Is there any greater privilege and joy in the world than raising children? I don’t think so. Being able to spend all day with your children is a blessing. Once you have children you just want to be there for every step, adventure, laugh, and cry. Is it easy, heck no? Is it worth it, absolutely? But would I want to do it every day, all day? No.
Stay with me.
This post is not to bash or talk down on any parent who does? I’m going to be honest and raw with my thoughts and opinions. I don’t think enough parents talk about this and need to. In doing my reading and research for this post I was surprised to learn that almost 30% of stay-at-homes suffer from depression. (Here’s the article)
I saw page after page of online articles on parents, mostly moms, who suffer from some form of depression.
While I don’t suffer from depression, I can definitely understand where some of these parents are coming from.
Ladies, I can empathize with you.
I need to work. Not just work from home, in the small amount of time you get to yourself, but actually work. I need a couple of uninterrupted hours of work. Now, I don’t want to work 40+ hours a week the rest of my life, but there’s something deeply fulfilling about putting in quality work.
I love my two sons more than anything in the world. More than myself. This summer I took advantage of the opportunity to keep them both home with me full-time. Yes, Daddy-Day-Care at its best. It was a blast, but it was a challenge as well. Many days I would feel absolutely exhausted afterwards.
Here’s what our typical day would consist of:
4:30/5:00am–Wake up to read, write, plan social posts
6:00/6:30am–Kids wake up (latest our boys have ever slept in..7:30am….seriously)
6:45-7:30am–breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, clean up and do dishes
7:30am–leave for basketball or gym workout–also go to parks, library, pool, or play outside
12:30–get 2-year old down for nap
1pm–have “Learning Time” with older son (math, phonics, alphabet workbooks)
1:30–quiet/relaxing time–from here until nap was over I had time to read, write, make calls, clean up lunch, do dishes, do laundry.
3pm–nap over and snack–go play
4:30pm–start dinner, clean up house and toys
I share this not to brag but to give a glimpse of what our days consisted of. As you can see the days are long and full. Having two kids five and under is a challenge, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. However, here’s the five biggest challenges I think stay-at-home parents face.
You have no schedule. Yes, you may set the schedule for the day but you’re never really on time. Everything is an ish…gym 8ish, pool 11ish. I can say we will be out of the house at 8:00, but here’s what usually happens. We can’t find toothbrushes or the toothpaste. The baby has a blow out right as you open the door to leave, you’re on the 20th prompt to get a sock on…Now socks on both feet, cooking a second breakfast because the dog ate the first, giving vitamins and allergy medicine, and then not remembering if you already gave them allergy medicine. OOPS. In order to be at your best you have to change your sleeping, workout, eating, and personal schedule around what’s actually achievable. If you think you will get the gym, pool, AND grocery shopping in before nap…that’s hilarious. Quit trying to make all the rest of us look bad.
Patience. I’ll be the first to admit I struggle with this at times. Kids have a special way of pushing your buttons. Just the other day my very witty five-year old called my bluff. I was pretending to call his papa and cancel a fishing trip if he didn’t eat his lunch. I’m so clever, boy I’ll show him. I thought my acting was outstanding, seriously two-thumbs up. And then I got served. It went something like this, “Dad, I totally know you’re faking it and not even talking to papa.” Me: “well…. Ok…we’ll see….” DEFEATED….They are masters at making you feel like the smallest person in the world. I ask God to help me be more patient, and he allows my boys to teach it to me every day. I just sit back and smile when I think about it, because it’s all so trivial. I’m learning to let the small things go and just let them be kids. I’m going to miss these ages when they’re grown up soon.
Lack of adult interaction. I think this is the biggest challenge. I mean there’s only so much Mickey, Miles, and Scooby-Doo one can handle. I used to make fun of and laugh at mom play dates…But ladies you’re on to something. If you don’t have adult interaction mixed in, you will go insane. I spent the better part of a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode contemplating the logic and functionality of the Mouskatools. A giant celery stick would never work as a bridge! You can really go insane. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Parents just need an adult to talk to and someone to relate to the struggles they’re going through. It feels good to know you’re aren’t alone. That you don’t have the only kid in the world must have ice in his special nigh-nigh water cup (that you can only find one of in the world so god help you if you break/ loose it) with water that must be filled to the top. Really, that’s our youngest.
Your job is never done. Cook, clean, play: repeat over and over. How many of you have put the toys away, swiffered the floors, and then turn around to find it the same way as it was five minutes earlier? Oh, it makes you angry but then you just laugh. Our two-year old was eating pancakes while I cleaned up a few days ago and I came in the kitchen only to find them smashed all over everything, Thank God for our dog. No mop or swiffer could get syrup and pancakes out of the places this kid found to smash them. SIDENOTE TIP: The swiffer vacuum is one of the most amazing inventions ever. Anyways, the truth is, your kids are so dependant on you at these early ages, it can be frustrating. But I just have to remind myself, they’ll be teenagers soon and won’t want me to do anything. Cherish the little moments that make a lifetime.
Feeling underappreciated. Many stay-at-home parents feel this way. I don’t, but I know many do. So spouses take note, if your significant other stays home. They DO NOT just sit home and play all day. Their job is not easy. It’s challenging. They cook, clean, caregive, shop, go to appointments, and make meals. All with little time to themselves.
Here are some helpful ideas to make your stay-at-home spouse feel appreciated.
-Take your time coming home and de-stress before you walk in the door. Be present and not distracted. If you are on Facebook when you walk in the door I might throw the phone in the diaper dekor, that I probably didn’t get a chance to empty in a few weeks.
-Ask them if they need a 20 minute break. You’d be amazed and how much this helps to recharge your batteries. Just some time to go to the bathroom alone, or just sit without someone touching you or trying to wrestle.
-Ask how their day was but understand that they probably don’t want to talk right then.Let them breathe and you can get a more complete answer at the dinner table.If you wait 20-30 mins to talk about the day it makes a big difference.
-Tell him to have a night out without kids and you will watch them. I actually love seeing movies alone. Really it’s pretty great. Don’t be scared, try it.
-Tell them you love them, you appreciate them, and thank you for taking care of your children.
Being a parent is the greatest job in the world and can bring the greatest joy. But it’s the most challenging.
I write this to offer support, a little laughter, encouragement, and empathy to those stay-at-home parents who struggle with the challenges of the job. YOU are doing great! Your kids will love and remember the special memories you made together. The won’t remember how clean the house was, or that their sheets were always clean. They will remember you. You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to do the best job you have the ability to do. I remind myself that these are the years our kids will love and need us the most. The days of building forts, make-believe, and them plopping into your lap to cuddle will be gone before you know it.
If you know a parent who stays home with the kids, share this with them. Encourage them. Thank them. Tell them you love them and they’re going a great job.
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.