While being able to stay home with your children when they're young is an enormous gift, it's not without its challenges. Being a stay-at-home-parent can at times feel overwhelming, monotonous, or lonely. In fact, polls show increased levels of depression and anxiety in stay-at-home moms. This doesn't mean that you can't thrive and feel fulfilled as a stay-at-home parent; it simply means it's important to be proactive in protecting your own happiness and sense of self. Here are six ways to thrive as a stay-at-home parent:
Set a Schedule
If your days are feeling long and monotonous, or you're simply overwhelmed by how much you have to do each day, it can really help to set a schedule. Setting a schedule with blocks of time dedicated to everything you need to take care of will help you stay organized and also allow for plenty of variety throughout your day. For example, folding all that laundry might seem a lot less daunting when you know thirty minutes from now you get to take your kids on a long walk, because it's something you've already scheduled in.
Pay for Child Care
While paying for child care as a stay-at-home parent may feel counterintuitive, it can actually be a very sensible thing to do. By bringing your children to daycare part-time, you're providing them with a sense of independence and allowing them the chance to learn socialization skills. In addition, this gives you some much-needed time alone to recharge your batteries. When you pick your kids up from daycare you will likely feel refreshed and ready to focus on your quality time together. If you are looking for a day care center near you, try visiting http://www.miniapplemontessori.com.
Don't Neglect Your Hobbies
Being a parent is a huge part of your identity, but it shouldn't be the only part. By continuing to spend time on your old hobbies, or picking up new ones, you will maintain a zest for life and feel more well-rounded. Making time for dance classes, photography, or simply curling up with a good book can help counteract any sense of monotony you feel from staying at home with the kids every day.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Everyone knows that exercise can be a great mood-booster. The key is to work it into your schedule at least a few times a week in order to take advantage of its depression-beating properties. Going on long, brisk walks with your kids or dropping into an aerobics class with on-site daycare is a great way to make sure your kids have fun and that you get to rack up those endorphins. Exercising regularly also sets a healthy example for your children.
Make Time for Adult Conversation
While your children are delightful to be around, they can't possibly provide you with the same mental stimulation and chance to vent your emotions that adult conversation provides. Whether it's a weekly call to your sister, coffee dates with your best girlfriend, or a nightly catch-up chat with your romantic partner, be sure to schedule in plenty of adult conversation each week.
Being a stay-at-home parent is a demanding and complicated job, and yet it's one that doesn't result in a paycheck. In order to feel more valued and recognize your own hard work, consider setting up a bi-weekly "paycheck" for yourself. This might be an automatic transfer from your savings account, or a portion of your spouse's salary. The idea is to validate yourself and remember that being a stay-at-home parent is a real job—and a very important one at that.
By following these six tips, both you will be able to stay home with your children while also experiencing more contentment.