Dear Cul-de-sac Cool,
Ok, my fellow Burb Momma of boys, I’m seeking your guidance…(please). Sincerely, I follow your posts and I have always thought of you as super momma. I have been a full-time working momma all these years and even though I work at a school as a Guidance Counselor and my hours are flexible, I have been missing out on a lot of priceless times so I just resigned (after 15 years…kinda panicking here)…I will volunteer at the boys’ school of course and continue at the gym (my sanctuary), but what I need your help with is the organization, meal planning, coupon finding, little tricks by staying at home???? I’m sincerely a little nervous and have always admired you so I’m reaching out to you. I hope you and your beautiful family are well!
Guidance Counselor Seeking Guidance
Dear Guidance Counselor Seeking Guidance:
Thank you for your kind words. You are very brave and I wish you luck with staying-at-home with your kiddos. Below are 10 Survival Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents. I hope it will help you see the bigger picture. It is not all puppy dogs and rainbows staying-at-home, but you will treasure the skinned knees, giggles and special moments…after you get the laundry done.
10 Tips to Survive Being a Stay-at-Home Parent
- Reality check. You may picture June Cleaver from “Leave it Beaver” as the ultimate stay-at-home parent. Clean house, cookies in the oven, laundry pressed and folded. That is not reality. The reality is you do what you can, but you need to also enjoy being with your kids and have a life of your own. My house may be “neat ” at times on the surface, but rarely sparkling clean and organized. My laundry is an ever revolving door. It is that circle of life that keeps on circling. With cleaning alone, I could stay in my house forever…sorry, not for me. I want to enjoy my time with my kids, not my toilet brush.
- Hit the balls as they’re hit to you. This is a direct quote from my hubby, he’s a soccer guy, so I’m shocked he used a baseball analogy. Anyway, it is true. Life will throw you crazy balls and you just have to take it one swing at time. No one is a perfect parent and we are all learning as we go. Just remember your kids love you no matter what and vice versa.
- Exercise. You are probably asking, “What the heck! How will exercising help me survive being at home?” Well, I discovered working out at a gym when my oldest was 9-months-old. Not only did it help me get back into shape, which made me feel better about myself and probably be a better parent, but it also gave me a BREAK. I’ve had a gym membership ever since and all three of my boys have grown-up going to the gym daycare. It is one hour to get a break from your kids and they get a break from you. You get to make friends while your kids get to make friends. It is a win win situation. Make sure you check out the daycare well. Ask questions, take a tour, drop by unannounced to see what really goes on. Get to know the director of the gym daycare well. My husband considers my gym membership like a utility bill in our budget. It is necessary. “Happy wife, happy life,” as he likes to say.
- Lean on your friends and family. Just because you stay home doesn’t mean you can be in four places at the same time. Ask for help when you need it. Call your friend to vent while unloading the dishwasher. My best friend and I work out together at the gym. After we workout, and before we pick up the kids, we sit and talk over a protein shake. I love to work out, but I love my 5-10 minutes with my bestie the most.
- Be prepared for boredom. Doing laundry and picking up are boring. You will crave adult interaction so get together with your friends for coffee. Meet your hubby for lunch. Don’t poor all of “you” into your kids or home. You need to save some of “you” for yourself. Start a new hobby. I’m doing this blog right now. It takes time away from the perfectly clean house, but it is filling something up inside of me.
- Lists will become your best friend. The older I get, the more I forget. I’ve found that lists help me stay a bit more organized. If you write it down, you will retain it longer and it makes it more official.
- Plan at least three meals for the week ahead of time. I’m not super excited to cook. I like to cook when I’m in the mood, but when I’m not…forget about it. To help myself, I try to plan three meals ahead of time and make sure I have all the ingredients on hand. I also use my crock pot a lot. Throw something in the crock pot in the morning, by the time you pick everyone up, go to all the practices and lessons, your warm dinner is waiting for you at home.
- Get to know your car. Now that my kids are getting older, I have found that I live in my car. Make sure you keep up on all the maintenance. Have your kids help clean it out. They can be little piggies so it is a great opportunity to add a chore to their list. Make sure you have a book or other ready material in the car with you at all times.
- Use a shared calendar. My hubby and I use Google Calendar. This calendar can be shared. The schools’ calendars are on it, sports schedules, party dates, the Hubs work travel, etc. We live by this calendar.
- If staying-at-home is not for you (because it isn’t for everyone), THAT IS OK. I am very envious of working parents at times and they are probably envious of stay-at-home parents at times. Wether you stay-at-home or not, doing what makes most sense for your family and what makes YOU and your family more happy is what matters.