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How to Thrive As a Stay At Home Parent

Learn how to go beyond surviving as a stay at home parent and thrive in your role!

When I decided I wanted to stay at home with my first son, I’ll admit I thought I was taking the easier road. Those pregnancy endorphins filled me up with images of the two of us snuggled up on the couch, still in our pajamas in the middle of the day staring into each other’s eyes. And while there were plenty of moments like that, I quickly realized that that is not the reality of a stay at home parent’s day to day.

To say that being a a stay at home parent, or a SAHP/M, is hard, is an understatement. You are never “off” the clock, and you learn very quickly that you very much still have a boss, only much tinier and harder to please! The chores are endless; if you’re not changing diapers, you’re preparing meals, snacks, folding laundry, washing dishes or doing one of the other million little tasks around the house that suddenly feel so timely and urgent. And if you’re not careful, you can get completely lost in the responsibilities and forget how to enjoy being home with your children.

Staying at home with my kids has been challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. It’s forced me to reevaluate my priorities, both for myself and for my family. It’s taught me how to be resourceful. Over the past five years, I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks to not just surviving, but thriving in the stay at home parent role and I want to share what’s worked for me with you!

Have a Routine

Having a routine is good for us both mentally and physically and can help make our days more positive and more productive. Routines can also cut down on meltdowns because your kids won’t be thrown for a loop. Our average routine looks like this: make breakfast, get dressed, head out for some type of fun activity, whether it’s a story time or a play date with friends, come home for nap, screen time or play at home in the afternoon, make dinner, go through the bedtime routine (baths, teeth brushing, books).

Take Care of Yourself

I’m not talking about showering, though basic self-care is a given. I’m talking about carving out a little time each day to do something you enjoy. Whether it’s running, yoga, reading, DIYing – whatever it is you enjoyed doing before you had kids, give yourself permission to continue pursuing those hobbies and then prioritize that time. I’m taking care of myself right now by writing this post!

“As a parent of a special needs child, you have to take care of yourself. There’s so much thinking/planning/advocating that it can be overwhelming. Trying to take care of some of your needs in any small way will help you to be more present with your child,” says local mom Melissa Wieczorek Greblunas.

Get Out of The House

Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or just a walk around the block, it can be a big mental shift just getting outside of your house for a little each day. You don’t need to plan anything elaborate, but you might find that you reap the benefits of a family outing as much as your kids do.

Just Staying Home is OK Too

Sorry to give contradictory advice here, but I really want to stress that you don’t HAVE to have an elaborate plan for each day. It’s your choice!

“You don’t always have to have big plans. Some of the best days are just spent at home. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, but when the kids are playing happily on their own and I can relax or get some stuff done…I call that a good day,” shares local stay at home mom Monica Matthews.

Lower Your Expectations for a Perfectly Clean Home

“Just because you are home doesn’t mean the house should always be clean! Lower expectations around how the house looks, and remember people LIVE there. Prioritize the parts that annoy you the most and get to the other stuff when you can. Or…outsource,” says local mom Colleen Rieders.

This one took me awhile to accept. I used to feel very strongly that if I was home, then there was no reason the floors shouldn’t shine. Even through the first foods phase in which my children would toss spaghetti at the dogs, covering our kitchen in red sauce. It took me a long time to accept that if I want to actually enjoy any time, with my kids or without, I need to let go of some of the less pressing household chores.

Be Present, But Also, Not TOO Present

I burned myself out hard trying to be present for every single moment of my son’s first year of life. I literally did not want to blink for fear of missing some important milestone. “Cherish these days,” everyone tells us. But those well meaning strangers that are usually telling us to live in the moment are looking back with rose colored glasses. It’s ok not to be there for every second, in fact, it’s impossible so stop trying to make up for it!

“If you have a partner, walk away for time off whether to read, short nap, you don’t need to be on all the time. Remember guilt is always there in parenting but you are doing an amazing job by being a fully present parent all the time,” says local parent Keren Peymani.

Surround Yourself With a Supportive Community

Staying at home to raise children can feel isolating at times. Know that you’re not alone. I mentioned before in previous articles that joining moms groups has been a really beneficial for both me and my children. Through them, we’ve made so many friends that support our lifestyle. If you’d like to revisit my article on how you can find your local parenting support group, just click here!

Remember This Will Pass

“Remove the word “just” when saying you are ‘just a stay at home mom, dad etc’. You are so much more and your role is important. Also just like anything in life this is a season. Some you enjoy and some not so much,” says local stay at home mom Christine Trageser.

Staying at home has it’s good days and it’s not so good. It’s important to remember during those tougher moments that someday this will all pass, your kids will be grown and they’ll have all your love and efforts to thank for it.

Feature Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Editor for Bucks County Parent. Email tips to christine@familyfocus.org.