How to manage the stay-at-home parent blues as a milspouse
(Photo: Unsplash, Daniela Rey)

Being a stay-at-home parent sounds pretty ideal, right? In theory, it’s a situation where your house is always clean, the kids are fed and happy from all the Pinterest activities they did that week, and the parent gets to catch up on the news in their designer sweats. And sure, if it worked out that way, life would be grand.

But we all know it’s a lie. The house somehow stays messy no matter how many times you’ve picked up that same dirty sock. Kids create their own schedule, then change their minds at the drop of the hat. (Kind of like the military.) And the stay-at-home parent is in their very sweats because she hasn’t had time to shower. . . or a minute to herself in weeks.

That’s the stay-at-home scenario we’re all thinking–and dreading–simultaneously.

We get it, there’s nothing like staying with your kids. Not every parent wants to–or needs to–work, and that’s great! But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get lonely/frustrating/impossible to stay at home seven days of the week.

Avoid the professional house manager blues by:

Getting out of the house

Of course, it sounds so easy, but it’s not always possible (or simple, by any means). It can be an exhausting feat just to get everyone out the door and dressed for a simple errand. Do it anyway. You’ll feel better.

It does the body good to have a change of scenery, and more than anything, you’ll get a break. (Maybe not a mental break from the kids, but a break from chores and constantly looking at what needs to be done.) It will also give the kids a chance to burn off some energy (running contest anyone?) and not complain that they “didn’t do anything,” for at least a few hours.

Check local libraries, coffee shops, and more for parent meetups. Bonus: You’ll even get to talk to other adults!

Keep a plan

We know, everything is always changing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a rough estimate of a routine. Get dressed each morning, run errands just like in your previous days of freedom (albeit with a little extra time), and make goals for each day. Whether you want to work on an alphabet game, start a craft, or fold a load of laundry, make a goal. Accomplishing it will make you feel better in and of itself. It will also give you something to show for the day, helping boost your mood all on its own.

Ask for help

It’s okay to take a break; in fact, it’s encouraged. You should take a few minutes to yourself to breathe, relax, and let your thoughts settle. Your spouse might not understand how mentally exhausting it is to be “on call” 24 hours a day (and being on call as a parent is way different than with work). (Side note: No one is blaming you or your spouse. . .  or trying to start a I-work-harder-than-you-do competition. Stay at home parents just need some silence, that’s all. Help them get it.)

Ask your spouse, a friend, or family member for help when it’s needed. This might be for rides, when you’re sick, or just if you need a little sanity. You also might check with a local daycare to see if they offer any packages that allow for errands or “mornings off” each month.

Be social

Kids shouldn’t be the only ones you talk to each day. Chat with adults and enjoy your upper-level conversation (even if it’s about which reality TV shows you’ve seen that day). Talk on the phone, schedule nights out, message friends on social media, and so on.

Stay positive

Finally, remember to keep your mood in check. It can be easy to feel bogged down by mundane tasks (especially when you do them every single day). But you also get to watch your little ones grow. When life gets you down, don’t be afraid to vent, but don’t let it consume you, either. Get a coffee/candy bar/whatever you need and perk back up. Because tomorrow is a new day, and no matter your kids(s)’ age, this really is the longest shortest time. Enjoy every second.

By Bethaney Wallace