Here’s the thing about stay-at-home parents: They rarely — if ever — catch a break. The responsibilities kick in the minute they wake up (or, rather, are woken up) and don’t stop throughout the day. Stay-at-home parents have no time off or lunch breaks, they don’t get to escape the craziness of the home by going to work, and they have a much harder time squeezing in adult interaction. In many cases, they’re single-handedly responsible for keeping tiny humans safe, healthy and entertained. It’s a lot of pressure.
So how exactly do they keep it together? We caught up with a few stay-at-home parents to hear their top tips:
Find something to love
“Find something you can do, just for you, that fills your bucket. Whether it’s learning how to knit, taking up taekwondo, a standing coffee (or wine) date with a friend, or starting a blog to document your adventures, having something to look forward to when you need a break from the day-to-day can help you ride out the rough patches.” – Dylann C.
Treat being a stay-at-home parent like a job
“Have pride in your home, your kids, and yourself. Get dressed in the morning, make yourself coffee, and hold yourself accountable for getting things done like you would at a job. Remind your partner (if needed) that it is your job just like they have a job outside of the home. If the working spouse likes to come home and throw their dirty socks everywhere, gently remind them that the home is your workplace and you take pride in it. Would they appreciate you coming to their workplace and undoing all the work you’ve done that day?” – Courtney H.
Let the littles run wild
“We are finding activities outside the home we can get [our kids] involved in…swimming, t-ball, music class, etc. These are all great outlets to burn some energy. This can make a world of difference when it comes to how they act at home. Notice I say ‘can’. There’s no consistent emotional response with toddlers. You just have to roll with the punches!” – Brent M.
Focus on the task at hand
“I used to constantly stress trying to get it ‘all done’ when in reality I was just multitasking myself to death. I never really enjoyed things because mentally I was always thinking of what else needed to be done. Now I just try to compartmentalize more. Be more present in each moment and focus my attention on what counts most at that time.” – Heather N.
“Regular exercise is vital to not only be able to chase after my five-year-old, but also to stay sane as a stay-at-home parent. There is such a strong link between physical fitness and mental health. It relieves anxiety and helps me take a pause and remain patient through tantrums. I get my son to exercise with me: Anything from taking our dog for an uphill walk, to doing planks and push-ups on the floor. We see how long we can hold a bridge position or downward dog. If I make a game out of it, he is totally into it. And I’m teaching him to exercise at the same time.” – Naomi S.
Find a squad
“The answer is simple really: Get out of the house. Make it a point to talk to at least one other non-relative adult a day. Find like-minded moms. There are free playgroups everywhere! Check out your local libraries and town’s Facebook pages for information.” – Leah L.
Make plans — with others and within the home
Commit to weekly ‘me time’
“Carve out one evening a week for alone time: Leave the house and do something just for [yourself]. It could be going for a walk, sitting at a coffee shop, going out to dinner, getting a massage, anything! But it has to be something the parent does by themselves for independent time away from kids and spouse. ‘Me time’ is so important for a stay-at-home parent to maintain independence and interest in what they love.” – Lisa A.
Stay-at-home parents, we want to hear from you! How to do you manage to maintain balance in your life?