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15 Reasons Why Being A Stay-At-Home Parent Is Harder Than It Looks

15 Reasons Why Being A Stay-At-Home Parent Is Harder Than It Looks

If you are a stay-at-home parent, you may be gloriously happy watching your kids learn, develop and grow into caring, tolerant and well adjusted adults. What could be more satisfying? Yet, there are many problems that stay-at-home parents (SAHP) face. Here are 15 reasons why it is not always a bed of roses and some solutions to help fix them.

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    1. You may feel lonely at times

    Loneliness may be a problem for any stay-at-home parent. Dads may feel this more keenly as they may have recently left work and miss the company of their coworkers.

    The number of stay-at-home dads is growing day by day. It is hard to put an accurate figure on this as many of these are work-at-home dads (WAHD) or are unemployed. The latest figures put the number at 1.4 million. In Canada, about 16% of families have stay-at-home dads.

    But loneliness may be a problem for any parent at home. The best solution is to meet other parents and share tasks. You can also join Internet and Facebook groups but the best type of contact is where you can have real social interaction. Joining classes, gyms and projects is a great way to fight loneliness. You can also pick up some great parenting tips along the way.

    2. You may feel that you are a victim of stigma

    The idea that fathers can stay at home to rear kids is met with disapproval and stigma in some areas, even to-day. There have been cases of dads not being allowed to participate in moms’ forums on the Internet! Some of these went ahead and formed their own parenting groups as an answer to prejudice and stigma.

    Moms who work have to put up with the pitying looks and remarks made by neighbors who are convinced that their husbands can’t earn enough to support their families.

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    As regards more resources for all stay-at-home parents, the Band Back Together website has very helpful material. 

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      3. Your world becomes smaller and smaller

      Your relationship with your spouse may suffer. When they come home from work, the topics of conversation are limited. You want to tell him/her what happened to the kids and all the things that went wrong. The working partner is probably too tired to notice and finds it harder and harder to make meaningful conversation about the workplace. The solution is to make a real effort to keep alive all those topics which bound you together at the beginning before the kids arrived. Make a real effort to keep up to date on these interests and plan outings so that you can keep this essential bond alive.

      4. You never have enough time for yourself

      Having one pay check less may mean financial cutbacks which in turn put more strain on you to keep up with housework, cooking and caring.

      But if this means that you never have enough time to go to the gym, pursue your hobby, have a relaxing bath, then there is something wrong. Build in time which you can have for yourself. You deserve it. Getting exercise is going to release all those endorphins which will put you in a better mood. Your kids and spouse will love you even more!

      5. You never have enough money for yourself

      If you think back to the times when you had a regular pay check with nostalgia, don’t! The fact is that staying at home means that you are contributing quite a lot to the family finances. You are saving on carers and babysitters. Some estimates say that childcare can eat up 30% of family income

      Who does all the repairs and gets the best deals while shopping from all the coupons you have collected? You do, so take comfort and set aside a small sum of money that you can spend on yourself, every week.

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        6. You do not have full control over the family budget

        Given that there is just one breadwinner in the family, it is important to have a joint account, to which you both have access. This should be sufficient to cover all family expenses and it means you do not have to ask for money to do the shopping.

        Some experts have calculated that you can save up to $500 a week for your home and family, just by not going to work as there will be less tax to pay, no transport costs and you will not be eating out as much at lunchtime.

        Jeff Opdyke, author of Love & Money: A Life Guide for Financial Success, has some useful advice here to help you.

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          7. You may suffer from a loss of identity

          Stay-at-home parents have to make big adjustments in deciding to be the main caregiver. While their previous job was stressful and unsatisfying, the task of parenting can be equally demanding and may result in feeling less fulfilled. Changing diapers is not exactly meeting a deadline under pressure.

          The solution is to adjust and ensure that you are taking enough time off for your own hobbies and interests.

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            8. You may not be accepted by other stay-at-home-parents

            Making friends at the playground with a parent of the opposite sex is not that easy! There are all sorts of taboos and suspicions attached to that and you may well feel isolated. The stay-at-home dads are at a greater risk here as there are not so many of them. Just be careful.

            9. You may have to learn new skills

            Whatever your talents, being the housekeeper and laundryman or woman is going to require acquisition of new skills. You may have to learn how to cook which can be a great experience. On the other hand, because of financial stringencies, you may have to cook more at home and eat out less than when you were earning.

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              10. You may have to face the challenges

              Bringing up a child is no easy task. You have to put up with the mess, the tantrums and the chaos. But think that you are doing a great job in providing a positive male/female role model. Maybe this is what you always wanted your father or mother to be like, but it did not work out. Now is your chance with your own offspring to prove that parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs you will ever have to do.

              ‘It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.’- Peace Corps recruitment slogan.

              11. You may need to study parenting skills

              Unless you have enormous quantities of empathy and emotional intelligence, you will have to study parenting. Joining a parenting class will also help you feel less isolated. You will feel more confident about your parenting skills.

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                12. You need to plan for the future

                At some point, when the kids are teens, your role will change. There will be no need for a 24/7 position anymore. This is where planning for the future comes in because there will be pressure on you to return to work. You may hate the idea of a boss breathing down your neck. Plan on acquiring new skills and take online training courses so that you may be able to work again, when the time comes.

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                  13. You are helping to change people’s attitudes

                  This is good. Stay-at-home dads are pioneers in many ways. They are helping to change people’s attitudes about gender roles. It is no longer true that the children are the mother’s sole responsibility and that the father is the breadwinner. If workplaces had more family friendly policies and if governments gave more parental leave, many of these problems could be solved.

                  14. You may have to learn to respect each other’s roles

                  The great thing about stay-at-home parenting is that the working mother really appreciates what the father is doing. But it does not always work the other way round as you would have to swap roles for a while. Showing appreciation, asking each other about problems and having meetings to discuss budgets and other problems helps you to be more appreciative of just what is involved in running the home.

                  15. Get all the support you need

                  Whether you are just keeping afloat as a stay-at-home parent or planning a re-entry to work, you will need a great support team. How are the kids going to be involved in running the home? How can other family members and relatives help? You need to plan this from the beginning so that chores are always done from a very early age. It also takes a lot of the strain off you and can make your comeback to work all the less traumatic.

                  Let us know in the comments about your experience as a stay-at-home parent.

                  Featured photo credit: Father’s revenge/Aaron Brinker via flickr.com

                  More by this author

                  Robert Locke

                  Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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                  Last Updated on July 3, 2020

                  How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                  How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                  Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

                  Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

                  I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

                  You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                  Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

                  When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                  I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                  Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                  Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

                  If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                  Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

                  1. The Inner Critic

                  This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                  • Other people’s words—many times your parents
                  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
                  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
                  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                  The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

                  Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                  2. The Worrier

                  This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

                  The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                  3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

                  This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                  This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                  The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

                  4. The Sleep Depriver

                  This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                  The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
                  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                  How can you control these squatters?

                  How to Master Your Mind

                  You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                  Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                  There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                  This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

                  The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

                  Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                  1. For the Inner Critic

                  When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                  You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                  For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                  You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

                  “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                  If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

                  This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                  • They rile up the Worrier.
                  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                  Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                  Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                  2. For the Worrier

                  Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                  Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

                  You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                  • Muscles tense

                  Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                  If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                  Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                  “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                  Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                  If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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                  Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

                  Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                  For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                  “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

                  Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                  Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                  “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                  Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                  3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                  Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                  The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

                  I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                  Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                  Breathe in through your nose:

                  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                  • Focus on your belly rising.

                  Breathe out through your nose:

                  • Feel your lungs emptying.
                  • Focus on your belly falling.
                  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                  Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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                  One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                  Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                  4. For the Sleep Depriver

                  (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                  I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                  Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                  2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                  When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

                  From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                  For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                  If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                  You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
                  • Shut down your thinking
                  • Calm your feelings
                  • Simply focus on the present moment

                  The Bottom Line

                  Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

                  You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                  Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

                  More About Mental Strength

                  Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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