Now that my four kids are 5, 7, 9 and 11 I’ve noticed my routine has readjusted a bit in order to run a smooth household and stay joyful as a stay-at-home mom. Working moms should be able to use these tips too.
Here are five ways I’m still thriving as a mom of four during the elementary school years:
1) Divide and conquer. Life gets busy, and when kids are in school you may feel pulled in a million different directions. Should you join the PTA? Be a yard duty? Work in your child’s classroom every week, or even everyday? Unless you’re passionate about these things, don’t stretch yourself too thin. Remember, the biggest gift you can give your child’s school is a well-prepared, well-behaved student. While nice to be involved, when in doubt spend time with your own child. Read to him. Go for a bike ride with her after school. Save the bulk of your energy taking care of the children who matter most- your own.
2) Let children establish some independence. Have them help a little more with household chores like setting the table, taking out the garbage, or taking the dog for a short walk. Encourage them to make plans for play dates with their friends instead of you always taking the lead. Don’t hover over their homework unless they ask you for help.
3) Keep it simple. It’s easy to get caught up in multiple sports and activities. With four kids we made the decision to have a one-sport-at-a-time policy from the start and we’ve never regretted it. It’s important to keep time for just, well, downtime, which has many benefits of its own.
4) Limit electronics. It’s tough to do these days, but it’s amazing how much of a time suck technology can be. At every turn, little kids can be seen on hand held devices in restaurants or youth sporting events. It’s a habit and it’s one best broken early– before children are older and it’s impossible to pry their electronics away when they’re home from college. We have a no technology policy during the school week. On Friday afternoons and on Saturdays and Sundays (within reason) technology is a treat in our household, and it’s working out great thus far.
5) Keep resting. Moms of babies and toddlers are told to rest when the baby rests, but moms of 5 to 11-year-olds should heed the same advice. I used to go out in the evenings when my kids were babies to catch an occasional break with mommy friends, but I’ve noticed now that my kids are all in school (my youngest is in half-day kindergarten), our needs have all flipped and the evenings are now when I spend time with my children and when I’m needed instead of during the day as it used to be. I’m learning to catch up on my reading or time for myself and the occasional lunch with friends or lunch with my husband while they’re in school so that I’m fresh when they need me while they’re home. Now that they’re getting up earlier, I am too, so I am more diligent of getting some Zzzzzzs.
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