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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How to Cope With "Stay at Home Burnout"

Being an at home parent may be the best job you'll ever get, but it's HARD. You're on call 24/7, and when you go on vacation, you still have the same responsibilities. And if you have a home business or work at home job, life can be even more challenging.

The first step to coping with burnout is preventing it in the first place. Don't overfill your schedule with activities for the kids or yourself. Take a little time for yourself every day. You don't need to be alone, but you do need to relax a little. Whether this may be during the kids' naps or when they're in school, even taking just a few minutes for you can really help. Then you can take advantage of the time to get things done with a clear head.

Make sure your expectations and those of your family are realistic. If you're running a home business or have a work at home job, you can't be expected to keep as perfect a house as a mother who does not. Pick a day to do the laundry, the vacuuming and other housework that doesn't need to be done on a daily basis and leave it until then - unless the urgent need arises, of course.

When you get angry, don't consider yourself an imperfect or bad parent. We all get angry sometimes. What is more important is how you react to the anger.

Make sure you get enough sleep. The more tired you are, the more stress you are going to feel, and the harder it will be to cope with it. If necessary, take a nap at the same time as the kids do, so they're not getting into trouble for lack of supervision.

Plan fun activities once in a while to relieve stress. Depending on your needs and the needs of your family, this can be alone or with the entire family. Go to the beach, a park, zoo, mall, wherever it is you can relax and just have fun.

Consider planning or even cooking meals and snacks in advance. It's easy to give your children healthy snacks if you have sliced vegetables and/or fruits ready to go in the fridge. A few minutes' work early in the week can save you time. Meals may also be prepared in advance and frozen for those nights when you're simply too tired to cook. Plan your meals for leftovers that will freeze well, and say goodbye to expensive frozen dinners from the grocery store.

If writing out your schedule helps you, then keep a written schedule. If it makes you feel overwhelmed, then don't. Just because your best friend says it keeps her on schedule to have a calendar with everything she needs to do on it doesn't mean the same will work for you.

Finally, don't let other parents make you feel you owe them favors just because you're at home and “have time. You're doing a full time job taking care of your family, not just loafing. Your schedule may be just as full as theirs, if not more so.

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