Does your stay at home mom schedule make time to see friends regularly?
Unless you’re that amazing superstar homebody homeschooling homesteading mom and an extreme introvert, then this article is for you. Maybe you’re also not an extreme extrovert like me (100% says the tests) who needs adult interaction 7 days a week, but you could really use a little bit more adult face time and realize that play dates are as much or even more for the moms than they are the kids, then this article is for you.
I joined the mom meeting app, Peanut, a few weeks ago. I’m always broadening my circle of friends while trying to maintain current friendships. While on there, one of the moms asked me “How do you find the time for that many play dates? My first thought was, I should write an article about this! I’m sure other busy moms wonder the same thing. How can you manage the needs and demands of a 3 year old and an 8 month old, maintain a home, blog daily, and include play dates 5-6 days a week in your stay at home mom schedule? I’ve thought a lot about this, and here’s what I came up with. My ideal life, whether kids are involved or not, is like an episode of “Friends:” I want to be around my friends daily. I’ve worked my life around trying to make this happen. I’ve had to say no to a lot of things to make room for this in my life. Here’s what I’ve done.
1. My house isn’t as deep cleaned as maybe some other moms
My floors aren’t mopped super often. Don’t look at my baseboards! You might notice dust bunnies collecting in corners of my house. There may be splatters of water on my bathroom mirrors. What I don’t have is a super deep cleaned home. What I do have is a pretty clutter free home. My daily stay at home mom schedule doesn’t involve much cleaning around here besides the mostly daily dishes and mostly every other day laundry. I find that if those two monsters are contained, the house doesn’t look too bad. I actually like cleaning, but not in the traditional way of setting aside time to clean, lets say every Sunday. I hate that. Since we’ve done our best to live in a mostly clutter free home, the kind of cleaning I like is daily maintaining so nothing becomes too monstrous it becomes overwhelming. I also do just one periodic cleaning task (one day I might vacuum and sweep, another day I may mop, another day I may clean toilets– but just one task) 6 days a week to keep cleaning tasks in check.
2. I get my kid to pick up his own toys and books around the house
As far as I am able to now and as soon as my older kiddo was able to understand, he had to keep his toys in his room. I can turn a blind eye to a messy kid’s room for a week if he doesn’t let his toy mess inhabit the rest of the house. I tell him,
“You like your room messy, and that’s fine for now but mommy and daddy don’t like the home messy. It doesn’t make us feel good. So you have to keep your mess in your room.”
He’s 3, and he gets it! I don’t mind if he brings a toy out of his room if he is playing with it, but if he’s obviously done playing with it, I do my best to try to get him to put that toy back in his room before I fulfill his next request for anything. With my eldest, I realized the whole day is filled with asks from me and asks from him.
“Mom can I go outside and play in the snow?”
“Mom, can I have a snack?”
“Mom can I have my tv time?” etc etc etc.
Every time he makes a request, I do my best to find something he needs to do first.
“You can go outside after you put that toy back in your room. I’m so excited! I have food color and spray bottles for you to make colored ice cream cones with your construction cones!”
I read a really amazing article about parenting not based on rewards or punishments but on motivation and it has been a game changer. Don’t get me wrong, we do rewards and punishments too, but when I can and when I remember, I try to speak to motivate my son instead of automatically resorting to punishments or rewards when I need him to do something. You can read about it here if you’re interested. He also reads books when he’s in the bathroom, and they always end up on the floor. After he is done, I’ll wait for his next request and I’ll tack on my request before I fulfill his.
“Sure, I can pull down your box of trains after you put your books back on your shelf. I’ll even set up a few tracks with you!”
3. My stay at home mom schedule doesn’t include hours of playing with my child
I’m not a playing kind of mom. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to play with my kids for hours on end for them to feel loved and to actually spend time with them. I think it’s important for them to have all their love languages fulfilled- affection, gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and acts of service, but I don’t feel I need to play with them very long to fulfill any of these needs. I get down and play with my three year old for 15 minutes a day. That’s it. I’m a big time hugger and kisser kind of mom naturally, gifts come in the form of buy nothing surprise pick ups and gifts on special occasions, I perform acts of service every day by feeding, helping with toilet needs and any other needs, and I affirm my kids with words of “I love yous” and “you did well here…”
So lastly there is quality time. I don’t feel I need to sit down and play with my kids for a long time to fulfill their need for quality time.
Quality time for them can also be useful and enjoyable time for me.
I don’t enjoy playing with cars and trucks, but he’s able to do that on his own or when his friends come over every day. I do enjoy reading stories, connecting through conversations, and cleaning with my son.
Quality time involves reading to him every day before bed (I limit all of my reading time to 15 minutes a day at bedtime only– may seem like not enough to you but that’s 91 hours a year!) At bedtime we talk about our highs and lows every night and say our bedtime prayers (a teaching moment). We have good conversations in the car if my youngest isn’t napping, and the activity I love to do most with my eldest to spend quality time with him? CLEANING. We will “mop” the floors on our hands and knees. I’ll give him a rag and a spray bottle full of hot water and drops of essential oil and to him it’s not cleaning, it’s playing! Such a brilliant idea from another mom friend. He gets to spray water in the house? What?! He’s not Noah any more, he’s a street sweeper.
When I help him clean up his room, he’s not Noah anymore, he’s a crane or a bulldozer. Why does quality time with kiddos have to be playing leggos and building towers? In my book, it doesn’t. Unless you love to build towers and play leggos, then more power to you! Limiting the time I play with my son and inviting him into the tasks I already need to do (cooking and cleaning) gives us quality time but frees up my stay at home mom schedule.
4. I almost never shop with my kids in tow
Some moms find it relaxing to go to Target and do some shopping here and there. I’m not one of those moms. This takes up a HUGE chunk of time in a stay at home mom’s schedule. The joy of shopping is easily out-shadowed by the stress of shopping with littles in tow for me. I find time for play dates 5-6 days out of the week because I say no to other things that take up time like shopping in any mortar and brick store. Sometimes you have to say no to some things in order to say yes to others, and for me shopping retail with two littles can go out the window in favor of having adult face time for my mental health. As an extrovert, I need people to energize me, so I prioritize my play dates over most things like shopping. Doing all my shopping online with grocery delivery, curb side grocery pick up, or Amazon opens up a lot of time in my stay at home mom schedule.
5. I don’t mess with my hair for several days until I blow dry it again
I do this evening hair trick after I spray it with dry shampoo: I just lean forward and brush all my hair to the very crown of my head and put a hair tie in it midshaft. I look like a geisha, but in the morning, I just take it out of the ponytail and it is takes two seconds to restyle! This helps save lots of time not having to style my hair every day or wash my hair too often.
6. When I cook, I cook a lot
I don’t like cooking, so when I cook, I make so much that I have leftovers for days! Like if I make mac and cheese, I’ll make 2-4 boxes. Or if I make blueberry pancakes or waffles, I’ll make the entire box and there will be enough for the whole week. I love making a huge pot of soup. It just gets better every day and is perfect for the cold weather. I double up recipes. I’ll use two bottles of spaghetti sauce instead of one. I never cook just a little. This saves so much on cooking time and cleanup.
7. I save all my non social social media time for Fridays
I’m on Facebook a lot because for me it is a social outlet. I have a couple of mom’s groups and send out invites to my play dates and accept invites to other play dates and lunches through it. What I do avoid is checking my favorite blogs, my Instagram and Pinterest feed until Friday. I do a sort of Friday “sabbath” day where I don’t do any chores or any writing that day to give myself a day off. That’s the day I catch up on all my favorite non social social media, sort of like the time I do all my pleasure reading and scrolling. But the rest of the week, all this pleasure scrolling is such a time drain. I could easily spend hours on my social media accounts. It never ends, so I save it all for Friday. Social media can be a real time suck when it comes to managing a stay at home mom schedule.
8. I don’t watch TV unless I’m folding clothes or it’s the end of the day and hubby is watching with me
This one is huge! Ever since I started doing this, I actually enjoy folding clothes because I know I can get some TV time in! This is a huge time saver for me. I know again for my mental health, I’d rather have time for friends over than to binge watch on TV shows and movies.
9. When I have friends over, I do chores
I love inviting a friend over, but even better if there are two so that if I’m distracted while I’m doing dishes or folding clothes, they have each other to talk to as well. I always like to do dishes or fold clothes while I have friends over because with these two chores I’m able to stay in one spot in the kitchen or living room where I’d be anyways if I wasn’t doing chores and just chatting with my friend(s). I save chores like vacuuming, mopping, dusting, cleaning mirrors, scrubbing sinks or bathtubs, or cleaning toilets for when I’m alone because these chores require me to be everywhere or in a different room other than the kitchen or living room (where I entertain).
10. I started doing play dates in the late afternoon
My play dates go from 3:30 or 4 to about 5:30-6:30. Yesterday I had a friend over until 7:30! I used to do a lot of morning play dates but they started conflicting with my hot yoga and gym showering and getting ready time, so I switched to late afternoon. It works really well because I’m a morning person and that means I get the most productive stuff done in the morning when I have the most energy. I do my blogging from 5am until after kids wake up and then it’s breakfast, a quick chore, and gym time. By the time I get home it’s already lunch time and then nap time for my eldest.
Starting at 3:30 or 4 also allows me to see some of my mom friends who work full time. My husband doesn’t get home until between 5-8pm so having this later play date makes it nice to fill up afternoon time. My older child has someone to play with every day and gets social face time too, and it makes it easier for me. Our kids are engaged and playing and we can talk and eat or talk and watch something on Netflix. I’ll have people over to sing karaoke or paint nails, put on a face mask or play with makeup. There are so many options!
Maybe having more play dates for your kids and for yourself isn’t something high on your priority list. It wouldn’t be so high on my priority list if I wasn’t 100% extroverted. When I don’t get social interaction in my stay at home mom schedule most days of the week, I feel super drained and fatigued. People energize me. But even if you’re not an extrovert, as I’ve mentioned before in a previous post, happiness expert Dan Buetner found that the happiest people he surveyed around the world hung out with other people averaging of 6 hours a DAY. Of course your kids count and your hubby counts and if you work, your coworkers count, but how much of that time is actually energizing for you? Do you interact with your coworkers? Are your kids at an age where conversations fulfill not just them but also you? Does sitting in front of the tv with your spouse at the end of the day really count as quality time? This is where a meaningful play date comes in. Most of the time the kiddos can entertain themselves and play together and it leaves a whole lot of time for us mammas to connect over hot tea or some leftovers I’ll pull out of the fridge. The point is like most moms, you could possibly benefit from some more adult face time with friends. Whatever amount of time is satisfactory for you, say no to some things to make room to say yes to that time.
If you haven’t already heard my interview on the Mom’s with Mics Podcast, you can check it out here. I talk more about my stay at home mom schedule and making time for play dates. Find out more about what the interview here.