Choosing to become a stay-at-home parent can be an amazing decision that will change not only your life but the lives of everyone in your home. But that does not mean it is an easy decision, and you may find yourself tearing your hair out when it turns out that parenting truly is the most difficult job around. Here are some tips to help you cope when the kids are your co-workers.
When all you do during the day is parenting, it can be hard to remember that you are a human being rather than simply a mother or father. Ensure that you take time out from your duties as a parent; your partner or parents can watch the kids on a regular basis while you have an evening out as a couple or simply by yourself. Simply going to the cinema can really take the sting out of a difficult week with recalcitrant children.
Buy a page-a-day diary and keep track of your commitments. This includes any appointments the children need to keep, but can also facilitate your cleaning regimen which can be compromised by the added difficulty of watching the children all day long. Write out a cleaning schedule and stick to it; it will allow you to keep the house tidy without resorting to a chaotic as-and-when schedule that will soon leave you living in a tip.
Plan days out. Simply sitting in the house will cause cabin fever not only in yourself but also in your children. A schedule involving a cup of coffee in the morning and a trip to the playground in the afternoon can help soothe your children with routine, but may drive you mad. Museums and ballpit parks for weekly outings will provide you and them with some much-needed variety.
Don’t begin arguments with your partner about who works the hardest. It is often the case that the partner who works outside the home assumes the stay-at-home parent has an easy job of it. When your partner returns home with complaints of being tired or having a demanding occupation, resist the urge to me-too your way into a fight. Simply listen quietly and offer input on the challenges your partner faces. Should you feel that your contributions are being marginalised, bring it up at a time when neither of you are exhausted from a long day nor emotionally volatile. This will allow you to make your point calmly and reasonably, and increases the chances of your partner being able to listen and internalise your complaints.
Staying at home with the children can be difficult indeed. But if you manage your time carefully you can make it be the most rewarding job you’ll ever do. Don’t forget to enjoy your time with the kids – they’ll be grown before you know it!