Earlier this year, I found myself thrown into the shock of being a stay-at-home-military-spouse mom. It was a big adjustment, especially with three cross country (and cross ocean) moves added into the mix. And then to make matters even more complex, along came a global pandemic. After weeks of feeling overwhelmed and constantly behind on my to-do list, I realized I needed to change my daily approach.
Here are seven survival tips for the stay-at-home moms:
Find your routine
Long after my daughter no longer required midnight feedings and was (usually) sleeping through the night, I realized I had fallen into the habit of never setting my alarm. I would groggily stumble out of bed in the mornings after my slumber was interrupted by the babbling of the baby in the next room.
After weeks of constant exhaustion, I realized that I needed to be more intentional about setting my day. I feel so much better when I wake up an hour before my daughter and sneak in a short yoga session, write in my gratitude journal, read a favorite book, or simply enjoy a cup of coffee before jumping in the shower. Setting this routine also adds a sense of normalcy and consistency for those times of solo parenting when the military inevitably sends my spouse elsewhere.
Get excited for the week
Planning two or three small and specific outings helps keep me feeling organized and adds excitement into an otherwise mundane week. Restaurants and venues may still be closed, but fortunately summer is the perfect season to head outdoors and stay socially distant.
This outing could be as simple as picking up some of my favorite boba tea from downtown and setting up a picnic, or as adventurous as heading to the beach for some sand and sun. I keep a diaper bag in my trunk with baby essentials that I replenish once a week – diapers, wipes, snacks, toys – so I am not worried about forgetting any infant items when I am running out the door for our excursions.
Form a babysitting exchange
One of the best things I ever did was set up a babysitting trade with some mom friends in my neighborhood. Let’s be honest – childcare is expensive; it is often a deterrent to enjoying baby free time.
Ask some friends if they would be willing to trade babysitting sessions every other week so you can spend some quality time with your spouse, run that errand you’ve been putting off, or simply take a relaxing stroll. It is also incredibly helpful to have a small pool of free and trusted childcare for last minute things – like the maintenance crew coming to your house to repair the unexpected leaky floor upstairs, or if you need a sitter at the eleventh hour during a deployment.
Plan mom dates
Virtual playdates have been a saving grace, but now I am taking full advantage of open spaces to coordinate socially distant meetups with friends outdoors as areas reopen. Once each week, I meet some friends for a “mom date.” We hike with strollers or carriers in tow or let the babies run around in a botanical garden or an empty field while we drink coffee and chat, six feet apart. Socializing with people who want to talk about more than the ABC’s and can relate to life as a mom and military spouse is critical to my sanity and is an occasion I look forward to each week.
Schedule virtual hangouts
Of course, military life means you are often far from family and friends – pandemic or not. But once the world crisis really took effect and no visitors were permitted, I found myself overwhelmed by the constant video chat requests, and like I was spending a lot of time in front of screens.
I created a video chat schedule to manage the week more effectively. This kept me from feeling guilty when I was not able to answer impromptu video chats, allowed for our parents to get quality virtual hangouts with their granddaughter, and facilitated catch-up sessions with friends around the world.
Initially, I was excited to step away from the working world and finally enjoy uninterrupted baby time, but I quickly realized I needed a creative outlet to keep my sanity intact. I soon fell in love with DIY projects and finding pieces to restore for our new house – which has little furniture because we had always lived in such small spaces before now.
Sanding down a dresser or painting a new frame is therapeutic and concentrating on creative endeavors provides mindful stress relief during seasons when the needs of the military send my spouse across the world.
Avoid mom burnout
Mom Burnout sneaks up on you slowly; it is often when you least expect it. Mamas are known for their constant love and support of everyone else in the house, but it cannot be said enough how important it is for you to take care of you. Especially with times of uncertainty compounding everyday life, and the demands of the military often leaving you solo-parenting full time, self-care is critical.
Take five minutes and write down things that bring you joy – reading, baking, writing, exercising, crafting, napping – whatever it may be. And then make sure you take some time do an activity you love every day – even if it is for just fifteen minutes.Read comments