Becoming the Put Together Stay-At-Home Mom

Stay at home moms get a bad rap. The laundry is never done. We live in leggings. Dinner gets slapped together because the kids won’t stop screaming. The house is a war zone. Annoying children’s songs invade our sleep for an hour before the baby starts screaming and that’s why we look like death warmed over.

It isn’t pretty. I don’t blame childless women not wanting to have kids. I don’t blame blame the moms who say they would rather work.

Then along comes THE mom. The mom we aspire to, the mom we envy. The mom in clean clothes with shiny hair. The mom with fresh baked cookies and angels instead of children. The mom with the pretty house ready for visitors. The mom who has empty laundry baskets and neat and tidy dresser drawers and closets.

It’s impossible! Alien invasion!

No. She isn’t an alien or just the nanny. She’s possible.

Sure, if you never sleep.

No, really. Okay, maybe my home isn’t magazine-worthy, but I’m that put-together mom. All it took was desire, dedication, and a helpful husband. That last one is key. Without my husband’s help, my job would be much harder.

Going into motherhood, I was friends with some established moms. They were my grad school classmates. They were slightly disorganized and prioritized family, but they were dedicated and put-together. I didn’t know about the stay-at-home-mom-in-leggings stereotype. So I had an image of a put-together mom who was more or less on top of everything. It became my image of motherhood and, if my friends could do it, so could I. Desire.

Those early days are hard. Trying to navigate caring for a baby while not getting sleep is hard. I knew I just needed to be patient. In time, this squirmy baby would grow up, be able to self-entertain, want to be helpful, and would sleep through the night. I just had to keep pushing through, establish routines, and keep my goal in sight. Dedication.

My husband doesn’t expect a spotless home. He knows I have my hands full and he’s willing to lend his hands. He’ll take charge of the kids so I get a moment to breathe. He wakes with the kids so I can catch up on my sleep. He does the dishes every day and helps pick up. Most of all, he’s understanding when I can’t do everything and doesn’t expect me to be able to do everything. He recognizes the value of what I do as a stay at home mom and supports me.

I’m able to be a put-together mom every day because I have the support I need and the drive. Yet, I don’t drive myself crazy trying to be anything close to the so-called perfect mom (just the perfect mommy to my little darlings).

Get Dressed

I dress every single darn day. In clean clothes. I wear skirts and dresses and neat but comfortable shirts. It might seem like a lot of work, but I literally have one pair of leggings and zero sweat clothes. Because of what I choose to buy and keep in my drawers, I have no choice. It’s either dress neatly or run around in my undies. What helps is having a husband who will get up with the kids and feed them breakfast so I can get dressed, though, with what I have, it doesn’t take long to dress. And as a helpful bonus, I don’t wear make up. I don’t like the way it feels and it always makes me break out no matter what kind or brand it is. Besides, my daughter with just scratch it off with her claws. I mean nails. Though, when it comes to young children, what’s the difference?

Brushing Hair

I have long hair. Down just past my waist. Yes, I know I have two kids under 5. No, I don’t put it up. My kids get annoyed when I put my hair up, so it hangs loose. Sure, it gets pulled, but I like long hair, and it’s a good way to teach my kids to not pull on hair and to keep their hair brushed. My hair may be long, but it doesn’t take me long to brush it (for once it’s a hooray for the super shiny, super straight Asian hair) and I do it right after getting dressed and whenever I go out.

Taking Care of Chores

I’ll admit figuring out this one took a bit of time. Like 4 years. And it’s a perpetual work in progress. With kids literally hanging on to me for dear life and only letting daddy wear them, it took me all day just to cook. But once my youngest developed some independence, it was easier to implement a cleaning schedule. My home doesn’t get tidy all at once, but everything gets cleaned once a week or biweekly. Cleaning a relatively not that dirty home is easier and faster than letting it build up and doing it all at once. Only laundry takes more than the hour I allot. My kids help or they play by themselves, with the expectation that I play with them when I’m done. Sometimes I do it after they’ve gone to bed and my husband is doing the dishes. We clean up toys when we’re done playing with them and everything has a home. It’s helpful to have a helping husband and a schedule with room to breathe (ie, my kids are not drowning in outside activities).

The Laundry

Most moms hate laundry. I love laundry. There’s something very satisfying about folding clean clothes and filling up the drawers that makes me yearn for laundry day. I love doing laundry so much that sometimes I’ll glance around and just decide to wash something. It gets tossed in the machine and runs by itself while I drop my son off at preschool. Folding laundry with one kid on hand is easier than with two. But my laundry day is the day my son has off from school. It’s an established routine, though, and the kids have learned I play while the clothes are washing and drying and sometimes I give them hangers while I put the clothes away, so they don’t mind the time it takes me to fold. The key here, though, is being smart with my time, playing with the kids as much as possible, and establishing the routine in the first place. Loving laundry hasn’t hurt me, either. I just overdo it.

I’m a Baker

I love to bake. I’m even documenting my adventures in ratio baking. I bake an average of once a week. I bake with my kids. They sit on the counter and eat chocolate. They love baking days. Sometimes my son will ask if we can make something. I also think the mixer has a hypnotic effect. But they’ll do almost anything for chocolate. At nine in the morning, which is usually a no-no.

The Little Angels

My kids are almost 2 and almost 5. You’d think they’re holy terrors. But they’re not. Sure, my oldest will sometimes whine, but we always make sure we have toys and snacks when we’re out. I’ve been a firm, but loving disciplinarian who explains everything to my kids, so they’ve learned to listen when I demand it. They’re not allowed to bring devices when we go out so we’re able to teach them how to behave, how to comport themselves, how to ask properly for what they want, and how to entertain themselves without wrecking havoc. They’re also actually very well -behaved kids completely on their own. They’re wary of others, so they stay close to me. They like to be praised and rewarded, so they listen. They know we respect them, so will take their concerns seriously. Honestly, I just got lucky with my babies.

I’m not that perfect, polished mom, but neither do I aspire to be her. I just want to be put-together, to look nice, to have kids who also happen to be relatively well-behaved, and to have a presentable home. But I won’t kill myself to do it or sacrifice my family to get everything done. I’ve spent the better part of 5 years to get here and I’m proud of where I am.

There were a lot of days, weeks, months, and years where I was little more than a functioning zombie. My home was in tatters and I prayed my oldest wouldn’t start eating off the floor because I couldn’t remember the last time I’d even swept. I wore clean clothes, but didn’t match most of the time. I didn’t leave home very often without my husband and dinners out meant I focused more on not dropping my food on a child’s head instead of what, exactly, I was eating.

I’m not the so-called perfect mom, but I am put-together. It just took me almost 5 years to get here. As with everything, things take time, and desire.

30 Comments

  • Author A. R. Curry

    Agree 100% with this, but from an author and a single father of three’s perspective, not a mother’s lol. Having worked retail management for years (and having “that” voice that controls the kiddos), I have an easy time multitasking and instructing my kids to help out. I think my stress of having a lot on my plate is alleviated by having the freedom to enjoy the small moments. For example, I just took a break from writing to take my son to the park, building those fond memories one moment at a time. Terrific job. Be proud. Terrific post.

    • kat

      I think a lot more dads have the same perspective as moms than we moms know. I always appreciate it when dads chime in here. Having that voice is something of a lifesaver sometimes. There’s just something about it that gives a child pause and they know they had better listen. It’s so great that, even though you’re so busy, especially with 3 kids, that you can still enjoy the little moments of joy, those pockets of fun that make parenthood that much more enjoyable. I keep thinking if I have a third, I’d be a basket case, so it’s nice to know there are parents of more than two who somehow manage and can still enjoy it.

    • kat

      There’s nothing quite like it. The ups and downs, good and bad, and the utter delight of watching little ones grow into their own. I hope all is going well for you and your family!

      • yesmoreblogs

        I think my caffeine intake has doubled since my second daughter came along lol. We’re all doing fine and wouldn’t change it for anything. I hope you and your family are doing well.

  • MamaBuzz

    Great post! I’m thankful my husband helps out with the chores too especially grocery shopping and cleaning. The only thing we both dint like is folding clothes! lol

    Over the weekend, we did our spring cleaning and I felt relieved…

  • Lisa R. Howeler

    Well, I’m not sure I’ll ever reach your organization (my oldest is 12. Hahaha!) but you certainly have some great suggestions for how to get there. I love how you detailed your routine and also pointed out the help you have from your husband. My husband is a great help, even though he’s never home at night due to his job. I need to do more than I do around the house since he works full time but we’re getting there.

    • kat

      I think my mom would agree with you. My dad worked 2 jobs because he wanted to, so was never around to help out. I remember my mom rushing around and doing several things at once. It also looked a little chaotic. She really did a great job, but never seemed to get a break. I’m so thankful my husband is available to help. I don’t think I would be where I am without his support. As my mom has taught me, there’s always something to do, and she likes to say we can never really catch up, just find any way to manage. Best of luck!

  • Jenni

    I loved this! I felt like I was reading about myself. I can relate so much, right down to the long hair and baking. This is a wonderful post!

  • mothertherealist

    This was so much easier to achieve with two kids. 😀 All good advice, and thanks for the follow-up that you’d also had “home ..in tatters” moments.

    When do you have time to do your writing?

    • kat

      Haha, one reason why a third kid is out of the question! It took me long enough to figure it out with two that I definitely don’t want to start over with three.

      That’s a good question! I know I write during naptime sometimes, but I think I do most of it after the kids are in bed. My husband often has a lot of work to do, so I spend that time typing away. Or maybe little elves come out at night and do it for me.

  • MS Mommy Blog

    I am still struggling to find the right balance for everything. I am slowly getting there, but part of my problem was using my fatigue as an excuse to not get everything done in a day or at all (cleaning, organizing, writing, etc.). I since realized that while I still have fatigue, it isn’t actually stopping me from doing anything. I have to push myself a little bit more. So I am currently playing catch up on a few things. Your advice is spot on – and such a great reminder of what we can do to be more effective and satisfied stay at home parents.

    • kat

      I think balance will always be a struggle, especially since kids have a bad habit of growing up too soon, but I can’t imagine what it must be like for you. Mom’s like you are kind of my heros. Not only do you have the exhaustion that comes with parenthood, but you have to make that extra push and, from watching my mom struggle with her autoimmune disorder, I know it can’t be easy.

  • EM

    With four of ‘em, it’s more like, “Oh good, the kids are eating off the floor again. Now I don’t have to sweep or figure out lunch.”

    • kat

      That was me before my scientist husband started freaking me out about stories of kids who got sick of died from eating off the floor. I miss that me. She had a cleaner floor.

  • Kamber Shaffer

    We have similar perspectives but a few differences, of course. The most obvious ones that my hair is baby fine and thin, so looks terrible long (I do wear it down and shiny most of the time) and that I clean the house and put through one load of laundry daily. I have routines that make sense for my family, including deeper cleaning and my daughter does her own laundry on Saturday (with help). My hubby helps occasionally; if I ask, we have company present, or he sees I’m overwhelmed. I have an almost 8 and 1.5 year old and I’m just now getting into a groove that works for everyone, but more importantly, for me. I really struggled while pregnant and for the first year after my son was born, so my house is going through a transition with me. Lol

    • kat

      I’ve found that routines are key to my sanity. They’re so helpful and I think it helps the kids to know what to expect. But those days being pregnant and caring for a newborn…those are crazy days! I admire those moms who can swing right back into things after giving birth, but, like you, I struggled and my home became very upset with me.

      • Kamber Shaffer

        I really relate to that last statement. Lol. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Rebecca Champion

    I agree 100% to this post. I can really connect to the part of the Little Angels. I usually get the same comments about my children. And I agree…we don’t use technology when we are out so they can learn how to connect with others and behave in a social setting. Good job! We have to strive to be that put together mom. And if we don’t succeed, it’s okay

    • kat

      Technology is fine, but humans are social creatures, so denying kids the opportunity to learn how to be around others is a huge disservice to them. It’s great to know there are parents who believe the same, especially when devices seem to be everywhere you turn. Yes, absolutely, it must be something we want to become, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, and it can be hard to be put together at all times. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: