Being a stay-at-home parent isn't always a walk in the park. Just like people have bad days at their workplace outside of the home, you'll have bad days with this job too. But tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start. So, whether you're a first time parent with a new baby at home or have decided to leave the workforce after having several children, I wanted to share with you some ideas from my readers and myself on how to keep your sanity as a new stay-at-home parent.
1) Get outdoors! Fresh air can do everyone good and what kid couldn't stand to burn some energy off?
2) Make time for yourself. I know. Easier said than done, especially if you don't live close to friends or family, but trust me. Even if you have to wait until your significant other or older, responsible child is home, go do something you enjoy by yourself.
3) Give yourself a time out. If you feel like you're going to snap if you have to listen to your baby cry or toddler whine and throw a fit any longer, do both of you a favor and leave the room. Make sure he/she is safe, of course, but "take a breather" for a minute. I know many people don't like to let their children cry for any length of time, but I'm a firm believer it's better to let your child cry for a minute than do something you may regret from being stressed out.
4) Join a moms group or playdate group. This should be a win-win situation if you find the right group because you both get social interaction and it should be fun!
5) Take your child to "mommy and me" type activities. I am slowly finding that (depending on your area) there are quite a few more programs like this out there than I thought! For free programs, definitely check at your local library. Some parks and recreations facilities also have free and paid programs for kids.
6) Enroll your child in a club, sport, etc. that he/she is interested in. Now I'm not saying you should enroll your child in something JUST so you can have free time. But if it's something you think he/she may like or seems genuinely interested in, give it a shot! I've seen some karate studios accepting children as young as 3 and some dance and gymnastics classes being for kids as young as 18 months!
7) Don't worry about the little things. The dishes will still be there later. The laundry will still need folded too. But, if you really need to get chores done, have your child help you if he/she is old enough. My daughter loves helping put dishes away, loading the washing machine, and holding the dustpan when I sweep the kitchen.
8) Turn on some music, dance, and be silly!
9) Take advantage of and enjoy nap time while you can! Even if that means taking a nap yourself!
10) Make time for date nights and nights out with friends occasionally. My husband and I have never been much of "date night" people, but I have to admit it was really nice last weekend when my mom kept Myka overnight and John and I got to do things we enjoyed without having to deal with a toddler's shenanigans as well!
11) Go on field trips. Try to make a point to go someplace special at least once a month with your kids, such as a children's museum, state park, etc.
12) Volunteer. There are tons of organizations out there who welcome volunteers, from hospitals to animal rescue groups. You get some much needed adult time and help those who need it!
13) Do crafts or special projects with your kids. Little ones like to keep busy, so why not utilize their energy to be creative too? Aside from everyday craft projects, you could also do special ones to give as gifts to friends and family for birthdays and holidays.
14) "Remind myself that mom is my job and everything else I may accomplish is just extra!" I especially liked this quote from one of my readers.
What are your favorite things to do to keep your kids entertained and burn off some energy? What do you enjoy doing for your "me time"?