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Practical Tips to Be a Successful Stay at Home Mom or Dad

Updated on October 13, 2017
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Marissa is a writer and a stay-at-home mom to four. She has experienced 4 c-section births and wants to share her knowledge and experience.

Be a Successful Stay at Home Mom or Dad

How to be a Successful Stay at Home Mom or Dad
How to be a Successful Stay at Home Mom or Dad | Source

Be a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

Many parents are choosing to stay home to raise their children. In recent years, the number of stay at home parents, or SAHPs, has been on the rise. Why? There’s the shaky economy, skyrocketing gas prices, expensive day cares and the simple reason of choosing to raise their own children rather than chase a money dream. People would rather be a successful stay at home mom or dad than to work and be away from their kids.

There are many people out there who would like to discredit the choice to stay home, saying it’s an easy out of having to work at a ‘real’ job. These people have never been so wrong! Just do a search of ‘stay-at-home parenting’ and you’ll see how many people out there have been fighting about this issue of stay-at-home parents being ‘lazy’. In fact, the opposite is true for 99.9% of SAHPs. As many SAHPs will tell you, it’s sometimes more work being home with the kids than it is going to work.

Yet, as many stay at home parents will tell you, it is very easy to get into a rut, especially in the beginning if you are transitioning from the working world to a more domestic role. There’s no actual set schedule, you can be comfortable at home, you can watch more TV or spend more time on the Internet, you can eat Bon Bons, and stay in your jammies all day. Sounds like the life, right?

Wrong. Dishes pile up. Laundry piles up. Dust piles up. Messes can be everywhere. Is that how you want to live? Is that how you want your kids to live?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I was not born a Domestic Diva. I dislike cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. So how did I make the transition to a stay at home mom after being in the work place?

It took me a few months, but I figured it out: being a stay at home mom isn’t my title. It’s my job. I now have responsibilities that are on my shoulders in order to keep this house running and keep my kids happy and healthy.

Statistics of Stay-at-Home Moms and Dads

  • As of May 2006, there were nearly 5.6 million stay-at-home moms and 143,000 stay at home dads, and those numbers are on the rise today. In fact, in 2007, the number of stay-at-home dads increased to 165,000!
  • 32% of stay at home moms have at least a bachelor's degree or higher. Only 19% had the equivalent or less than a high school degree.

Source: United States Census Bureau article.


How to Be a Successful Stay at Home Mom or Dad #1

Here are my tips about how to be a successful stay at home parent.

Make a list of your new responsibilities. When I first became a stay at home mom, I was astounded at how much I needed to do. How did I ever do these things when I was working?

Let me explain. When I worked, my son went to spend the day at my mom’s house, and in the afternoon my husband would pick him up on the way home from work. From the time I got home, until the time my husband and son arrived, I cleaned, did laundry, and started making dinner. The house was pretty decluttered since my son didn’t play with his toys all day at our home. Nice, right?

When my husband and I decided I would be staying home with our kids, I had just become a mother to our second child, a baby girl. I had two kids to tend to, plus the house to take care of. Yikes. It was a big transition. I now had to raise the kids and take care of the chores at the same time . I felt like things were complicated, so I made a list of my responsibilities that I had to accomplish around the house. Seeing the list was a relief to me and it became the tool I used to establish a routine.

Find a routine and make a schedule. Stick to it. Once I saw my list, the tasks seemed daunting. How was I supposed to manage all of that work plus manage the kids?

Finding a routine and creating a schedule helped. First, I mapped out my day based on how it normally went: wake up, get kids out of bed, make breakfast, run some laundry, catch up on dishes, play with kids, make lunch, put kids for a nap, make dinner, do some laundry, relax as family, go to bed. There was a lot of wiggle room to add things in, especially when the kids went for their afternoon naps.

I made a weekly cleaning schedule of tasks I had to accomplish during one week. Most of the time I did these tasks when the kids were napping so I could focus, but there were times when I did these things as they played around me. On Mondays, I would clean up after the weekend clutter, dust the downstairs, and clean the kitchen. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would clean the bathroom. On Wednesdays and Fridays, I would clean and organize bedrooms. Etc., etc. etc.

Break your routine every once in a while. When you were working, you were entitled to some sick or vacation days, right? You still have that right! Every once in a while, or even once a week if you can swing it, take a break from your routine and schedule.

How is this possible when I have to take care of the kids, you ask? I involve them! Instead of doing the laundry, we go for a walk or play outside. When my husband is home from work to watch the kids, I go out and about by myself for a few hours. Sometimes I’ll take this break during naptime and watch a movie.

Do whatever you feel will make you feel energized once more. Taking a break once in a while can actually make you a better stay-at-home parent as you won’t be stressed all the time!

A List of Most of My Responsibilities

  • Get kids out of bed and ready for the day
  • Make breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Wash, fold and put away laundry
  • Dishes
  • Dusting, vacuuming, mopping of floors, furniture, etc.
  • Organizing
  • Collecting and sending mail
  • Taking care of the dog
  • Cleaning the bathroom and bedrooms
  • Decluttering
  • Nighttime child awakenings
  • Scheduling
  • Shopping for groceries and essentials

Chore List

A simple chore chart, like this one from Microsoft Word templates, can be used to track chores.
A simple chore chart, like this one from Microsoft Word templates, can be used to track chores.

Tips to Help You Feel Great as a Successful Stay at Home Mom or Dad

Get out of your p.js. Okay, for many of us this is a standard procedure, but it can be really tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. Why not? You’re home, alone, with the kids all day. Who is going to see you?

It’s not a matter of who’s going to see you; it’s a matter of how you feel when in your pajamas. Pajamas are made for sleeping and lounging, not for managing a household.

That’s not to say that you can’t be comfortable. A pair of jeans and a nice t-shirt can do the trick. Not into jeans (or for many moms, not into comfortable, fitting jeans yet…)? Wear cotton slacks, capris, or yoga-like pants with a comfy top. As I’m writing, I’m wearing a simple tank top with a pair of stretchy denim capris, and I feel great!

Basically, you want to wear something that is comfortable yet stylish enough to make you feel like getting up and tackling the day. Pajamas will not give you that effect.

Practice Good Hygiene. Since you’re not going to be out of the house as much as you’re used to, it can be tempting to skip a few of your daily hygienic practices, such as brushing your teeth. Don’t skip these things! Make sure to brush your teeth at least 2-3 times a day, take a shower, and use some deodorant. Moms: run a brush through your hair, apply lotion and perhaps even a bit of makeup to your face if you would like. Dads: brush your hair and shave when needed.

Why do these things? They will help you feel good about yourself while keeping you clean and tidy. Also, should you need to run out of the house for any reason—food shopping, doctor’s visit—you are set and ready to go.

For example: On a daily basis, I brush my teeth, brush my hair, wash my face, use deodorant and apply a little makeup (liquid foundation and mineral powder). I wash my hair every other day (which is healthy for your hair anyway) and shower every night. I’m ready to get out of the house at a moment’s notice and I feel good about how I look.

Stay hydrated. I think this is something that many people wouldn’t think about as part of a stay-at-home parenting routine. Drinking enough water to stay hydrated can be key to feeling well and staying active. Being hydrated helps you to maintain body temperature, avoid headaches, keep your skin from getting dry, helps you lose weight, and keeps your body and organs functioning normally.

Aim for around eight 8oz (64oz) a day. Keep a reusable bottle filled and drink from it throughout the day.

Eat a healthy diet. Be sure to make healthy choices about the foods you eat. It can be very easy to eat all day since you have constant access to food in your home, but it's important to be a good role model to the kids and make healthy choices. If you want a snack, have a piece of fruit or some veggies. Find healthy recipes and have the kids help you make them.

Eating a healthy diet can help you lose or maintain your weight and keep you feeling great. Eating greasy foods or too many snacks can make you feel sluggish, which won't be helpful when you need to complete your daily tasks.

Get some exercise. Staying fit and active can be very easy when you are a stay at home parent. You want to be able to chase your kids, right? Incorporate an exercise routine into your daily activities. Exercise can be anything from walking, jogging, playing outside with the kids, yoga, Pilates, dancing or anything that makes your heart beat. Aim for 10-30 minutes a day of activity.

I try to do a workout every other day for about 30-40 minutes while the kids are napping. I also play with them and go for walks around the neighborhood. It helps me to feel energized and keeps my muscles strong to take care of my other household responsibilities.

Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom

Ok, I'll admit. There are days when I want to stay in my pjs all day and do absolutely nothing. Don't you feel like that some days too?

If you want a pajama day, take one! In fact, make it a pajama day for the whole family. Everyone can wear pajamas and relax. Watch a movie together. Play some board games. Cuddle up and read some books. The laundry and dishes can wait, at least for a few hours.

An older mom who had been a stay-at-home mom while her kids were young told me this: "If the house is clean, so what if it gets cluttered now and again. So what if the laundry basket or the sink is full for one day. Is your family happy and healthy? Then that is all that matters. "

Video: How can I be a good stay-at-home mom?


Staying Connected with the Outside World

Stay connected with people from the outside world. It can be so easy to lose your connection to the outside world when you become a stay at home parent. Why? While you’re home with the kids, everyone else is working or doing other outside the home activities.

There are quite a few ways to stay connected to the outside world when you are a stay at home parent. For one, you can take your kids so many places where you will find other parents with which to connect. Libraries often have days when you can bring your kids for story time, or you can join a class at Gymboree.

You can also keep in touch with family and friends. Have get-togethers at your house or have a play date at a friend’s house.

Being connected via the Internet is another option. Using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Google+ helps you to stay connected to those from the outside world.

Don’t spend your whole day on the computer, tablet or smartphone. Another very tempting thing to do when you are a stay at home parent is to be on the computer all day, visiting social media sites, reading blogs or playing games. While it’s okay to do these things, it’s not okay to focus on only them and to ignore your other responsibilities, especially your kids.

I know when I’m looking at my smart phone too much. My son likes to say “Are you done texting the Universe, Mom?” How about that for a wake up call! I try to monitor my technology use during the day so it doesn’t interfere with my kids or responsibilities.


How to Save Money or Make Money as a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

Budget your income and find ways to save money. Most stay at home parents have given up an income to stay home with their kids. It is tough thing to do, especially in this economy. Find ways to use your money wisely. Create a family budget to determine how your money will be spent. Use coupons and club cards to save money while shopping. Shop at second hand stores, yard sales, or on eBay to find great buys for a fraction of the cost.

Need some extra money? Find work to do at home. A popular search from stay at home parents is how to make money while you’re at home. Why? Many of us have given up a second income to be stay at home parents and money gets to be tight.

Here are some ideas of how you can earn money while staying home:

  • Sell your stuff on eBay, or Craigslist
  • Make and sell things on Etsy
  • Sell items like Scentsy candles, Avon or Thirty-One bags
  • Hold a yard sale every few months
  • Join a survey, question/answer or review site
  • Write articles or blogs and earn money from Google Adsense

Working from Home

What have you tried to do from home to help make extra money?

See results
My kids, my world
My kids, my world | Source

Being a Successful Stay at Home Mom or Dad: Remember Your Kids

Why did you choose to stay home? To be with your kids, right? Don’t forget about them in your busy home life. Make time to be with them and watch them grow. Take every opportunity you can to just sit with them to talk, read a book or play a game. Play with them outside or go to the park for fun. Let them help you with your chores or teach them to cook. Tend to their needs as they occur, making sure to be the best caregiver possible. Volunteer at their schools and be their best cheerleader at their sporting events.

They’re going to grow up before you know it. Don’t miss out on everything they achieve, even if it seems like a minor milestone.

Kids will only be kids once. Along with keeping the household running, you’ll be the most successful stay at home mom and dad just by giving them all the love and attention they deserve.



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    • kiddiecreations profile image

      Nicole Kiddie Granath 16 months ago

      Thanks for the helpful advice! I think you're right on about everything. I definitely feel much better once I shower and get dressed for the day. I also feel so much better if I at least go outside for a bit rather than staying in all day. I'm going to take your advice about making a schedule for the chores, too!

    • Becky Callahan profile image

      Rachel Finlay 19 months ago

      Excellent suggestions and info here! I especially found the chore and responsibility lists and examples helpful; sometimes I get overwhelmed and need a place to start and get organized. I also agree with your comment about getting out of your PJ's and staying well groomed. It is amazing how much a presentable outfit and a little makeup can lift your mood..

    • Betsy Barnes profile image

      Betsy Barnes 2 years ago

      This is a very good post! Very good info here that is very helpful. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Amber Ludwig 2 years ago

      Totally agree about the looking good part!! I really feel more like a person when Im all ready and looking nicer instead of in my pjs all day lol!!

    • profile image

      Lara C. 2 years ago

      These tips are great. I work from home right now freelance, and a lot of what you said about getting dressed and putting on makeup -- even though no one will see you -- is accurate for me right now, too. I can imagine it being crucial to treating being a stay at home parent like a job.

    • profile image

      Natalie 2 years ago

      This is a great article! I did not realize that there were that many stay at home mom and dads that are highly educated.

    • Betsy Barnes profile image

      Betsy Barnes 2 years ago

      This was a very interesting and helpful article. Lots of great advise here.

    • profile image

      Sarah L 2 years ago

      Routines and schedules are a must.

    • profile image

      rebecca kellerman 2 years ago

      I'm considering staying home in the future and this gave me some perspective to think about, thanks!

    • profile image

      Barrie 2 years ago

      I've been a stay at home mom for 17 years and have loved every minute of it. I definitely function better with a list than winging it!

    • Erin Jade profile image

      Erin Jade 3 years ago from South Australia

      I really enjoyed reading this. when I had a newborn I had the schedule down pat but it got lost somewhere as he became a roving toddler and people gave him lots of toys to clutter the house with. With the housework seemingly never ending, you are right we often let that take precedence over the time we actually spend with the children we wanted to stay home with to watch them grow up. Food for thought for sure. Think i might make myself that chore chart tonight :)

    • SharmaRoshan profile image

      Roshan Sharma 3 years ago from India

      Beautiful Post... Lots of love for you...

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      Jenn, thank you for such a wonderful compliment!

    • profile image

      jenn 3 years ago

      I love reading your articles; they are well thought out, well-written and contain useful information. With most blogs nowadays they write simple columns that just don't seem like they were written with any thought or feeling. I would liken your articles to something you would find in a major magazine and that's rare to find on most of the blogs I read. Thank you for allowing me to use my brain

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      GaloreVA, thanks for the compliment on my hub, and welcome to HubPages!

    • profile image

      GaloreVA 3 years ago

      I just signed up for Hubpages and this was the very first post that I read and I must say the bar has been set very high. I like that the tips were very practical and made sense. I have worked, been a stay at home mom, went back to work and now thinking of returning home again. This hub also reminded me of the importance of staying home and being organized while doing so. Thanks!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      HeatherH104, I'm so glad to hear from another SAHM! It does pay to be organized with schedules, housework, etc. It can get pretty crazy quickly, especially with a few little kids running around! I'm just getting back to an organized schedule after having my third baby, and boy, did I miss it!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • HeatherH104 profile image

      HeatherH104 4 years ago from USA

      I love this! It's so true that people not staying home have no idea how exhausting and demanding staying home is! I would not trade it for anything, but do have very short moments of jealousy when I see a working mommy from our neighborhood at the grocery store by herself picking things up after work - before picking up kids and I'm surrounded with my little ones shaking the cart and begging for candy a little too loudly.

      I agree with keeping yourself healthy and feeling good/motivated to get everything that needs to get done actually done. I strive to do this as well. We have a loose schedule we follow so the kids pretty much know what to expect next from the day but you sound a lot more organized about yours.

      Great hub!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      vibesites, that is very true: stay at home parents need to be aware of how much time they spend online, especially if it takes away from time with the kids. I, for example, do my work online when the kids are napping.

      Thanks for reading!

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      Stay at home parents are glad there's the Internet to stay connected outside the confines of home. But make sure they won't stay on the computer too much though or else you'll neglect your kids especially if they're still small. Good hub, thanks for posting.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      RealHousewife, that's great that you both get to work from home! And yes, wearing PJs all day long can be so tempting, but it does feel good to at least comb your hair, brush your teeth, and change into some other clothes. :)

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Great advice! My husband and I both work from home and have for 8 years. It keeps our business overhead down in addition to many benefits.

      Ah!'s so easy to fall into staying in PJ's but I so agree its important to clean up, add a little lip gloss and fix my hair. I don't feel GOOD if I don't feel like I look's a weird thing!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      Learning in Life, you're too kind! I'm glad you're enjoying them. :)

    • Learning in Life profile image

      Megan Sisko 5 years ago from SW Florida

      I can't tell you ow much I love reading your hubs. I feel like your my favorite super hero!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      Merin Mathew, I'm glad I gave you the inspiration for a fresh start. :) Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • Merin Mathew profile image

      Merin Mathew 5 years ago

      it was worth reading the article. cheers..!! reading through your article i saw myself in that. wearing my pjs the whole day.. eating my lunch at 3 or even at 4... piles of dishes n laundry.. hmmm... after reading your article i am all charged and decided to start fresh...

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      RTalloni, thank you very much for such a kind comment!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      What a sweeping look at making the transition to being a stay at home parent! It has engendered some great comments, too. So glad to see encouragement and tips offered to others who are considering the same--bravo!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      mikeydcarroll67, there's always something to be done! :D Thanks for reading and commenting!

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      mikeydcarroll67 5 years ago

      Yea I can understand. I've been living with my parents while building my biz and it seems like there is always something that needs to be done!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      jpmc, thank you for your perspective! It seems like many of us miss work at times when we are home... I missed my job quite often in my first year of being a SAHM. :)

      I definitely know there are times when I don't make the bed. It's usually when I've been up all night with the kids yet they still wake me up at the crack of dawn. Making the bed is the last thing on my mind!

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I can relate to staying in the PJ's the whole day! In many instances I don't even fix the bed. :) There was a time when I worked from home. It was a huge task doing household chores and doing work. Those were the times when I wished for a desk job somewhere.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      angela_michelle, I'm glad you agree that taking care of kids and the house at the same time can be a challenge. Thank you very much for your comment!

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 5 years ago from United States

      Having been a nanny and having worked at numerous other jobs, taking care of children and a house are far much more hard than any job I have done.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      Dee aka Nonna, I did think about adding in a comment about those who go in public in their jammies (and slippers), but I thought I'd leave that one go. I'll let the 'people of Walmart' hubs speak to that... ;) Lol

      Thank you very much for your comment! I'm glad you liked the hub.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      This is such a great hub with so much wonderful information and advice. I applaud moms and dads that make the decision to stay home. Raising children, as rewarding as it is, is also very hard.

      I must say, I had to giggle, when you talked about the PJ's and NOT staying in them all day. When I was younger and raising kids the nature of my job allowed me to work from home on days when they were sick, during school holidays and off and on during the summer months. I always got dressed (not dressed up) to work because it just made me feel better and more productive. But I wish you had added to the pj's comment that they should not go out in them either...not even a quick run to the store. I hate when I see women, young or old, in pj bottoms in the check-out line. LOL (not really)

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      chrissieklinger, I too missed teaching a great deal during my first year (okay, I still really miss it!). That's great that you were able to go back to work part time and have a flexible schedule so you can be home as well! Thank you very much for reading and commenting! :)

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Excellent article. I was a SAHM for a about a year and I really missed teaching everyday and leaving the house. I went back to work part time and work a very flexible schedule, so I feel very blessed. There are so many great ideas in this hub....way to go!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      teaches12345, keeping a balanced life as a stay at home parent is essential, mostly to stay sane! ;) Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      Kelley, I'm glad I'm not the only SAHM who dislikes chores! My mom thinks I'm nuts because she loves to cook and clean. ;)

      Your children are very lucky that you wanted to stay home just for them. I bet they love having you home!

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting! ~Marissa

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great advice and such an interesting read on this topic. You mentioned some key points when making this decision. Keeping hydrated may seem like a trivial matter but it is one that people most often neglect and it does make a difference in the long run. I think your point about getting out is also a target to aim for: you have to keep active and socially integrated to keep a balanced life. Voted up!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Wow ThePracticalMommy you hit this right on! I'm a stay at home mom who also dislikes domestic chores, for the most part. I get bored easily and have many interest of my own so the switch to being at home was very difficult for me. However, I decided to be at home because I wanted to be there when my children took their first step, on those few days that we can sit around a little longer in our PJ's, and because I knew I would have difficulty balancing a career with a family life. This is a great article. Voted up, shared! Take care, Kelley

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      twoseven, thank you very much for your comment! I'm glad you found some things useful, like managing the household tasks.

      I really appreciate the point you made about the make-up. I'm actually not that into make-up myself, and I can see how others who aren't into wearing makeup might not like that suggestion. I'm glad you understood what I was trying to say though, that it wouldn't hurt to be presentable even though we're just going to be in the house. A little powder and liquid foundation to even skin tone is all I ever use when I'm around the house. I'm going to change the wording so it doesn't seem like all women should wear makeup around the house. :)

      Thank you very much for reading and leaving this comment!

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Great advice! I really like the idea of making lists and picking days you are going to do certain tasks. I'm home about 1/2 time, and I feel like I never get what I feel like I should get done for the house - I think having the clarity of having certain tasks for certain days would help a lot.

      I also wanted to give you credit for making this gender-neutral and applicable to moms and dads! I know so many SAHDs now, and it's nice that your article reflects that it's not just moms staying home!

      I also just have to put in one personal plug - for women I really don't think make-up is necessary to make you feel good! I agree with all the points about hygiene and not staying in your pajamas, but some of us women never got into wearing make-up and I don't think women should feel they have to wear it. I know that's not what you were trying to say, but just had to point that out :)

      Thanks again for another well-written and thoughtful hub!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      Phillydreamer, I'm glad to hear from you! I know in your new hub about being a stay at home dad you asked for some tips, but I couldn't divulge just yet that I was already working on a hub with them. :D

      It's important to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, especially when you need the energy to manage the house and take care of the kids (in your case, twins!). Even if you have an apple or a salad, you'll be giving your body enough nutrition to get on with the day.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! :)

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      This is some good advice. Most days I wont eat until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and I feel so low on energy. I think I was falling into that rut you described. I'll try to be more active.