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Helping Your Child Understand What You Do at Home

Aug 17, 2007
One of the disadvantages of being a stay at home parent is that people tend to assume that you don't do ANYTHING all day. There's a decided assumption out there that stay at home moms just watch soap operas and eat all day, and that home businesses are nothing more than hobbies. Those of us who actually stay at home know better, of course.

But even the children you are staying at home with can have a hard time understanding how hard you work to be with them, even when you're "just" a stay at home mom. Work at home jobs and home businesses don't mean much to them either. It's just something Mommy or Daddy does that means less time to play.

I deal with this a lot with my daughter. She has very mixed feelings about my working while she's awake, and sometimes goes out of her way to drag me away from my work because she'd sooner play. I can't blame her - she's only 4, after all.

One of the things I have found quite helpful is to involve her. I even have a website set up for her that is intended as a joint project for the two of us. It's all about her interests. I had her make her Christmas wish list on that site, for example.

Working with me on that makes what I do a little more real to her. She's not interested in working on it often - what interests her most about it is that it has links to her favorite websites, with color coded links so that she can recognize them. But if I'm lucky, down the road it will be a site she can run herself.

Another tactic I use is to set a work timer. This is for those times where I really need to get something done but she really needs playtime. I can set the timer for the best balance of the time I need and the time a 4 year old can stand to wait for a timer to go off.

Of course, even without a work at home job or home business to show your children, you can still teach them that what you do at home is valuable. If you do chore charts for your children, you can show them what your chore chart would look like. You can also have them help you with your chores as appropriate.

My kids can help with basic food preparation (tear lettuce for salads, drop chopped vegetables into the salad, etc.) and my daughter can set the plastic dishes on the table for herself and her younger brother. I have a cordless sweeper that, while not quite as effective as a vacuum on carpets, works quite well for picking up the regular small food spills young children generate. It's also light enough for my kids to use and shuts off with even the slightest block. My kids love using it and beg for turns.

Children will value what you do at home as much as you do. If you talk down about what you do, they won't come to think of it as being as valuable as it is. Be proud of what you do and the value of it to your family. Not every parent is suited to staying at home and dealing with all the challenges inherent in such a choice.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs at http://www.homewiththekids.com/blog/ about being a stay at home mom. You can read more of her thoughts on the stay at home lifestyle on her website.
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