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So many working parents are trading in their timecards for time at home lately!
Whether you choose to stay at home to spend more time with your kids or avoid daycare, or the decision was made because of finances (cheaper to not work than to send 3 kids to daycare) or a layoff, the transition from working 8+ hours a day to being at home with your children all day can seem exciting, scary, make you feel lost or all of those emotions all in one. There are ways to transition smoothly though, and we are here with some great tips to survive that stay at home switch!
This is the staple of parenthood, in my eyes. When there is routine, your kids will know what is coming which in turn will help to keep you sane. Waking up at the same time every day is a great start to your routine. While it feels great to know you can sleep in a bit (if your kids are amazing and like to sleep in), making sure to wake up early and get everybody’s day started helps to jump start the rest of your day. Maybe implement one day a week where you can get a little extra sleep in the mornings, say on Fridays, and you’ll have motivation and a goal to look forward to at the end of the week!
Keep nap times the same every day, set aside a cleaning time during the day as well, and include your kids in that!
Sticking to a routine really helps you go from a routine at work every day to one at home. It can feel really chaotic to have a strict routine while you work and then turn around to stay at home with absolutely no plan.
This heading can kind of go with the previous one, but when I talk about scheduling here I mean a cleaning schedule. Keeping up with housework can be ridiculous with your kids underfoot everyday. While you may think you’ll have ALL this extra time on your hands and your house will be spotless, we can’t all be Cinderella and bust our butts when there’s toddlers running around climbing, breaking things or feeding marbles to the baby. The reality is you will have a little more time, but you really need to schedule in your cleaning.
Try to get something done first thing in the morning, and also during nap time. I find that I get the most done right after breakfast and before we head out to a park or an activity. The kids are still getting ready and playing a little and it gives me time to maybe sweep the kitchen and hallway, or wipe down bathrooms. I made myself a simple schedule of which “chores” I will do each day of the week, and it really helps me keep up on the house. If I know that skipping the toilets today means I have to add those in to tomorrow’s cleaning, I am way less likely to avoid it. If your children are old enough, keep a chore schedule for them as well. It will help with their routine, as well as take one more item off of YOUR to-do list!
3. Menu Planning
This is really important whether or not you are stay at home. I don’t know where my head would be if I didn’t have a basic menu plan every week. Even though you are at home and have extra time to get dinner started, you have no idea how many times I’ve looked at the clock after a long day with a 3 year old who refused to nap only to see that it’s 7pm and I don’t know what I’m making for dinner! Now, about every other week I make a list of meals I will make and them make a grocery list of items I’ll need to make those meals. I always add in simple meals I know I can make in a few minutes- like spaghetti or tacos- and I always make sure to include some crock pot meals for the easiest prep! That way in a pinch I know we aren’t resorting to a frozen pizza or take out.
Once my list is made, I keep it on the fridge. I don’t pick which days we’ll eat what (but feel free!) because I’m the kind of person who likes to choose what I’ll eat each day. With my list on my fridge, each morning (or late afternoon) I will choose what’s for dinner and note in my mind what time I’ll need to begin prepping. That way, no matter how long a meal takes to prepare I will know in my mind what time I should be back to the kitchen to start. As I make a meal, I cross it off the list!
Keep your kids busy! Plan activities throughout the week to keep them having fun and learning. Things as simple as taking them to a park or on a walk are great choices, and we like to plan one bigger activity a week too! We love to visit the local children’s museum and the zoo, or plan a playdate with friends we haven’t seen in a while. During the summer we hit up our community pool almost daily! We also like to keep one class type activity in our schedule if possible. Right now, my little guy is in a gymnastics class through our city’s parks & rec program and it keeps us on top of our routine each week!
5. Shower & Get Dressed
This may seem like the funniest thing to include here, but it needs to be said. Set aside time for yourself where you can shower, get dressed and maybe even try to get hair & make up done (for moms)! I can’t tell you how much my motivation goes down the drain when I either stay in jammies all day or just don’t try very hard. Getting up before the kids gives me time to shower and get my hair done, and I can throw on clothes fast if they’ve woken up at that point. OR I shower in the evening once kids are in bed and finish my getting ready routine in the morning! I try to wear clothes that are everyday but not sweats. That way we can run to the store or do something fun at the drop of a hat without everyone waiting for mom to change or fix her hair.
Not only is this step of the process crucial to save time, it will help keep you from feeling like a tired blob. It will amaze you how much a shower can do for your day!
6. Adult Time
Make sure you find time to spend with other adults. Spending all day with kids, you start to talk like your kids and you really need adult interaction. Planning playdates with friends whose kids are a similar age is a great way to break up the day for you and your kiddos, giving each of you the social interaction you need at your own age level. Also making sure your significant other knows you need that adult interaction at the end of the day can help to keep you from toddler mouth (using words like “potty” or “blankie”). My husband didn’t understand that need until I told him I REALLY needed that time for us to chat in the evenings. He is around other adults all day and never even thought about my lack of good (or heck, ANY) conversation. I also love to plan nights once or so a month when I get together with a friend or two and just spend time away from the house, kids and my husband. You need time for yourself to enjoy, and really after all those hours of kids songs and poopy diapers you may need a tasty beverage too…