here are even more ways to parent than there are to become a parent. For many, stay-at-home parenting isn’t an option, or at least not one they prefer, but it’s undoubtedly an attractive choice for many who can afford to take on the responsibility of 24/7 parenting.
Stay-at-home parenting comes with its pros and cons, and while the benefits may outweigh the negatives for some, each parent will eventually face some obstacles. Maintaining your own life separate from that of your child is a big one, and an important part of learning how to parent successfully is remembering who you are when you finally have some alone time.
Let’s go over the benefits of being a stay-at-home parent and discuss some techniques for maintaining your life while parenting.
Benefits of Being a Stay-At-Home Parent
Stay-At-Home Parenting Can Be A Great Experience!
Studies by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have found that relying on daycares--specifically low-funded, under equipped daycares-- may have negative impacts on development reaching into adolescence. Infants can experience higher levels of stress and aggression when removed from their parents and sent to daycares that don’t have the infrastructure to support their needs.
Daycares, it must be said, aren’t all bad. Most provide quality care that facilitates good development and are staffed with experienced, kind individuals who will care for your baby as if it were their own. Affording daycare is a luxury just as affording not to rely on daycare is a luxury--and if daycare is the path you choose, you’ll still have plenty of time with your baby!
Staying at home with your child helps you to monitor the quality of care they receive. Especially for parents with only one child, you’re able to direct a level of care and attention to your child that they wouldn't receive elsewhere. And you’ll also benefit from the time spent learning about your child’s individual personality and cues.
Being there throughout your child’s critical growth and development period helps ensure that you’re there for all the firsts--first step, first word, first bite of solid food. The relationship you build with your child during this period is crucial, and staying at home can help strengthen it.
It can be reassuring as well to know that staying at home means you won’t have to worry about calling off work when your baby gets sick. There is consistency in knowing that every day you’ll be at home, raising your child and taking care of the millions of tasks that need doing.
And for those with time on their hands and the ability to think about at-home work opportunities, deciding to become a stay-at-home parent opens up all sorts of opportunities for personal blogs, websites, skill development, and jobs. Just because you’re staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t think and dream big.
All the benefits in the world may not be worth staying at home for some people. Financial constraints, personal proclivities, and the availability of alternate forms of care are all valid reasons to decide against staying at home. But for those who make the decision, it helps to remind yourself of all the plus sides every once in a while.
But the question still remains: how do you maintain your sense of self after becoming a stay-at-home parent?
Tips and Tricks to Fighting Off the Struggles of Staying At Home
How Do You Maintain Your Life After Such A Big Change?
Becoming a parent is change enough, but becoming a stay-at-home parent adds another layer of change to your life. You might have given up a job you liked, nights out with your friends, alone time with your partner, and quiet time to relax and think. You might struggle with isolation, postpartum depression, or regrets about the life you left behind.
Thankfully, there are ways to combat the negative side effects of becoming a stay-at-home parent. As with every big life change, becoming a parent doesn’t mean completely relinquishing your old self. You can avoid parent burnout and maintain an individual identity without shirking your parenting duties.
Maintaining your life might not be at the top of your list of priorities, but it should be. Being at your best as a parent means taking care of your needs and remembering that you’re a person, too. Just because your life has changed doesn’t mean you can’t retain some key aspects.
Maintain your sense of self
Becoming a parent, especially for the first time, means processing a huge identity shift. Many parents lose sight of who they are as they try to grapple with their new identity and figure out how to manage the role of stay-at-home parent.
The biggest challenge to surmount--besides learning how to change blow out diapers--is learning how to nurture yourself and address your own needs without feeling like you’re shirking your parental responsibilities.
Maintaining your sense of self means you first have to process your identity shift. You need to acknowledge the changes that becoming a parent has created and think or talk openly and honestly about how they make you feel.
In order to retain your individual identity, you have to fight the isolation that some stay-at-home parents find themselves falling into. Long hours spent with your child are great, but if you find yourself struggling to remember the last time you had a conversation with an adult, you need to spend time reconnecting with those around you.
Journaling is one thing you can do to help you prioritize your self-care and regularly check in with yourself. Journaling is a great way to process your identity shift and figure out what your needs are and how you can begin to meet them--a bullet journal is a creative way to combine personal journaling with task-oriented journaling.
Maintain your relationships
Your friends, family, and partner are all valuable parts of your support network and reaching out to keep in touch will help you in your parenting journey.
Maintaining your life means keeping those avenues for fun open, while also recognizing how your situation might change what “fun” looks like. For the first few months you might not be able to get out of the house for a night on the town, but having a friend or two over for a drink and a meal will keep you in touch with the outside world.
Try setting regular, scheduled times where you make a point of connecting with someone. This could look like scheduling an hour on Sundays to call a friend or leaving room in the schedule for a weekly date night.
Being a parent also opens up a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to relationships. You can get involved with school activities, join a parent club like the Mommy and Me group, and meet other new parents to share your experiences with.
Getting in touch with the other parents in your area is a great way for you to meld your individual identity with your new role as parent. By giving you a space to hang out with adults who share common ground, developing new parent relationships will keep you grounded and help you navigate parenthood.
Boundaries are important at all ages. When we say to establish boundaries, we mean clear boundaries with your children, partner, parents, friends, and medical professionals.
Setting healthy boundaries for your child is an integral part of their development and you can start doing it at a young age. Even infants are capable of doing things on their own, but as a stay-at-home parent it might seem easier at times to do things for them. However, you have to let your children develop a sense of independence by giving them room to function on their own.
Setting boundaries with your partner is an important step towards preserving and maintaining your relationship. Boundaries--and expectations--include emphasizing your need for alone time, communicating about chores, and establishing what you will and will not be doing as a stay-at-home parent. Even though you’re at home a majority of the time, you shouldn’t find yourself with all the housework.
People--especially close friends and family--will be eager to visit you, especially since they know you and baby are at home most of the time. If this intrusion is unwelcome, you need to firmly let your visitors know when they are and aren’t welcome.
As a stay-at-home parent, you need to leave room to function without others and set boundaries that reaffirm who you are.
Learn what identifying as a parent means to you
Your new identity as a parent will become linked with your self-identity, but it doesn’t have to be your only identity. While you may be a stay-at-home parent, you’re also many other things: perhaps a cook, a spouse, an avid bicyclist, or a pianist.
Being a parent entails being a nurturer, a source of guidance and discipline, and so much more. These things can coexist with all the other pieces that make up you--it’s up to you to decide how your role as a parent modifies your other identities and adds to your self-evaluation.
Maintain your life by coming to terms with how your many identities build off of and enrich one another. Your status as a stay-at-home parent will undoubtedly change how you see yourself, but you get to determine the extent to which it alters your entire life outlook.
Perhaps your role as stay-at-home parent and pianist means that you can no longer attend weekly rehearsals, but opens up the opportunity to join a parent-child music group. Finding ways to retain certain aspects of your pre-parenting life will make the transition into parenthood so much easier.
Being a stay-at-home parent is a full time commitment with no paid time off or dental benefits. At times you may feel overwhelmed, uncertain, or lost--and that’s okay! Taking steps to maintain your life will help you balance your role as a parent with every other aspect of your life.