How I Keep My Sanity As A Stay-At-Home Parent
By Katharine Reid
PHOTO © adistar/Twenty20
Sep 28, 2018
We all know how hard parenting is, and being the one person to meet my kids' needs all day, every day, can be incredibly draining. I don’t know if it’s the constant vigilance, the zero minutes to myself or the constant requests that are the most exhausting — but I utter several of these phrases each day:
- “Please don’t throw that at your brother!”
- “We don’t dump water there!”
- “How did this poop get here?”
- “You need another snack?!”
- “It looks like you have to pee. Do you have to pee?”
- “Please use a regular voice to ask for things. Please don’t yell at me.”
The list goes on.
Of course, there are lovely things about the gig, too. And I find it especially enjoyable when I make sure to do the following.
We Keep Our Options Open
One of the major perks of stay-at-home parenting is that we don’t actually need to be anywhere by a certain time. We have the option for lots of fun things like local parent-and-tot groups, forest meetups, skating lessons, swimming, local community centre drop-ins, etc. It’s nice to have the option of structure, but it’s also OK to choose to opt out some days.
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We Keep Our Priorities In Check
Yes, there are sometimes off days, but for the most part, each of our days include activities that are major priorities for me when it comes to raising my kids. That means lots of unstructured, outdoor play in all weather, reading together, spending time with family and friends and consistently building on life skills (like swimming). If I stayed home with my kids and didn’t do these things with them, I wouldn’t feel as satisfied with the gig. When I make sure to prioritize them, I’m happy that I’ve chosen to stay home and take this path of adventure with my kids.
This also means I don't prioritize things like elaborate Pinterest-worthy crafts or big outings to busy places all week long (not because these things aren’t fun, just because it would put too much stress on me to do something that I don’t consider a priority). We mostly stick close to home and go to local parks, forests, trails, drop-ins and friends' and families' houses.
My Weekly Schedule Includes Me Time
Every Saturday morning, I leave the house alone for three blissful hours to do yoga in a magical greenhouse studio, followed by a coffee date with my mom and sister. It rejuvenates me for the week ahead, and I’ve actually noticed on the (very rare) week that I don’t do it, I have a much lower tolerance for stay-at-home parenting all week long.
We Have A Rhythm To Our Day
We’re out the door by 9 or 10 o'clock every morning without fail, and usually don’t return until at least 1 p.m. Kids' lunches are packed in the mornings and brought along on our adventures, so we’re not forced to return home when the kids are having fun on an outing. When we return home, the kids are (usually) happy to play independently with their toys for a little while. This is when I eat my own lunch and take a breather. After downtime, we read books, paint or do puzzles before heading outside again to bike, scoot or play with trucks while we wait for daddy to get home (he gets home at 4:30 or 5 p.m. at the latest, which is a sanity-saver in itself!).
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TV Is My Friend
My kids’ lives are full of adventure, outdoor playtime, reading, friends, family and learning new skills. So I am 100 per cent OK with screen time also being a part of their days. Having uninterrupted time to listen to zero whining for 45 minutes is invaluable (especially since nap time isn’t a regular occurrence anymore). I also look at it this way: Would I rather yell at my kids because I am so fed up and just need a moment to myself? Or would I rather put on a show or movie that makes every single one of us happy? I think the answer is obvious!
We Have Fun!
We eat fresh baked cookies dipped in almond milk, we go on hikes through magical fall forests, we see our friends all the time, we go for coffee/hot chocolate dates, we have movie afternoons, we go tobogganing in winter and swimming in the summer. It’s not perfect — there is whining, fights about getting dressed, a whole lot of bum wiping and making food and cleaning it up. But ultimately, we do things that are fun for all of us each day (not just the kids) and because of this, I remember daily that this really is the sweetest gig for me at this point in my life — poop, tantrums and all.
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