Anyone who has been a full time stay at home parent knows that it’s not all unicorns, lattes and play dates, life at home full time can be intense and exhausting. You’re on shift from the moment you open your eyes to the moment you close them. So it’s only fair that the ongoing discussions about work-life balance extends to stay-at-home parents too.
While our work is humble, and it doesn’t look like we’ve achieved that much, keeping another human being alive is pretty worthy work. And while its not all about working your fingers to the bone, there are kisses and cuddles, story books and wonder, and the privilege of witnessing all the ‘first times’. But it is arguably much more gruelling than sitting in a comfy office. Clocking off isn’t an option, so how do we find that elusive work-life balance as a stay at home parent?
Here are a few tips to help you get closer to that happy place.
Get Your Diary Out
If you can plan your day, as you would if you were going to work, you’ll be able to see small windows where you can grab some down-time. And while babies and toddlers are unpredictable, a flexible approach will still help claim back some time for a break.
Schedule Bed Time and Stick to It
This is a stay-at-home parent’s version of ‘clocking off’. Sticking to a set bed time for your kids will give you some kid-free chill out time.
Start a Babysitters Club
It sounds nerdy, but it’s actually a great way to get some down-time. Think about the families you’ve met in Mothers Group and ask if any of them are interested in a regular ‘kid-swap’. You could set aside a Friday morning and take it in turns to look after each other’s kids. You’ll have a regular or semi-regular block of time to go get a pedicure, your hair cut, or even just go for a long walk, sans pram.
Find a New Hobby or Revisit a Previous One
Think about what you loved doing as a kid, or even before you had kids, make a commitment to yourself to revisit that. Joining a running club, art class or book club, for example will help you feel like you again.
Try to remember that you’re still human and too much of anything is never a good thing. Finding work-life balance will not only make you happy, it will make you a better parent.