The choice to stay at home long term with our children can be a big decision for parents. KELLY EDEN discusses the rewards and realities of being an at-home parent.
When my first child arrived, I chose to take a break in my career and be an at-home parent. I wanted to free up my time, so that I could play a significant role in their development. In the first three years of your child’s life, many critical developmental stages happen. Intellectually, emotionally, socially, and personally, your little person’s brain is forming lasting patterns and impressions. But teenagers also benefit from having a parent around when they get home from school. From zero to teens, children are gaining an idea of themselves, how others see them, and their sense of worth. They are learning to understand emotions and manage them. Social skills and empathy are being developed, as well as their language and communication skills. The more available we are to help them understand themselves, others, and the world around them, the better.
There are times when being at home with your baby works well. Many cultures encourage new mothers to stay home and rest for the first months after birth. Those early days can be surprisingly exhausting and, depending on how your pregnancy and delivery went, you may need that time to recover. Young children and babies also enjoy calm, routine-focused environments. They cry less and sleep better when they’re not overtired or too busy. Even older preschoolers can get overtired and unsettled with too much activity. For new babies and mums, lots of time at home can also allow feeding and sleeping patterns to get established.
But being an at-home parent is not for everyone
Certainly, every choice has its disadvantages, too, and staying at home is no exception. You may have given up a job you enjoy (at least for a while), or put a hold on your interests. After the initial crazy-tired baby months, it’s completely possible to manage both to some extent. Many parents like myself manage part-time work, or work from home on blogs, report writing, etc., before their kids get up for the day, during nap-times, or around the kids’ schedules. Some share working and childcare with their partners.
At home, but not
Just because you’re an at-home parent doesn’t mean you’re stuck within the walls of your house, either. I can always tell when I’ve had too much time inside with housework and kids’ mess, and so can everyone else! Getting out and about is essential – join a music group, playgroup, exercise class, baby swimming lessons (from about four months), coffee group, toy library, or simply spend time with friends.
Parenting and learning through PLAY!
Playcentre is a parent cooperative that offers parents and caregivers the opportunity to be involved with their child’s learning.
At Playcentre, adults play alongside their children. A child-centred programme based on your child’s fascinations, strengths, and interests allows you to encourage children as they interact with others. You will meet other parents and educators and become part of a fun, vibrant village where community and a sense of belonging are at the heart of everything we do.
Mums, dads, and all whānau, including grandparents, aunties and uncles, and other caregivers are welcome to attend Playcentre
with the children.
As one mother says, “I played and learnt alongside my kids until they went to school.
The friendships we made as a family are priceless. Playcentre was our village. I didn’t
just watch them grow; I grew with them.”
Every Playcentre offers three free visits, so come along for a visit and see what we’re all about. We have over 420 centres throughout New Zealand, so there sure to be one near you.