Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ten Tips to be Even Happier at Home

Getting to spend time at home with Ellie is a huge blessing and I'm very grateful for every day we get to be together; but if you're a mom, I think you can all relate when I say there are some days when just about nothing goes as planned.  From the giant mess of a house, to the shower that didn't happen and the dinner that never got made, sometimes the day feels like a blur and you're left feeling like you accomplished nothing during the past twelve hours.  I'd like to think we generally have our act together most days over here, but we certainly still have one of those days every once in a while.  Here are a few things I've found that have helped me be even happier at home... and some days just stay sane when I felt like I might lose my baby-loving mind! ;)
1.)  Get ready for the day.  Now that I can pretty much count on Ellie taking one or two decent naps a day, I always use her early morning nap to shower.  If I don't get a shower in while she's napping, I know that Ellie will be standing right outside the tub, screaming crying and ripping open the shower curtain over and over again for the entire three minutes and twenty-seven seconds of my nice, "relaxing" shower.  I can usually even get my make-up done before she wakes up her nap, which is also so nice and definitely something I would recommend trying to make time for if you're the make-up wearing kind.  I know it always makes me feel a little better and more put together, especially if I get out of my pajama bottoms and oversized sweatshirt! ;)  I'm not saying that I look ready to walk the red carpet on a daily basis (or ever), but a little bit of effort goes a long way.

2.)  Write down you to-do's and make daily goals.  If I don't have set goals or a list of things I really want or need to get done during the day, I tend to get a little overwhelmed because there is always something else (or a million somethings) that could be done around the house. Again, a good nap time makes a huge difference in our daily schedule over here - it means I have enough time to get a handful of things off of my to-do list during the day, and a few less things I need to do before I relax at night.  I like to prioritize my to-do list and categorize things based on whether I could realistically get them done with Ellie's "help".  Something like vacuuming is doable with my little assistant on my hip (and she seems to actually like it...?) but cleaning the bathroom is not.  Occasionally I'll just say "screw it, I'm going to sit here and drink my coffee in peace + quiet while Ellie naps", but usually I'll pick a couple of things I need to get done before I can park my butt on the couch for the last ten minutes of her nap.  It feels good to know I accomplished something and helps me feel more relaxed when I do get a chance to finally sit down and enjoy some me time.  Something as simple as making our bed can make a big impact on my mood!

3.)  Clean up before bed time.  If all goes well with number two, there isn't a tremendous amount of cleaning I need to do before I head to bed each night; however, there will still be toys strewn throughout the house and other evidence of the Ellie tornado rolling through.  As far as I'm concerned, waking up to a mess of a house is the worst and totally starts the next day off on the wrong foot.  Spending an extra half hour a night to clean up and organize a bit makes all the difference and is definitely worth every minute.

4.)  Have a hobby + make time to do it.  Find something you enjoy doing solo and make sure you actually do it!  Even blocking out a couple hours a week for yourself is great - crafts, working out, curling up with a good book... it really doesn't matter what it is as long as it's something that makes you feel good.  

5.)  Get outside.  Fresh air makes a huge difference in our day and makes both Ellie and I feel better.  Trying to keep up with Ellie running around the yard is like a mini workout and definitely helps tire her out too.  I've found that she doesn't really care what we're doing outside as long as she can explore.  We usually just play in our yard and she doesn't really ever seem bored, but I'm thinking lots of playground trips will be in our near future once school is out. Ellie is obviously still pretty little, but I've been looking into a few different activities to do come fall, including story hour at our local public library and a mommy + me tumbling class.  I've found some of these group activities are offered to children as young as eighteen months old or when they're able to walk... and perhaps follow some instructions. ;)   I'm looking forward to finding a couple things to do on a regular basis that will get us out of the house and allow Ellie to interact with some other kids!

6.)  Let your kids play independently.  Ellie really isn't much into this one yet, but sometimes I can get a few minutes to do something else while she plays with her toys by herself (in the same room).   Sometimes I feel guilty if I'm not right there playing along beside her, but have found she will definitely let me know if she wants my attention and is not shy about asking for it. :)

7.)  Try to stick to a schedule.  Our days aren't super scheduled, but we know what to expect for the most part - wake up times, meal + snack times, bath times and bed times are generally the same or pretty similar each day.  It helps me feel a little more organized and I can tell that Ellie is starting to understand the daily schedule.  It's really sweet when I say that it's time for a tub after dinner and she goes running into the bathroom all by herself!

8.)  Make time for your significant other.  We are 100% guilty of sitting in bed on our phones (as I'm sitting here on my laptop and he's playing a game on his phone...), but we have found it helpful to plan times to hangout and really connect - sans cellphones.  It's not super exciting or spontaneous, but it works and it's still fun even if your alone time is scheduled!

9.)  Retail therapy.  Kidding kind of, but if you're the shopping type like I am I think you know what I'm talking about! ;)  Window shopping or online shopping where you fill your carts to the brim only to have them sit there for months and have every last thing go out of stock before you hit "checkout" counts too.  I know I'm not the only one who does that, right?!  I spent almost two hours walking around Home Goods one night after work last week and it was so nice.  I couldn't wait to get home to my baby, but a little bit of solo shopping can be very therapeutic.  I also 100% look forward to our weekly circus-like shopping trips with Ellie - just getting out of the house seems to be something we both enjoy.

10.)  Don't sweat the small stuff.  Easier said than done, but sometimes it's okay if you have days when you're both still in your pajamas when your husband gets home from work.  Or maybe you crawl right into bed without checking a single thing off your to-do list right after your baby goes to bed because you just had the longest day at work yourself.  You might have bananas in your hair and mushed into your pants, and your baby might not have slept more than three hours the night before, but it'll all be alright. Don't get so worked up about things that you forget how to have fun - and there's lots of fun to be had with your sweet sidekicks glued to you all day long!  Remember, the days might be long but the years are way too short.  Embrace the tiny sticky-handed chaos a bit, because that's what mom life is all about. ;)

Hope there's something on this list that helps you! :) Since I'm still working three days a week at this point, I get to see what life is like for working moms too.  Many of these things can translate to a working mom lifestyle, but I plan to share a few additional things that have helped me be a happier-ish working mama as well.  Be sure to share if you have any tips or tricks that make you a happier mommy too!

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