I'm the mom of a toddler (21 months) and am expecting our second baby in June. My partner works at a local non-profit and I am lucky enough to stay at home with our son. Before our son was born I also worked; I had a director level position at a national non-profit and was pretty career oriented. I actually never imagined I'd be a stay-at-home-mom, but an ill-timed layoff turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Now my days are filled with playgrounds, snacktimes, and crafts - and I'm not looking back.
I take my responsibilities as a stay-at-home-parent very seriously, and try to approach the role as though it were a traditional job. I set goals for myself each week, look back over the day and evaluate my performance, and try to maintain some accountability for myself. That's not to say that I don't take advantage of the flexibility and freedom of being at home and setting my own schedule - and there are days when I skate by with the bare minimum (keep the kid fed/dry/alive and don't let the house burn down), but I try to make those days the exception, not the rule.
In order to assess my days and set goals I've come up with a list of components for a successful day in our household. Here are the main goals for my days as a stay-at-home-mom:
1. Prepare and serve healthy and nutritious meals. Ideally hitting all the colors of the fruit/veggie rainbow throughout the day.
2. Make the house a little better than it was. This is beyond basic upkeep (dishes, sweeping, laundry) and should include something like a home improvement project or tackling a long overdue organization task.
3. Get out of the house. Go to the playground, grocery store, library, thrift shop, zoo - anywhere. Just get out.
4. Do something enriching with my toddler and give him my undivided attention for a span of time. This can be as simple as singing songs, going over colors, reading books - or can be an outing to the museum.
5. Don't lose my temper. This one I struggle with, especially when I'm burning through the other items on the list - but I don't want my kids to grow up in a household where yelling is the norm.
6. Focus on my relationship. Have a conversation with my partner without the toddler hogging my attention, make one of her favorite meals, or cuddle on the couch while we watch a program we enjoy after our toddler is in bed.
7. Do something for myself. Work on my blog/writing, email an old friend, paint my nails, or do some yoga.
RARELY do I hit all these goals in a single day, but I try to make sure I've covered the list over a week and the more items I can check off in one day, the more successful I consider that day. If I have a day that misses the mark - or all the marks - I try and do better the next day. The first trimester seemed like one long string of days that missed the mark - but that was alright, too. One of the perks of this job is that my team of co-workers always have my back and are understanding on the days when I can't "juggle it all."