Your decision to stay home with your little one is a choice that will have a profound influence on the next phase of your life. Being a stay-at-home parent is both an honor and a challenge, and it's especially important to take care of yourself while you take it on. To help stay happy and healthy at home, consider the following tips.
- Know what resources are available in your area
You might be surprised! Does your local library have a story time? Perhaps a local rec center offers children’s music lessons? Make a list of all your options. It can be easy to get stuck in a rut and to take baby to the same places again and again. Mixing it up can keep the hours between naptimes feeling fresh and exciting, though, and having a list ready means you've got options at your fingertips.
- Join a play group
Play groups are relatively easy to find, whether online or just by asking around at the playground. While it is great for baby to get out of the house and meet new friends, being a part of a play group is also a wonderful way for you to engage with other parents, to ask questions, share advice, and have some much needed conversations with adults.
- Stick to a schedule
Life as a stay-at-home parent has less of a formal schedule than your life may have had at any time since you started kindergarten, but that doesn't mean a free-for-all is necessarily best for you or her. It does mean that setting up a schedule is up to you, though. Structure is important both for your state of mind and because she will thrive on consistency, especially when it comes to feeding and napping schedules.
- Set aside time for yourself every day
As a stay at home parent, baby's needs will probably do their best to dominate your time and attention, making it much more challenging to make time for yourself - especially if you have more than one child. Aim to set aside a small amount of time each day, ideally during her nap time. Whether it is a phone call to a friend, reading a chapter of a book, or a quick yoga session, a little time for yourself will provide some much-needed balance.
- Take a morning or afternoon off every week
Taking time off as a stay at home parent is an integral part of maintaining a healthy balance at home. If you can, find a friend or family member who might be willing to babysit, and who you feel comfortable leaving her with, and try to schedule him or her to watch baby for a morning or an afternoon each week. Stay-at-home parents often find it is all too easy for them to become last-priority in their own lives. Taking your weekly time off to do something for yourself gives you the chance to remember who you are one your own, aside from baby's parent. Taking this time can help to make you a happier and better parent.
- Know that your best is just fine
Learn to strive not for perfection, but for the best version of yourself. Type-A stay-at-home parents often struggle with the seemingly impossible feats of keeping the house clean, laundry done, and to-do lists short. It is important to let go, at least a little, and accept that there will be days of chaos, unusually hard days, and sick days, just like there were before you were a stay-at-home parent. However, there will also be surprisingly easy days, endless wonderful memories, and the realization that accepting yourself just as you are means seeing the beauty in the madness of parenthood.