Being a stay-at-home parent (SAHP) seems awesome from the outside in. It looks like it’s all sweet storytimes, cuddles on the couch, and baking brownies.
Let me tell you: it’s not.
I’ve been doing this SAHP gig since school got out last summer and it is not all sweetness and delight. A lot of my day is spent negotiating with my toddler over the necessity of holding hands on a busy sidewalk or injuring my feet on her Little People. Those bad boys are pointy!
It’s also been really hard for me to make this transition from full-time teacher to full-time stay-at-home parent while also trying to break into the writing world. Honestly, I wouldn’t even be doing this except for a weird one-year duty station.
It hasn’t been perfect some of the time or even most of the time. But along the way, there have been moments and things I did that helped me to fall in love with staying home.
What I Did To Help Me Fall In Love With Being a Stay-At-Home Parent
Create a Tribe
I found my tribe at Stroller Warriors. I’m an avid runner and had been dying to get into this group in our last hometown, but with work, weather and distance, it never worked out. Now, I have the time to go to every workout and have made some amazing friends to boot!
Your tribe can be found anywhere. I know that my neighborhood at our first duty station was really tight, so much so that no one thought anything of having impromptu doggie/child playdates midday. Use what you have: church, MOPS, Bible study, neighborhood friends or workout groups. Get contact info and be open to new adventures.
Be Patient, Be Kind
When life is controlled by an opinionated toddler, life moves in interesting ways and directions. So no, you won’t always get that 2-hour block in the middle of the day to “adult,” but you will be able to re-watch your favorite movies from childhood frequently.
Kids are also learning so much about life and how they act and react is based on us. Being patient with my child and myself has been a huge stumbling block and learning opportunity for me. I’ve had to learn how to communicate effectively using minimal big words. I’ve also learned the power of the “Mommy Time-Out.” Seriously, Momma needs a minute.
I also know that I am not perfect at parenting. I get angry, frustrated and tired like everyone else. But tomorrow is another day and I get to try again to be the best mother I can be right now.
Wherever you are, it seems that there is never enough time to truly explore. When you day is scheduled around meals and naps, there is a little more time and flexibility to get out of the house. Plus, doing stuff creates tired children, and tired children nap.
There are sure to be parenting blogs or websites that show cool places to go with your littles. If not, ask around in your new circle of friends.
I love to see different places with my tot in tow. It makes me slow down and appreciate the moment just a little bit more.
Relish The Lack of Crowds
The other day, we went to a local nature and animal preserve for the morning. This place is usually a big attraction where we are, but it was almost empty! We showed up on a Wednesday, right after it opened. With bigger kids at school and adults at work, it was just us and a handful of tourists.
Without crowds, those big-time attractions become suddenly more manageable. Since almost no one was there, my kiddo had free range to explore along the sidewalks and paths, to stop and look at the animals, or to pick up 1,000,000 rocks.
Become More Mindful
As a classroom teacher, I always had a very strict schedule to attend to. There wasn’t a whole lot of time to really stop and smell the roses.
My mindset must still be the same, because I keep trying to hurry my child through our day. She wants to inspect some rocks and I just want to get to the final destination.
This year has reminded me that the journey is just as important as the destination. So if a kid wants to splash in puddles for hours on end, and it’s safe to do so, let her.
It is so easy to get frustrated and mad about the slow pace. But I am trying to stop and sit and let her be little as long as I can.
Savor The “I Love You” Moments
My favorite moments are the ones that are pure sweetness. I love when my baby climbs into my lap and asks for one more story. Or when she hugs me tightly and rests her head on my shoulder before she runs off to keep playing. My favorite moments each and every day are the ones when she says “I love you, Mommy.”
I know that as she grows into a big kid, then a tween, teen and finally an adult, those whispered “I love you’s” and sticky kisses will become fewer and farther between.
Right now, I get to savor them all day, every day. If I could bottle those moments up and keep them forever, I would.
Grab This Extra Time Together
Youth is so fleeting and fast. I know that I have no idea where the last 2 years went at all. Seriously, how is it 2017 already? But this year of staying home has given me the chance to create traditions, memories and a strong bond with my child. I know I will never get this age or stage back with her, and I have been afforded the opportunity to really treasure it.
So I’m trying to slow down, take my time, be patient with both of us, and enjoy these days staying at home with my baby.
Before I know it, we will move again and I might return to work again; my currently small kiddo will grow bigger and bigger, and need me less and less.
It has definitely taken me some time, and not just a few growing pains, but I have fallen in love with being a stay-at-home parent.