14 Tips for Stay-At-Home Mums

I've been a stay-at-home Mum, and am currently a working Mum (teaching 2-days per week), and have loved both, but both come with their own set of challenges! The amount of organisation needed leading up to work days can be overwhelming, and then the hectic mornings getting kids dressed, fed and out the door, as well as yourself, can leave you feeling overwhelmed and flustered before you even start work! And being at home with the kids seven days a week can leave you feeling exhausted, unmotivated, bored, and like everyday is groundhog day. I wouldn't say personally that one is harder than the other, but the boredom for me can be frustrating and can really get you down. I've compiled some tips so that in those moments as a stay-at-home Mum, when it's only 10:30am and the kids are already driving you crazy, that you can find some rest, energy, or at least some motivation to keep going!

1. Keep hydrated.
I feel like there's no point writing 'get a good night sleep' because that just may not be happening right now. But, have you noticed how much worse you feel without sleep and also when you aren't drinking enough water? Keep drinkbottles handy, and a glass by the sink, and make sure to get your 8-glasses or 2L of water every day. Technically if you drink lots of coffee and tea, you need to drink more than the standard 2L, but at least aim for 2L. Use a 2L drink bottle or tick off each glass drunk in your planner or even on a post-it-note on the fridge. I bet you will feel better for it!

2. Get dressed every day.
I love a good pyjama day once in a while, but when it becomes a habit day-in and day-out, it certainly doesn't make you feel good - I've been there! Wear something that makes you feel good, do your hair and makeup if you wear makeup. If it doesn't happen every day, don't worry, but at least aim to get dressed each day.

3. Eat regularly.
This is especially important for breastfeeding Mums, but definitely for everyone too - make sure you eat small meals regularly. I definitely don't feel good if it's been a hectic day and I haven't made time to eat. Have fruit and snacks that are easy to grab on hand if you are in a rush. Use the time when your kids eat to eat with them, sit down if you can and savour it.

4. Shower regularly.
Again, in a hectic, rushed or challenging day, this may not be a priority, but it will make you feel better, especially if you are lacking sleep. If it doesn't happen in the morning, just aim for whenever you have a break (perhaps if your child is asleep) - even a quick 5 minute shower may make a massive difference to your day!

5. Connect with a friend.
In our social-media world, this is made super easy, as we can quickly flick a text or Facebook message to a friend to check in. Even better is a quick phone call, or a face-to-face meeting, and if they also have young kids, they will definitely know the struggle, and may just be keen for a playdate!

6. Make a plan.
If you are at home seven days a week, make a plan to do something different each day, to break up the monotony. For example:

Mondays - baking day
Tuesdays - craft day
Wednesdays - movie day
Thursdays - backyard picnic day 
Friday - board game day 

Making a plan the night before means you will be ready for the next day. It doesn't have to be something very time consuming, or something extravagant or costly, just something to look forward to!

7. Join a group and attend free town events. 
If you can and they are available where you are, join a playgroup, mother's group, support group, kinder gym or library session. You will meet like-minded parents you will be able to chat with, the kids can play with other kids, you will be getting out of the house and it will be something to look forward to - all ticks in my book! Again, these get-togethers don't have to be costly and most are free or only request a donation. Free town events are perfect opportunities for something fun for the kids to do too! 

8. Get out of the house. 
Even if there aren't playgroups and library sessions available where you are, or the times don't suit, try and get out of the house often, preferably every day. We love outside play, but we also love jumping in the car and heading to the park for a play. The fresh air does wonders for everyone, especially if the kids are having an off-day! 


9. Exercise. 
You can align this with getting out of the house - strap the kids in the pram and go for a walk, or chuck the pram in the car and find a nice walking track. Exercise on our own isn't always an option for every parent, so include the kids too, even if it's in front of a YouTube exercise segment or exercise DVD. I have recently bought a treadmill which is perfect for walking or running, rain, hail or shine! Even just putting on some music and having a dance with the kids, or racing the clock while cleaning - working up a sweat will clear your mind, and make you feel so much better physically as well. 

10. Ensure self-care is a priority. 
I am a big believer in self-care, and that we can benefit from it every single day. Even just a hot cup of tea on our own, lighting a candle, having a bubble bath, a glass of wine, or sitting down uninterrupted to an episode of your favourite TV show will refresh your mind. Try and do something for yourself during the kids naptime or after they've gone to bed, or when they are playing independently. You might want to book a nail or hair appointment while someone watches the kids, and while I absolutely love doing this, self-care doesn't have to cost money or take up large amounts of time. Find what works for you, and make it a priority! 

11. Get help if you feel overwhelmed. 
Make sure you ask for help if you are feeling lonely or overwhelmed. Let your spouse know what you are feeling, or reach out to a friend, family member or even a doctor or counsellor (online or over the phone if you can't get to one). If you don't ask and don't express how things are going, sometimes others will never know or realise what is going on, and therefore they can't help. If you feel overwhelmed with the housework, you might ask someone to watch the kids while you tidy (I do this often!) or even for someone to help out with the cleaning once every now and again. 

12. Head back to work, or work from home.
If you decide you'd like to do something different, don't feel guilty to find a side hustle or small business opportunity that you can run from home. Lots of Mum's have amazing talents in sewing or making things that they can sell, and Facebook and Etsy seem to be great platforms for getting your products out there. Or, consider heading back to outside paid work a few days a week. Sometimes choosing your days or hours, or finding suitable or cost effective child-care isn't an option, so you might need to get creative! I'm very blessed that I can book the kids in for daycare and preschool, and then just be available for casual teaching two days a week.

[Personalised notebooks are available from Padtastic]

13. Embrace the chaos!
This is one I've had to learn and have gotten better at over time because sometimes you have no other option! I love a clean and tidy house, but some days we are busy, other things are more important, or the kids just need more cuddles or attention one day, and on those days, the house has to wait. I still always try to do a few small things, so they don't end up being big things later on (like the dishes and the washing), but it will still all be there tomorrow for you! The list of three (an idea from Organising the Four of Us) is an effective way to feel like you've at least been productive in 3 areas in the day. Choose 3 things that you want to achieve, or the 3 priorities for that day, and make time to get them done. 

14. Make the time with your children count!
Lastly, try and enjoy hanging out and playing with your kids. I won't say enjoy every moment, but everyone with older kids always reminds me how quickly time passes, and this season won't always be here - the kids will grow up and you will head back to work. Enjoy those extra cuddles, read more books, play on the floor with kids. Have fun with them and make memories! 

I hope some of these tips have resonated with you, especially if you are having one of those days or weeks! 

Mummy Stuff - Overwhelmed

You know what I’m not good at? Not doing everything. I want to have a foot in every door, a finger in every pie so to speak. I want to be a stay-at-home Mum, a working Mum, the Mum who takes her kids to extra-curricular activities, to playgroup, to library, to mother’s groups. I want to be a fit Mum, a Mum who feeds her kids only healthy foods, who ensures her kids brush their teeth twice a day and are bathed every night. I want to be the Mum that is there in the middle of winter with two kids rugged up in the pram ready for Parkrun each week. I want to have beautifully dressed kids and turn up early to church each week. I want to be able to cope with packing lunchboxes and backpacks and get the kids off to daycare & preschool on-time, dressed, fed and in good spirits. I want to give 110% at work always and never turn up with kids cereal or sticky handprints on my clothes. I want to have a date night every week with my husband and spend time with him every day when he gets home from work. I want to spend time each week with my family and closest friends. I want to be able to stay on top of the washing and cleaning and decluttering and constant tidying. I want to be able to find the 2 or so hours (uninterrupted) each month to be able to document my memories in a photobook. I want to have an immaculate house while still being able to enjoy it. I want time to myself!

Wow. I’m overloaded just thinking about all that. And I think about it on a daily basis. I’m a chronic overthinker. Hence why this extrovert gets overwhelmed occasionally and needs to retreat and have alone time. I love to be in control and have everything planned out - sure I love a spontaneous adventure once in a while, as long as it’s between certain hours on a certain day and only if we have nowhere else to be (I’m not good at spontaneous, can you tell?)

One thing I have learnt with kids (and I thought I’d learnt a lot after child number 1, and then number 2 came along and it turns out, I know nothing!) is that you cannot possibly control every part of your life. You also cannot do everything. I wanted my life to look a certain way (see above!) and for me to be able to take the kids somewhere and do something every day, but you know what happened? I crashed and burned.

I’ve crashed and burned many, many times before. I can’t recall many from primary school, but definitely in high school, definitely during my gap year, definitely at university, definitely at work and most definitely when I became a Mum. So I’m pretty good at recognising the signs, and slowly over time I am able to use some strategies to pull myself back out of the hole I like to dig myself into.

What does it look like when it happens? I’ve often had anxiety attacks (which have been mistaken for an asthma attack in the past), I feel like my head is spinning, I can’t think straight, I can’t function, sometimes depression rears it’s head again and I crawl into bed, unable to eat or do anything, I feel physically sick, stressed, nauseous, I cry, I get angry or I shut down to everyone around me. Definitely not what I like admitting to people as a) I like to put on a face and be that person who ‘has it all together’ and b) I am trying really, really hard to be positive. Well unfortunately not talking about it keeps it bottled up and that’s where the power of it is - bust open the lid of the bottle and this horrible illness has no power. In my case anyway. When I wrote a blog post on my battle with post-natal depression, the response was amazing. I had so many women reaching out to me letting me know about their experiences, or that they didn’t realise the symptoms they had were also post-natal depression and that they were going to seek help. So I’ve been wondering whether to share this, and well, here we are. It can only help!

Recently I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been quieter in writing blog posts and why posting on my Facebook page has been a bit random at times. Now, I accept and love the choices I’ve made to be a working mum and to have kids close together. But I have to also accept that in this season, I cannot do it all, and something has to give because it’s not really a way to live, being stressed and overwhelmed day after day, and still trying to make it all work.

So I’ve decided that I need to be able to say no more. I have no problem saying no to my kids, so why is it that I find it so hard to say no to adults? I think it's because I’m a people pleaser. But it’s pushing me towards breaking point. So no more - I need to weigh up decisions to do things during the week and my desire to have it all and do it all against how that works with the most important role I have right now - to be the best wife to Brendan and the best mother to my two beautiful girls. Isn’t it better to say no and perhaps feel bad for a small amount of time because you’ve ‘let someone else down’ (this is how my head tries to justify it - I know in theory this is rarely true) than to have your life at home and your mental state suffer? I think we all know the answer to that.

I’m not trying to give anyone advice here (I’m definitely not qualified) - I began blogging as I love to write (and to keep myself accountable as I began decluttering my home) and writing is very therapeutic for me - being able to get everything I’m feeling down on paper to get it out of my head and perhaps help someone else along the way. I think one of the coolest things about Facebook pages & social media is how much we loved the shared experience. We aren’t going through this motherhood journey alone, nor should we have to. If you are feeling alone or overwhelmed, reach out! I know I have in the past and I always feel so much better for it.

I’ve cut everything right back this term and we’ve enjoyed more time at home. And I actually think we are better for it. If you are feeling overwhelmed, definitely talk to someone about it and consider what it is in your week or life that is making you feel that way. Mine might seem like an easy fix but I’ve battled with so many things over the years, each with its own little lesson, and luckily I’m at a point at the moment where I’m recognising that ‘this is not good’ and ‘I need to do something.’ So for now, life is back to being fairly balanced and calm. I’ll keep you updated ;)

[All images from Google]

[Organise My Home] Organising kids cutlery, plates, bowls & cups

I've just completed a quick organising job this morning - I found this drawer organiser set at The Reject Shop for $10 (for 8 pieces) and have used it to better organise our IKEA kids cutlery, plates, bowls, cups, drink bottles & sippy cups (there are a couple more currently in the dishwasher). I love it! These organisers would be great to organise a utensil drawer, or stationery items in a desk as well!

[Organise My Home] Pyjama Boxes

We have new ‘pyjama boxes’ in our main bathroom, thanks to an idea by ‘On the Way to Being Organised’ on Facebook.

The plan is that the girl’s (currently aged 3 and 20 months) will place their pj’s back into their drawer each morning, and they’ll be ready to go after their bath each night.

I also have singlets, undies/nappies and socks in here. The bottom two drawers have their ugg boots in them at the moment.

These drawers were from BIG W and stack on top of each other nicely, and were only $8 each! They’d be perfect for medicine cabinet drawers too, or if you grabbed 5 and stacked them in a kid's room or built-in cupboard, you could place clothes or uniforms for each day of the week! They also had larger sizes too.

My 30th Birthday!

I have just turned 30! I was very excited to plan a party with all my family & friends to celebrate this milestone. I decided to hold the party at our new place as a bit of a combined housewarming as well. I hoped for karaoke, lots of yummy food and a professionally made cake - and it all came together for a fun night with lots of friendship and laughter! 

These were my table set-ups - 5 tables with a backdrop (which I purchased from Vistaprint): 
- Sweets and Lolly Bar
- Fruit and Savoury Bar
- Drinks Bar
- Hot Chocolate and Coffee Bar
- The cake table with a Happy Birthday banner

I used star pickets to hold up the banners for the 3 tables below which were placed out on the grass, and then had the hot chocolate and coffee bar close to our outdoor power point, and the cake table undercover as well as a bit of a focal point when you walked outside. 

I put a white tablecloth on each table (I owned two and borrowed the other three). On the Sweets and Lolly Bar I had lots of different jars for lollies and chocolates, plus professionally-made cupcakes & fondant cookies & pikelets. 

On the Fruit and Savoury bar I had a big fruit platter and cheese boards plus chips for the kids. I also brought out mini sausage rolls, pies and feta triangles. For dinner we also had pulled pork and coleslaw on buns which I ordered from a butchery in town - so yummy! 

The Drinks Bar had juice, non-alcoholic punch, water and then beside the table in ice buckets were wine and more juice and soft drink. 

The Hot Choc & Coffee Bar was a huge hit - I had my Aldi coffee pod machine set-up with milk frothers for a real coffee, plus coffee sachets, hot chocolate powder and a selection of teas. I had bunches of rose gold, pink, gold and white balloons everywhere which I'd blown up with a little helium pump from Big W (as you can see in this picture). 

The beautiful cake took pride of place on the last table, with bunting and fresh flowers (which I had on each table as well). I wore a navy blue wrap dress, pink tassel earrings and had my tan & hair professionally done (because you only turn 30 once!)

'Melissa's Cakes' made my gorgeous and delicious caramel and white chocolate mud cake. It was two-tiers and very tall - it could have fed 100 people easily! The flowers were fresh flowers from Woolworths and the 'thirty' cake topper is by 'Topper's by Tegan' on Facebook. 

Inside the cake! 

Our family - Brendan, Miss O (18 mths), Miss M (3) and me!

Thanks to L. Sims for taking some fantastic professional photos on the night! 

It was a fantastic night and I'm so happy that it all came together as I'd hoped! Here's to turning 30 in style! 
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