So I’m really lucky to have the schedule that I do. Maybe I should reword that: I worked hard to have a job in which I have the schedule that I do, and it’s also lucky. I don’t work 9-5 in an office, and I get the entire summer, from mid-May to mid-August off. This means for about a 1/4 of the year I’m a stay-at-home parent. I’m not going to make a claim about which is more difficult, staying at home or working or something in between, because they are all challenging, and who cares? Let’s just support each other. All of our parenting situations are exhausting at times.
But I think I have an interesting perspective on staying home as I continually move in and out of this role throughout the year, with a month off in December and then three months in the summer, so really I stay at home for about a 1/3 of the year. Wow! I hadn’t done the math until now.
For me, staying at home is less stressful but I get less done and I’m more exhausted. Working and mothering at the same time is more stressful, for me, but I also feel more balanced when doing so. Basically, none of it’s perfect, but I’m pretty happy with my schedule. I don’t like monotone, and going between working and staying home makes for a lot of variety and change in my life.
Here are some of my insights on staying home from a working mom:
1. Stay-at-home parents should still get childcare. If this is feasible in terms of your budget, you should freakin’ do it. Right now, I still take Mae to her daycare for 4-6 hours a week. That’s not much, but it’s enough to keep me sane.
2. Join a gym with childcare. I also take Mae to the gym daycare. This took some getting use to, but she loves it now. It’s my me-time. Now when I’m working full-time, I feel guilty taking this time away from her, but I’m fine with it during the summer. That’s just me, and I probably need to get over that.
3. Schedule the day like a job. I’m so use to having a schedule, and I like a schedule. Now I know kids are professionals at obliterating schedules, but it helps me to have something in place for the day. In my mind, or even on paper sometimes, I have our day laid out in hour increments. I know, I’m anal.
4. Call other adults when you’re riding in the car! This is the perfect time to talk with someone who speaks in full sentences. Even if it’s only for five minutes, these calls make me feel human again.
5. Alternate fixing dinner with your partner. I don’t assume it’s my job because I’m home. Jimmy can easily throw something in the crockpot before work, and Mae screams at me to hold her if I spend more than 5 minutes alone in the kitchen. A warm dinner isn’t part of the deal.
Stay-at-home parents, what are your tips for me?