Feet up relaxing

Ways I Make Weekends Feel Different as a SAHM

I have always stayed home with my children, and I really can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s been the greatest blessing, but — like any job — doesn’t come without challenges.

One of the greatest challenges for me is how the weekends can often feel no different than the week. It can be an exhausting thing feeling as though your weekly grind doesn’t get a break. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong to feel that way, but I do know that we are conditioned from a young age to expect rest on the two days of the week that begin with the letter S.

This normalcy does not exist when you’re a mom. The kids still need to be fed, the bottoms still need wiping and the house still needs cleaning. Yes, your spouse is likely home with you — but if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll still demand most things from you over their dad.

Over the last few years, I have found some simple ways to make the weekends feel a little bit different, and I want to share them with any other parents out there who are desperate to change it up just a bit on the weekends but don’t know how.

  • I save simple pleasures for the weekends. I like to save a few things for the weekends — small pleasures that I purposely choose not to indulge in during the week so that they are little things to look forward to on the weekends to make life feel just a tad bit different. These simple pleasures include baking desserts, drinking an alcoholic beverage (or two), wearing comfy and cute lounge sets during the day, and watching movies or playing games with my husband in the evenings. These small things can help create the illusion that I’m on vacation when, in reality, my day pretty much looks the same as the rest of the week.
  • I try to plan a family outing most weekends. With three children, I am sometimes intimidated to do certain things with them alone. I take full advantage when my husband is home and plan fun things like picnics or hikes. If the weather isn’t good and a family outing isn’t doable, I will try to take one of my kids out for some one-on-one time. I will take my son to a movie or my daughter out for a treat. I am the type of person who doesn’t like to feel trapped at home, so I like to run out as much as possible when my husband can stay home with the kids. Alternatively, if we cannot find something fun to do outside of the house, I do make sure to fill my children’s cups on the weekend with quality time. I try to focus on being present with and enjoying them, and put aside any housework I’m tempted to do because that can wait until Monday! I will explain how below.
  • I do not clean on the weekends. Recently, I’ve started a “no cleaning” rule on the weekends for myself, and this has been a total game changer. I feel like half of my days go to trying to maintain order and cleanliness in our home, and it is constantly undone in seconds by my kids. This is a normal part of life for this season, but it can cause serious burnout — so I force myself to take a break from cleaning on the weekends. This does not mean that I don’t clean up the highchair after mealtime or do the dishes or a load of necessary laundry here and there. However, I do not do any routine cleaning tasks such as vacuuming, mopping, wiping surfaces or decluttering. The way that I can do this guilt-free each weekend is by sticking to a simple cleaning plan during the week, which I will share below. Each day gets a “theme” or a focus. My goal is never to have the house clean all at once, but rather to give the different layers and rooms of my house turns to be clean — because let’s be real — with three kids ages 5 and under, it’s pretty much impossible for my house to ever be clean all at once.

My Weekly Cleaning Plan:

  • Meal Prep Monday: On Mondays, my focus is food. I do my grocery shopping (delivery or curbside pickup on a good day) with the kids, and I clean out the fridge and freezer. I organize the pantry, and then unpack and organize our groceries, restocking the kitchen for the week. This is also the day I prep some simple meals and snacks for the week. For instance, I rinse and cut the fruit and will sometimes make a snack for the week or prepare some meat and vegetables for lunches and dinners.
  • Tidy Tuesday: This is my favorite day of the week. Tuesdays are my designated days for decluttering the house and putting every item back in its place. We already do a quick tidy each evening before bedtime, but will often leave things on the counters, and bedrooms often get left messy. But not on Tuesdays! My quick method for a full-house tidy is to gather a few plastic bins and walk around the house, putting every item in the bins until they are full. I then dump the bins onto the living room floor and sort the items by room. I assign each bin to a room and then put the items back in their place, room by room. This technique saves me lots of steps and endless circling throughout the house. The kids have fun helping me with this, too!
  • Wipe-Down Wednesday: This is my other favorite day. Now that the surfaces are cleared (for the most part), it is time to wipe them down! Of course, we do a quick wipe down of the kitchen counters and table each evening. On Wednesdays, I sanitize all surfaces, including the dining room chairs, highchairs and kid craft table, and on the first Wednesday of every month, I wipe down the windows and mirrors.
  • Bathrooms Thursday: On Thursdays, I clear off the bathroom counters, clean the toilets, wipe down the counters, and do anything else that seems necessary in each bathroom that week. On the first Thursday of each month, I scrub the bathtubs and showers and mop the floors.
  • Floors Friday: On Fridays, I do another quick tidy and a quick wipe down, neither of which take long at all because I just did both of those tasks thoroughly in the days prior. I put up all the chairs and items on the floor. I run the robot vacuum, and then I spot the mop. On the first Friday of every month, I use the actual vacuum to get everywhere, including the kids’ rooms and the hallway, and I do a full mop this day as well. Some of you may want to do a full vacuum of the whole house weekly, but this just isn’t realistic for us right now — and we don’t have pets, which helps!

In addition to the focus of each day, I also do one load of laundry per day. I know this is a personal preference for everyone. Some people do better with doing all of their laundry in one day, but that is not me. I do better with a little at a time, and doing one load per day keeps me from getting overwhelmed with piles to fold.

Another important thing to mention is that while each day has its focus, I do my best to maintain the other parts of the house throughout the week. For instance, after dinner each night, I wipe down the counters and sweep the floors. We tidy the toys each night after dinner.

On the weekends, I might straighten up the bathrooms again or do some catch-up laundry. I never go over the top with these tasks, but I do my best to maintain some sort of cleanliness throughout the house each day.

By spending each day of the week getting to all the different parts and surfaces of the house, I am able to prop my feet up and relax, guilt free come Friday afternoon — as much as a mother of three can, at least. I look around at my cleared countertops and shining floors, and it feels like I can finally “take off” a couple of days of housework. Then I might even enjoy a beverage to celebrate and spend the evening planning something fun to do as a family during the weekend.

The combination of these three small little tricks helps the weekends feel just a little different — a little better — than the week, as they should! It helps me be a better mom and a happier wife when I feel like I get a little time off from the responsibilities of the week, too.

Kristi’s daughter and a memorial

Honoring the Lives and Service of Those Who Served and Died

There is a quote that I’ve held on tight to in the last few years: “Be the things you love most about the people who are gone.” To me (and bear with me because I’m going to let my English-degree brain analyze this), it calls attention to a delicate piece of healing after loss — the turn off the beaten path of grief and toward a future where the responsibility to keep a legacy present lies with us.

As I sit here in my sun-soaked office writing this blog, my eyes wander to all the little reminders of military service and the special people I’ve known who bravely volunteered to defend our country and all that we hold dear. Behind me, there’s a framed collection of my grandpa’s U.S. Navy flight suit patches. To my left is my daughter’s award-winning illustration of a C-130 Angel Flight, and on the wall next to that is a beautiful portrait of a Michigan poppy field — a reminder of a beautiful surviving mother’s tribute to her son. Situated near the doorway are the pair of ceramic elephants my grandpa brought back from somewhere in Southeast Asia as a gift for my grandma. On the bookshelves are photos in frames from different times in our lives — some of them little paper ghosts of those no longer with us — and little mementos that probably just look like clutter unless you’re clued in to the “you just had to be there” story behind each one.

I’ve talked and thought a lot since settling into our new house about these items and others around our home. They are more than reminders of the people we lost, but of the people we should strive to be — considering all the things we loved about those who are gone. It’s the simplest, and perhaps most meaningful, way to honor the lives and service of those we’ve lost.

Kristi’s grandfather

Honor with Meaning

I think it’s common to think that to honor the life of someone who served in the military, you have to be loud and proud, and there is certainly a time for that. We do, after all, have national holidays that help us never forget the sacrifices they made for our freedom. I would challenge that honoring service and the person who served and died doesn’t have to be saved for Memorial Day or, even more broadly, on Independence Day, Veterans Day or one of the military branch birthdays. Whether they died while serving, from a service-connected injury or illness, or from natural causes after a full life that included service, like my grandpa who served in the Navy and grandma who served in the Army, we can honor them any time in ways that we find meaningful or — if they could be here now — ways that they would find meaningful.

What I Mean by Meaningful

Those ceramic elephants I mentioned were a token of my grandpa’s time in the Navy. I loved those elephants as a kid. They were so colorful, and they seemed gigantic to me as a small child. I would play around with them. I’d stack my toys and cookies snuck from Grandma’s cookie jar on top of them. The possibilities were endless. When I inherited them after my grandparents passed away, I inherited more than the memories I had with them and the way they made me feel connected to my grandparents and, by extension, their military service.

A few Fridays ago, my young nephew was at our house and locked eyes with one of the elephants, and he was hooked. I helped him climb on top so he could pretend he was riding the elephant, and we swapped our best elephant sounds. Now, my first instinct was to distract him from this very breakable thing that is very precious to me, but I paused. I thought less about what I remembered of this same elephant when I was about his size and more about how my grandparents took so much joy from watching me enjoy it. That was one of the things I loved most about them both — stuff was just stuff, and it was meant to be enjoyed. My heart was so full hearing my nephew’s little voice talk to the elephant while he was at our house. A little piece of my grandparents shone through me at that moment. I passed on something that I loved dearly about them, and I don’t know that it gets more meaningful than that.

The ceramic elephants and my grandparents’ service are just one example. Zooming out, we’ve lost great friends and great Marines throughout my husband’s military career, and we remain committed to saying their names often, telling stories about them at every chance we get, and never letting the things they taught us fall away.

There is no shortage of options to honor the fallen, whether they were family or friends made along the way. There are memorial walks and runs, golf tournaments, charitable organizations to donate to, policies to advocate for and monuments to erect. If you can participate, I encourage you to do it! Don’t let the grandness of the gesture intimidate you into thinking this is the only way to honor a hero.

Challenge yourself to strive every day to “be the things you love most about the people that are gone.” Honor them by carrying the best pieces of them forward. And, in that way, they will continue to change the world for the better.


Continuing Education Resources for MilSpouses

Now that I’ve become more familiar with GI Bill benefits for my daughter’s education, I’m thinking more about continuing my education. Like most other military spouses in the ranks, I’m a lifelong learner, but formal education beyond my undergraduate degree hasn’t been a top priority during this season of life.

I’ve enjoyed professional development classes and seminars to keep my skills sharp over the years, but now I wonder if I should fill my empty nest with higher education in the next few years. Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking to upskill or a newcomer to the workforce, continuing education is the key to unlocking a world of opportunity.

  • Stay relevant: Industries evolve rapidly, and keeping your skill set current ensures you stay competitive in the job market.
  • Advance your career: Additional qualifications can open doors to promotions, higher pay scales, remote work, and more fulfilling job roles.
  • Embrace new possibilities: Maybe you’ve always harbored a secret dream of a career change. Continuing education allows you to explore new fields and discover exciting opportunities.

It’s been heartening to uncover the multitude of possibilities for military spouses to continue their education journeys. You’ll probably discover multiple programs that overlap education and employment advancement, so you’ll have to narrow down which programs fit your needs.

  • Military OneSource: This resource, offered by the Defense Department, is your one-stop shop for all things military spouse, education and career support. The gateway provides a wealth of information on scholarships, grants and continuing education programs tailored to military families.
  • MySECO (Spouse Education & Career Opportunities): MySECO is part of Military OneSource and is the portal that opens a variety of education and career guidance. There’s an easy search feature to take you directly to a topic, like “college degrees.” You can also choose a category dedicated to one topic, like Pursue Your Education, Learn About Career Paths, or Resume Building.
  • MyCAA (My Career Advancement Account): The DOD also allows some spouses up to $4,000 for tuition assistance towards a degree or certificate program. The scholarship helps spouses “in pursuit or maintenance of a license, certification or associate degree necessary to gain employment in an occupation or career field.” It’s a fantastic way to offset some of the financial burden of continuing education, but read the eligibility requirements; not all spouses can participate.
  • Online Education Programs: The beauty of the digital age is its flexibility, and we all know military spouses need flexibility. Numerous universities and colleges now provide high-quality online degree and certificate programs. This allows you to pursue your education from the comfort of your home, regardless of location. Some even have satellite campuses on military bases if you want a hybrid experience.
  • Vocational Schools and Community Colleges: These institutions offer a range of career-focused programs that you can complete faster than traditional four-year degrees. This is a great option if you’re looking for a quick and targeted skill boost. Remember, going back to school can be just for fun, too. Adult learning encompasses everything from auditing a popular class for free to exploring floral design or computer coding before deciding to pursue a new career path.
  • Industry Certifications: Many professions rely on industry-specific certifications to validate skills and knowledge. Relevant certifications can significantly enhance your resume and reveal an attractive candidate to potential employers. Don’t forget that MyCAA could pay for your certifications.

For more information, you should also check out one of Military OneSource’s MilLife Guides: Education, Training and Licensing.

The Defense Department knows family satisfaction is the key to retaining military members long-term, so there’s been a big focus on improving military spouse employment and education over the last five to 10 years. If you’re new to exploring opportunities, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That’s a good thing because it means there are many chances to find fulfillment in education advancement.

If, after looking over Military OneSource, you need help navigating the continuing education pathways, you can always call a MySECO career coach at 1-800-342-9647 to help you get started.

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