Being a stay-at-home mom has its advantages, to be with your children as much as possible to share in all the love and laughter that your children have to offer you. But let's get real, it's not always a bed of roses. Moms can get caught up in the chaos of it all, from bed-time struggles to super-market melt-downs, from homework help to constant quarrellings. In all the commotion, we can forget what inspired us to be a stay-at-home mom in the first place, which can cause us to lose our focus and make life seriously difficult for our children. For all those moms out there (you know who you are) whose kids are struggling because of your full-time mothering, here's some advice from a home-schooling mother of five that may help you make your job of being a stay-at-home mom a little easier on the kids.
1. Begin your day with prayer
This is always number one on my list. If I don't ask for God's help to make it through the day, chances are, I won't be making it. Prayer allows me to start my day with peace, which is a good place for your heart to be before a long day of battle.
2. Make a schedule and stick to it
This is vital for any stay-at-home mom to keep things easier on the kids. If they know what to expect each day, there will be less fighting and more peace. If, on the other hand, you live your life in chaos, going from spur of the moment grocery shopping to a last minute lunch date, be prepared for battle, and sometimes even war. If your schedule has to be interrupted, try to give your children a day's notice so they can get used to the idea. That way they will have their melt down at home preferably in their room, rather in the grocery store for the whole world to see.
3. Teach your children what is expected of them
This is a good time to talk chores and discipline. Responsibility is important for every child to learn, and chores are a necessary part of running a home. They go hand-in-hand. If children know exactly what is expected of them, there will be less fighting when they are asked to do it. Decide what they should do together and it's even less likely you'll have a fight on your hands since they are the ones who helped decide. Make sure that there are consequences in place for when they don't do their chores.
4. Give Your Children Free Play
Remember when you're scheduling, to schedule in time for play. Allow your children to be free to learn, explore, create, and make choices on their own. It is good to have a mother near-by, but it also good to learn the value of freedom and independence. Just because you're a stay-at-home mother, doesn't mean you have to hover.
5. Limit your own phone, computer and tv time, as well as theirs
When you are talking on the phone, updating your social status on the computer or watching the television the whole day, your children are left to their own devices. You are not there for your children and they feel that they are less important than whatever it is that is stealing their time away from you. When your children are home, put the laptop and cell phones away and schedule a time when the children are out to play or in bed to bring the technology back out. On the flip side, don't let the computer or television be the caregiver for your child while you pursue your own interests. Let the time your children are at home be fun and learning time with you.
6. Do your errands when the kids are in school
If you plan your errands while the kids are in school, you have won half the battles before they have even begun. If you home-school, like we do, plan your errands on a day when your spouse can help and try to get them all done in one trip. Make it a tradition to go out for ice cream on the way home. That way, everyone knows that if they make good choices, there will be a reward for them after a long hard day of outings.
7. Put your children to bed early
This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I received as a young mother. Putting your kids to bed early not only assures they will get a good night's sleep and there will be less frustrations in the morning, but it also allows you time to unwind from a long day. If you are a parent of older children or teens, rather than sending them to bed early, give them quiet time in their room and let them know when you would like lights out. This will allow you time to yourself and time with your spouse, both perfect rewards for a long day of battle. When you give yourself this luxury, you will be more able to face each day with a smile and a full cup of contentment.
8. Learn to laugh
Above all, learning to have a positive attitude will most certainly rub off on your children and they will learn to laugh too.
Choosing to implement one or all of these suggestions will make having a stay-at-home mom much easier on the children we are raising, and after all, it is our children that we have chosen to stay at home for in the first place.