_T1_6746Stay at home mothers have an easy life, right?

Daytime TV, coffee and cookie fuelled playgroups, tea and cupcakes with friends, happy clappy music classes, splashing around in the toddler pool. All they had to do is give birth (!!!!) and they get five years off work, just having fun with their kids.

Mmm. Nope. Being a full-time mum is THE. HARDEST. JOB.

Yes, there is joy… oodles of it. There are easier days. But there are also really, really hard days, where you’re in such demand with your kids that you can’t even get to the toilet on your own. And, once your child can talk, there is NO. SILENCE. EVER.

Stay at home mothers face a big challenge – how to give your all to your kids, but also retain a bit of YOU? How to focus on your child’s constant stream of needs, without neglecting your own wellbeing? It’s not easy, but here are six pieces of advice:

1. ME TIME: Make sure you don’t neglect this one, it’s so important for mind and body. You need at least 20mins a day to call your own. Recruit your mum, other half, friend, or a babysitter, to make this happen. Read, go for a bike ride, paint your nails, have a bath, meditate… do whatever your mood dictates. And GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. You’re doing great. Seriously.
2. EXERCISE: Get those endorphins charging round… Stay at home mothers can fall prey to stress, anxiety and depression as much their ‘working’ counterparts – and exercise is a great de-stresser.
3. EAT GOOD FOOD: Choccie biccies at the playgroup might be tempting (and necessary after a sleepless night with a baby) but make sure you don’t neglect good food. If you’re breastfeeding, nutrition and hydration are more important than ever. Snack on good stuff, like nuts and fruit.
4. GET FRESH AIR: Fresh air is great for you and for your baby or child. Ditch the car and take regular walks to put the colour in your cheeks. Whatever nightmare you have trying to get kids out of the house, once you step outside and take a deep breath, you’ll feel at least some of the stress melt away.
5. KEEP YOUR BRAIN ACTIVE: Read a paper, follow the news, join a book club… Just have something to talk and think about other than your baby… It will be good for your self-esteem (and your relationships) to keep your grey matter active.
6. SOCIALISE: Being on the mum circuit can be daunting, especially if you’re not a natural extrovert. You can feel worried that other mums are judging your mumming skills, or that you haven’t got anything interesting to say. But you must get out there, and you must pipe up… it’s really important for your sanity to share experiences and enjoy grown-up company.

Whether it feels like the most natural thing on earth, or like a daily struggle, being a stay at home mum is something to be proud of… You’re giving every day of your life – just don’t forget to give something back to yourself! What do you suggest?