Being a stay-at-home parent is tough! Whether you made the decision to be home with your kids or if circumstances have led you (with a violent shove) into it, figuring out how to survive being home with kids all day isn’t always easy.
When I was 25, if you’d asked me if I’d ever be a stay-at-home mom, I would have boldly stated, “Hell no, I’m not even going to have kids!”
Fast forward 20 years and two kids later to see that not only did I stay home for 10 years, but we’re in our seventh year of homeschooling.
Navigating different personalities, learning styles, energy levels, and moods definitely took some trial and error.
My biggest hurdle though was learning to be patient, which is my number one flaw.(look how I just admitted that so matter a factly, ah how I’ve grown!)
My goal today is to give you some advice and direction on where to begin this glorious new chapter in your lives along with some tricks on how to survive being home with your kids all day.
Building an understanding
The first step in this journey is to get to know your kids. Now you may think you already know them pretty well, and you probably do know them better than anyone else, but…
If you want to avoid all the arguing, yelling, and crying, I suggest taking a minute to get to know the following about your kids:
- Learning style
- Personality types
- Energy levels and stamina
- Moods and tactics that work to improve them
It’s also a good idea to take a good honest look at yourself. Knowing all these things about yourself will also be a valuable asset when it comes to effectively communicating with your kids.
People fall into one of three styles:
Auditory learners learn by hearing and retain information better when it is spoken out loud.
Visual learners learn and understand by seeing, reading, or writing things down. They must see what they are learning.
Tactile learners learn by doing. These learners are hands-on and need to touch and work things out physically. They are the fidgeters who have trouble sitting still.
You are your kid’s first teacher so you may have a pretty good idea about what their learning style is already, but I recommend having them fill out this short quiz anyway.
The quiz results will tell you what their learning style is as well as give you some tips to help them learn better. You can use these results to help you understand how your child needs to receive instruction from you.
Is your child an introvert or an extrovert? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
The Meyer’s Briggs Personality Test will give you insight on how they see the world around them and what they view as their place in it.
The test is kinda expensive, but you can take a mini version for free at 16personalities.com
Understanding what your child excels at or struggles with will allow you to know when they can work independently or when extra instruction is needed.
Energy Levels and Stamina
Everyone feels different levels of energy at different times throughout the day. If you’re a morning person, you probably feel your best first thing in the morning up until around lunchtime. If you’re more of a night owl, then you feel more alert in the late afternoon and evenings.
Knowing where your kids fall will help you determine how their schedules look.
You don’t want to give a night owl a complex math assignment first thing in the morning, but for your early riser, that would be ideal.
This isn’t just about learning either.
Know that your night owl will need more time to wake up in the morning and may be grumpy or non-compliant for a few hours after waking.
On the other hand, your early riser will start to fade towards the evening and will struggle to do tasks that require too much brainpower or energy to complete.
Everyone gets in a mood once in a while, it’s only human. Your kids are not any different(preaching to the choir, I know).
Knowing what sets them off will help you avoid triggering the mood in the first place. But if it can’t be avoided, having a plan in place to help them get over the mood quickly and move on is key.
Often times just allowing your child to express why they are feeling upset will help them move on from the fussing into a solution.
Make sure you don’t get upset too. Stay calm and talk it through. You may find that the solution is simple and the issue can be dealt with quickly.
On to the fun stuff
Now that we have a better understanding of our kids, things should be a bit easier to navigate.
Let’s discuss some other tricks to surviving and keeping your sanity.
Make a plan
If you’re not much of a planner, you should still do this. Having a tentative plan in place will keep you focused and productive.
It doesn’t have to detail what you will do every minute of the day. Just a vague plan like read 2 chapters in our book, do a math worksheet, wash a load of laundry, make tacos for dinner, will still be effective.
Our bodies need that vitamin D!
Eat lunch outside, sit under a tree on a blanket, or work in your garden. If your kids are especially energetic, have them go outside and play nerf guns, kick a ball around, or jump on a trampoline for an hour.
Let them watch TV
I’m giving you permission.
Don’t you dare feel guilty about this one. Sometimes you just need a break from all the joys of parenting so you can reset.
Allow them to watch TV and set a timer for say an hour, when the timers go off so does the TV.
This one is huge! You must do this if you want to survive!
Meal Planning will help make everything easier.
Wanna learn more about meal planning and grab a free planner? Check this out:
Work some exercise into your routine.
Yoga, squats, jump rope, badminton, whatever you like, just make sure you do it at least 4 times a week.
Exercise is not only good for your health it also lifts your mood and makes you feel happy.
Your kids need you to be goofy mom too.
Laughing with your kids is great for bonding and building strong relationships. Plus it’s fun!
Tells jokes, watch cat videos, take pictures with Snapchat filters, whatever gets you laughing.
Listen to music
Doing chores sucks! Obviously no one loves to clean the toilet, but you can make cleaning a little less painful by playing music.
I have a cleaning playlist I use and it helps me get through my chores quickly and painlessly.
I play a little game with myself while cleaning where I try to finish the chore I’m doing before the song ends. Now while I don’t always manage it, it does help me get things done.
You could tell your kids that all the chores in one room need to be finished before the playlist ends. Just be sure to add enough songs so that they can be successful, you don’t want them feeling like they can’t do it, that’s definitely not going to motivate them.
Take breaks from each other
Every day you should set aside 30 minutes to an hour of alone time.
Meaning everyone goes into a different room and does something quiet by themselves. They can read, draw, nap(I’m looking at you mom), color, daydream, whatever.
Getting away from each other to relax and not have to worry about anyone else for a little while will help recharge your batteries enough to get through the rest of the day.
Wake up early
One of the most important things I do everyday for myself is to wake up earlier than everyone else.
I cherish this time to sip on my coffee, look at my plans, and just breathe it in.
If you’ve never tried this, you must, you won’t regret it.
Even better is if you can make yourself a morning routine so you don’t waste any time trying to figure out what you’re going to do during this precious morning time.
Learn more about how to make a morning routine here:
Taking time out for yourself is important.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” ~ Norm Kelly
If you don’t take the time to rest, recharge, and reward yourself, you won’t be your best self. You won’t be patient, kind, and understanding.
Take a little time at least a few times a week to refill your cup.
Having some adult time will also keep you from losing it. Plan a simple at-home date like take-out dinner and movie rental or go out for a night on the town.
Either way, you need time to be you. You can’t be mommy 24/7 or you will grow to resent it.
Check out Dating Divas for some amazing date night ideas!
I know you wear clothes, stop rolling your eyes at me.
I’m talking about getting out of your yoga pants or pj’s. Brushing your hair and teeth. Maybe even put on some scented lotion and lip gloss.
Putting on real clothes changes the way you feel, come on, you know it does!
You can still wear comfy clothes, just make sure it’s not something you wore to bed last night.
Count your blessings
Always remember and never forget how quickly our kids grow up and move on. Even if yours are small now, believe me, the time goes by so quickly.
This time at home with them may test your nerves and make you want to scream “Why did I ever have kids?”
Take a breath, walk away, regroup and then remember.
Be thankful every day that you are their mom and that they are your child. Spend time loving them, teaching them, preparing them, and understanding them.
Being home with your kids can make you feel like a caged animal.
Taking deliberate steps to understand your kids and learn ways to communicate with them will reduce stress all around and make for a more productive and happier home.
Here are my best tricks and tools for creating a thriving stay at home life:
- Make a plan
- Get outside
- Let them watch tv
- Meal plan
- Get physical
- Be silly
- Listen to music
- Take breaks from each other
- Wake up early
- Practice self-care
- Date night
- Get dressed
- Count your blessings
So tell me do you fall into the I do this by choice category or the I have no choice category? Leave a comment below and share your story.
Looking for ways to keep your kids entertained?
Need some fresh ideas for things to do at home?
New to self-care and want to know more about what it means to practice it?