ASK CAROLINE: Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms

The Dilemma: “I’m new at my current job — being a stay-at-home mom. I know you have years of wonderful experience. What are some helpful tips and tricks of the trade you can offer?” —Liz

Caroline’s Ruling: Ah, the life of a stay-at-home mom. One of the biggest misconceptions on the planet is the idea that the stay-at-home mom/housewife has it easy. Reality check: It’s one of the most challenging jobs you’ll ever have in your life. The hours are endless, the stress can be overwhelming, you’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, with very little room for sick days or vacation.

Your job description? That’s easy: caretaker, housekeeper, cook, chauffer, therapist, nurse, coach, teacher, playmate, personal shopper and cheerleader are just a few of your responsibilities.

The good news is there is a flipside. You get paid in smiles, laughter, hugs, milestones, and memories. I’ve held the position for many years, and I can say with absolutely no reservation that it’s the best job I’ve ever had in my life. Make no mistake, there were days when I just wanted to run away from it all, but like any other job, you take the good with the bad. Have a positive attitude. You’re not alone; there are millions of you out there! Find each other!

There are so many programs and activities available to young mothers where they can meet other women and socialize while their children play together. You can join “mommy & me” classes in just about anything from reading to yoga. By joining one of these activities, you kill two birds with one stone: You socialize your child and, more importantly, you socialize yourself too.

Don’t get caught in a rut. Get up every day and look your best. I’m not suggesting that you walk around in stilettos and red lipstick, but I’ve seen too many women fall prey to “mommy” mode. They forget about themselves as individuals and put their personal appearance aside. Not good! So maybe you have to put the heels away while you’re climbing all over the jungle gym, but red lipstick can look pretty cool with a nice pair of flats too. It sounds trivial, but it’s important. When you look into the mirror, you need to see yourself, not a shadow of someone that you used to be.

Get yourself and your child on a schedule! No one likes a cranky baby, and we definitely don’t want a cranky mommy! When you’re on a schedule, life is easier. Have a specific time each day for meals, naps, bathing, playtime and bedtime. It makes a huge difference in the temperament of your child. Trust me on this one.

Make time for yourself! You can’t be good for someone else if you’re not good for you. Find a good baby-sitter so you can have your alone time when you need it. You’re human; you deserve it!

Attitude is everything. Remember, this is a temporary situation. Kids grow very quickly. One day they start kindergarten, and before you know it they’re married with three kids. Enjoy your time watching them grow.