Anyone who has been in the role of a stay-at-home parent knows that it is a full-time job and that it can be difficult to stay sane when you are the only adult at home all day. It can be easy for your home to fall into chaos and to feel like you have no control over your kids or yourself.
As a stay-at-home mom, make sure you take steps to take care of yourself, so that you can feel good about taking care of your home and your kids. You know how people say you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others? There is some DEFINITE truth in that.
The following tips are concrete things that you can do to make sure that you stay sane as a stay-at-home parent. I’ve organized these tips by self-care practices that you should do for your own benefit, tips for keeping your home productive and organized, and a few parenting tips (because you HAVE to approach being a sane SAHM from a wholistic approach).
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
As I’ve already said, you NEED to take care of you first. It is difficult and draining to take care of the entire family, and even more so if your own batteries are drained. It may feel selfish to take the time to practice self-care, but remind yourself that you’re doing it for the good of your family.
Practicing self-care is more than just taking a bath and using a face mask, although I want to make it clear that those things are important too. I can’t always remember the last time I got to go to the bathroom by myself, and my guess is you can relate to that. Imagining a world where you have time to do something like that feels unrealistic at times – but the reality is that YOU are the only one who can make that happen. While your kids kind of dictate your life when you’re caring for them, becoming strategic with your time is key. Get a sitter once a month. Take some “you time” at night, or early before the kids are up.
Truly taking care of yourself sometimes requires you to have discipline and do things that aren’t necessarily fun or what you want to do – but what you know you should do. Discipline to do what is necessary is something we moms have to do when it comes to our kids, but it can take practice to do it for ourselves. Making time for the dentist or a doctor appointment can feel trivial when we’re already overwhelmed with kid things, but the longterm consequences of ignoring your health are detrimental to the whole family.
Earn Income From Home
I think most stay-at-home parents have at least considered working from home. It is honestly been one of the best decisions in my life for both me AND my family. I’ve been able to do something I’ve always loved to do, while being able to stay home and watch my kids grow up. It’s also allowed me to have REAL interactions with other adults – even if it’s virtually. This can be a GREAT option for remembering that you are in fact someone other than a mom (which IS important).
To start a side hustle, start to think of the marketable skills that you have (or skills you’re interested in obtaining):
- Start a blog (you don’t NEED any marketable skills, but you do need to be willing to do research and learn)
- Start an Etsy shop making and selling handcrafted items.
- Go to thrift stores and sell preowned items online
- Start your own freelance writing business from home (which isn’t as hard as it sounds!)
- Become a proofreader.
Whatever your skills are, find a job that fits those skills that you can be profitable and enjoyable.
Be sure to find something that you enjoy and can do with your set of skills. Avoid multi-level marketing companies that require direct sales. These companies try to market themselves as great opportunities for stay-at-home parents, yet 99% of participants actually lose money. If you decide that earning extra income is best for your family, make sure you find a legitimate opportunity that capitalizes on your unique skillset.
For more information about working from home as a stay-at-home parent, check out this resource.
Get Dressed Every Day
One of the best ways to make yourself feel ready to tackle the day is to get dressed in the morning. Every. Single. Day. It can be very tempting to stay in pajamas all day since you will be home with the kids the whole time because it feels like more work. But – even if you just change from pajamas into comfortable athleisure clothing, you will feel more prepared to tackle the day (and just more human in general). Trust me – this one works.
Getting dressed in the morning is also a great example to set for your children. If they are already in the habit of getting dressed and ready for the day, then they will be much more prepared to transition into going to school. It can be easy to stay in pajamas all day every day, but there’s something about it that adds a boost to your productivity.
Oh – and an additional perk. Even if you plan to stay home, you will be ready if you need to change plans last minute to leave the house. If you need to run to the grocery store or decide to go to the park (or that random neighbor stops by again), you’ll be ready for it.
There are a ton of health and mental benefits of regular exercise. With a consistent exercise schedule and routine, you will be stronger, healthier, and have more energy. Don’t get me wrong. Exercise isn’t what I think of when I think of “fun”. But honestly? It somehow ends up being fun (and makes me feel better the rest of the day). Most of the time.
Whether you go to the gym for a full weightlifting workout, or just make time to walk around the block, make time to do SOMETHING. You don’t need to spend a lot of time exercising either, as long as you regularly incorporate it. If you have no way of leaving your kids while you exercise, you can try:
- Going for a walk with your kids
- Doing an at-home workout using YouTube videos
- Try to get up and walk around the house several times throughout the day
- Have active or outdoor playtime with your kids
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and will help you become a better parent. While it is not always something that you want to do when you have a to-do list that is a mile long, making time for exercise will benefit you both physically and mentally.
Prioritize Alone Time For Yourself
Making time for yourself to be alone is one of the best ways to make sure you have the mental and emotional capacity for parenting. Just like anyone who works full time outside of the home, stay-at-home parents need alone time too…sometimes I think we need even MORE alone time.
You should set aside time to regularly be alone, whether it is just a few minutes or a few hours. Whether it is every day or once a week, you DESERVE and need time to yourself. Some things you can do during your alone time include:
- Reading a book
- Going for a drive
- Treating yourself to a bath and face mask
No matter what you do, be sure to make time for yourself, and do it intentionally. This will help you recharge your batteries and be prepared and energized to be around and take care of your children all day.
Keep in Touch With Friends and Other Moms
One thing you need to do to stay sane as a stay-at-home parent is keep in touch with other parents. Other stay-at-home moms are ALSO struggling with being home with the kids all day. Plan play dates or parents’ nights out.
I have a friend who does a rotation with two other groups of parents. The first three weeks of the month, each set of parents takes a turn with all three sets of kids once a month. That way each set of parents gets a date night twice a month. They’ve been doing this for close to a year now, and it has worked great. If you decide to try this, definitely give yourself one weekend off a month where everyone is home as a family. Having plans every weekend could become stressful fairly quickly.
Keeping in touch with other stay-at-home moms can help you not feel so isolated, as it is easy to feel this way when your only company all day is your children. You can share your tips and complaints and support each other in your roles as stay-at-home parents. Just make sure the kiddos aren’t around while you do your complaining. 😉
As a stay-at-home parent, it can be easy for you to slip into a habit of only interacting with your family members. However, it is important to interact with other adults regularly, whether they are other parents or not. I get that it’s hard (I REALLY struggle with being “social”), but socialization is important for both you and your children to have.
Make Time for Hobbies
Another important tip for stay-at-home moms is to make time for your hobbies. While staying home with the kids all day, it can be easy to put 100% of yourself into your children. However, it can also be easy to lose your sense of self and forget who you are outside of being a parent when doing this.
Remember, you are more than just a parent. You were a person before you became a mom, and although your kids are a huge part of who you are, it is important to remember and keep up with yourself as an individual. Someday your kiddos are going to leave home, and you will NEED that semblance of self when that happens.
If you don’t really have hobbies, find one. I know that’s an easy thing to say, but it’s also not that hard to do. Try new things. Maybe you’ll hate going to the gym, but you’ll find that you really enjoy water aerobics. Making time for your hobbies is a great way to practice self-care by doing the things you enjoy.
Tips for Keeping Up With Your Home
Now that you have taken steps to practice self-care (which is step #1!), you can start to implement practices for keeping an organized and engaging home for your family. These tips will help to create resources and structure that will help organize your home and life.
Create Structure Using Schedules and Organization
While you are at home all day every day, it can be very easy to have a relaxed attitude and just go with whatever your kids want to do, whenever they want to do it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be beneficial to your home and your kids for you to create a sense of structure and organization in the home.
Before I go any further into this, I’ll admit that I’m the WORST when it comes to organization. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to start working from home. I HATE the anxiety that comes with having to follow a strict schedule, and I struggle with keeping many things in my life organized. With that being said – I’ve found a system that works for me. On the other hand, I have a friend who has kids close in age to mine. She works from home too, but they keep a pretty strict schedule. Since implementing it, she’s found that her kids have less behavioral issues and it helps her feel like she has her life in order. The most important thing is to find what works for you.
If scheduling is what you want to try – here are some ideas.
You can start by following a schedule every day. Even if it is a simple schedule (which is what we adhere to), it will help your kids get in the habit of following a schedule and it can help set them up for success later in life. This will also help you to schedule time for yourself, your side job, and anything that needs done around the house. Creating structure and a schedule can DEFINITELY help keep an organized home and life.
Just don’t go overboard with it. Don’t let it stress you out if you end up not being able to follow your schedule for whatever reason. Figure out what worked and didn’t work, and make a plan from there. Don’t view it as a failure – because it’s not. It’s probably a sign that you need to try to be more flexible in your planning.
Other forms of structure in the house include playing a specific game or activity with rules that need to be followed. You can also engage your kids in household chores. Keep in mind that it’s likely things will take longer with small children, but doing chores with you is EXCELLENT family bonding time, and show cases what it looks like to take care of a home. By implementing this type of structure at a young age, you are setting up your kids to hopefully struggle less with things like structure and routine.
Don’t Get Addicted to Your Phone
When you are at home with your kids, it is essential that you are not glued to your phone the whole time. I think this is really hard for many of us (including me!) and there’s definitely a lot of shame tied to using your phone when with your kids. Screen time can be something that you work into your daily schedule, but being on your phone all day will make any structure and productivity that you create fly out the window.
Not only will this keep you from being engaged with your kids (and present in life in general), but truth is, it is setting a bad example for your kids. If they see you using the phone all the time, they will also learn to be addicted to screens and technology rather than physically playing. Trust me – they’ll have PLENTY of time to wrestle with technology in the future.
Physical toys and playtime are essential for your children’s development of fine motor skills and communication. Even if you don’t allow your kids much screen time, seeing you on your phone all the time will teach your kids that they should want more screen time.
For more information and tips about staying off of your phone, check this out.
Being A Great Stay-At-Home Parent for Your Kids
The last few tips that we have for stay-at-home moms include ways to parent that will help your kids feel nurtured while also providing some relief for you to practice some self-care.
You and I both know that everyone has different parenting styles based on the needs of their family. MOST are not “bad” r the “wrong” way to do something becaue there are many right The tips that we provide are not intended to radically change the way you parent but are ideas for things that you can incorporate or be more intentional with throughout the day.
Be Present With Your Kids
This is an obvious tip but can still be difficult to manage. When you are home all the time, it can be easy to tell yourself that it is okay to be distracted by your phone, side job, or other tasks around the house. While it is important to take care of those things, it is even more important to be present with your kids.
I personally think this is one of the HARDEST thins to do – especially when you have a lot of things to do, and a lot of things on your mind (which when aren’t both these things true for moms?!)
If you are struggling with distractions or having trouble feeling “in the moment” with your kids, I have a couple of things to try. The reality is…sometimes these things work, and sometimes they don’t. Give it effort and time, and I promise it gets easier! . If you are trying this for the first time, you can start in small increments of time. You can try to follow these tips and examples to be present with your kids truly:
- Plan a specific active or art activity to do together
- Put away screens and other distractions (seriously – go plug that sucker in for this!)
- Set a timer, whether it is 15 minutes or an hour, where you give your kids your undivided attention until the timer ends
- Set aside time every day (or almost every day) for quality time with your kids
- Plan short “dates” with a different member of your family every week
- Take care of any urgent tasks or chores before this designated time
If you are intentional with your time with your kids, then your family will be better prepared and able to handle you taking time for yourself because they’ll know that you’re giving your whole self to them too. If possible, to incorporate this intentional time with your kids early in the day. This will help them feel empowered to go throughout the rest of the day without needing as much from you and can build their sense of independence.
Teach Your Kids to Entertain Themselves
Once you have given your children the time and attention they need, it will be important for them to entertain themselves while you do some self-care. If you are new to taking time for yourself as a stay-at-home mom (or if your kiddos are really young like mine), your children might not be ready to entertain themselves for very long.
To help your children learn to entertain themselves, you can do the following:
- Get them started with a toy, game, or activity that they can do independently. I have a friend who has a 3 year old that LOVES painting. She can be totally immersed (and behave herself) for a solid half hour once she has a plate of paints and a few pieces of paper.
- Don’t fulfill every request of theirs, as they will learn that it is acceptable to interrupt you for anything (although keep in mind that younger kids WON’T get this until they’re a little older)
- Stay within earshot in case there is an emergency or you need to intervene. This will also help your child feel better about playing without you since they know that you are nearby.
Getting your kids to a point where they can entertain themselves for a few hours can take time and practice but is necessary (for you AND then) and worth it in the end. With more time to yourself, you can take care of your personal needs, as well as other things that are important to you.
Wrapping Things Up
Ultimately, being a stay-at-home parent is exhausting and grueling at times. There’s not a more difficult (or rewarding) thing you could be doing. I think MOST parents would agree with me there. By making yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to be a stay-at-home mom, the home and parenting will more easily fall into place.
At the end of the day, remember that to take care of the rest of the family, you need to first take care of yourself. By following at least SOME of my tips for taking care of yourself, your home, and your kids, you will be more set up to have a structured home life that can keep you sane as a stay-at-home mom.