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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.

                  15 Signs Of Negative People 10 Reasons Why People Are Unmotivated (And Ways to Be Motivated) 10 Scientifically Proven Ways To Stay Happy All The Time Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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                  Published on November 14, 2018

                  Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                  Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                  With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                  For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                  In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                  Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                  Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                  It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                  For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                  Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                  Symptoms of Fatigue

                  Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                  • mental blocks
                  • lack of motivation
                  • headache
                  • dizziness
                  • muscle weakness
                  • slowed reflexes and responses
                  • impaired decision-making and judgement
                  • moodiness, such as irritability
                  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                  • reduced immune system function
                  • blurry vision
                  • short-term memory problems
                  • poor concentration
                  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                  Causes of Fatigue

                  The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                  Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                  Medical Causes of Fatigue

                  If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                  Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                  Anemia

                  Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                  Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                  There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                  This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                  Diabetes

                  Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                  Sleep Apnea

                  Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                  Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                  Thyroid disease

                  An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                  Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                  • Lack of sleep
                  • Too much sleep 
                  • Alcohol and drugs 
                  • Sleep disturbances 
                  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                  • Poor diet 

                  Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                  Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                  Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                  How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                  Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                  1. Tell The Truth

                  Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                  To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                  Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                  The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                  One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                  • How you feel
                  • What time of day it is
                  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                  • How your mind and body reacts

                  This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                  2. Reduce Your Commitments

                  When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                  If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                  When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                  Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                  3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                  If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                  Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                  If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                  Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                  Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                  4. Express More Gratitude

                  Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                  It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                  Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                  5. Focus On Yourself

                  Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                  There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                  But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                  We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                  6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                  Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                  Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                  The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                  Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                  7. Take a Power Nap

                  When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                  Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                  This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                  8. Take More Exercise

                  The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                  Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                  The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                  You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                  9. Get More Quality Sleep

                  To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                  Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                  My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                  10. Improve Your Diet

                  Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                  Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                  On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                  To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                  Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                  Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                  11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                  Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                  When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                  Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                  My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                  12. Get Hydrated

                  Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                  Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                  If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                  The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                  The Bottom Line

                  These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                  If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                  Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                  [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                  [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                  [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                  [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                  [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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