Even when you believe that being a stay at home parent is the most important job in the world, it can sometimes feel physically exhausting and mentally draining in a way that paid work never did. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can preserve your sanity while staying home to raise your children.
Hobbies and Interests.
It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day grind of snotty noses, laundry mountains and endless rounds of food-production. It's important to take time amongst all this to do something just for yourself. If you have a hobby already, then you're a step ahead, if you don't, then maybe it's time to start looking for something that fires your interest.
If you've given up work in order to become a stay at home parent, then there can be a tendency to feel that you should be actively working all day. This is how we get caught in the loop of being at our children's beck and call - we feel as though we need to take parenting seriously, and make sure that we are there whenever our children want us.
Obviously it is important to be available to our children, but that doesn't mean that we need to be right beside them twenty four hours a day. It's good for children to see that we have our own interests, and that there are elements of our lives that don't include them.
Part of the reason that we sometimes feel stuck and frustrated in this role, is that we allow ourselves to place negative focus on the repetitive, mundane nature of much of the work involved. In truth, parenting and home-making provide plenty of opportunities for creative thinking.
Think of new skills that you could develop as part of the role of home-maker. Maybe cooking from scratch is something that you'd like to learn about? If you're already an accomplished home cook, then perhaps you could look to trying to reduce the amount of food waste from your kitchen?
Now that your life is centred around home that much more, you have the luxury of time to experiment. You can grow a vegetable garden if you like or start baking your own bread. Often, these time consuming things will also allow you to save money, so you get the double benefit of learning a new skill and helping your budget at the same time.
Teach Your Children to Amuse Themselves.
Being a stay at home mum does not mean that you have to take on the role of entertainment committee as well. It isn't necessary for children to have someone actively playing with them for their every waking hour. Even small children can learn to direct their own activities for a small part of every day.
If your children aren't used to occupying themselves, then it might be best to start small. Perhaps you could have a special toy or activity that is only available to them during this self-directed time - after breakfast perhaps? Using this technique, you can begin to encourage the child to play alone, just for five minutes at first, and gradually increase the time. Even if you only use that time to tackle the washing up, it's nice to have the space for your own thoughts.
Make it a habit to go out every single day. It doesn't have to be anywhere fancy, expensive or difficult to get to, just a short time spent outside each day will benefit everyone. Try the park, the library or a toddler group. If you have a train station nearby, then that can be another favourite outing for small children who love to watch trains arriving and departing.
Even if you feel that there isn't anywhere particular worth walking to, your child will probably think differently. Try introducing a child-led walk to your routine. A couple of times a week, just leave the house and follow your child - let them choose which way to go, stop when they stop, give your attention to the things that capture their attention. This kind of activity lets you get the benefit of a short outing, and lets your child feel important for a while, it allows them to be in control of you for a change.
Be Kind To Yourself
Often, our expectations are unrealistic. When we decide to become a stay at home parent, we have a vision of a perfectly tidy house, clean clothes always folded, and children who are always happy. Life isn't like that. The reality is that when you are living in your house, it will probably be more untidy than it was when you were spending much of your time at work.
The nature of this kind of work means that it's often hard to look back over a day and be able to identify what it is you've actually done. No matter how well you make breakfast, everyone will still need feeding at lunch time, however much laundry you do today, there will always be more tomorrow.
As you settle in to your role, try to find a balance. Being a stay at home mum contains lots of elements, and it will often feel like a juggling act trying to get everything done. Sometimes, someone will be poorly, and the whole day will be spent snuggling on the sofa - that's fine, that is important work as well as everything else.