We’ve all heard the fairy tales; the princess meets her prince, they get married, have children, and live happily ever after. But “happily ever after” is such a vague image of what comes next. What is “happily ever after”? For many women, the reality is not exactly what they expect. The stories stop before explaining what it means to have children, especially for women and especially for those women whose sole job is to maintain the domestic sphere of the home: the child rearing and housekeeping that is the stay-at-home mom gig.
I am honored to be able to stay home with my two girls while my husband works to support our family. I love watching my girls grow up before my eyes and am thrilled to be such an ever-present figure in their lives. But I, too, underestimated the personal sacrifices that would have to be made. Aside from my body being stretched to make a baby, my social life, career goals and in some cases my sanity, were drastically altered as well. My conversation list suddenly only consisted of poop stories and silly things my kids had said, and my bedtime had gone from 1:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. I’ve even lost my ability to have a telephone conversation outside of a single hour-long window in the afternoon while my girls are having quiet time.
It's easy to feel lost inside of the role of mother. It’s easy to forget who we are when so much of our lives are focused on our children. But to remain a well-balanced woman and mother, we need to keep a personal identity. When hitting the bar has lost its appeal, what is a mother to do to take a break from being “mommy”? Here’s a list of a few things I would try.
Learn an Instrument
I suggest the ukulele. It is small so it’s very easy to transport, there are only 4 strings so it’s easy to learn, and the strings are soft so beginner fingers won’t hurt as bad. A harmonica might be a good instrument, too, because it is so compact and can fit in a purse or back pocket. You can even play it while driving!
When you learn a new instrument, you have to practice. When you practice you can watch yourself get better and better. You can use your time around the house to hone your skills making yourself better and maybe even inspiring your kids to do the same!
Anyone can grow tomatoes or strawberries, why not try something different? My two current favorites are a coffee tree and night-blooming Jasmine. You can purchase these plants and many others on Amazon.com or your favorite online gardening store.For plants that require a good amount of light (i.e. most tropical plants) you can use CFL's. Keep them low enough to almost touch your plant and use multiple lights to ensure proper coverage.
Growing anything can be a good activity to share with your children, and can often reap fruitful rewards. You can watch your exotic plants grow just you watch your unique children grow, all because of the great care you give. It’s an adventure all its own.
Take a Class
Any class will do. Pick something of interest through your local community college extended education program. You can pick anything from jewelry making, guitar 101, personal finance, philosophy,…the list goes on.
By setting up a time even just one night a week to get out of the house and take a class, you are not only keeping your brain stimulated but also getting some much-needed adult time, which may even help you add an intelligent thought to conversation at your next dinner party. It may even help ward off early symptoms of dementia.
Start an Exercise Regime
Just a few minutes in the morning to kick start your metabolism is so much better for you than a cup of coffee. Wake up an hour early and do some yoga, or work it into your daily routine with your children to help keep them active, too.
Not only will a regular exercise routine help you look better, be healthier, and have more energy to keep up with your kids, but your esteem will go through the roof. You can take pride in this continuous accomplishment because you know that you’re taking care of yourself and not just your family.
Or continue writing. Think of topics that interest you and do a little research online (make sure to consider the validity of your sources). There’s a world of information at your fingertips and you can use it to inspire thought.
What you have to say is valuable. Someone out there wants to read it; someone wants to share it with you. When you write about things that interest you, you can reach out to people just like you, people completely different than you, and people that just want a fresh perspective. Even in your seclusion within the domestics of life, you can find community just a click away.
The role of mom is never an easy one. With so many things to do for other people, it can be hard to find time just for yourself. But happy moms are a key ingredient to creating happy children. So find an activity just for you and see it through -- your whole family will be better for it.