One of my best friends recently decided it was best for their family to leave her job, pull her third grader and kindergartener out of school, and pull her 18-month-old out of daycare. She will be homeschooling the two while she is learning how to navigate being a stay at home mom of three. Read that again because I couldn’t be more proud or confident in my amazing friend because, Wowza! That is an undertaking.
She’s joining the stay at home parent tribe. I use stay at home parents because the stay at home landscape is changing! Families are doing what is right for them and breaking gender norms. My brother was a stay at home dad for a while and those moments watching him with my niece and nephew are still some of my most cherished memories! Every family is different, and I applaud how hard everyone is working to do the best for those they love.
I’ve been here for seven years and it has been wonderful for me and my family. My knowledge of being a working parent is only second hand. I’ve formed my opinion of what a day in their life looks through listening to my husband and friends talk about their experiences. I do not imagine for one single second that I have a full understanding of even the tip of that iceberg, but I love and respect those parents just the same.
My friend has seen glimpses of my stay at home mom life just like I’ve looked onto hers as a working mom. She had the taste of it during maternity leave, and of course COVID-19 gave many parents a new understanding of my normal. To welcome her into this new club… I decided to give my friend a SAHP Survival Kit to give her some tips and tricks that I keep in my own personal tool kit.
Maybe you’ve had these in your arsenal for years- or perhaps reading this will give you something new to add or just give you a chuckle today but I thought I’d give you a peek inside.
6. New Slippers
You will be in your home most of the day now. No more wake up, come down for breakfast dressed for the day, out the door, home for dinner, change into your pjs, go to bed. Nope. Say hello to house shoes as you watch the evolution of your shoes. A pile of flip flops, sneakers and slides slowly take center stage while those dress shoes will gather dust until wedding season. I see you at the mailbox in those moccasins and I like your style.
5. Hair Accessories
For me, it’s the cute hair ties and scrunchies. Yes. Give me one in every room, every purse, every surface of my home. Sure…I’ve needed them since the moment my hair dangled into my eyes…But now, cute hair ties are your BFF. They are your “get this hair out of my face so I can see what I’m scrubbing” and your “oh crap my doorbell just rang but it’s been 3 days since I’ve washed my hair-emergency messy bun”. And for those Dads out there, unless they are rocking the man bun, a fresh baseball cap would be the perfect addition. Slap whatever logo or monogram on that hat and it would make any SAHP run their errands in style.
4. Dry Shampoo
While we’re on the subject of hair, your fling with dry shampoo, it just got really serious. You’ll be seeing each other ALOT more than you have in the past. We are so excited to watch your relationship grow as the two of you become one. Maybe I’ve lost the Dads on this one and you two haven’t met…but if you want a quick “I’m freshly showered look” you won’t be mad trying it yourself.
3. Dollar Store Craft Kits
Aw, she grabbed something for the kiddos, isn’t she thoughtful? Oh, those aren’t really for your kiddo’s entertainment, that’s just a front. What they really are, my friend, are distractions that occupy your little ones so you can pee alone, switch out the laundry without a kid under foot, check on the dinner on the stovetop or more importantly catch up with a grownup and use adult language without being interrupted every two minutes.
2. Adult Beverage and/or Non-kid Approved Treat
This doesn’t have to be booze and chocolate. There are multiple things you need to have on hand to eat that you know the kids will turn their nose up. Sure, you can stick with the obvious – wine, beef jerky, beer, dark chocolate…but what you really need are soul filling treats. Herbal tea, so you can wind down after a long day. Salted caramels covered with dark chocolate that you can pop in your mouth when you need to add an extra pep in your step after unloading a car full of groceries. An expensive hand cream infused with essential oils to keep in the car to massage on after a car seat buckling fiasco. Salt & Pepper chips the kids say are “too spicy” so you can dig your hand into the bag as you take a minute to yourself on the couch after successfully tricking them to nap again.
1. A Nonessential Item
At the end of the day, no matter when you become a stay at parent, the items you once never batted an eye at purchasing before have now become a luxury. I don’t know what floats your boat and makes you happy when you’re surrounded by it, but you know your friend or yourself more than I do. Maybe it’s a scented candle, a new BBQ sauce assortment, fresh cut flowers, a caddy to carry beer to your neighbors, or that funny decoration you saw while wandering target. Of course- each home has its own financial situation, but you now face the reality that you are no longer contributing to those funds. It’s a shift and you’ll find your footing… but until then, those fresh flowers or a cold six pack that get dropped on your doorstep do help to lighten the load.
I am excited to be alongside my friend as I welcome her into Stay at Home Parent life. I know she will do things differently than me. She will teach me things I’ve never considered, even though I’ve been here a while. We will learn with each other and grow within this community of Parents. This kit is my way of letting her know that I am thinking of her and welcoming her into this new world. We all know how good it felt when you connected with your first colleague at work that laughed at your joke, or that friend on the bus that thought your backpack was cool. As long as we keep reaching out to the new kid in every aspect of our lives, we are all going to continue to grow and make each other better.