When most adults hear the word ” skills” we automatically start thinking about jobs and resumes. It’s not a term one usually associates with parenting.
But parenting in and of itself is a job that requires many of the skills that we use in the business world and in everyday life. Some of these skills we learn in school and some of them we learn through life lessons.
These are the skills that many stay at home parents need to call upon if they want to have an enjoyable experience as a stay at home parent.
I am going to share with you the top 5 skills that all stay at home parents need to master to be an effective and happy stay at home parents.
1. Money Management
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Unless you’re married to a billionaire or are fortunate enough to have your own personal accountant learning how to manage your families money is an important skill all adults should learn.
However, as evidenced by the amount of debt most Americans have it is a skill that most of us have not mastered. This skill is even more important when you are living on one income.
A few basic money management techniques that all stay at home parents should master are budgeting and couponing.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who was a big fan of budgeting. But budgeting has several benefits such as:
- Allowing you to take control of your finances.
- Help you keep track of your spending.
- Help you save for family vacations, emergency expenses, and help pay down deb.
- It can help you produce extra money.
- It enables you to communicate with your spouse about finances.
If you would like to learn more about budgeting you can read my post on budgeting and the different kinds of budgets here.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s watched extreme couponing and wished that they could buy $500 worth of food for .30.
Besides paying for a place to live your monthly food bill probably takes a huge chunk of your paycheck. A family of 4 can easily spend $400- 500 a month on food.
Couponing is a great way to help you reduce your family’s monthly grocery expenses. You can usually find coupons in the Sunday paper, but you can also get and print coupons online.
MoneyPantry has a list of 61 sites that offer free printable grocery coupons.
If you’re not sure how to use your coupons to get the best savings check out The Krazy Coupon Lady. She compiles all of the best deals and shows you how to combine your coupons to get the most savings.
Coupons are not just great for saving on groceries, they’re also great for saving on clothing and other nonfood related items.
Cash Back Apps
Cashback apps work just as well as coupons and can be used with coupons to help increase your savings.
Popular Grocery Cash Back Apps
There are several different grocery apps that you can use to get cash back on your grocery purchases. My favorites are Ibotta and Checkout 51, but there are several other cashback apps out there.
Popular General Cash Back Apps
There are also cash back apps that can be used on general purchases such as clothing and gas.
You usually have to link these apps to your credit card so it can track your purchases. My favorite general cash back apps are receipt hog and ebates.
- Receipt Hog– gives you points for uploading receipts every week. These points can be used to redeem gift cards or cash.
- Ebates– gives you cash back on items you buy from select stores like JCPenney, Amazon, Kohl’s etc
- Dosh– cash back on purchases made in select stores online and instore
- Paribus– monitors price drops from stores that you’ve made purchases.at and gets you a refund on the adjusted price.
All of these apps can help you save money on your everyday purchases and help you keep and maintain your family budget.
Another important skill that we all need to brush up on is our time management.
As a stay at home parent, it’s tempting to think that you have all the time in the world to get the things you want to do done.
I know I did when I first started my stay at home journey. I didn’t take me long to realize that trying to get things done with 1-4 kids running around the house was a lot harder and a lot more time consuming than I thought.
Your time is a valuable asset and we should use the time that we have during the day wisely.
One of the best ways to make sure that we are using our time wisely as stay at home parents is to create routines and find ways to keep organized.
Before I became a stay at home mom I didn’t really give a second thought to creating or sticking to a routine because my day was already planned out for me. Work, home, food, bed, repeat.
It wasn’t too long into my transition as a stay at home mom that I realized that not having a daily routine was not going to help me keep my sanity or keep my kids alive.
Every family can benefit from having a daily routine. Having a daily routine will:
- Help you be more productive during the day.
- Help you break bad habits (like procrastination).
- Improves your mental health by providing you time to relax.
- Allows you to decide how your day goes.
- Benefits your kids.
Some people like to schedule every minute of the day and some like a more flexible schedule.
I would suggest creating a schedule that works best for you and your family. If you have smaller kids a more flexible schedule might work better for you, then a ridge one.
Here is a peek at my family’s morning routine:
5:00 AM- Wake-up/Read the Bible and Pray
6:30 AM Wake-Up Kids & Get Ready for school
7:45 AM Drop off kids
9:00 AM Work-Out/ Baby Nap Time
10:00 AM Clean up
11:00 AM Cook Lunch
12:00 PM Pick Up Kids/Lunch
As you can see there are some big gaps in parts of my schedule, but that just gives me some extra time, just in case things don’t go as planned.
If I could emphasize one thing about creating your daily routine it would be to schedule some “Me” time during the day. Even if you can’t manage it every day at least shoot for once a week.
Dealing with kids all day can be fun and stressful. You need that time to just get away and relax, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Trust me it will make a huge difference.
I will admit that being organized is something that I struggle with a lot. When I taught high school I was that science teacher that had piles of paper all over the place. I liked to call it organized chaos.
As you can imagine some of my organized chaos habits spilled over into my home life, which when your only living in your house from 4-9 pm every day it’s not really that big of a deal.
But all of that changed once I started being home all day. I went from spending 5 waking hours in the house to 16 waking hours in the house. A very cluttered small house.
I quickly realized that I needed to get organized and quick. One of the best techniques I’ve used for organizing and decluttering my home is fairly simple.
Step 1- Pick an area to declutter.
Step 2- Create three piles (you can use bins if you want) keep, toss, donate
Step 3- Set a timer for 30 minutes – 1 hour (depending on the size of the room)
Step 4- Organize and put back everything in the keep pile.
Step 5- Get rid of everything else ASAP!
The last step very important. If you don’t throw away or donate the stuff in those piles it will slowly make its way back into your house. Trust me I know.
Declutter and organizing your home can be very overwhelming. That’s why I think it’s important to start small and set a time limit. Even better you can enlist the help of a friend or your family to help with the process.
If you don’t finish in the time limit you can either keep going or start again later. Don’t expect everything to be perfect, but having an organized home makes cleaning and finding things easier.
I don’t even want to imagine how much time I wasted searching for keys, book bags, and coats because everything was all over the house.
Once you’ve managed to get everything organized you should make decluttering a regular part of your cleaning routine. If not you’ll find yourself back in a state of organized or not so organized chaos.
The next skill that we will need to brush up on is our communication and networking skills.
The transition from financial independence to dependent can be a hard one for both spouses. It is important for both spouses to learn how to communicate clearly, respectfully and openly with each other.
You should both sit down and discuss what your expectations are for yourself and for each other.
I can tell you for a fact that most stay at home parents set unrealistic expectations for themselves and other people set unrealistic expectations on them.
Despite the fact that being a stay at home mom is a choice that many women and some dads choose to make it is still clouded in negative stereotypes and false beliefs about what it is a stay at home parent does all day.
Most people think that we just sit at home baking cookies and watching Netflix all day. That raising kids is easy and since you’re not doing anything all day, then you must have ample time to cook, clean, fold laundry, and save the world.
The fact is that being in the house with kids all day is hard work. Cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, picking and dropping kids off at their various activities, going to playgroups and arranging playdates, grocery shopping, managing the household budget all take considerable time, effort, and skill. *steps off soapbox*
It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination especially when you’re first starting out. So dear stay at home parent if you are feeling overwhelmed please communicate this with your spouse. And both of you set realistic expectations for each other.
If you are an introvert, like me, social networking is a hard skill to manage. This is the part of parenting that requires you to make friends with/ or at least talk to other parents.
If you were a social butterfly in high school, then this process will be a bit easier for you. Better yet if you already have friends with age-appropriate kids that’s even better.
Making friends as an adult is just as complicated and awkward as it was when you were in school. Honestly, I’m not even sure how I made friends in high school or as an adult. I guess it helped that I was an athlete so I had some form of social skills.
Still, my idea of a good time is sitting at home with my family watching anime or Netflix. Going to birthday parties, play groups, and other social functions kids might attend is way outside my wheelhouse.
But I love my kids so I make an effort to get out there and try to make grown-up friends or at least to be friendly.
4. Basic Homemaking
Every stay at home parent should brush up on all the basic homemaking skills: cooking, cleaning, and sewing. The main reason we became stay at home parents was to spend time with our kids. So my philosophy is that we should work smarter, not harder in these areas.
Earlier we talked about budgeting and how your food budget is usually your largest expense. This is especially true if your family eats out often. The average family of four can spend anywhere from $20- 30 on take-out per meal.
So if you go to McDonald’s for lunch and Burger King for dinner you’ve easily spent $40 on food alone. If that happens once a week that can easily add up to $160.00 for the month.
Making meals at home is cheaper and healthier for you and your family. It can also be time-consuming.
Meal planning can be an effective way to save time and money on groceries every week.
Thekitchen.com has an excellent post on meal planning called beginners guide to meal planning.
I’ve only tried meal planning in a very limited capacity. My family does theme meal days. For example, Monday is Meatless Monday. Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, and Thursday is Takeout Thursday.
While I don’t know what meal I’m making for dinner I do at least have an idea of what I need to buy for those meals during the week.
Another tip that I read was to use your kid’s school lunch menu to help you plan your meals.
If you have kids that don’t go to school you can easily use the lunch menu to plan what you kids at home will be having for lunch for the rest of the month.
Like cooking, cleaning is another basic skill that we could all brush up on. The best way I’ve found to keep my home clean is to set up a cleaning routine.
My personal routine involves cleaning one spot in the house daily for 30 minutes. On Saturday I spend an hour cleaning and decluttering a specific area in the house.
Friday- Living Room
Saturday- deep cleaning 1 area
Saturday cleaning usually doesn’t take to long if I’ve stuck to the weekly schedule.
If you have older children it is important to remember that they can help keep the house clean as well. Don’t be afraid to put them to work.
Some other cleaning routines that you might want to check out:
- Simple Cleaning Routine Tips For Any Schedule from Clean Mama
- Tidy Mom Countdown to Clean Series
- Cultivated Nest has a list of 11 Cleaning Schedules to Get Your House Clean
While sewing is not a necessary skill I do think it’s a worthwhile skill to have when you have small children. My youngest son is constantly getting holes in his shirts and pants.
Learning how to patch the holes in his jeans and how to sew closed the holes in his shirts has helped extend the shelf life of his clothes.
You don’t need a fancy machine for basic sewing all you need is a needle and thread. It will definitely come in handy one day.
Locating Free Resources
Every city has a host of free resources at your disposal. The question is whether or not you know about them.
Being able to locate these resources will come in handy when you need to find things to keep your little ones entertained during the day.
Check the following places for information on free family-friendly activities:
- City website and facebook page
- Local recreation center
- City Parks
- Local library
All of these places should be able to direct you on the right path. You can also find free parenting classes, money management classes, and health and nutrition classes.
Before I wrap up my list of skills there is one more important skill that I forgot to mention above. The final skill that all stay at home parents need is having a sense of humor.
Sometimes as adults, we take ourselves too seriously and we forget the reason why we even decided to become a stay at home parent.
This a time for us to enjoy our children and to spend time with them. So if the house is still a little messy that’s ok. If the routine gets thrown off because the kids put yogurt all over the floor, don’t stress.
Just take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the messiness and silliness that is our kids.
They say that laughter is the best medicine. So remember not to take yourself too seriously and to make plenty of time for laughter and smiles with your kiddos.
Whether we are stay at home parents or working parents we could all use some brushing up on at least one of the five skills discussed today.
In my opinion, no skills are more important than the others and we need all five of them to make our journey as stay at home parents a positive and effective one.
Is there one skill that you think is more important than all of the rest? Do you have a particular routine or organization strategy you like to use? Or maybe you think one of these skills makes you more effective than the others.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section. If you thought this post was really helpful or insightful please feel free to share it.
Until Next Time,
The Crafty Afro