to be considered worthy or enough.
Jesus loves us, period. Our accomplishments are irrelevant because we hadn’t accomplished anything centuries before our birth when He died for us.
He is where our worth lies, and if we are supposed to be imitators of God in everything we do and He loves us fiercely, it only stands to make sense that we should love ourselves and see ourselves as He does.
14) Care enough about yourself to take care of yourself.
Because if you don’t, it’s a good possibility that no one else will. A lot of my favorite ways to do this is listed in my hobbies post! Here are a few quick ideas:
- Finding a hobby you love.
- Have a hot bath.
- Go on a date with your hubs.
- Coffee date with a friend.
15) Prioritize your marriage.
This is so near and dear to my heart! Read this for 12 secrets to a happy marriage after kids.
16) Leave whenever it’s possible.
If you have anybody in your life who is willing to give you a few hours of time to leave the house, I want to encourage you to PLEASE take them up on the offer! Letting my kids spend some quality time with their Grandmas has been so incredibly helpful to me. I’m telling you, it helps. Even if it’s just for a coffee run.
17) Banish mom guilt once and for all.
You know what stinks? Mom guilt. Knock that out once and for all RIGHT NOW.
18) Always Be Learning.
Always be learning. Learning what? Anything.
A new dish to cook, a new way to teach an old concept, how to be more efficient, psychology, Spanish, sign language, how to knit, how to paint, how to start a business, how others do things, and anything in between. If you’re not learning, you will grow stagnant. And becoming stagnant leads to boredom and unfulfillment rapidly.
I don’t care who you are or how much you know, you will never arrive. You’ll never learn all there is to learn. And the moment you think you do, you put yourself in a very dangerous place.
I didn’t finish college. I started as a nursing student and dropped out months before I got into the program to raise my first daughter. I have had so much doubt in myself and have been so conscious and even felt like a failure at times because I didn’t finish college. I have even gone as far as to use it to berate myself.
“I’m a college drop out any a mom, so I can’t ____________.”
“Oh yeah, that’s what a stay at home mom does…”
“I’m not qualified.”
“Who would listen to me? I’m just a nursing school drop out.”
All things that have come out of my mouth.
Shame on me. SHAME on me for ever using my words to suck life out of myself. If you would not say it to your child, you better never say it to yourself. I have been guilty of that and have been working on it.
My point here was you don’t have to make learning an 18 credit hour/ semester thing like it once was.
Learning can be done through life.
Learning can be done with free resources like libraries and the dang internet. You can learn or get information about nearly anything online, and much of it is free.
Learning can be done through accepting wisdom from people who are older and wiser and they’ve been there and done that. Glean from them.
Learning can be done through reading and access to books is nearly limitless.
If you ever say you cannot be learning, that’s a lame excuse. Always be learning, and if you don’t have access to something to learn from, get it.
A hunger for knowledge must always be fed.
19) Always Be Improving.
Part B of always be learning! Okay, so now you know something. You’ve learned it with your mind. Great! Step two is execution.
Remember how it says in James to be a doer of the Word and not a doer only? I believe firmly that that should also be applied to anything we want to learn from. If you read a recipe for making homemade bread, do you learn it? No. But if you actually make the bread, you will learn how to improve it next time, and if you make it 50 times, you won’t even need a recipe anymore because you know it in your heart.
Learning is a two part formula: absorb with your ears, then execute with your hands.
Take your knowledge in your head, put it through your hands, then fine tune it.
20) Always Be Working On Your Goals and Your Growth.
I don’t care what the goal is. I don’t care if your goal is to learn how to groom your dog, cut your husband’s hair, make amazing homemade chocolate chip cookies, or something that sounds small or trivial. I may or may not have attempted all of these… and I still can’t believe Joey let me get anywhere near him with scissors. Quarantine was rough back in 2020…
Anyway. You must be working towards something. You must be pressing deeper into time with Jesus. You must be improving who you are. You must learn the trait of discipline and being driven.
Can I tell you a secret? The times I have been most inspired and experiencing the greats seasons of growth have been when I have been filling myself with things that challenge me and uplift me nearly constantly.
You see, I have been living inside the shadow of fear most of my life. I have been living comfortably inside my bubble of limitations. Nothing can touch me when I’m safe and warm inside my comfort zone!
But recently, I’ve had a fresh shift of perspective or maybe just a renewal. This has been on my heart. You get exactly one life. One. You get one shot to bust down barriers, kick fear in the face, experience exhilaration, press into your potential and God’s plan for you, and live a life well lived.
You will get to the end of your life one day, one way or the other. And when I get to the end of mine, I see me and my husband. In my mind’s eye, we have raised good kids who love Jesus. We have a whole passle of grandkids. We have traveled. We have had incredible experiences. We took chances, we took risks, and we learned through the rough patches. I’m still figuring everything else out, but the God’s hand is at work in my life.
And I believe He is at work in yours, too.