Friday, June 7, 2013

Being In My Shoes For A Day - How To Easily Lose Your Mind

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 Question:  Do I really know what I'm getting into taking care of the kids practically 24/7?

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I don't remember giving much thought to that question before I decided to stay home with my kids and I wish I did.  You should, too, if there's any question that you might lose your mind being around kids all day!

Several parents have to make the decision whether they should be the ones to stay at home with their kids full-time.  For some, there's no other option especially if hiring a nanny or putting your kids in childcare will cost more than you going back to work.  Sometimes, it's just not worth it.  It's a tough decision, with lots of issues to consider like:
  • Can we afford for one parent to stay home and live off one source of income?
  • Should I give up or put my job/career on hold and what are the consequences to doing that?  
  • How would I feel if I stopped working?
  • How would I feel about only working part-time, at home or outside of home?
  • Which would benefit our family more - staying at home with the kids or working?
  • Can I work while still being at home?  How would that affect my engagement with the kids?
  • What's being a stay-at-home parent like?  
  • Will I love it or hate it?  
  • Is this the best for my family overall including financially, emotionally, mentally... for the kids, partner and myself?  
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 Or you can just see how my days are with my kids...  

What are my days like as a stay-at-home mom?  Let me try to walk you through, you may have to slow down, speed up, take a break, jump, do hurdles or sprint during this walk-through!  

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First off, I believe in structured days so 

  • I usually start my days trying (I'll repeat - trying) to get up before the kids wake.  
  • I use that time for myself to get some writing done (usually leisure writing but now focusing more on professional work), reading, checking my email, checking my to-do list or write one up and preparing breakfast.  Some days, I don't even have time for that.  
  • Then, I get dressed and get everything packed in the diaper bag and my bag if we have somewhere to be that morning (this usually applies to appointments or when my son is in school).  
  • If I'm lucky and they're still sleeping, I can actually eat a decent breakfast without interruptions.

***NOTE*** Staying at home is filled with regular interruptions!  If you'll be able to adjust to that or are used to disturbances then you'll have no problem.

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It's much easier if I can get myself dressed and all the items packed before they wake because once they're up, I hardly have time to fix myself.  Keep in mind, with kids especially more than one, it takes longer to do everything.  Getting out of the house takes maybe an additional hour or so compared to if it was just myself particularly if things weren't prepped the night before.  Why does it take so long?

  1. I have to get us all ready
  2. Prepare food/snacks/drinks, pack everything if it's not already (toys, diapers, wipes, extra clothes)
  3. Feed them
  4. Argue with them (over what Brody's wearing/eating/doing), break up fights, deal with whining, tantrums
  5. Clean up kitchen
  6. Brush their teeth
  7. Change clothes (mine included) if we get dirty while we're eating, change diapers
  8. Deal with last minute emergencies like one of them bonking their head on something.  
Luckily, #4 and #7 aren't always necessary steps.

Whew!  Yes, tell me about it.  It's exhausting!  Are you still with  me?  

My typical day when Brody was in school:  
  • After all the above, I dropped Brody off at school.  
  • If neither Lyla or me ate a good breakfast (sometimes she doesn't wake up until right before we leave) then we grab a bite to eat.  If we don't need to then
  • I would go to the gym which was just a couple blocks from his school.  
  • Some days, I do volunteer work and help out with parties or attend parties/events at his school so I would have to leave Lyla at a sitter or she comes along.  If I don't have to be there, then
  • I usually ran errands with Lyla in tote (not easy anymore since she wants to do her own running throughout the store or wherever we may be), or I would take her to the park or bookstore, story time to interact with other kids.  
  • We would go back home.
  • Have lunch, clean up
  • Nap time for Lyla while...
  • I sometimes finished eating the meal I had to stash in the fridge or microwave, laundry, clean, make any calls, read, write, do some research or work on some DIY or craft projects (I"m always working on those type of projects) and then...
  • Get ready to pick Brody up (usually having to carry a sleeping Lyla to the car).
  • After school, I would take him to the library, mall to play or park.  Sometimes, we go straight home if I'm too tired or ...
  • So I can get dinner started.  
  • Finally, hubby gets home (unless he's working late) and then there's two of us to deal with the cleaning and kids, not leaving much time to actually spend together or even have a decent conversation.  
  • We try hard to get to the gym most nights.  
  • Sometimes, if we have time we'll take the kids out or 
  • We may have some grocery shopping or other errands to do.
  • Then, it's bath time, story time, final food and drinks given to kids and then * fingers crossed* they sleep!
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  • By the time we get to have a bit of down time, it's usually after 9:30 unless the kids get to bed by 8
Now that school is out and Brody hasn't started any summer classes or summer camp, our routine is different but there's still structure:
  • The kids sleep in a bit more (usually, if I'm lucky, that is) and I still get up early (I just can't sleep in after about 6:30-7 AM most days), I try to get as much stuff done for myself and figure out what activities we can do mostly depending on the weather.  
  • The kids get up.  I change Lyla's diaper/clothes
  • We eat breakfast
  • I clean up the kitchen, put the food away and get us all dressed and ready.
  • If I know we won't be able to make it to the gym at night like if it's hubby's late night at work then I go to the gym in the morning.  If I don't go and...
  • If it's sunny we'll head to the pool after breakfast where I try to get some exercise (swimming laps) and reading done.  (Tanning is a bonus, yay!)  Or we go to the park, mall, library, bookstore unless Brody has a play date scheduled  
  • Sometimes we visit MOSH (Museum of Science and History) or Adventure Landing or another more extravagant place like if there's a kid event or show (this mostly happens on weekends when hubby is at work).
  •  If we don't go to pool or those other places, then
  • We play together inside or do other activities/games/arts/crafts. 
  • Sometimes, I'll let the kids help me bake or cook.  Other times....
  • Then, it's lunch time (sometimes, I actually meet up with friends).  If we ate at home, I clean up spills/messes/kitchen  
  • Followed by a nap for Lyla while Brody gets to watch TV, play toys/games while I try to finish chores, laundry (there's never-ending laundry), write, research, read, make calls, take care of any bills or things like that, work on projects or try to nap, too (You can laugh here because yep, I rarely nap unless I'm dead tired, that is, more dead tired than usual).  
  • At night, hubby and I try to spend time together and lately since we're moving, we do some packing
  • Usual bed time lately for me is between 11:30 - midnight. 
It's always a long day!  I didn't include watching TV, movies or playing games (alone) because: 
  1. I don't have enough time 
  2. I'm not a big fan of watching TV and I want to set that example for my kids
  3. Shows I would like to watch aren't appropriate for children anyway
  4. Only time I watch movies with them is if I take them to the movies - rare occasion to do on my own, that's stress I don't need!  
  5. I'm too much of a busy-body.  I'd rather save my watching experience for when hubby gets home and we can relax together.
Remember: with kids, flexibility is key.  I try not to go on unscheduled lunch dates with friends but sometimes, I do.  My schedule can change quickly due to accidents, sickness or if the kids are misbehaving.  They don't go out or get to watch TV/play if they don't deserve it.  Expect bad days.  There's lots of room for stress and feeling like why did I ever decide to stay home?  I'd rather be at work!  (Sounds crazy?  No, YOU may end up actually going crazy with kids all day!)  

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It's a precious time when they're young.  Don't take it for granted!  Also, you can still be an engaged parent if you work outside of home.  The choice is yours and don't let anyone make you feel crappy about it.  

If you do decide to stay at home, don't give up your hobbies/interests.  Pick up new hobbies, learn as much as you can about child development, parenting and have some kind of structure to your days.

At first, when you bring that new baby home, you're still adjusting and you won't have much energy to do more than the basics like feeding, caring for them and caring for yourself.  As the baby grows, you'll have a better grasp on things and can gradually start adding extra activities to your day.  It's a growing experience for the whole family.  Learn what's best for yours.

Good luck!

"Mom brought nutella!!"

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Some days, you feel like a super hero just for getting the small things right!

Are you a stay-at-home parent?  How do you cope through it all during the day?  Or do you work and spend time with the kids after work or on weekends...what do you like to do to engage with them?

Need ideas for activities?  Look here: Family Activities

For more insights on stay-at-home parenting, visit my hub and other ones I wrote here.

Fun stuff to check out this weekend in Jacksonville:

  • National Doughgnut Day today!  Free doughnut at Krispy Kreme.  Free doughnut with purchase of drink at Dunkin Donuts.
  • Moonlight movie tonight (June 7, 2013) at Jax Beach 9 PM. Visit here for info.
  • Kids Day at RAM (Riverside Arts Market) tomorrow, June 8, 2013   
  • Luau party at Adventure Landing 6-10 PM and swim at Shipwreck Island Waterpark until 11 PM.  Go to their site for details.

It may still be wet out there so be safe!  Enjoy your weekend and stop by again next week for more fun stories, tips and insights.