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When I was younger, I said I wanted to grow up and be a soccer mom. And while my two littles aren’t yet at the soccer age (fingers crossing since it was a sport I played for over 13 years) I do feel like I succeeded in my goal. I am a stay at home mom.
I had the privilege of staying home with each of my daughters for each of their first year and then they transitioned to daycare 2 days a week 8- 3:30. You can read this post why I believe daycare is important even if a parent is at home. And while I am physically home, I am technically a work at home mom as I complete over 30 hours of work for various part time jobs. It’s not easy balancing everything, but I wouldn’t trade being a stay at home mom for the world!
In case you’re looking to embark on this adventure or are already in it and could use some tips, I thought I’d offer some tips and tricks I learned in my 3 years at this awesome gig as mom:
- Keep routine. This could basically be my mantra for life but routine for kids is incredibly helpful! Sure there are plenty of reasons and ways to break routine, but getting their bodies accustomed to know when it’s time to eat or sleep are really KEY in keeping this mom sane!
- Know the nap zones and avoid being out of routine during them them. Our day is broken up into BN and AN – before nap and after nap. For those precious peaceful moments, I prefer them to sleep in their beds at home than in short car rides running errands. We do our best to get out of the house and be home before they’d get sleepy in the car. Since both napped around noon, we try to be home by 11:15 at the latest to have the lunch/play/wind down time before that glorious mid day nap. If the morning isn’t going as planned and we don’t get out in time, we hold any errands for the after nap zone and instead focus on things around our home.
- Babyproof! It’s so much more comforting to know you can run to the bathroom for two minutes or put in a load of laundry and leave your child in a safe spot. (Although us moms all know that going potty alone is a privilege that rarely happens!) Check out this post showcasing all the babyproofing materials we use in our home, including those I keep adding since Brielle was getting smarter and smarter!
- Teach clean up time. You know that old song “clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere! Clean up, clean up, everybody do their share!” We sing this often and now even Hailey’s helping out to clean up the place. If we take out the blocks to play in their rooms, we clean them up before heading to another level of our split level home to play. And yes, there are some days that cleaning up doesn’t work out and it looks like the above, which I shared on Instagram. #keepingitreal
- Save chores to do with kids. Maybe all kids are not created equal but mine (at least Brielle) likes to help me with laundry. I don’t spend my free time switching/folding/sorting laundry if they like to or at least tolerate me doing this chore with them. I also got her a mini little dustpan set that’s just for her that she uses when I’m cleaning up. I pretend to spray something on a rag and she “helps” me dust the furniture as I’m cleaning up. Sure it’s not perfect but honestly, not much of this house can be with two kiddos running around and I appreciate her help!
- Encourage independent play. I like to play with my kids as much as anyone. But I am also happy they both enjoy a few minutes of independent play with me nearby. I tend to have a project to work on throughout different floors of the house, depending on where we decide to play at that moment. Our kitchen high top counter always has something in progress and my craft table in the basement has something I can pick up and put down when in that zone.
- Free food days = special treats. Sure these photos may look like I let my kid eat lots of sweets but if you know me in real life you know that’s not the case. We do take advantage of the “special treats” concept where she may be rewarded at any time for good behavior or actions with anything we deem as a special treat. In spring there are often these free food days by chains and I make note. Above is our free cone day experiences at both Carvel and Dairy Queen.
- Check your library for free classes and museum passes. Our library is part of a museum program where library card holders can reserve a pass to 6 different museums in the area as a one day free entry. Two of the children’s museums are part of this list and the card actually allows for 6 paid people! We’ve taken advantage of this often and are able to bring friends with the 6 people entry allowance!
- Join a local moms club. I didn’t join my town’s mom’s club until I was pregnant with Hailey and we should’ve joined earlier! Ours has 2 local weekly playdate locations that we try to fit in our schedule when we can. It gets us all out to play in a new space and interact with new friends, both for mom and for the girls! Check out the Moms Club website to see if there’s one in your neck of the woods.
- Get outside at least once a day. If we do chores/crafts/playtime inside in the morning, we try to get out in the afternoon or vice versa. This doesn’t necessarily mean outside like playing on the playground or backyard (though I try to do that as much as possible too) but even getting out of the house and running errands refreshes everyone. This brings me to my next point.
- Last but not least, always have snacks! A hungry toddler is not fun for anyone so always keep snacks at the ready when out and about! We love anything that’s packaged to go, dry foods or fresh fruits that fit in our Munchkin snack catchers. Pack more than you think or hide something at the bottom at the diaper bag that you can whip out at any moment!
And if you’re a central NJ area mom, make sure to check out my list of 12+ locations and activities we have enjoyed all within an hour’s drive!