“But When I Stay Home…..Everything Falls Apart!”

I have heard lots of reasons why it is difficult to stay home from mothers with children under the age of 7.  “When we stay home, all my older kids do is fight.”  “My kids are bored and don’t know what to do.”  “The nursling whom I am trying to wean just wants to nurse and if we are out he doesn’t nurse at all!”  “My oldest just seems to need to do something more!”  “I will go nuts if I stay home every day!”

As you can see, many mothers have a hard time being in their own homes.  Some mothers insist their children have a hard time being home as well, but I often wonder if the children are just reflecting the discontent their mothers feel.

It is hard work to be home sometimes.  It is hard to not be on the computer, to not turn on the TV, to be present in working with our hands and to be a warm presence for our children.  It is hard to listen to children fight and know when to step in and when to not step in.  It is hard to distract an older nursling and set a gentle, loving limit that right now is not a nursing time, but in a little bit it will be time and here is a snack for right now.  It is hard to set limits in general, it is hard to get out of bed, it is hard to make dinner every day and it is hard to muster up the energy to get everyone ready for bed after a long day.

Did I cover it all?

The challenges, however, do not negate the fact that the best place for a child under the age of 7 to be is HOME.  If we can help a child under the age of 7 be happy in the home environment, to be creative at home, to learn to understand that feeling of not knowing what to do and then finding something to do, we provide that child a great service indeed.  These are the children that grow up with strong creativity, strong problem-solving skills, and the ability to be happy by themselves.  These are remarkable and sought-after skills in this age of teenage depression and boredom. 

Your child under the age of 7 does not need a myriad of play dates, field trips,  and trips to the store.   You may disagree, but if your oldest is right now 4 , you will see a large difference in patience, comprehension, understanding and memory when you go to places when they are 7 or 8.  Many times your 7 or 8  year old will not even remember your trip to the zoo when they were 4!  They may, but they may not.  It doesn’t mean we don’t ever go places as  family, but it does mean we look carefully at IMAX movies at the museum for a four year old, at going to a crowded zoo on the weekend when they child is usually home napping, and we look at the long car rides and other things that are involved in these activities for the young child.  Remember, what your  child really  needs is a strong home rhythm, a strong loving presence of a parent, enough sleep and healthy food and outside time, and walks around the neighborhood.

Mothers say:  What about socialization for my 3-6 year old?  Everyone knows this is a prime time when they need friends! 

That may be true, and some children are more social than others, but sometimes I feel WE as parents drive this need ourselves more than it initially comes from the children themselves. (and then the children hear US talk about how they need friends and then they really NEED friends, you know?)  If you read any traditional childhood development books, they talk about how three, four and six are often rough ages for getting along with other children.  This does not mean that we don’t ever have play dates – but it might mean we consider a play date that is one on one with a planned activity to start the play date as opposed to a “just go play” kind of thing.  It does mean that perhaps we look at our group activities more closely and evaluate are they really needed and who needs them – us as the parents or our children?  It may also mean that we need to consider our OWN needs as adults and parents – could I get together with another homeschooling mother WITHOUT our children for lunch or tea and talk and finish sentences and get support that way without involving my children in my own need?

Having children under the age of 7  may also mean evaluating the need for classes.  There has been entire build-up of business and marketing to the under 7 child and parent dyad in our country.  In past generations, many mothers did not even have transportation to attend anything while their husbands were at work, so there was no chance for activities geared solely toward children.    I am not saying we want to return to this, but I am saying we do not know the long-reaching effects of all this stimulation on the under-7 child.  Were these classes and activities truly started with the benefit of the under 7 child in mind or to make money?  Would going outside and being in nature and doing arts and crafts at home and singing at home be just as good, if not better, than all these classes?

I feel many mothers turn to these activities to 1- meet other mothers who also stay at home, since in their neighborhood they may be the ONLY ones at home and 2- they do not feel confident in their own abilities to do these sorts of activities at home with their small children.  It is ironic in an age of more and more information, ideas via the Internet and books that mothers feel LESS confident and not more confident, isn’t it?

As far as finding other mothers who stay at home and who are interested in homeschooling, La Leche League meetings, especially the daytime meetings do often have mothers who are stay at home mothers (especially if these are Toddler Meetings held during the day).  Attachment Parenting International Support meetings also tend to have stay at home mothers there.  These organizations also support working mothers as well, but there tend to be stay at home mothers as well.  Post natal yoga classes may put you in touch with other stay at home mothers.  Once you have a few friends that stay at home it may blossom from there.

I am here to encourage you completely that you can do this!  You can create a stronger rhythm at home.  Start with your daily rhythm with a lot of outside activity and then look at your weekly rhythm – can you bring in activities on certain days?  Look at the festivals for that month – May is coming and bringing with it May Day, Ascension and Whitsunday.  Perhaps these are festivals you would like to celebrate in your own family that you could take time to prepare for.  Depending upon your religion, perhaps there are other festivals you could celebrate in place of these festivals or add to these.  Start a bit of planning now – ten minutes a day after your kids go to bed or before your kids get up.  It can happen!

The more you are at home, the more you will like being at home.  You will have time to create and dream and so will your children.  Take it from a Former Queen of Going and Doing, it can happen!

Make your home a warm, joyful place to be and your kids will enjoy it too,

Carrie

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12 thoughts on ““But When I Stay Home…..Everything Falls Apart!”

  1. YES, YES, YES, and YES! Thank you for this great post. I’ll e-mail it to many friends! This is a great post to bring to a Waldorf discussion group! So, so very important! In my opinion, THIS is the essence of Waldorf for the under 7 child.

  2. I’d love to learn more about creating a rhythm for us at home. My 2 1/2 old DS is very independent (as in, if it’s my idea to do something, he wants not part of it), but often at a loss for what to do during our long days. I am equally challenged – I have no idea how to help him (and myself) cope. Perhaps you’ve written more about this somewhere? Or, might write about it in the future?

    • Hi there, thanks for writing…did you search the posts under “rhythm” in the tags box? If not, i would start there and see if any of that helps. If not, I would be very happy to write a post on it. The rhythm is more for you than your 2 and a half year old – he can join in or not. A hallmark of Two and a half years of age is just to be very contrary, so I would take his not wanting to do what you suggest with a grain of salt. Remember, you start doing and singing (NO WORDS – not, let’s do this now, let’s do that, which is a sure prescription for NO). If he does not know what to play, I suggest setting up play scenarios with his toys and such and walking over to it and starting to play with it yourself (again, no words) – he probably will join in……
      Hope that helps, please let me know, and if not, I am happy to write a post on it for you.

  3. hi, i’ve enjoyed all i’ve read so far, and i am so grateful that you’re doing this blog. i have a 5.5 yo boy who reads and reads and reads, and a 16 mo girl who is not walking yet but is putting words together and expanding her vocabulary daily. my struggle with rhythm (and i haven’t yet clicked the rhythm tag that you recommended above) is that i work on tuesdays, thursday afternoons, and fridays. not much time is left for household maintenance (making bread, granola, yogurt, laundry, etc) and many things are difficult to finish with a loving and vocal little one. right now it’s almost 7, we were at a necessary-evil birthday party until 5:30, and we haven’t eaten yet. we had a good rhythm for a couple weeks, but it is so hard for me to maintain by myself (my husband is the least rhythmic person i know and seems to create the opposite of rhythm in our lives). wow. i didn’t know i needed to say all this. anyway, any quick tips or pointers for part-time working, part-time home mamas of small ones?

  4. Hi Rebecca,
    Thanks for reading….With working part-time or full-time, I think one thing is that you really have to decide what is ESSENTIAL in your lives and as a family and then say NO to the things that are not essential. With your kids, they should be in their bodies, so outside time is vital – this could be gardening, at the park, in natural places hiking and exploring – you choose. Gratitude is important for this age group, so picking things you can do unhurried and really show warm work with your hands while you sing or hum and are not rushed…..
    Humans really are tied into the cycles of nature, as women we like to forget that our menstrual cycles really do tie as just like the cyles of the moon to nature…We are tied to the sun rising and setting if we let ourselves not be inundated with artificial light, heat and air and all that…
    With your little ones, you could pick say some fingerplays and a simple story for Mondays, Wednesdays with a practical activity that they can help with – arts and crafts or baking? Start there. Keep working toward those bedtimes and rising times, these are essentials….
    Hhhmm. I may have to write a post on this!
    Hope that helps a bit,
    Carrie

  5. I love this post … its a topic dear to my heart. I blogged about the first time I came across this when I had a chat with a pretty hardcore anthropop at our playgroup … it literally caused me to do a 180 in my parenting approach. I have bookmarked this post of yours and keep reading it because I just need constant re-focussing on this stuff. (If you are interested here is my post based on my discussion with this lady http://domesticallyblissed.blogspot.com/2008/04/over-last-three-weeks-our-playgroup-has.html)

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  8. You have relieved me of the guilt of not getting out and about. I have a son in school and a daughter not quite 2 and a brand new baby. I find it very important to keep the schedule because missing naptimes can cause such problems.

    I do try to get out in the fresh air sometimes but I think I will make more of an effort after reading this. Also, I would add that getting to know our neighbors is a good idea. They don’t have to have kids to qualify for social status with a stay at home mom. Yes everyday is a new struggle. I have been trying to involve my daughter more with my work because she just wants to get involved with me and what I am doing.

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  10. Hi Carrie, I have discovered your blog recently and am absolutely devouring it!! Thank you for taking so much time to spread your message so warmly and passionately. You are giving me (and so many other mamas) so much courage and belief that we can do it. I definitely struggle with juggling ‘commitments’ outside the home (playdates etc) with the gut feeling that we should just be spending time at home, and it is so refreshing to read a blog where you stick your hand out from the masses and say yes, it IS alright to do this, in fact it is the RIGHT thing to do! I still can’t figure out what activities to drop, though. I have a 2.5 year old and we go to a nature playgroup on Wednesdays which is all about child led play within nature (no toys, just earth, sticks, stones etc!); a Steiner playgroup on Thursdays; and then on Friday mornings the woman that runs the Steiner playgroup looks after my daughter (we emigrated 5 months ago and I went from having lots of family support around me to none at all, and this half a morning a week has enabled me to be a better mother by giving me time and space to think and plan or even just catch up on sleep) Then if on top of that you add the weekly shop and other chores, it does feel like we are constantly rushing around. I just can’t see where to cut down ; the nature playgroup and the Steiner one are both ones we enjoy. Am I being selfish, is it more about my need than my daughter’s? I don’t know the answer to that one yet, I will have to ponder it. I think I know what your answer would be!! Anyway thankyou for all your writing, I will continue to read with great interest and thirst…

    • Leah,
      So glad to have you here! I, of course, think that your daughter would be fine if you stayed home. LOL. :) I would consider doing just one of the playgroups per week if you cannot give them both up plus the morning out for you. Some mothers I know would do the Wed and the Friday and have a day home in between, and some mothers I know would want the three days in a row at home and then have the end of the week be “out”. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is this sense of timelessness, that there is no hurry or rushing, that the world has a wonderful and peaceful place and that our home is where we have our surest and firmest foundation and this is how we nurture our home..and of course to nurture our home, we must actually BE home. A strong rhythm at home is very important. At first it may feel strange to stay home for an entire day without going somewhere, but I promise if you give it a good forty days, it will seem wonderful, and your daughter will thrive on it.
      :) Thanks for being here and reading,
      Carrie

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