One of the most stressful parts of being a WAHM is coping with children at home. The WAHM has no solid boundary between "work" and "home." This makes it difficult to strike a balance between family time and work time, and it can create a lot of tension. Here are 5 tips to help you cope with the stress of having kids at home:
1. Make Use of Naps and Bedtime
This is the most obvious strategy, but it works every time. Try to schedule the bulk of your work time for your kids' down time; it's the simplest way to sidestep the conflict between work and family. You can also get a lot more accomplished in a short period of time if you can devote all your concentration to the task at hand.
2. Include Your Kids
Kids can help out with a variety of small tasks. It makes them feel important and included, and it can actually help you out at the same time. Toddlers can lick stamps and open mail, and older kids can answer phones and sort files. Assign your kids a few odd jobs every day--you can even give gold stars for jobs well done.
3. Schedule Breaks
All work and no play makes for a stressed-out mommy and crabby kids. Be sure to schedule breaks throughout the day to keep things rolling along smoothly. Physical activity is especially good for lightening the mood and easing stress, so plan a trip to the park, a walk around the block, or even a dance party in the living room. Have fun! You earned it!
4. Get Extra Help
It goes without saying, but there will be times when you are trying to meet a deadline, and you will need to have extra childcare to meet your goals. Don't be ashamed to ask for help with child care. Consider it an occupational necessity, and strive to have a few trusted adults you can call for assistance. There are also drop-in day care centers springing up in many cities, and these can be great for last minute support.
5. Keep a Sense of Humor
There will be days when nothing goes right: a sippy cup spilled on your laptop; important documents were "improved" with crayon. You name it, it happens. Strive to keep your perspective and maintain your sense of humor, even in the most stressful of times. Find something that cheers you up or makes you laugh, and keep it close by for these emergency situations.
The WAHM lifestyle is rewarding, but it comes with its own set of challenges. By learning how you can work with your situation, rather than against it, you can reduce the stress in your life, and have more fun with your kids.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.