Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Dealing with Boredom as a Stay at Home Parent

Being a stay-at-home parent is everything I've ever hoped for. I absolutely adore spending all my time with my kids, day in and day out. They keep me young, hopeful and playful. They teach me new things and help me grow every single day. And I get to guide and nurture them and help them grow into people who love themselves, love each other, love their world and love God.

For the most part, being a stay at home parent (and work at home, as in my case and the case of many other parents who take in either part time or casual work to help supplement their spouse's income) is too busy to be boring. But there are times when boredom does creep up. It happens to everyone. Maybe it's a lull during summer vacation, maybe it's after a stretch of rainy or cold days -- it doesn't really matter. Parenting can be boring, and that's the simple truth. For all its marvel, it can be monotonous.

Little ones need routine, and for the most part, I like routine, as well. I like getting up anywhere between 7 and 8 in the morning, taking the kids downstairs and setting up the house for the day. I like our trips to the park and the library, and our visits to their grandparents who live just under an hour away. I love our crafts and our colouring, our baking and our cooking. But sometimes, it does get a bit repetitive. Thankfully, if you know how to deal with it, boredom as a stay at home parent doesn't need to lead to feelings of unhappiness or a lack of fulfillment. In this post, I'll share my tips on how to beat -- or endure -- the boredom that can come as a stay at home parent.

1.) Don't just stay at home -- explore your community! We live in a fairly small town, but we have a super fun public outdoor pool, and we're there nearly ever nice day in the summer. We also have an amazing library that is very child-friendly, with story-time and craft activities for the children. We're at the library at least once a week. And if you live somewhere even bigger, take your kids to the museum, play groups, all different kinds of things! Which leads me to...

2.) Join a play group! In almost every community, no matter how small, there will be some kind of playgroup where parents can take their little ones to play and where they themselves can get a bit of adult interaction. If there isn't one in your community, why not look at trying to start one up?

3.) Spend time outside! Children thrive outside, and we do, too. But many of us have lost that wonder at the great outdoors. Try to spend some time with your kids outside each and every day, except when it's too hot or too cold. It's raining? That's okay, whip out the umbrellas, and splash in those puddles! Go for a walk, go to the park, play in the yard. And leave the cell phone at home.

4.) Spend less time on your phone, and social media especially! This may seem counter-intuitive, because when we're bored we usually automatically reach for our phone or tablet, scrolling social media. But I find that the times that I'm most invested in my day, and therefore less prone to boredom, are the times when I leave my phone somewhere in the kitchen -- with the ringer up, in case I get a call -- and treat it more like a landline.

5.) Make some parent friends! Having a "mama tribe" is one of the best things you can do for your own mental and emotional health as a stay at home parent. Even if it's only just one other mom that you really connect with, try to meet with them on a regular basis and take time to enjoy that relationship.

6.) Relive your own childhood! My kids greet every day with enthusiasm. Whether we're simply watching a movie, doing a craft like painting rigatoni noodles and stringing them on ribbon, or we're going on an outing, every moment can seem magical through the eyes of a child. So ask yourself -- what did you absolutely love doing as a child? Did you enjoy imaginative play? How about dressing up? Puzzles, board games, Barbie dolls? Whatever it is, initiate that with your children, and forget for awhile that you're an adult with responsibilities -- revel in play!

7.) Take time to learn something new! I love reading and learning. Lately, I've been really enjoying doing different Bible studies and reading books that help me learn more about the Catholic faith. But I also love reading different cookbooks, and books about history, and different places. Learning should be a life-long thing, and if we're excited about something, that's a surefire way to bust boredom. Perhaps you want to even learn a new language -- go for it, and involve your kids -- their aptitude for learning a new language will impress you.

8.) Get a hobby! And if your kids can get involved, all the better.  Maybe you want to try cake decorating, or knitting, or simply colouring those great adult colouring books. It's nice to do something for yourself. And so...

9.) Spend time by yourself! Once the kids are in bed, yes, it's important to spend time with your spouse. But it's also important to spend time with yourself, alone. I like to take a nice warm bath, read a book, and do a meditation. I also like to phone my parents and my sister and my cousin, and enjoy talking with them. Sometimes I like to go to the library by myself, and I love to go and get my hair done a couple times a year.

10.) Don't feel guilty! We all feel bored sometimes in whatever job we have. And we stay at home parents work incredibly long hours. It's also arguably one of the most emotionally invested jobs you can have. So don't beat yourself up if you're feeling a little bored and tired. Stay at home parents are not the norm, and I know for me, I just feel so blessed and fortunate that I get to be one that when I complain about it, part of me feels guilty. But guilt. in situations like this, is not productive, and will only make you feel worse. So toss out that guilt and share with your spouse and a close friend when you're feeling a bit run down -- you'll feel so much better, especially if you follow it up by counting your blessings.

May God bless us in all our endeavours, and open our eyes to the treasures that surround us.

photo credit: marco sees things <a href="">Gaia on her new mattress</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

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