11 Tips to be a Happy & Motivated “Stay-at-Home” Mom

Being a stay-at-home mom is tough! I chose the role with my two kids and I understand the challenges that come along. While there is great joy in being with the children 24/7, one can sometimes feel demotivated and under-appreciated (when was the last time your toddler gave you a performance review? emm never!)  I don’t even like the title stay-at-home mom and rather prefer “work-at-home mom” because there is no “staying” and lots of work.  Sharing some tips on how to be a happy and motivated mom at home with the kids along with a back story of how I became a “stay-at-home” mom.

  

Had someone told me back in 2008 that I would be a stay-at-home mom of two children doing pick-up and drop offs, library classes and grocery trips I would have laughed at their face. In 2008 I was enjoying a wonderful corporate career in Pakistan, launching amazing products and traveling around the world. My 5 and 10 year goals were personal targets, career ambitions and visiting every continent in the world.

Things changed, like they always do especially when we firmly believe they never will. I met my future husband, we got married and I moved to Canada. My life changed a bit but I soon found studies, volunteer work, a social circle, the new home and soon a job in my field to keep me busy. I loved working in Canada because it was different and I got to build my career without my strong network in Pakistan or the brand name of any university I had attended. In 2010 I became a mother and around the time my maternal leave was finishing in 2011 found myself in a new city because of my husband’s new job. I decided to study at that time rather than look for a job. As my studies were finishing I found great part-time work of my interest that I could manage around my daughter’s preschool hours. 

  

However just before I had my son, I decided to become a full-time stay-at-home mother. It was a decision that was thoroughly mine and one that took many years for people around me to understand, including my parents. My husband was onboard with my decision but I arrived on it totally on my own. It took me many months to accept this role myself. Yes, I did get those nagging thoughts: “but what about your career plans”, “all your studies will go to waste”, “you will regret this”, “I will get bored to death listening to nursery rhymes all day”, “my children might not get benefits that other kids do”, etc etc. It wasn’t just my thoughts, many people were kind enough to ask me these questions on my face. Others posted articles and researches online and engaged in heated “mommy wars” social media debates. 

I found my peace with all these thoughts and questions after making peace with my own decision. I realized that this was a decision extremely personal to me and my circumstances. That I could not judge anyone else’s decision just like they can’t judge mine. I respect every parent’s decision whether it is to work outside the house, work part-time or to be at home, because all parents know best for their own life and child. I know my home, my children, my path and I have made the best decision on the data points available. Any of this can change any time. But right now, I’m satisfied being at home with my children. That I’m enough and able. I know the best for my own children and whenever I need to be back to “work”, God and the universe will help me like they always have. That like all things in life staying at home with my children is also a season and this too shall pass all too quickly. But I want to make the most of it while I can with those morning snuggles in bed, chats over the walk to school and afternoons collecting leaves in the garden. 

  

Yes, it’s always not that pretty. There are tantrums, mountains of laundry and never-ending to-do lists. My MBA trained mind forces me to optimize house chores by schedules, lists and yes even excel sheets. I have looked at LinkedIn and calculated in my head how many years it will take me to catch up with the colleagues who were my peers a few years ago. I have opened my bank account and laughed at my retirement fund. But these are all small things in the big plans I have for my life right now and here are a few tips I have to be a happy and motivated “stay-at-home” mom.

  

You might be at home by choice, or just for your maternity leave or in transition while in a new city, but I hope these tips will help any mother who is at home with little ones. 

1. Some days in the week wake up before your kids. Pray, shower, change clothes, have a nice quiet cup of tea/coffee with breakfast. A good quiet start to the day is very important for adult sanity.

2. Respect your own time. Even though you’re at home and it seems like time is flexible, plan your day. Have a time that you wake up, a time for breakfast, a slot where you go out for a walk, or kids play, then lunch time, post lunch quiet/nap time, dinner time and bed time etc. Don’t jump to last minute plans and give your own time value. Resist saying “I’m just at home, I can do this.” Replace this with: ” I will see if this fits in our schedule.”

3. Exercise your mind by signing up for an online or evening course. This can be anything that has ever interested you and you never had time for. This is a lovely time to explore your interests.

4. When you feel down avoid all screens and instead go outside for a walk or get down on the carpet with the kids.

5. Never compare your life with others based on what they say or what you see on social media. Count your blessings.

6. When you’re doing house chores like cooking or cleaning listen to Quran, any spiritual lectures, Ted Talks or motivational podcasts. My current favorite podcast is Gretchen Rubin’s “happier” series. 

7. Surround yourself with people who motivate you and are positive. Stay away from negativity and those who complain excessively/gossip. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

8. Value yourself. You don’t need a nod of approval from anyone: not your husband, not your mom/mother-in-law, neighbor, friend’s uber cool friend etc etc. You’re worthy. Your worth is immeasurable by words, Facebook likes or comments. Treat yourself like you would treat a special friend. Be kind to yourself. 

9. Be kind to the world. Everyone is fighting their own battles. That friend who didn’t invite you to her birthday party? Her husband just lost his job and she’s scared for the future. That auntie who questioned your parenting skills? She was abused all her life by her husband and has grown defensive and mean. That friend who never phones you back? Her child is very sick and she’s not ready to share it. We can not solve the problems of the world but we can make our own world peaceful by not focusing on the negative and keeping our outlook positive. Forgive people, be kind and don’t over think. 

10. Prioritize your time. There are only so many hours in the day. Don’t watch that drama that depresses you when you finally get some time alone. Pick something that makes you happy or motivates you.

11. Take care of your body and mind. Eat well. Stay active. Read. Meditate. Laugh. Smile. 

  

What tips have helped you stay happy and motivated? Would love to hear from you!

18 thoughts on “11 Tips to be a Happy & Motivated “Stay-at-Home” Mom

  1. Tamania you have put everything so beautifully… it took me 8 years to accept the fact I am and will be a work at home mom and now I have no regrets when I see my children growing Allhamdollilah. This feeling that I was there for my children when they needed me the most gives me immense satisfaction. My depressions and constant struggle with the my thoughts and career advancements of my dear friends made me feel vulnerable, angry( I was happy for them) and restless… I think one should always have a hobby which one pursues and find pleasure.. this is very very important… a big hug to you.

  2. So well put Tamania. I am still struggling. Half the time working from home, half the time job hunting. Some days I feel quite lost.

  3. Such a well written article and on point. I myself have been SAHM for three years now and it’s only recently it has started to take its toll on me. Your article gave me that motivation I was looking forward too. I wish you were in Johannesburg, we would have been great friends. 🙂

  4. So step one is acceptance. your brand identity has changed and you have to reposition and figure out your new brand identity.
    Second step: avoid complacency,sloth, envy.
    Third step: intellectual stimulation.

  5. Well Tamania you are so right , it’s a sacrifice which is so worth it , though I’m not a work at home mom but there is time when I want to leave my job to raise my kids to the fullest but then the fear as you mentioned in the beginning of your post takes over ….but I do appreciate all STay at home moms who gave up career to raise fine human beings, hats off to you all,tc

  6. This is an amazing piece of writing Tamania. Being a full time working mom,who struggles with all types of job, parenting and home management stresses, I have a different set of tips to keep me motivated.
    However the point is;
    Whether we stay at home for 9 months or continue our jobs till the last day of our pregnancies, whether it is an year long maternity leave or a 40 days post C section joining back…we all are struggling. Hats off to all women out there. We silently run this world!

  7. Great advice thanks for sharing, it is so helpful to be reminded of these things. I was an at home mom for two years and just went back to work, but it feels like some of these tips still apply to my working mom life!

  8. Great reflection of thoughts of every mom who came in canada with high education and dreams of having job and career in future life.some time thoughts come in my mind too that the education and high profile degrees I got in back home are in waste I’m staying home raising kids like nanies and doing nothing for myself but when I look at big aim I have that is the responsibility of raising good human beings is more important than anything , gives me satisfactin and Allha will give us reward of our efforts inshalla.

  9. Hi Tamania,
    One of my friends forwarded your article to me. It is such a motivational piece! It is amazing that you have a schedule, I keep struggling to keep one intact! I moved to Canada in 2012 and had my first daughter, recently gave birth to my second one. I’m trying to complete my masters now. I never thought I would say this when I was starting my masters, but I want to complete my thesis to be with my darling babies! I don’t want to leave this project in between.
    Where in Canada do you live? Contact me if you like and we can connect.

  10. Hi Tamania,

    I have recently moved to Canada with my 2 little girls and I follow your Urdu story time on Facebook. I was just thinking how life has all of a sudden become so difficult for me and I came across this article. It is so motivating and comes with really good tips.

  11. Salam!

    I’m a mom of 3 under 6, living in Seattle WA.

    These are great practical tips that I, too have realized over many stressful years. Thank you for eloquently expressing and sharing 🙂 1st time on your blog!

  12. I found that I connected with what you write about in your article. I’ve had my career on hold for about 1.5 years while taking care of a 5 and 2 years old. And I know all too well the restlessness and lack of motivation I get too often, which had led me to read more about how to cultivate happiness no matter what our role. The tips you provide are right-on with what I have been reading in the latest literature by psychologists like Emma Seppala and Lucy Palladino in regards to motivation and happiness. I will definitely check out the Ted talks you recommend and try to remember about self-kindness/ self-compassion. Thank you for your article.

  13. What a lifeline just as i was feeling each and every bit of what you have written 🙂 Staying at home wasn’t entirely my decision so i have always found it hard to accept. The frustration of letting your education go to ‘waste’ is real until you see how it finds its usefulness in your ordinary life. I might not be using my degree in engineering and business to further my career but my husband knows that when he is talking about challenges at work or needs advise he has a wife who is informed enough to help him and we both have made decisions about his career mutually. Same goes for my kids who find it inspiring that their mom studied for 18 years of her life and want to follow suit 😀 But even though all this does give one enough satisfaction to suppress the negativity, the nagging voice of your own self of how you visualized your life to be does return at times. But just as you said ” like all things in life staying at home with my children is also a season and this too shall pass all too quickly” i fear that i might regret missing that season if i choose career over staying at home and that fear for now keeps me grounded 🙂

  14. Well written n well explained ..i m a stay at home mom for last 3years..was depressed as m a doctor n was seeing my colleagues excelling..have recently cleared an exam..vil b starting career soon in sha allah

  15. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% positive.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

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