What I’ve Learned as a Summer Stay-at-Home Mom

Before having kids I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I grew up with my mom staying home, and I thought it would be wonderful to do the same for our kids. Unfortunately, financially it was not an option for our family. However, I do have a job that allows me the next best alternative–summers off.

Last summer my daughter took two naps per day, wasn’t crawling, and didn’t talk or have tantrums. She was generally pretty easy to care for. This summer I feel like I’ve gotten a small snapshot of what it would be like to be a stay-at-home mom, with a child who takes one nap, is into everything, communicates with us, has meltdowns, and sometimes can provide some very challenging days.

I’ve learned a few things about being a summer stay-at-home mom and thought I’d share:

I could never stay at home full-time.

Who was I kidding when I thought I would want to before our daughter came along? I love my job, adult interaction, and getting out of the house each day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter, but she’s so exhausting a lot of days that I feel more tired than I do working with high school students all day. I’m a firm believer that working in education provides me the perfect balance of decent hours and having chunks of time off to spend with my children to watch them grow. Some moms are amazing stay-at-home moms; I’m just a better mom when I work, too. Also, props to stay-at-home moms. You’re job is tougher than mine any day!

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Blessed to spend the summer with this cutie, but couldn’t do it every day, all year!

My house is still a mess.

I also had this idea in my head that I would be able to have a clean house and dinner on the table each night of summer (things that don’t happen during the school year) and be able to catch up on projects that needed completed around the house. This idea couldn’t be further from the truth! My house is still a mess, we order take-out at least once a week, and my list of projects to attempt at the beginning of the summer still remains unchecked. Anytime I attempt to clean or do something when she is awake, she’s at my feet wanting to be picked up or messing up what I had just cleaned. I figure I’ll have a clean house when she’s a teenager. For now, I just want to enjoy the time with her.

A routine is so important.

I’m a firm believer in a routine and the importance of it for a child. She wakes up around the same time every day. Then we have breakfast, go for a walk, have a snack, play, have lunch, take a nap, have another snack, play, and have dinner. She goes to bed around the same time every night. It keeps her sane and me sane knowing what to expect and around when to expect it. She knows when she wakes up, she gets to eat and is ready to eat right when she wakes up. I’m not a rigid by-the-clock kind of person, but I definitely like to keep a similar routine to what she experiences at daycare. It allows the transition back to daycare to not be too tough as well.

We have to get out of the house each day.

My daughter takes one long nap in the afternoon, so we are able to do stuff for a good chunk of the morning. I’ve found that we both do better when we get out of the house, even if it’s just a quick walk to the park. We’re fortunate to live in a great community that has so many things to do, especially in the summer. Furthermore, so many of them are free! We’ve enjoyed story time and playing at the library, exploring downtown, the trampoline park, the splash pad, swimming lessons, Iowa Children’s Museum, shopping at the outlet mall in Williamsburg, many area parks, and more. She’s able to experience things that she wouldn’t normally get to do during the school year when she’s in daycare, and it helps break up our day. It also prevents her from wanting to watch “Elmo,” aka Sesame Street, all morning long!

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Fun at the Cedar Rapids Public Library

Have a mom network. 

I’m fortunate to have several friends that have kids right around my daughter’s age, and they work in education as well. They are home all summer with their little ones, and we are able to get together for play dates at least a couple of times a week. I’m a firm believer that this is so important for both moms and kids to connect. Even if we aren’t able to finish a full conversation because we’re focused on our kids, it’s still nice to get together for some adult time. We’re also able to sympathize that we aren’t the only one dealing with a teething baby or a toddler throwing tantrums over the littlest thing. It’s also nice for the kids to socialize with others since they are used to being around kids at daycare.

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Trampoline park fun with her best bud Charlie!

Take time for yourself.

When nap time rolls around, I’m ready! This is my time for myself to relax, and I need it. The mornings are usually so exhausting and busy that I need to sit down, put my feet up, and de-stress, especially since I’m six months pregnant. Nap time is me time, and I don’t feel bad for letting the laundry wait until the evening. I take this time to nap, catch up on Facebook or texts with friends, read a magazine, or read a book. It’s the time that I need to keep sane and get through the rest of the afternoon.

It’s amazing to witness all she learns in a few short months.

I get eight fast weeks home with my daughter, and in that time she has grown and learned so much. It’s amazing to be able to witness all of the exploring, learning, new vocabulary, and independence she has gained. As hard and challenging as some days can be, I wouldn’t trade the time for anything else. I feel so fortunate to get chunks of time with her each summer that so many don’t get.

If you stay at home full-time, part-time, or for the summer, do you have anything to add to this list?


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