Quick Stress Busting Ideas for Stay-at- Home Moms (and Dads!)
Immediate Stress Busters to help Keep Sane During the at Home Years
Being a stay-at-home parent is a privilege and joy. Many people think it is an easy task for a parent to be at home with the children all day. But there are days when someone may be sick, or it has been raining for a week, and the kids are stir crazy and taking you with them! And often staying at home doesn't mean just taking care of the kids. It includes making and cleaning up after meals, doing laundry, cleaning the house, baking, paying bills, grocery shopping, etc. Here's a list of 10 ideas that can be safely implemented and will give both kids and parent a better day.
If you have a day that makes you ready to pull your hair out, ask for the ultimate help from the ultimate helper...God. Even just turning your stress over to a higher power will make a parent feel better and that they are not in this situation all by themselves. Although I loved my children, there were days when I was a stay at home mom that I thought weren't all they were cracked up to be. Especially cold and rainy days, or on days when the kids were sick and miserable. I made sure they had a nap time or quiet time so I could have a bit of quiet time myself. I used this time to drink a cup of comforting coffee, read my Bible, pray and write in my journal in which each entry started with, "Dear God." When I was done, I felt so much better and was able to continue with my mom duties with a smile in my heart because I knew I was not alone in this work of caring for my children. I also found a Bible verse that I taped to my refrigerator and I would often read it as I was preparing lunch. It is from Psalms 121:1 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."
2) Take a Walk
Take a brisk walk outside all by yourself if possible. If no other adults are at home, and a walk alone is not possible, put the kids in a stroller or wagon, and bring them along. Babies and young children will often fall asleep, and mom or dad can relax and enjoy the walk in quiet.Breathe in the fresh air, and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. The fresh air and the sunshine will make you feel better, not to mention the sunlight on your skin will increase your vitamin D intake, help brighten your outlook and keep depression away.
3) Call a Friend
Call a friend who is in the same situation as you are. Talk our your frustrations whether it be a messy house, sick children, or whiny kids. If your friend is also at home with children, they will have had days just like that as well. There is a camaraderie in being at home with children...and sharing in the good times and the crazy times.
4) Make a Play Date
If your children are not sick and can be transported, make a play date with another mom or dad who is also at home with their children. It could take place at their home, or at a park, library or fast food restaurants that have playscapes.
5) Watch a Kids Favorite DVD
If your kids have a favorite movie on DVD or a kid's 30-minute program, pop it in, get a blanket and snuggle on the couch with your kids. If you aren't the kind of parent that uses the TV as a babysitter, then you do not need to feel guilty about letting your kids watch TV for a bit. Rest your eyes or read a magazine to get yourself into a more relaxed and grateful frame of mind. Being able to stay home and raise your children yourself is a gift, but sometimes we need reminders of that when feeling a bit frazzled.
6) Take a Nap
If you're having a bad day due to being overtired, take a nap when the kids do. If your kids are young enough to be in a crib, so they can't crawl out and get into dangerous situations, taking a nap, even for a short time can really help relieve stress and energize parents to help them get through the rest of the day. Be careful not to leave older children unsupervised though as they could put themselves in danger while you are sleeping.
7) Non-Messy Project
During a crazy day when you just need a few minutes when the kids are occupied with something other than YOU, break out a creative non-messy project and let them go to town with it. You get a few minutes to take a breather, and the kids can have fun. Examples of this might be special coloring books and crayons set aside for just days like this, a roll of long butcher paper taped to the floor and pass out the crayons, Crayola markers and books where the markers write only on those special books, velvet picture packets with markers to color in the patterns, a sink or pan filled with soapy dishwater on the kitchen floor with a towel underneath. Tell them their toys need a bath and put small toys like plastic animals, pretend food and cups and plates, etc.
8) Go For a Ride
Especially if the kids are younger and will nap in the car, tell them today they are going to go for a car nap. Buckle them in their car seats with their favorite blanket or stuffed animal, have older kids bring a book or coloring book and crayons, and head out for a nice slow ride on a country road. If you are a coffee lover, stop at the nearest Dunkin Donuts first to get a coffee, or bring one from home in a travel mug. Play classical music on the radio or DVD player, and you can enjoy a ride filled with beautiful scenery while they enjoy a nice nap. Everyone will return home refreshed.
9) Take a Time Out
Having a bad day and feeling like you're going to crash and burn? Lock yourself in the bathroom for a 5 minute time out. The kids will think it's funny that Mom or Dad is in a voluntary time out. Take a few minutes to splash water on your face, brush your hair, etc. and head back out to face the troops feeling a bit more under control.
10) Take the Kids Outside
Fresh air is great for kids, and they can go outside even in the Winter as long as the temperature isn't too low. If children are dressed warmly enough, even ten minutes outside is good to get a little exercise and sunshine. If they are too young to actually play outside, a walk in the stroller, wagon, or being pulled around in the snow on a sled gives them some fresh air and a change of pace from the same old environment inside the house. In the Summer, kids can play outside even in the rain as long as there is a garage or covered porch available. Have them bring a few of their toys outside on the porch to keep them busy, and they will get fresh air and not get wet. If the weather is nice, playing outside is always a great choice. You can use the time supervising them to read a book, cut and file coupons, write a letter to a friend, etc. Everybody wins on this one.
In years to come, the children will get older and be out and about much more. They will go to school daily. There will be rides needed to lessons and sports and practices. Before you know it, there will be trips to explore colleges, graduation ceremonies to attend and emails to write to your college students. The time with them when parents are home with their young children is fleeting so cherish it while you can. Most days will be wonderful, but there will also probably be days when at home parents feel ready to explode or pull their hair out. Hopefully, these tips will help on days when there seem like too many diapers to change, too many dishes to wash, and too many squabbles to referee. Here's to peaceful childhoods and special memories of at home parenting.
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© 2013 Karen Hellier