Many of us begin our SAHP (Stay at Home Parent) lives without a clear understanding of what is truly in store. Day by day we learn the ins and outs of the seclusion behind this role. I think any parent would agree that the challenges of being at home with children are real and they are constant. I would like to extend my support by discussing some of the strategies I use to deflect the loneliness and anxieties from sticking to me, while staying at home with the little people in my life. Here are a few ways that I thrive as a SAHM (Stay at home Mother).
Structure Can be a Savior
One of the things that I have noticed about staying home with my children is the unpredictability that follows from one morning to the next. There is no way to forecast their moods, attitudes or feelings. For this reason, I have found that schedules and routines work nicely in our home. Having a general flow to our day allows all of us to manage our time together nicely. In a world full of nothing constant, the best part about our daily routines is that even if we remain flexible, we can always rely on our schedule to bring a sense of normalcy to our reality. Our typical day goes something like this:
Monday - Thursday
(weekends we are extremely flexible)
It can be frustrating to family and friends that we operate in this way but what I have found is that my children need structure and plenty of rest to remain content. The schedule works out quite well for me and my Husband as well. The kiddos typically go down for bed and stay asleep through the night (pure result of our repetitive routines and schedule) which offers us a bit of alone time. This is much needed on my end as I do not get face to face time with adults as I used to. In my opinion, parents need time together when they are not parenting. Spending time alone with your partner just being you can be very relaxing after a long day of interacting and performing for children. It may not always be easy to plan a date night out of the home but if you implement a general sleep schedule, chances are you will find the opportunity for intimacy with your partner can also exist in your home.
The Struggle is Real: So, Share It!
We are only human. I think it is important to remind ourselves of this, often. One of the best ways to keep your fears and failures at bay is to share with others. Often, we beat ourselves up over the things that we could not perfect or the mistakes that happen along the way (when caring for our out bundles of joy). The best way for me to explain this is by sharing an incident that had me feeling like the absolute WORST mother of all time. When I was home with my first born my husband had to take a weekend trip for a certification class. I was breastfeeding and spending long nights tending to the cries and discomfort of my newborn, baby girl. If you have been there you know just how "zombie like" you can become. There was a moment when I was feeding my daughter and I can remember placing her in my lap as she had fallen asleep. Without supervision in the early weeks after delivery, mistakes are bound to happen for lack of sleep and this was one of those moments. Within minutes of placing my daughter on my lap, I fell asleep and woke up to an empty lap! As I looked to the only possible place for my daughter, my worst fear crept over me. She was lying on the floor, face down with her hands and feet tucked under her little body not making a sound. Frantically I reached for her and noticed she was fast asleep without a red mark or bump on her. I cried. I could not believe I could be so careless.
I struggled with whether I would tell my husband. My shame told me that he (as her father) would be very upset with what I had done). Prepared to take this secret with me to the grave, my conscience urged me to reach out to my best friend (a mother of four boys). After confiding in her it was obvious that these things happen. Speaking with her gave me the gusto I needed to tell my "partner in parenting" what happened. In case you are wondering, he lovingly laughed at my fear of sharing this moment with him. While venting my guilt (in tears) he was quick to remind me that it was a mistake and something like this could have easily happened to him. The point is, as parents we are our worst critics and we feel immense pain for each failed attempt at keeping our children safe. Being vulnerable and sharing your struggles with other parents, family and friends, is the easiest way to learn new strategies as well as heal those self-inflicted wounds. Try not to beat yourself up over the accidents and mistakes because they are bound to happen.
Get "In" Where You Fit In
Having always built relationships through work and social settings I struggled in the beginning of my SAHM life. Friends and family can be just the right balance of socialization for some, however, I found myself craving more interaction. This was the encouragement I needed to begin a blog. While working to grow my audience it became apparent that there is a strong, social media, community waiting to embrace new members of all ages. Anyone can seek and find their own virtual support network at any time. There is basically a group for anything you are passionate about and it is quite easy to join most groups. The great part about joining these groups is you can sneak out if you don’t feel as though you belong without anyone questioning your absence. You can throw a question into the thread and receive valuable feedback from those with more experience than you. One of the things I enjoy the most about being a part of so many groups on social media is the entertainment. The majority of these groups are closed which means that once you are in, your comment history is only visible to those in the same group. Within these groups you will find that you can reach out with questions or concerns and support is abundant. From experience I can say that you can be confident that your outreach will result in meaningful feedback.
Rearrange and Recharge
After nearly a year home with my two children, I began to feel restless. My three-bedroom home started to seem very, very, small. Then one day it hit me that I might eliminate the claustrophobic feeling settling in if I made a few (minor) changes. The organization of each room was a quick fix. Until this urge hit me, I had made our living room into a play area. Rearranging the play space was the easiest start. I simply moved the toys and interactive items in our living area into the den. Voila!! Suddenly my home felt a bit more open and less cramped. Thankfully this did the trick because our lease does not expire until after the new year and getting into a larger home isn’t an option anytime soon. It can be hard to sit at home day in and day out. I would encourage you to look for small ways to change the energy in the space you are in and you may be amazed at how different you feel. A few lifestyle adjustments can help combat the mayhem of life at home with your family. Hopefully you found something in what I have shared that can work for you.