I refrained myself from writing about my days as a full time housewife in the first two months after leaving my day job. Those days, even if they ran smoothly and fulfilling were not ‘real’ to me in many ways. Firstly, and most importantly I was then a mom of one. And any mom knows that mothering a preschooler alone, and mothering a preschooler AND a little baby are two totally different situations.
To be honest, a few days before coming back to my home after spending nearly two months in my parents’ place for post-natal confinement I was anxious and nervous. How would my life be when there’ll be no more help around for at least 12 hours when my husband is away for work? Would I be able to take a break? How different would that be? Will I lose my mind?
It turns out not so bad – in fact, way better than I expected.
And me being able to actually write this post at 4.47 PM, had two cups of coffee peacefully today, managed to read a few pages of the book I aim to finish this month, recite several pages of the Holy Book, did some cleaning, read two books with Isa, played with him earnestly, cooked proper meals and had proper breakfast and lunch – all of these are in fact proofs that life as a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean that I’ll become a martyr – which I don’t intend too.
Of course, this peace of mind I am enjoying comes with some prerequisites and rules that should not be broken. These are what I have learnt in the short course of a week:
1. Lower my standard and expectation (especially in the cleanliness department)
I may not be the neatest person on earth, but I do have quite a standard on what constitutes a neat and clean house. And that standard will never be fully achievable if I want two things to happen; one – my children learning, two – me being sane and not exhausted. Luckily, my husband is not that fussy (as long as he has a clean set of outfits to wear the next day and a wife that is not upset, I suspect he’d be happy).
2. Cook meals early in the morning
This is of utmost importance if I want to avoid starvation (due to breastfeeding making me hungry like ALL the time) and the chaos during peak hour (i.e. lunchtime when everyone is wide awake). I cook and prepare my lunch early in the morning before – which I also serve as my breakfast (breakfast like a king, y’all), and lunch (if I feel like having one) and dinner later, for my husband. Typically I will serve a separate breakfast for Isa, whose favourite is scrambled egg. Or sometimes, a five-minute fried leftover rice. Cooking in the morning is possible because both Isa and Khadijah are mid-morning risers. This leaves my afternoon a bit relaxed.
The reverse happened today when I woke up a bit later – and no, I learnt my lesson. Wake up early and cook. Full stop.
3. Simplify homeschooling
Of course, I’d like to ‘homeschool’ Isa now that I have the luxury of staying home with him. But Isa is only 3, and homeschool for him means play, play, and play. I do have a must-do list nevertheless, which includes reading, writing or drawing or craft, and playing with him (by that I mean REALLY being involved). And maybe a compulsory LEGO time, just because I love them little colourful bricks.
4. Reduce distraction
Screens are the enemy here. Phone and TV, to be specific. I reserve the evening for watching TV (or those movies my husband kindly downloaded for me) when my husband is home as he’d tend the kids, but TV during the day is limited to two hours maximum, and that is only if Isa requests for it and if I have to tend to something else and he refuses to play alone that we will switch on to BabyFirst TV (or more recently, Nick Jr.). Or sometimes Isa’s favourite movies i.e. Mr Peabody & Sherman, Cars and Cars 2. Like for hundredth time 😛
And my mobile phone, I try to keep them away.
5. One thing at a time, one thing in a day
I can’t clean the whole house in a day. I can’t finish one book in a month. I can’t do a lot of things for sure, but I can do one thing good enough if I focus on it. I schedule some house chores do be done only on certain days (e.g. laundry), and one deep cleaning to do everyday. Just one item, while keeping the living room (attached to my dining area) and my bedroom generally okay. Lucky neither I nor my husband has OCD.
So those are five things I learnt in the first week of being a stay-at-home mom of two, that I need to do to keep my sanity intact. I know as these two kiddos grow up I may have to continuously change and adapt my strategy but so far, I am okay. I am breathing fine.