Being a stay-at-home mom is no joke – and being a happy stay-at-home mom can be even harder.
To get a clear view about why it can be hard for moms to feel happy, let’s take a look at some recent revealing statistics.
In the 2020 State of Motherhood survey, 86% of millennial moms reported feeling burned out at least occasionally, with 41% of moms reporting that they feel burned out frequently or all the time.
Interestingly, stay at home moms report feeling more burnout than moms who work outside the home.
Finally, a full 89% of moms say that they don’t feel supported by society in general.
My stay-at-home mom burnout story
Five years ago, I felt more burned out than ever as a mom. I’d just had my fifth baby, we lived overseas, and my husband was deployed with the military for a year.
I was also homeschooling 3 kids at the time.
I felt like I was continually stumbling through a dense fog – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Just as I was beginning to accept this acute sense of overwhelm as my new normal, I stumbled upon a 13-week home decluttering challenge. For some reason, I jumped right in.
And I did it. Then I decided to create a capsule wardrobe. And I did that too.
While I know decluttering and capsule wardrobes won’t be the answers to help all moms overcome overwhelm, doing those two things made me feel empowered for the first time in years.
Realizing I could be proactive and gain control over my life brought me out of mom overwhelm and to a place of real joy in being a mom.
And I firmly believe that you CAN be happy as a stay at home mom too!
Small changes can have big results
All of these ideas are suggestions, and they’re definitely not meant to be done all at once!
The last thing you need is to feel more overwhelmed or that you are just adding more things to your already overflowing plate.
So just focus on only one or two ideas from the list below and go from there.
Okay, now that we’re clear on that, let’s dive in to the 21 tips to help you be a happy stay at home mom!
Create a morning routine
Having a morning routine can help you to feel much more in control of your day. Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP writes on Very Well Mind:
“The morning routine helps us set the tone for the day, better allowing us to control our schedules rather than our schedule controlling us. As we start each day fresh, we can better focus on what is in front of us, where to prioritize our time, and, ultimately, increase our productivity.”
My morning routine consists of a short workout, time for prayer and scripture study, reading, and getting ready for the day.
For a long list of potential activities to include in your morning routine, read this article here.
Wake up before your kids
While it’s true that moms aren’t getting nearly enough sleep, I’d love to see some statistics on the happiness levels of moms who usually wake up before their kids and those who don’t.
(Just so we’re clear, I don’t recommend waking up before your kids for moms with newborns, have kids with special needs, or have sleeping disorders themselves.)
But it is true that waking up before my kids has been the biggest game-changer for getting past mom overwhelm for me. Read this article here for 9 actionable secrets to help you actually start waking up before your kids.
Get dressed every day
Similar to following a morning routine, taking the time to get dressed can help you feel more put together and in control of your day.
In a recent Today article psychologist Cathleen Swody simply said: “Dressing pulled together helps us feel pulled together.”
While being comfortable in our clothes is obviously a high priority for stay-at-home moms, it’s important to remember that comfortable and put together aren’t necessarily opposites!
A simple, clean pair of leggings or joggers and a cute, comfy top can work wonders for helping you feel more put together than staying in your pajamas or dirty sweats from yesterday.
Set goals for yourself
While 71% of moms say that motherhood is their most defining personal characteristic, it’s so important to remember the woman you were before you became a mom.
In my own life, that first decluttering project was the first goal I set for myself in nearly a decade!
While you don’t have to set overly audacious goals, having a few personal goals to work toward can help you to feel happier as a stay-at-home mom. For a deeper look at how to set and actually crush your mom goals, read this article here!
(P.S. There are even goal setting worksheets in the Jen Bradley|MOMs Printable Library!)
Get rid of your to do list
Yes, really! If you feel like you are constantly adding more things to your to-do list without crossing many things off, this is where overwhelm begins.
While it can be helpful to write down all the things you want or need to do, it is very important to schedule time for yourself to actually get them done!
This is why I love the Spaces Planner so much. It gives you lots of room to write down notes and make lists, but there’s also room to schedule those activities into your day. When you have a clear picture of what you can accomplish and when the burden of your to-do list can lessen.
Schedule regular self-care
According to the Motherly State of Motherhood survey in 2019, 99% of stay-at-home moms reported that they spent more than 3 hours a day taking care of their kids.
On the flip side though, moms only spent far fewer hours a week doing something for themselves.
Like many things, self-care won’t start happening by accident.
Instead, choose one day a month or every few weeks to do something for yourself. You could set aside the last Friday of the month to get a pedicure or massage, visit your favorite coffee shop with a friend, or simply lock your bedroom door and curl up with a good book.
Find a hobby
Just as it’s important to have goals for yourself outside of your role as a mom, it’s also extremely helpful to have a hobby that you love to do.
Whether you love to crochet or knit, craft, play tennis, swim, design, take photos, bake, read, etc., making time for your hobby can help you feel happier as a mom. (Quote about individuality and motherhood.) If you’re not sure how to fit your hobby into your life, try to get creative! Read while you brush your teeth (I do!), crochet while you watch your kids at soccer practice, or watch a cooking show with your family.
And remember: taking time for yourself isn’t selfish.
You will be a better and happier mom when you’re needs for self-care are met.
Connect with your kids
Originally I wrote “spend time with your kids,” but that didn’t seem quite right.
Instead, take time to truly connect with your kids regularly. Put down the phone, or stop rushing from task to task, and look your child in the eye. Read a short book or laugh together. Ask them a question and truly listen.
Connection can happen in the simplest moments. Remember that you don’t have to do anything elaborate to connect with your child.
Challenge yourself to connect well with each of your kids every day, and you may start feeling a deeper sense of gratitude and enjoyment in being a mom.
Set social media guidelines for yourself
While social media can be a wonderful tool, it can also be a huge source of negativity and comparison.
If you feel depleted or overwhelmed by social media, it’s a great idea to set some social media guidelines for yourself.
And if that’s not enough, it’s perfectly okay to take a social media fast for as long as you need.
Involve your family in the housework
Getting your family involved in the daily and weekly work of maintaining your home is healthy for everyone!
First, it teaches your kids essential life skills, such as doing the dishes, basic cleaning skills, how to do the laundry, learning simple cooking skills, and more.
Even young kids can contribute to household chores by putting away kid dishes, picking up toys, switching laundry from the washer to dryer, disinfecting doorknobs, collecting small trash cans around the house, and more.
Create routines for repeated tasks
Creating routines for repetitive tasks such as meal prep or laundry can be a great way to lessen the amount of stress you feel as a stay-at-home mom.
To learn more about how to simplify your laundry routine, check out this article here.
Or if you’d like to create a monthly meal plan, read this one too!
Finally, to learn about the benefits of time blocking for moms, read this one here!
When you have routines in place for the mundane tasks of motherhood, you’ll be able to have more time for self-care or connecting with your kids – things that are likely to help you feel happy as a stay-at-home mom.
The Free Printable Library here at Jen Bradley|MOMS is full of amazing downloads to help you create effective routines! Join in by clicking here or on the image below.
Get outside when you can
Taking time to get outside in the sunshine can do wonders for lifting your spirits!
According to Forbes, “Being outside makes us happier, less stressed, more creative, and more socially connected. It can improve short-term memory and focus, … fight against anxiety and depression, and boost our overall immune systems. Plus, access to fresh air and natural light supports … more balanced circadian rhythms, supporting better, deeper sleep.”
So when the weather cooperates, pile those kids in the stroller, strap on their bike helmets, or put the dog on a leash and go for a walk. You could also spend an afternoon with sidewalk chalk, blowing bubbles, or jumping on a trampoline.
Participating in regular exercise can also have a big impact on your mood. And here’s the best part: it really doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do!
So whether you go to the gym, workout at home, run outside, do yoga or pilates, or dance around the house for 20 minutes a day, you can receive the benefits of exercise!
On Mind Body Green, Art Kramer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and director of the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health at Northeastern University, writes: “What everyone agrees on at this point is that exercise has the ability to change your mood because it has a dramatic impact on your brain.”
Give and receive hugs
Giving and receiving hugs are a great way to help you feel happier as a mom.
The positive physical connection can relieve stress and help you feel more connected to others. If you’re feeling down, don’t be afraid to ask your kids or your partner for a good, long hug.
Find mom friends
It’s no secret that motherhood can be a tough journey, and it’s always helpful to have someone to share the journey with.
Look around for opportunities to connect with other moms – whether by connecting in local playgroups, school organizations, church groups, at library storytime, or even on social media.
Find a mentor
While having mom friends in the same stage of motherhood is a wonderful way to find camaraderie, having a mom mentor can be a huge bonus to help you feel happier as a mom.
This works best if your mentor has kids who are 5-10 years older than your kids are.
Not only can she be a great resource for you when you have mom questions, but she can also be a constant reminder that some things about motherhood get easier over time.
Stick to an evening routine
Although we rarely talk about evening routines, I’m convinced that creating an evening routine is just as important as having a morning routine.
Doing a few simple things every night can go a long way in helping you to begin the next day feeling calm, collected, and all-around happier.
- do a quick 5-minute pick-up around the house
- spend some time reading
- relaxing with your spouse
- carry out a skincare routine or
- set out your clothes for the next day
For more ideas about what to include in your evening routine, read this article here.
Go to bed
Only 8% of moms get the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night, and 47% of moms get less than 6 hours of sleep per night.
While you may feel constant pressure to get more done, or you simply end up binge-watching The Crown after you finally get the kids in bed, it’s often a better option to stop doing all the things and let yourself go to bed. (To be perfectly honest, I need this advice myself!)
Write down 3 wins for each day
While you may keep a to-do list regularly, it’s also a fantastic idea to write down 3 important things you accomplish each day.
Taking a moment to do this can help combat those feelings at the end of the day when you may feel like you didn’t get anything accomplished.
Over time, you’ll be able to go back and read your list of wins every single day!
Practice gratitude daily
Practicing daily gratitude is one of the best ways to help you be a happy stay-at-home mom.
In the words of Amy Collette,
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”
You don’t need an official gratitude journal – instead, consider writing 5 things you’re grateful for in one of the blocks of the beautiful Spaces Planner!
Let go of perfection
Of all of the tips listed here to help you be a happy stay at home mom, this one is hugely important!
It’s very common for moms to keep wishing that they were better moms – moms who never yell, create perfect birthday parties, or have an immaculate house.
But here’s the truth: There is NO SUCH THING as a perfect mom. (For specific tips on how to overcome mom guilt, read this article here.)
Motherhood isn’t easy – and that’s okay. Allow yourself room to grow from your mistakes, and love yourself as you keep doing your best.
Final thoughts on how to be a happy stay at home mom
Remember, it really doesn’t matter which of these 21 ideas you choose. It’s the process of gaining a few small wins and then expanding on those wins over time that matters most right now.
Take a look at the list and choose 1 or 2 things that you want to start or stop doing to help you be happier as a mom.
While I KNOW how demanding motherhood can be, I also know that it can be joyful and rewarding. You are not meant to just survive being a mom. You are meant to thrive, my friend!!