Inside: Should it really be this hard? Surely you must be doing something wrong. After all, being a stay at home mom is what most moms dream of, right? But what happens when you’re not the happy stay at home mom you thought you’d be? Stick with me for a few transformative tips that will bring the joy back to your stay at home mom season of life.

Should it really be this hard? Surely you must be doing something wrong. After all, being a stay at home mom is what most moms dream of, right? But what happens when you're not the happy stay at home mom you thought you'd be? Stick with me for a few transformative tips that will bring the joy back to your stay at home mom season of life.

I nearly slammed the door to my daughter’s bedroom. 

Without bothering to turn on the light, I slumped in her rocking chair, pushed aside the blankets and stuffed animals, and pulled my knees up to my chest.

I could hear the sounds of the kids and my husband from the other end of the house, blissfully playing and wrestling.

Yet there I was. Alone in a dark room. Bitter. Overwhelmed. In desperate need of something.

As the tears welled up in my eyes, my self-talk kicked in.

“Get it together, what do I have to be upset about?”

“But I’m just done. I need a break. Done!”

Been there? Keep reading, mama…

When Being a Stay at Home Mom is Draining

Listen, being a stay at home mom is my dream job. I love being there for my kids and husband. I love seeing every moment, every new childhood development or silly new antic. I love hustling during nap time to earn extra income. I love playing, learning, and exploring together.

But every once in a while, the weight of being a stay at home mom settles down. I start to feel the drain of energy and attention that’s demanded of me throughout the day. I start to miss the connections and friendships formed in my years of teaching. I start to feel isolated, drained, and unhappy.

Maybe you’re in that place right now. That’s OK. 

Take a breath. It’s not just you, and you’re going to be just fine.

It’s fine to have a bad day once in a while. Even the best stay at home moms feel overwhelmed at times. 

But you don’t have to stay that way! Over the years I’ve discovered a few simple, yet transformational tips that help me thrive as a stay at home mom. 

Please note: If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, please, please seek the help of a mental health professional! I truly believe that these simple habits can help most stay at home moms find joy, but sometimes seeking professional help is exactly what you need. Show yourself some love and don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.

How to Be a Happy and Fulfilled Stay at Home Mom

So how can a stay at home mom be happy? It comes down to these four ordinary, yet life-changing habits.

  1. Define “happy.”
  2. Structure your day.
  3. Invest in yourself.
  4. Identify your essentials

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Of course I only recommend products I know and love!

SAHM Tip #1: Define “Happy”

Let’s get one thing straight…Happy doesn’t mean that you’ll bounce off the walls, smile 24/7 or have a naturally bubbly personality. Even the best stay at home moms, ones that love what they do have bad days.

Let’s go a little deeper and define true happiness the way God sees it. 

In Ecclesiastics 12:13, Solomon writes, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. But what are these commandments we’re supposed to keep? 

Jesus makes it pretty simple for us in Matthew 22: 36-40,  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Two things. Love God. Love others.

If you never get around to any of the other tips in this post, remember this: True happiness, deep joy, and real fulfillment as a stay at home mom will only come once you embrace these two things. 

You can make all the crafts and organize all the things and schedule all the play dates and do all. the. things… but you’ll still be left feeling empty if you’re not fulfilling your primary purpose. Love God. Love others.

Filter everything through those two viewpoints. Is this building my relationship with Jesus or pulling me farther away? Is this acting out love for another person (yes, even that three-year old person who’s in the middle of a tantrum!) or is this unloving?

Then pray, “Jesus, help me to love you more today. Let me allow your love to flow through me to others.”

Action Step: Write down or memorize Colossians 3: 17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Related Reading: Encouragement for Moms {Four Mantras to Help You Thrive}

SAHM Tip #2: Structure your Day

So what are some practical ways to thrive as a stay at home mom? One of the simplest ways to find happiness as a stay at home mom is to bring structure to your home. 

When I first started out as a SAHM I was a mess. I was stuck in vacation mode, and man, it was not pretty. Pajamas all day, late naps or no naps at all for the baby. Everyone was cranky.

I get it, it’s hard to change habits and get your routine back on track! But structuring our day is probably the best thing I’ve done for my sanity and happiness as a stay at home mom.

Sleep Habits and Schedules

I started out just jotting down our nap time goals. As my children grew older, we juggled things around so that everyone got the sleep they needed. These little notes grew into a whole series of posts! Click the links below to find hints for routines that will work for your child.

Baby won’t sleep? Drop everything and read this post next! Or read my essential toddler sleep tips.

Household Habits and Schedules

Recently I even started structuring my household tasks. I keep it really simple:

  • Monday: Vacuum out the car, run it through the $5 car wash.
  • Tuesday: Kids’ laundry and all towels.
  • Wednesday: Odds and ends cleaning or organization.
  • Thursday: Our laundry and all bedding.
  • Friday: Clean floors, all surfaces, and bathrooms.

If I have something I want to organize or a special project I want to work on, I fit it into my weekly schedule. I feel so much better when my home is uncluttered. My mind is free to focus on my family, my hobbies or business, or whatever else I want to do!

My kids are responsible for keeping their rooms picked up throughout the week. We do a quick five minute sweep to put away items before nap time or after school. Then as a family we do another five minutes pick up session before bed time.

My husband and I tag team after dinner. One of us gives the kids a bath, one of us washes dishes. These simple habits add structure to our household. And I generally have a decently clean house all week long!

Action Step: Print out a schedule from our free printable library, or download our Everyday Calm eBook and printable pack to get your routine back on track!

Related Reading: 3 Secrets for a Toddler Chore Chart that Works!

SAHM Tip #3 Invest in Yourself

Listen, you’re a good mom. And like most good moms I know, I’ll bet you can relate to this: You’re really good at taking care of other people, especially those tiny people who eat all your food and wake you up at night. But taking care of yourself? Not so much.

Go figure.

I’ll be honest, this is one of the areas I struggle in as well! But if you want to thrive and find real happiness and joy as a stay at home mom, you’ve got to make time to invest in yourself. 

Beware, the time will not just fall into your lap. You’ll have to get up a few minutes earlier, give up some social media time, or forfeit something else. Yet investing in yourself in these four areas is something you will not regret.

Invest in your Soul

Remember that first tip? Love God with everything you’ve got. Listen, nobody is going to make you wake up and spend time with Jesus in the morning. Ain’t nobody going to hit you over the head with your alarm clock. In fact, most mornings reading your Bible may be the last thing you want to do.

But as you discipline yourself to spend time soaking in God’s presence and studying His word, your soul will be filled to the brim. And then something beautiful happens. 

Picture yourself as a tall glass, filled with the most beautifully fragrant perfume you could buy. 

When your toddler pitches a fit she tips you over just a bit. You spill out a little perfume. The fragrance fills the room. You are empowered by the Spirit to respond with grace and truth for the situation.

As you invest in your soul, as you seek after Jesus, his presence spills over into everything in your life. 

So if you have to start somewhere, start here. Start with making time to meet and commune with Jesus every single day.

Teach your kids how to invest in their souls, too! Check out my Bible activity packs or the 31 Days of Proverbs challenge in the shop.

Invest in your Goals

Whatever your past career or path, being a stay at home mom can come as a jolt. Suddenly, life becomes slow. It’s all about your little ones, from the moment they wake till the moment they fall asleep. And even as they sleep, you’re still up worrying, thinking, and dreaming about them, right?

Yes, you were created for that specific purpose to raise those specific children into the people they were created to be. 

But chances are, that’s not all God has called you to do. He’s pretty creative, you know? And I’d bet there’s another goal that He has laid on your heart. 

For me, it’s this blog. It’s more than a website. It’s a ministry, a creative outlet, an opportunity to hone my skills and talents and connect with other moms.

  • For you, maybe it’s a calling to use your talents and create handmade items that will help support your family.
  • Maybe its a goal to impact your community in a specific way.
  • Maybe it’s a dream of starting a business or earning a degree.

Whatever it is, invest it it. Invest your time, energy, and talents. And watch what God will do!

Action Step: Pray and ask God for clarity on one goal. Write it down! Then write down specifically what you will invest to make it happen. How will you partner with God and be faithful to that mission?

Invest in your Relationships

Ever yearned for just one conversation that didn’t revolve around dinosaurs or peek-a-boo? Yeah, me too.

As much as I love (and I really mean that!) talking to my kids and hearing what’s on their hearts and minds, I’ve got to be intentional about investing in adult relationships too.

To be a happy stay at home mom, sometimes you need to stay rooted in the fact that there is a whole world out there outside your living room. Fight loneliness by investing in your relationships. Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Commit to once-a-month date night with your husband. Prioritize together time. Write it on the calendar if you have to!
  • Start a group message thread or use What’sApp to connect with a group of friends. Even if all you have to share is that you’ve just changed the fifth messy diaper of the day, sometimes it just helps to connect with a friend who understands.
  • Be the first to say hello. At the park or playground, it’s easy to stay glued to your phone and glance up at your kids every once in awhile. Be bold! Try taking the first step toward meeting a new friend. Chances are that mom is just as shy as you are.

Related Reading: Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Moms with Three Simple Habits

Invest in your Health

Oh, geez. I went there. This is not my favorite area, so just know that I’m talking to myself just as much as I’m talking to you with this tip! Being a happy stay at home mom becomes a whole lot easier when you learn to invest in your health. Here are a few things I’m doing to take care of my body:

  • Just going on a walk will produce endorphins and “happy chemicals” that will lift your mood and give you more energy. (Bonus: Invite a friend to walk with you and you’ll also invest in relationships! Win-win!)
  • Stock your fridge with fruit and veggies already portioned out. Keep a water bottle filled and ready to go on the top shelf of your fridge so that you have one less step to eat and drink healthier!
  • Commit the first 15 minutes of your child’s nap time to a quick workout. There are tons of exercise apps that will lead you through short but effective workouts.
  • Set your phone alarm to help you go to sleep at a certain time every night. 

Action Step: Ask yourself: Which area am I the most strong in when it comes to investing in myself? Maybe you’re already a fitness pro, or maybe you love waking up early to spend time in devotions. Keep maximizing that strength! Then ask yourself: Which area of personal investment is my weakest? Identify one specific way you will strengthen that weakness through God’s help.

SAHM Tip #4: Identify your Daily Essentials

Have you ever had one of those days where just nothing seems to be going right? Everything and everyone just seems off. You don’t feel happy, and joy is the last thing on your mind.

On days like these, I’m so glad I have my essentials.

Here’s what I mean…

I have a list (in my mind, ya know.) of a few things that I absolutely love doing. If I do these things I feel accomplished, fulfilled, and happy. The secret is that all of my essentials help me fulfill my primary purpose in some way or another. Each of these things, whether directly or indirectly help me to love God and love others more. 

So what are my essentials? Glad you asked!

  1. Wake up before my kids to read and pray. (If my kids are sick or wake up super early I’ll do this during nap time or in the school pick-up car line.)
  2. Read a book with a child on my lap.
  3. Get outside for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Have one-on-one time with my husband after the kids are asleep.
  5. Do something creative with my hands.

When I do these things, it aligns my mind with the mind of Christ. It snaps me out of that funk. It reminds me how blessed I am to be able to stay home with my children!

For example, there have been plenty of times when my kids are going crazy and I just want to get. out. of. Dodge. It’s been a day of days, and I’m just counting down the hours to bedtime. 

But then I stop… “Alright, everybody stop what you’re doing, pick out one book each, and meet me on the back porch.”

We drop everything and cling to those Essentials for dear life.

Everyone’s essentials are different. Maybe yours is to cook a good meal, or play a game, or listen to music together. So what are your essentials? What anchors you throughout the day? What makes you feel fulfillment and joy?

Action Step: Write down five essentials, and put it in a visible spot! Next time you’re having a rough day as a stay at home mom, pull out that list and do one of those things.

Your Turn

So what happened next that evening as I huddled in my daughter’s rocking chair?

First, I prayed. A simple prayer because sometimes that’s all you can get out. “Jesus, forgive my bad attitude and bitter spirit. Help me love you and love my family tonight. I need You.”

I opened the door, washed my face. I apologized to  my husband and kids.

And then? Then I pulled a favorite picture book from the shelf, sat down on the living room floor, and smiled as my kids ran to claim their spots on my lap. And the happiness rushed back in.

What about you? What do you do when being a stay at home mom gets hard? What habits or tips help you to be a happy stay at home mom?