It’s been about a year since I officially became a Stay-At-Home Parent.
I quit working at an office to stay home and manage the kids, especially my youngest. I still freelance to earn some extra money and to keep my skills active.
So far, it has been a pretty good experience. Not perfect, or without its challenges, but definitely good overall. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Coverage on the Home-Front
One of the best things has been that our family now has a person devoted to the kids stuff. It’s the most noticeable on a day like today where the school decided (at midday) to close 2-hours early due to snow. My husband can ignore the messages from the school knowing that I have that covered. Previously, we would have had to call/text each other to see who would be able to handle that best (usually me) and then I would have had to rush home to deal with things.
This includes coverage when the kids are sick, have a doctor’s appointment, have a school holiday/break, need parent/teacher meetings, etc.
Since I am at home handling things, my husband is better able to be more flexible and stable at work, which allows him to be seen as a “team player” and “reliable”. Since he is now the primary income for the family, that makes it important for him to be able to succeed.
It doesn’t just help him though! I don’t earn nearly as much freelance editing/writing as I did in an office career, but I have been able to get my feet wet doing a greater diversity of projects. I was able to edit a large book (now published on Amazon) last year. That helps open the door to more sizeable projects in the future.
I have always been an active volunteer, but now that I have availability during the school day, I can volunteer more regularly there. I now spend an hour every Tuesday morning as a reading volunteer for a handful of second graders who need a little extra help getting up to grade-level. Twice a year, I spend an entire week volunteering at the Scholastic Book Fair events too. I also get to help with teacher luncheons, field trips, class projects, and school-wide events.
Special Alone Time
I considered not including this, but it is a benefit. My husband occasionally works from home. That means that once in a while we actually get the house to ourselves for a day. He is still working, so it’s not like we can treat it like a date, but it means we get to eat a nice lunch (though he usually eats it while working), see each other, and have some intimate relations.
By the time the kids are asleep, we are on our way as well. So, this gives us time to spend with energy and kid-free.
While it’s a good thing that I am able to handle the home-front during the summer when school is out, it is a stressful experience.
The kids get bored, but I can’t always handle managing both of them during the day. Even when they both had activities, it was a rough balancing schedules and making things work. M requires a lot of special attention and energy, which means that plans and good intentions sometimes fall off unintentionally.
I wanted to do a lot of different stuff with them both last summer, but we spent most of our time just hanging out at home when they weren’t in activities. Having the kids underfoot constantly means chores or freelance work is not getting done, but I also barely got anything done with them either (activities, summer learning, visits to parks, etc.).
Maybe I was too ambitious or need a better plan of attack.
Every day, I give myself a list of things I want to accomplish. My list contains any freelance work, volunteering, general chores, exercise, bills to pay, appointment, and errands. It serves more as a reminder and way to make me feel like I’m getting stuff done. The issue is that it rarely goes above and beyond. There are a ton of things that never seem to make it to the list.
Instead, after I get all my typical things accomplished for the day, I spend the rest of the time relaxing. I watch way more YouTube than I ever have before, check out a Netflix show, or mess around doing not much of anything. I really should be more motivated to get some bigger things done, but it only actually happens maybe a couple times a month.
As a result, we are still spending a lot of time on weekends doing cleaning/chores around the house that we really could be devoting more to relaxation if I was getting them done mid-week instead.
To be fair, I save a lot more money by way of not eating out every day and driving. I used to do that a lot when I was working. Now, I try to consolidate outings, and run more of my errands together to save on time and money. I haven’t really been saving at all on other things, such as household expenses.
Am I expected to be coupon-clipping and bargain-shopping mom now? I have always paid a lot of attention to prices at the grocery store and picked up the cereal on sale, but the amount of time and energy devoted to saving money barely seems worthwhile to me.
I could probably be saving $200 a month if I would just take the time, but I could also use that time to earn $200 on freelance work too. That could be just an excuse though. My pantry is overflowing with stuff! I buy a lot of snack food, lunch box fillers, and grab-and-go items.
Meal planning doesn’t really help, because my kids only eat hot dogs, pancakes, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, pizza, mac n cheese, or scrambled eggs for meals. I can plan those through the week, but I am still buying the same basic items for them regardless.
Staying at home, you’d think I’d find more parents doing the same to hang out with regularly. I don’t.
It’s a lonely existence. Everyone is focused on their own To Do Lists, which revolve around their own household tasks/kids. They also have their own social circles already and aren’t looking to add more. I have many acquaintances in the area, people I can borrow a cake pan from or get a jump start from, but no close friends.
My close friends live an hour or more away from me, which means I see them once a month at most, and not during the day when I am the most available (because they aren’t). I don’t make friends easily, so that doesn’t help much either. I’m content though, so I don’t put myself out there and just live with the status quo.