The Stay-At-Home Parent's Survival Guide

I'm on week two of ELEVEN weeks of summer vacation. My friend, of already asked myself, How in the hell am I going to survive? No. Bueno.

Being that this is my fourth summer home with an active wild-child, I do have a few tricks for surviving summer. First and foremost, if nothing else, I have to lower my expectations.

To, well, nothing. nada. zilch.

As in, making grand plans for an active summer filled with Mary-Poppins-style frolics in the park and picnics under the tree reading classics, is so far past redonkulous I should've had my head checked the first summer I believed I could pull it off. Not-to-mention, the two following.

If, like me, you're already asking yourself, How in the hell am I going to survive the summer with this wild-child at my feet, then keep reading, I've kind of figured it out.

1. Get over yourself.

The first rule of being a Stay-at-Home Parent (SAHP) is understanding that you CANNOT do it all. Seriously, let it go. I remember when my son started disappearing from the spot I left him in. That's when life changed. Once he started being mobile, my ENTIRE day was spent keeping him safe and contained. THINK: I was home all day and could not get ONE load of laundry finished.

Eventually, I learned I was not super-chick, so being a boss mom, wife, domestic diva and writer all on the same day is crazy hard, and should be avoided at all costs. I half-ass so much, I have to go back and do it again. So, rather than stress out about doing it all, I do what can, and I'm happy with that. While humans are pretty fu*king amazing, there are limits. 

2. Create a safe place

For parents of super littles (0-3yrs), Create a Safe Place.

Create a place in your home where you can leave your child for a few minutes and walk away.  When Oliver was a baby it was his crib, then eventually his pack-n-play in view of my, the TV or window. until he could crawl out.  (That’s right I let my kid watch TV before 2 years old. Judge me. I don’t care!)   Tip: No Pack-n-play? The highchair with a snack is a good spot.

I LOVE this photo.... it's a 10-month old Ollie!
At this age I never took my eyes off of him, so he hung out in the living room with me.
Again, this is a 10-15 minute fix. Not a babysitter! 

For the Big Kids (4+), I've found a task making up a task for him to do in his room is great for buying a few quiet minutes, or more! I will have him sort toys, or read a few books, give me a book report and earn a treat. Or color and try to stay inside the lines. Anything I can think of, I go with it.

The point of the 'safe place' is so YOU BOTH can have a time-out, whenever. The minute you are going to lose your shit, and it happens to the best of us when a child is attached 24/7, you both go to your respective safe place. We all need a break and the safe place makes it happen.

3. Play with your Child(ren), don’t just go through the motions.

One of the biggest issues with being a SAHP is getting things done. It's nearly impossible when you're answering four hundred, 'Why?' questions, cleaning up crumbs and spills and digging toys out of the dog's mouth.  I can get so caught up in my things, I forget there's this little guy looking for a playmate. And a good playmate, not a mommy preoccupied in thought, only sort of playing.

I've found if I mentally prepare myself for playing with my son, "for the next five-ten minutes", I can relax enough to play wholeheartedly and appreciate every minute. We both have way more fun, I get up feeling like a good mom, and my son is happy to resume his solo play. It makes SUCH a difference. 

4. Get out of the House! 

The minute I get cabin fever, I pack up Ollie and we go on an adventure. I have to. If I don’t break up the day, I go crazy. Sometimes, we walk to the park, or go to the zoo, or go on a bug, leaf and sick finding adventure in the backyard. It's great because it doesn't take much before he's off making up a new game or adventure. Or just go for a drive in the car. Break up the day when possible!

TIP: Look on websites like Plum District or Groupon for local deals on places for children.  I learn about children’s places I didn’t even know existed through those sites. You could also join a mommy’s group or baby and me Yoga or sign up for swimming lessons!

5.This Too Shall Pass

No doubt, it's a blessing to get to be home with your child, even if sometimes it feels like a punishment from the land of Karma. You'll never get these years back, so embrace them. When you think you are going to lose your mind, drop your bub in the safe place, take a few deep breaths, then go back and look at your beautiful child. Be thankful that you are there to share every milestone, first word, achievement and smile with him.  There are so many working moms and dads that would give anything to trade places with us SAHPS.

o when you are feeling overwhelmed and even annoyed with being a SAHM or SAHD, remember this too shall pass, and when it does you will miss it very very very much.

Have a tip for being a Stay At Home Parent?  Please share!

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April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit