How to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom When Your Husband Doesn’t Work 9-5

Let me start this post by explaining that it is hard for me to say I’m a stay-at-home-mom.

When we first had Madeline, I knew I wanted to be home with her, rather than work outside the home, but that wasn’t possible for a few months after she was born.  I was a working momma.

Being a working mother is difficult.  It’s stressful, especially if you are the only breadwinner like I was, and it can be exhausting.

But it can also be very satisfying in a way that staying at home with your children is not.

(Seriously, this is an awful way to start this post, but just follow along and it will redeem itself.  I hope.)

For those of you who have never been a stay-at-home parent, the job feels an awful lot like a wedding or other large event:  there is a lot of “hurrying up to wait”.  Being a stay-at-home parent can often be frustrating and unproductive if you haven’t found yourself a good schedule to work with.

I knew that early on, so once I quit my day job and stayed home with my sweet Madeline, I began researching and planning for what my days would look like with her.  The problem I found, though, is that most blog posts and other websites give great insight and instruction on how to create a Monday through Friday, 9-5 ish schedule for being a stay-at-home parent.  And that is certainly not what I have ever been.

My husband works long shifts (12 hours) plus has a half hour commute each way, which means he is gone for 13 hours on work days.  He only works seven days out of every two weeks, though:  three one week and four the following week.

How did this affect my work at home?

Oh boy.

It is difficult to get work done at home with my husband home.  I don’t think this is particular to him; I have heard it from other stay-at-home moms, as well.  The home has a certain vibe when “daddy is at work” and a very different vibe when “daddy is home”.  I know it, Beard knows it, and the girls know it.

It took me several months, but I realized I had to alter my schedule to suite our needs and my husband’s unique work schedule.  I still wanted to be the one cleaning, doing laundry, washing dishes, and doing other general home upkeep.  My husband still works a 40 hour week, after all, and it is only fair that I keep up with home maintenance.

How did I work this?  I’d like to give you a few tips:

  1. Take a Sabbath.  With Your Husband.  Why?  Because God said we should, and He knows us better than we could ever know ourselves.  We try to take one day a week when my husband is off to do no work.  This means no cooking, no cleaning, no dishes, no laundry, no house projects, no mowing the lawn, and definitely no grocery shopping.  When we declare a family day of rest, the tone of our week is much better.  After having rested a full day, both my husband and I are better able to tackle the week ahead and the tasks that lie before us.  Our girls also get a lot more mommy and daddy time on sabbaths, making them want some more independent playtime on days when I have chores to do.
  2. Clean Your House in One Day.  For a long season I would do all of my home maintenance chores on a day when my husband was home.  Both girls were hungry for some daddy time, and Beard was happy to oblige.  My normal home maintenance chores take me just about an hour if uninterrupted, so doing them on one day was no big deal, really.  Plus, it got those chores out of the way so the rest of the week I could focus on daily tasks (dishes, laundry, etc.) and bigger projects.
  3. Or Don’t.  More recently I have split my chores to do one or two each day.  Now that both girls take a very reliable, long afternoon nap I have plenty of time each day to tackle some house cleaning plus a project or two.  I do, however, choose carefully which chores to do on each day.  My oldest, for example, used to be terrified of the vacuum cleaner, and I had to vacuum only on days when my husband was home to comfort her in another room.  (This sounds ridiculous, I understand, but the poor girl neared a panic attack anytime I took the vacuum out of the closet.)  Now, however, Madeline is no longer afraid of the vacuum, and this more lengthy chore can be done on one of my husband’s work days.
  4. Prioritize Couple Time.  My husband works every Friday and Saturday night until very late, so we have had to choose an unusual date night.  Fortunately, we have family in town who are happy to trade babysitting and watch our girls for our weeknight date.  Since we are not able to go to bed at the same time when my husband is working, we miss out on a lot of one-on-one time.  Our date nights are crucial to us staying connected.\
  5. Know When You Need a Break and Build One in For Yourself.  Saturdays can be exhausting around here.  Since I usually have had the girls to myself for the past two or three days, my energy is usually waning by Saturday.  That’s when I know I need a bit of a break.  What do I do?  After nap time, the girls and I usually take Bruno for a walk or play outside.  On any other day, when we get back in I start cooking dinner while the girls play in the living room.  Not on a Saturday, though.  On Saturday I take the night off from “real cooking”.  I’ll pop popcorn, cut some fruit and carrot sticks, slice some cheese, and lay it all on a plate.  I’ll turn on a children’s movie and sit with the girls having a “snack-y dinner”.  The girls love it.  They don’t watch much television, so one movie a week is a big deal to them.  And the ability to eat in the living room is a treat.  All of which means they are fairly pleasant for the remainder of the evening and go to bed without a fuss.
  6. Know When You Need a Break and Ask for Help.  After Clara was born I felt like I had crawled into my own little hole and couldn’t come out.  I wasn’t sleeping well, and the constant demands of feeding Clara every 3-4 hours plus entertaining Madeline got quite overwhelming.  It was at that point that my husband (sweet, considerate man that he is) suggested that I take a “sane moment”.  What is a “sane moment” you ask?  It is an afternoon I take either once a week or once every two weeks when I can do whatever I please.  Sometimes I take a book and sit in a coffee shop and read for a few hours.  Sometimes I’ll do my grocery shopping for the week with the pleasure of being able to focus on my list, my coupons, and the experience.  One time I asked my husband to take the girls out so I could clean and declutter at home without them around.  This time is really crucial to my sanity.  (For those of you wondering, my husband gets a similar day each week or two, which he often uses to go hang out with friends or go shooting.  It’s important for daddies to get breaks, too!)

This are some of the main points that I have learned in tailoring my homemaking to my husband’s work schedule.  I hope it is helpful information.  I would be interested to hear any other tips for making homemaking work in non “textbook” situations.

Another Book Review and A Clean Fridge

I have another neat book to share with you guys:

100_3534[1]First, as a fun aside, let me tell you that I have been super blessed.  My oldest sister works for Zondervan, and it is through her that I am able to share these preschool-age appropriate Christian books with my girls and with my readers.

My Bedtime Story Bible is set up similarly to many other preschool bibles in that the stories follow the same order as they are find in a traditional bible.  What sets this book apart?  It is actually filled with bedtime stories based on different parts of the bible.  We have just started to go through this book, as I am only reading one story each night.  Last night we read about Adam and Eve spending the evening hours walking through the garden of Eden and talking with God.

100_3535[1]At the end of each chapter there is this little “Tuck in” box, with something for you to help your child think about or imagine about God.

I’ll admit, this is a really cute idea, but I do think it is still a little over Madeline’s head.  The pictures are big and colorful, but there are a few paragraphs on each page, which can be overwhelming to my 2 1/2 year old.  She does sit and listen to it, but I’m not sure how much of it she is actually understanding.

Tonight we read about Noah refilling the animals’ feeding troughs on the ark and being gentling rocked to sleep by the swaying of water.  This chapter went over better, I thought, because pictures of animals always go over well with both girls.

The book isn’t very big, and has only highlights of the bible narrative.  It is geared for preschoolers, but I would say older preschoolers.  Maybe children ages 4 or so would really enjoy it.  And I would also add that it’s a great supplemental book to any teaching your are doing.  We have a few more thorough preschool and toddler bibles that detail more events in bible, but don’t have quite the same flair as this cute little book.

 

And in food waste news today,   I have no food waste to report!  I was pretty excited considering that earlier this week I bought two gallons of milk!  One of them became yogurt, of course.  I did, however, find a baby doll’s bottle in the fridge.  Apparently baby doll didn’t finish her milk, and someone was thoughtful enough to keep it cool for her for another time.

FoodWasteFriday

 

 

 

Sharpies, You Have Met Your Match!

Friends, today’s post will be short.

But informative.

Do you have a toddler who may or may not have grabbed a red permanent marker and colored in various places of your home?

Like the door to your coat closet?

Or your kitchen floor?

Or your ever-precious, please let it still be sellable Bumbo seat?

If you do (or if you just slip and get marker on a surface you don’t want it) use nail polish remover.

Yup.

Nail polish remover.

I use the non-acetone type, and that worked well.  I know the acetone type will work, as well.

I was able to pull the permanent marker off of each one of the surfaces listed above.

And that pretty much made my day.

I hope it makes yours.

You’re welcome.

And I thought I was the physicist around here…

 

 

 

Apparently, though, my husband is the resident engineer.

Or MacGyver.

Whatever.

We have been in shed cleaning mode for a few weeks since the weather has been nice.  I hope to have a yard sale sometime soon to get rid of a lot of the things lurking in that shed.

One item, though, we cannot sell.  We are storing a mattress and box spring for my sister-in-law and her husband, and we had to come up with a good storage solution for it.  That thing took up too much space on the floor.

Using his noggin, this is what Ryan came up with:

CAM00335

 

Complete, of course with a rudimentary pulley system.  We have since lowered the box spring and put the mattress on top, covered in plastic, so both sit up at the ceiling.

The best part:  we can walk underneath it. 🙂

Green Updates: It’s Going to Be a Good Year…

100_2422

About a week and a half ago I shared with you all that I started some seeds inside.  Some tomato seeds, to be precise.  Some delicious San Marzano tomato seeds that literally were purchased from Italy, planted in my dad’s garden, consumed by our family, then had their seeds dried.

So complex, yet so simple.

Sigh

I used dollar store top soil in this particular egg carton, and in fear of not getting any germinating seeds, Madeline and I put 3-4 seeds in each egg cup.  We watered each cup thoroughly, then covered the whole carton in plastic wrap until the seedlings poked through the soil.

Each morning the Bits and I would look in on our seeds to see how they were doing.  I took the photo above this evening.

I think we had successful germination.  And I think it is safe to say that we will have a surplus of tomato plants this year.

It is going to be a good year. 🙂

 

And as an aside, I haven’t kept up well with recording my fifteen minutes of decluttering.  I am still working in our spare bedroom, because it never seems to stay clean very long.  Here are my befores:

100_2425100_2424And my afters:

100_2426 100_2427Please note that the metal file holder mounted on the wall is finally being utilized.  That little sucker only set me back $1 at Ollie’s, and it has been well worth it.  It clears up the desk, and gives my brain room to think rather than being distracted by bills and paperwork in my face all the time.

Later this week I will talk a bit more about my decluttering/beautifying project that is my home.  I’ve had some more insights I would like to share, but I haven’t quite been able to collect my thoughts coherently enough to present in a blog post.

New Year’s Resolution

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is our spare bedroom:

100_2268 100_2267 100_2266There are three shots for the full effect.

Talk about being real.

I tend to hate the more traditional New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, get fit, take over the world, so this year I’ve decided to be more mindful of the state of my home.  Now I know I have two little ones, so I don’t really have a ton of extra time and energy for this, but I always have at least 15 extra minutes in a day (besides blogging, Bible reading, etc.) to myself when I could do SOMETHING.

So that is my goal, folks.  Take about 15 minutes a day to do SOMETHING to improve the cleanliness, clutter, or look of my home.  Call it a service to all of us at the DP household.

I chose the spare bedroom as my first project because it is not functional at all.  There are a lot of things in there that neither Beard nor I have used in over a year, but it’s all hidden under things that just generally don’t have a place but are getting used.  It’s a terrible state of affairs.  Those pictures were taken yesterday afternoon, after Beard and I had extricated a full-size mattress and box spring from the room.  Yes, that made that room look wonderful, as you might imagine.

Today, I timed myself using a free online stopwatch, and in fifteen minutes I accomplished this:

100_2278 100_2277 100_2275It’s definitely not company-worthy, and that bookshelf still terrifies me, but hey, I found two garbage bags worth of trash in that pile. 🙂