This isn't Allison. But she does make good cookies!

When I recently heard that Mary was quitting her job to stay at home with her completely adorable toddler, I was so excited for her. It’s such an exciting, scary and overwhelming time.

As I read her announcement I was flooded with memories of my own journey from full time working mom to full time stay-at-home mom. I had lofty dreams of a happy and clean little boy. A sparkling and organized home. Warm, home cooked meals every night of the week.

In short, I wanted to be the perfect stay-at-home mom. Because when I set out to do something, I’m doing to do it perfectly.

Or die trying.

The first few weeks as a stay-at-home mom went pretty smoothly. Clean house. Freshly bathed child. Craft project on the fridge. Dinner cooking on the stove.

Exhausted me.

I may have even liked cleaning and cooking at that point. I know, can you believe it?

The kiddo, just 18 months at this point, and I soon joined a few playgroups and classes. Our schedules were quickly overflowing with activities. It left little time to clean, cook and everything else that comes with running a house. And yet I still did it all. Because I felt that I needed to. That I was a failure as a stay-at-home mom if I didn’t keep up with everything.

All the while looking fantastic and blogging every day. Of course. Talk about pressure.

As the weeks wore on, fall set in, promising a snow-filled, bone-chilling winter ahead. And I was exhausted. By the time my husband would come home at the end of the day, I was non-responsive. Once dinner was done, dishes were cleaned and the kiddo was sent to bed, all I could do was gaze at my computer screen trying to muster enough energy to write a readable post. Or stare, zombie-like at the TV.

It took a while, but I finally realized that something just wasn’t working. I needed to re-prioritize. I needed to organize and declutter. I needed to find a way to do the best that I could, without being perfect. And I needed to let go and be OK with not being perfect.

So I gave myself a break. I limited our social schedule, and the kiddo hasn’t even noticed the difference. It turns out that going to every kid-friendly event isn’t necessary. Who knew?

The house isn’t spotless at the end of the day. In fact, most days there are dishes in the sink from breakfast and lunch when my husband gets home from work. {Some days he even cleans them for me. Yea, he’s a keeper.} Most weeks there are fur balls from the dogs roaming through the house with us.

But I’m OK with that.

I still enjoy cooking and manage to whip out homemade meals most days of the week. Actually, cooking is my way of getting some alone time, away from the kiddo. But if I’m too tired at the end of the day and they only thing I can manage is to throw a frozen pizza in the oven, well, that’s OK too.

The hardest and most important lesson that I’ve learned over the past year is that perfect is highly over rated. Finding balance between doing it all and not turning into a zombie at the end of the day is what saved me from complete insanity. It wasn’t easy to let go of my wanna-be June Cleaver dreams, but in the long run, I’m a much happier momma. And what makes momma happy, makes the family happy.

I wish Mary the best of luck on her new adventures. I hope that she finds the balance that she needs as a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom quicker than I did.

Allison is a slightly OCD momma (yes, M&Ms must be eaten in pairs of matching colors) who blogs over at Alli ‘n Son. She’s the momma of a spunky, energetic and frustrating two-year-old boy. You can often find her up to the knees in potty training, bubbles and all things balls. She’s also a wanna-be photographer and gourmet chef, a highly creative woman and one-time graphic designer, all rolled into one.


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