The Never Home Stay-at-Home Mom
Being a stay at home mom doesn't always mean staying at home. Between story times, play dates and parks there is never a shortage of activities. And, if you are lucky enough(or unlucky, depending on your fondness for humidity) to live in the sub tropics like me, there are literally dozens of beaches, pools and spray pads to choose from. If you aren't a home body, but are a stay at home mom, you're covered.
That is how I spent the first year of my daughter's life. Happily frolicking from one play date to another, stopping at home for a nap before heading out to meet at the children's museum or the beach. I thought I was doing myself and my daughter a favor. We were never bored and she was always tired by nap time. Seemed like a win-win.
By the time my daughter was 18 months old, I was pretty unhappy. I couldn't quite put my finger on the why, but I knew that something had to change. So I decided to try to focus inward for a bit. I started turning down invites to play dates and mommy meet-ups and started spending a lot more time at home.
In the beginning, both my daughter and I were sort of at a loss for what to do with ourselves. We were so accustomed to being entertained that we never really learned how to entertain ourselves (or each other) at the house. For the first week, my daughter spent half of the day by the front door asking to leave.
By the second week, however, things were really starting to look up. Amelia adapted much more quickly than I did and began playing all sorts of amazingly imaginative games – all by herself for hours on end! Not sure what role I was to play in all of this, I would often try to join in her world. At first, she accepted me, but after a while it was clear that she would rather play by herself. So I left her to her fun and sought out my own. And, you know what? I eventually found it – and it didn't even involve wine (or donuts).
Not even a month after I starting turning down play dates, my mood had really improved. I didn't realize that my social commitments were actually kinda wearing me down. — I was burnt out and didn't even know it.
My daughter and I still go to play dates and beaches and parks, but we do it a lot less often. At home we cook and clean and craft together. We dance and listen to music. I show her how plants grow and she has really taken to feeding the dog every morning. It was an old hat for me, but magical for her. This was important stuff.
I used to believe that all of the play dates and events were our salvation. But, they were just a distraction. Now that I've I started turning down play dates, I've gotten to the really good stuff. The stuff that good parenting is made of and that I almost missed.