Amendment: for those that don’t know me- this is definitely the one thing outside of Jesus that saved me. He’s my number one. Mmmkay??
Set the scene:
Here you are knee deep in light up toys, the smell of milk (is that me? Yes- yes it is.), board books, and beautiful little people that God has entrusted to you. You are running on fumes. You haven’t slept more than 3 hours at a time in 3 months. (Three? Is it three? Maybe it’s four?) You don’t know because you’re a stay at home mom. You are with your people 24/7. 365. All the space in your brain that was previously used for knowing what day it is- is now full of things like, what time your baby last ate, the difference between the hunger cry, the pick me up cry, and the I need a nap cry.
YOU know your baby better than anyone. You wouldn’t trade this time for anything.
You know all of their needs.
But sister, what about YOUR needs? When do you make time for YOU?
First let’s go over some of my favorite common recommendations.
Read: ALL THE SARCASM.
• Get your “you” time when your kids go to bed!
When the kids go to bed? HA! I literally CAN’T even when people suggest this. When the kids go to bed lots of us are still a spouse. You’ve got to put into your marriage. Communicate about bills, groceries, and weekend plans.
Plus all the millions of other things waiting to be done. IE: Laundry rotation- because there is allllwayyyysss more laundry to do- and most of all- SLEEP.
To be honest I couldn’t stay up late to have me time if I tried. By the time my kids are in bed- I AM SPENT. MORE importantly- I’ve got to go to sleep because between my baby and toddler waking up- I will be lucky to get a combined 5 hours.
• Get your “you” time by waking up before your kids!
I am sorry- but this is sheer sorcery.
I will never understand stay at home moms who wake up before their kids.
Especially when they are all close together in age and STILL so little.
I personally have the great
trauma joy of raising no limit sleep hating soldiers. Soldiers that wake up with NO alarms at the beautiful hour of 6AM. Every. Single. Day.
(Don’t even start about the ‘keep them up later’ business. It does not work. It just makes for insanely sleep deprived no limit soldiers who are extremely cranky at SIX AM.)
Um, no thank you. Next.
#REALTALK: I will never be the person who chooses to wake up at 5 am over sleeping. Never. Ever. Ever. Wait for it…. EVER.
Now I’m not saying that joyfully waking up before your kids can’t be done.
What I am saying is that dark magic is real; unfortunately, I didn’t get that gene.
If one of these solutions works for you, press on sweet Momma! For the rest of us there is another solution. One that no one talks about.
A Mother’s helper.
This is a well known term in the home schooling world. A mom friend, whom was home schooled herself and currently home schools her children, suggested it to me. Just like those of you reading this I thought: “Okayyy? I mean it sounds great. I like the title- but what exactly IS this, “mother’s helper?”
A mother’s helper is, basically, renting out a pre-teen/teen. My friend explained it perfectly! When she was a mother’s helper she was paid $5 an hour to come over during the morning and help a mom of young babies by either cleaning, playing with the baby, entertaining a toddler, or helping the mom execute some projects.
Things to know:
Especially because of age (but also pay rate) a mother’s helper is NEVER left alone with your small children. You are ALWAYS home and ACCESSIBLE.
They never change diapers or wipe bottoms.
I have had two different mother’s helpers (never both at the same time) in my life as a stay at home mom. These young girls were truly the hands and feet of Jesus in my hardest days of parenting.
There were days when I needed someone else to pour into my toddler and I opted to clean the bathroom, do laundry, etc. myself over playing shapes.
Other days, I showed her my exact OCD methods of folding towels and left her to it while I just held my baby. Resting in the assurance that I would have clean towels at the end of the day somehow made it easier to be present with my baby.
Once I had worked with both girls extensively it was like a well oiled machine! They knew that Monday’s were laundry day. They knew where everything went. They knew when baby’s nap time was, what the “I’m about to poop” face looked like, and what shows the toddler was allowed to watch.
The children loved having a “big kid” to play with and I relished being able to poop alone. It was truly magical.
It was like having an extension of myself! I remember one day in particular. The baby had been up all night. My mother’s helper came over; she was ready for Monday laundry.
Me: “Change of plans. Baby was up all night. Can you please just play with J (the toddler)? Here are puffs. Here is a sippy cup. Here is the play room (right off the living room). I’m going to lay down on the couch with the baby monitor and maybe sleep.”
Perfect angel of a 12 year old: “You can go to your bed. I’ll be okay. That way we don’t wake you up playing.”
Me: **laughing inwardly at her innocence because I’m too tired to laugh on the outside. *sigh* to be well rested enough that you’re a light sleeper… ahhh, the good ol’ days..** “You are so thoughtful. I know you will be okay. But I promise you- I will 110% be able to sleep- noise and all.”
Now let me tell you, I did exactly that. I slept while my baby slept. Clutching the monitor, still in pajamas, drooling into a throw pillow. A true portrait of birth control. Whilst I laid there snoring my mother’s helper played with my toddler. She woke me up when there was a dirty diaper. She gave puffs. She tickled. She laughed. She poured all of her “I still sleep all night long” energy into my terribly terrific two year old.
Sister, It was LIFE CHANGING. It was affordable. My children were happy. I was happy.
Aside from everything I have told you thus far there are TWO other impactful benefits of a mother’s helper.
In renting an able bodied ‘big kid’ I also gained a true ally in motherhood. Yes, the seasoned mother of said big kid. It was as if I inherited this amazing wealth of knowledge. She would come over to pick up her daughter and we would chat for just a few minutes. Sometimes I would mention teething or nap struggles. Then, totally unaware, this amazing woman would just drop bombs of wisdom. She was my very own ninja master of motherhood.
Secondly, there is the hope! This mother to ‘big kids’ existence alone gives hope.
Picture me: run down, covered in spit up, definitely not designer bags under my eyes. She comes to the door to pick up her daughter. She smiles and says, “I remember those days. The days when it took longer to get out the door than to actually run the errand.”
My face would light up.
YESSSS. She. GETS. IT.
This veteran Mom spoke life into me. Seeing her fully dressed, with washed hair, and speaking in full sentences gave me perspective. She would walk away with her child that could wipe their own butt and I would reflect. “She was me once upon a time AND LOOK AT HER NOW! She is a functioning adult! There is hope for me after all!”
My fellow mothers of littles:
Those of us in the trenches of sleepless nights, hormonal roller coasters from pregnancies, and diaper blow outs. We NEED NOT be discouraged!
All you do NEED- is some Jesus and a mother’s helper!
If you are interested in how to find a mother’s helper you can read about that here.
Love in Jesus,