Being a stay-at-home parent definitely has its perks - watching cartoons all day and dressing in jeans and your favorite hoodie among them. However, as much as you love your kids and wouldn’t change places with anyone, there are times that you think you are going insane. This typically involves trying not to burn dinner while helping create a 5th grade science project that’s due tomorrow when a toddler walks in with a wet toilet brush. Here are some tips to help you remain sane in the midst of chaos.
1. Be prepared. Most of the frustrations that occur throughout the day come when several things have to be done at once, especially first thing in the morning. Anything you can do ahead of time will help - picking out clothes and packing diaper bags the night before make the morning less stressful. Even getting up a half-hour early helps to start breakfast, make lunches, and even have a few minutes alone.
2. Develop routines (and stick with them). Much of the chaos we experience occurs around repetitive tasks, such as at meals and at bedtime. The decision to create routines not only helps you, but also helps your children know what to expect. Deciding that homework will be done at a certain time and place eliminates the need to argue about it. Simple things like putting toys away before bed can help dramatically. Be aware that routines may be difficult to create, but once established will reap great benefits.
3. Get out of the house. Getting the children ready to leave the house may seem to create more stress than it is worth, but the social interaction gained even by a trip to the store is incredibly valuable in reducing the isolation you feel stuck at home all day. The mall, the library or the local bookstore are great choices.
4. Give yourself a break. Although you probably know perfect parents who home school six children, grow their own food and volunteer at the homeless mission, it is okay to admit that you aren’t like them. Some days you have to choose between cleaning the house and playing “Go Fish” with your child. It is okay to serve corn dogs for dinner once in a while. Give yourself the gift of a night off. Your kids will thank you.