Wednesday, October 8, 2008

So You Want To Be A Stay-At-Home-Parent

Lots of people I know (and don't know... hi again Mrs. Lang) are having babies, and for many of these people, this will be their first. It's come to my attention that, for some, I am their example of what being a Stay-At-Home-Parent is all about. Egads.

So I thought I should maybe devote a post on my blog to things you really need to know. This isn't one of those humor articles that will put housewifedom in a carefree light while I make jokes about minivans (only because I don't have a minivan). This is REALITY YO. (<---that comes out funny if you say it in "Prison Mike" voice). Also, notice the use of the word "Parent" instead of "Mom" because for real, people, we live in the 21st century.

A. Anticipate what you will encounter, and set realistic expectations for yourself. Then make sure your kids know what they are.

B. Be willing to change these expectations for yourself as you learn more about your own abilities, and the abilities of your kids.

C. Clean homes are relative. Do not beat yourself up over an untidy house, but don't give CPS a reason to visit. Also, when you have a baby, you will think, "I can do this. I can keep everything perfectly clean." And you will be mostly right. When you have a toddler, you will think, "I can do this. I can keep things at least kind of clean." And you will be dead wrong. When your kids are old enough to clean up after themselves, you will have stopped caring. I don't know when your home actually stays spotless. I'm not there yet.

D. I don't know how many times I need to say this: Don't get a dog unless you really, really, really love dogs. And even if you really, really, really love dogs, try to time it so you aren't puppy-training and potty-training at the same time.

E. You don't have to entertain your kids the whole day. But you do have to know where they are. And they should know where you are. And where you are should not be the bar down the street.

F. Women Only: Being a stay-at-home mom is going to feel contrary to Feminism. Unless you have an Alice, there is no way around the duties required of someone staying at home all day with their kids. Repeat to yourself that Feminism gave us the right to choose, not the obligation. Be okay knowing your duties are just as important as the duties of someone who gets a paycheck.

G. Get used to making grilled cheese sandwiches. Maybe even start to LOVE making them.

H. Wash your hands often, and teach your babies to do the same. The last thing you need is anyone getting sick.

I. Trust your intuition. If your kids are in the other room, and you feel like you need to check on them, then do it. If you think you need to take him to the doctor, do it. If you feel like your intuition is telling you that you need an Ice Cold Coke, I say roll with it. You will be wrong sometimes, but you will be glad you know for certain.

J. Find a parent you admire, and befriend him/her, and then, whatever you do, never ever ever judge. You will need a house to go to when you can't take any more of your own.

K. Give your kid access to as many of the things you love as possible. Don't beat yourself up if you can't.

L. There should be at least three different places in your home that are prime locations for cuddling. There should be at least one for time-outs.

M. Make being a stay-at-home parent as easy or as hard as you want it to be. You're in control. You set your schedule. Stop being a martyr.

N. Never say never.

O. Embrace Oprah. There is no point in fighting it.

P. I promise you, your day will go a lot better if you take a shower.

Q. Quit trying to impress people. We can all tell when it's a show. Just do your best.

R. Love reading. Read for your kids. Read for you.

S. The smell of laundry soap and dishwasher detergent smells so good, because it is the smell of victory. Don't cheat yourself out of that with overexposure.

T. Stop hating yourself for having a television. There are some really good shows out there for kids. Watch with them for the first few times so you know what they're learning, and then be okay with letting the TV occupy some of their time. If you're lucky, you will find plenty of things to watch together, and if you're luckier, you will find plenty of things you are comfortable with letting them watch alone.

U. Potty-Training? Don't be afraid to just throw out some of that underwear. The environment is important, but you're really not doing anyone any favors.

V. Don't start yelling to get over the noise. Seriously, keep the volume level (at least on things you can control) in your home on low, in general. Once you hit a certain decibel level, it's hard to turn back. This does not apply to Beatles records.

W. You will wish you could sew. Learn the basics, at the very least. Ditto for baking.

X. Cooking? Meh. There are ways around that.

Y. You don't always have to love it, but if you start to hate it, then do something else.

Z. Intentionally left blank.


Now it's your turn. Add to it! I'm taking a two-week blogging vacation. Catch you on the flip-side.


The Wizzle said...

Oooh, this is very good. I will try very hard to do some of this on my blog while you are gone. I will try not to copy yours. I may or may not succeed, for you are very wise.

Scarlet said...

Here is one: Anything that gives your child 20 or more minutes of happiness is worth it's weight in gold even if it meansthe TV Remote or a waste of a pack of post-it's. I am talking peace and quiet people.

Luann said...

Here's one: Being a stay at home mom sucks sometimes. Some days are just bad. Luckily, the day ends and you can start again. One bad day does not a bad mom make.

meghan said...

I have such a girl crush on you. Love this. Especially the reading one. I think this is one of the most important things you can teach your little ones- appreciation for the written word.

Miss you while you're gone. Come back soon.

Michelle said...

These are some very wise tips... I shall remember them for when I have kids.

And I totally agree with the reading thing, my dad reading me bedtimes stories is one of my best memories from childhood!!

witticism here said...

In defense of dogs, they make Roombas look like old technology. Granted mine are old and trained, but I couldn't even count how many times there is a spill and before I can think of getting a paper towel, it's gone. Good enough for me.

witticism here said...

Oh yeah...I'm like a part-time SAHM since I get 1/3 of the year off. So my two cents: kids smell bad. The poop, the spilled milk, etc. I am sensitive to smells so I invest in good candles to burn and keep the windows open when I can.

(I love that my kid is pooping AS I AM WRITING THIS.)

Renee said...

I heart you so bad Keiko. And I AM a dog person. I just feel bad for all the puppies out there who had to find other homes. We'll get one someday.

mrsmouthy said...

My advice: When you're having a bad day, spoil your kids. It will cheer everyone up.

Oh, and also: BACK OFF, MEGHAN. She's mine.

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