The decision for me to become a stay at home mom once I had children was made long before Mr. Lion and I ever met. It was something I always envisioned myself doing, and I did the best I could to arrange my life (and finances) so that when the time came it would be a possibility. Naively perhaps, I assumed that because I had always wanted to be a stay at home mom, that the transition would be seamless. While I am thankful every single day that I have been blessed with the opportunity to stay home, it hasn’t always been a cake walk. Sure, I knew there would be some huge changes, but there were several things I didn’t expect.
It isn’t always easy, but I love spending my days with this guy!
1. Exhaustion – I always assumed that taking the night shift wouldn’t be an issue, because I could always sleep when the baby slept. This would allow Mr. Lion to get a full night of sleep, since he would be the one earning our only paycheck. Unfortunately this didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I, apparently, am incapable of napping. I close the blackout curtains, I lay down, but nothing. If I do fall asleep, it is usually about 15 minutes before Little Lion wakes up, leaving me feeling groggy and in a funk for the rest of the day, in addition to feeling like I wasted an entire hour that I could have been doing other things. So, with naps out, the middle of the night wakings are definitely taking their toll. LL is 7 months old… and although he “slept through the night” briefly, this night time bliss has been disrupted with teething, motor milestones, and sleep regressions. We are now getting less sleep than we were when he was a newborn. Fortunately Mr. Lion is exceptionally helpful and takes the early morning (5am) shift. We know eventually this will come to an end, but right now we are just hanging on the best we can.
2. The need to get out of the house – Pre-baby I was perfectly content to spend an entire Saturday in my PJ’s catching up on the shows I didn’t have time to watch all week. I typically worked more than a full day as a teacher, followed by some sort of volunteer activity or another. I often wasn’t home until 7 or 8pm, had dinner, and then went to bed. There wasn’t a lot of time for being still, so I truly enjoyed the time I did have to lay around and relax. I thought that it would be a nice change of pace to be able to be home with a newborn, and that by the time I became bored with being in the house, LL would be old enough for the park and play dates. I was wrong. Since the beginning, my desire to stop moving lasts all of about 15 minutes and then my body physically cannot sit still. I think this is the residual effect of spending my entire working life in a classroom. I can’t even count the number of times I have waited anxiously for LL to wake up from a nap so that I can immediately rush him to the car so we can go somewhere. Target has become my refuge…a giant fountain diet coke (see point #1) and at least an hour worth of wandering aimlessly through the aisles… I rarely buy anything, but for whatever reason I feel more normal with lots of people around and things going on. We also joined our local YMCA, which is great because I can work out and LL can play and get extra snuggles from the amazing ladies in the nursery.
3. Occupying my mind - Not only is my body used to being busy during the day, but so is my mind. When you teach elementary school (I am sure this is true in any job) you rarely have time to think about anything else. Your head is filled with a constant barrage of information, and you never stop talking. Even when the kids are working independently, you are still meeting with individual students, so the conversation never really ends. Since being home I have really struggled with finding things to occupy my thoughts…especially since most of the time my thoughts go to trying to figure out the “best” way to care for LL, which leads me down the rabbit hole of internet advice, and let’s be honest… that isn’t good for any new mom. I don’t often have the time or attention span to get into a good book, but I have found that listening to talk radio (Dave Ramsey mostly) and podcasts help with this, especially when combined with long walks around the neighborhood. I also try to see friends a few days a week, and sometimes go to meet Mr. Lion for lunch. Blogging has also helped, as I can put my racing thoughts into print. I am also now getting back to volunteering with some of my favorite organizations. I know that once LL is older and we have more awake time to interact with each other this will be easier, but it was definitely more of a transition in the first months than I expected.
4. The silliness - Oh man… to be a fly on the wall of our house. I have discovered that LL really loves music…singing, dancing, and silliness all make him smile. And those baby giggles are to die for. The lengths I will go to make him laugh are extreme, and I never would have believed that absolutely anything can become a song. I have never been one to dance around the living room, but I have absolutely no shame about our daily dance parties. I just hope nobody can see us through the blinds ;)
5. The death of perfectionism – I have always been a perfectionist. I want things to be done right, perfectly, the first time, and I thrive when there is a right answer or a goal to work toward. I did not anticipate how this would play out as I became a mom. There is no formula, no perfect method. Parenting is completely trial and error, and for someone who has a strong desire to find the perfect formula, this was a difficult change. This is still a struggle for me, but slowly I am learning that this life is a beautiful, messy kind of perfect, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Are there things you didn’t expect about being a SAHM?