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Monday, December 30, 2013

SAHM - Michelle Wikiel

OK seriously this mom is one I admire so much. I've observed her on the Mommy Stories Facebook group for a while. You probably have those moms who you love hearing from in the group, too. Well, Michelle is one of those for me. (oops, secret is out!) I just think she has it SO together. I don't know what I mean by that besides that I think she's very cool, down to earth and ULTRA focused on her baby girl. I believe she's also wiser than her years and perhaps she was born in the wrong era. Regardless, I think she has great advice for those of you in the Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) business. I know I'm glad to learn from her.

Thanks for sharing, Michelle. YOU are doing amazing!

All photos from Michelle Wikiel

1. How long have you been a SAHM?
17 months

2. How many children and what are their ages?
Just my 17 month old daughter, Victoria.

3. What is a typical day like for you ?
7 am wakeup-make daddy, mommy and baby breakfast.  She plays independently (colors, tears apart her toy box, drives her cozy coupe) and I do stuff around the house until around 9 AM, which is snacktime. After snack we play together and start settling in for nap which happens between 10:30-11.

While she naps, I try to do stuff around the house.  It really is never-ending.  Sometimes I will nap with her or just relax myself (maybe 2 days a week?).  Some days she will only sleep for 45 mins and some days she sleeps for 3 hours.  After nap it's lunch.  After lunch we'll go for walks, go to the store, run errands or have a playdate.

Daddy gets home from work around 5:30 and we all hang out and catch up on our day.  Then I make dinner and we eat between 6 and 6:30.  After dinner, we hang out and she gets some playtime in with Daddy.  Around 7:45, I put V in her pajamas, read a story, nurse and hand her over to Daddy.  He then takes her and puts her to bed, usually around 8.  It used to be earlier but Daylight Savings has altered our schedule a bit.

He usually spends about a half hour with her to ensure she's asleep.  I use this time to decompress or clean up dinner.  After my husband is done, we might watch some TV together (Sons of Anarchy, Modern Family and American Horror Story!).  If it's not one of those nights, I will read, coupon, meal plan, or just veg out.

4. Why did you decide to stay at home?
Frankly, because it wouldn't have been cost effective to put her into childcare of any sort.  For the few dollars profit between childcare and gas, it was not worth having someone else take care of her.

5. What is important to you when it comes to be a SAHM, what do you try to make sure you do each day, what do you want your child to learn from this experience being home with you?

The way I see it is that I am lucky enough to be home with her, so I really try to just focus on her and enjoy our time together.  It is nice to not be limited.  I get the opportunity to really mold her into the person I would like her to become.  I know that the things she learns and her personality are a result of the effort that I’ve put in. When she hugs her puppy or says a word for the first time, it’s because I taught her affection and that word.  Nothing makes me more proud than watching her grow.

6. What do you think most people do NOT understand about being a SAHM? What do you think they think about your day that isn't true?
It is freaking EXHAUSTING.  They (including my husband) think it's like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Yes, I get to do lunch or have coffee with my friends from time to time.  But it's not without feeding and amusing a toddler in the process.  

My husband used to have unrealistic expectations of a spotless house.  There are days where we barely make it out of our pajamas.  Why?  I honestly couldn't tell you, but I know it wore me out. 

I also hear that I'm lucky and I shouldn't complain.  That's just flat out crap.  I don't know what it's like to have an uninterrupted conversation anymore.  Just because I'm home doesn't mean I get "ME" time.  It is constant talking, teaching, helping, directing and interacting. 

My husband had a 3-day weekend recently and spent the whole time at home.  We really didn't do anything out of the ordinary.  Monday afternoon, I was feeding V lunch and he looked at me and said "Every day is the same for you, huh?"  I replied "Yup, Groundhog Day style".  We talked about how monotonous it can be.  One thing that we always disagree on is doing things on weekends.  He wants to relax since he is home, and for me, that's the time to mix things up and do something different.  Or even alone :).  It's nice that he is finally beginning to understand and it came at a time where I am finally okay with separating myself from my daughter a bit.

7. What helps you to be a good SAHM?

Patience.  Lots of patience.  Being a creative person who likes to find things to do.  If you're idea of fun is sitting on the couch all day, this may not be the job for you. 

I was a nanny before this and it really helped.  Adjusting to the schedule of someone else and taking care of someone else's needs was nothing new.  But it still couldn't prepare me for the CONSTANT demand.  It definitely smoothed the transition though.  I was with the family 5 days a week, morning to night, many times overnight.  I was just already in that mindset. 

8. What is your advice to a mother thinking of being a SAHM? What tips would you recommend for getting through the days?
Don’t be afraid to take advantage of “You-Time.”  I always felt guilty for leaving the house without my little one.  But I’ve realized I need that time away to regroup and keep myself sane.  Plan a girl’s night out, go to Starbucks and read, get a pedicure!  Do it regularly.

Tomorrow is a new day.  There will be good days and there will be bad days.  It’s okay to have a rough day and go unshowered and undressed.  You don’t always HAVE to leave the house.  If you don’t feel like it, don’t.  If you and your little one have a rough day, tomorrow will be better.

Enjoy it.  I believe it’s a blessing to be able to spend the time with my little one.  I appreciate and know that I will look back and consider it some of the best days of my life.

It is the most important job!  Don’t listen to anyone ever tell you that your time isn’t worth as much as someone else's because you don’t receive a pay stub.  They are most likely 1. Men 2. Mom’s who are bitter 3. Women who think they don’t want kids but really do.  Why else would someone be so ignorant and judgmental?

9. What is the best part about being a SAHM?

The time I spend with my little one.  I never miss a first, I get to see every smile, every milestone, and every new discovery. 

10. What are the challenging parts of being a SAHM?
"Me" Time.  Just now at 16 months I'm comfortable enough leaving her for extended periods of time.  Now I don't mind going off for a day or for a girl's night out.  Before that, I felt very frustrated that I couldn't, but it was because I didn't want to.  I would go out for special events and things like that, but I never actively planned things and it was once every few months.  Now, I would like to get out at least once a month.  It is such a relief and refreshes me, making me a better mommy.

Another challenging part is, and always will be, finances.  I feel guilty that I don't "contribute" financially.  I started working at 14 to be able to afford things that I wanted.  I feel guilty spending money on myself and try not to do so, to a fault.  I coupon, meal-plan, shop clearance racks, make food from scratch, and spend frugally.  Yet I still feel like that's not enough.  My husband has never said anything to make me feel this way. 

11. Anything else you want to add?

Our career-driven society has a lot of mixed feelings on SAHM’s.  We don’t get the credit we deserve.  I’m not saying we deserve more than any other mom, but at least equal to a mother with a career.  I always say I live in the wrong era.  I always wanted to be home with my children.  But we live in a different world now, where somehow being a SAHM isn’t enough.  Don’t let anyone think that you aren’t contributing to society. 

You are doing your best day in and day out to love, teach, and encourage a growing being to become the best person they can be.  That itself is enough of a contribution. You will never get this time back.  Enjoy every minute of it.  If my daughter wants to sit in my lap and cuddle, I stop and do it.  That’s what I’m there for.  Kudos to my fellow SAHMs!  You’re doing amazing!

12 If you were not able to be a SAHM what would you be/do/work as?
I would probably still be nannying and going to school.

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