Jen Stayrook

Things TV never told me about being a stay-at-home parent


Right now I’m sitting on my couch, snuggled next to a bouncing toddler while nursing my bruised nose with an ice pack. The ice pack is because sometimes my kid doesn’t know his own head strength and when he comes in for a hug, it’s like bracing yourself for a bulldozer. I’m pretty certain he’s broken my nose at least three times, but WebMD makes it almost impossible to self-diagnose broken bones.

Since we moved to the land of rain and fog months ago, I’ve been home with the kiddo every day, something I haven’t done with him…ever. I’ve always worked full-time and he’s spent all that time in daycare. As much as I loved his teachers at daycare, there was still a part of me that hated being away from him for so long.

And now, here we are, together 24/7. It’s taken some adjustment on our part, and we still have a long way to go, but stay-at-home parenting is not at all what I expected.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned in my time alone with monster kid: 

+ Time management is a thing of the past. Remember when you were in college and you’d get sucked into the Wikipedia rabbit hole, clicking link after link and then suddenly it’s two hours later and you’ve accomplished nothing? That’s kind of how it feels being home with a kid most days.

First things first, being home with a kid is exhausting. I’ve heard this from other SAHPs but had never experienced it, except for the first few weeks after spawn birthing. And those don’t even count because they went by in a blur of hospital stays, sleep deprivation, and painful attempts to breastfeed. People ask what I do all day being home with the kid and it’s hard to even recount the day’s events.

“I…uh…we got up sometime before the sun and ate breakfast. Well, he ate breakfast. I showered while he ate, because that’s the only time I get to do that, but I’m still wearing sweat pants because they allow to most mobility. Then we, uhm…well, we played, and he was attached to my hip. Trains, yea. Kid totally loves trains. Then it was lunch and I got to eat then. I miss food. There weren’t any clean dishes, so I did a few. Then we tried a nap, but LOL that ain’t happening because he’s three and he hates everything. Next thing I knew it was dinnertime and then bathtime and then bedtime and now I’m here, sitting in front of a computer, drinking a glass of fruit juice out of a wine glass pretending I’m fancy.” 

+ Kids are not cats. I know this sounds like such an obvious statement, but hear me out before you decide to call Child Protective Services. When I worked full-time, I knew from the teachers at daycare that my kid was fairly independent. Even when he came home, he played quietly by himself for an hour and then went to bed. Now, however, I’ve realized that even though the teachers said he was an independent kid, they still stimulated him, gave him crafts, kept him busy and fed at regular intervals. For some reason, it never dawned on me that I might have to do the same thing. I thought he’d just…you know, go play. Of course I was very  wrong. Also, I wish potty training was as easy as house breaking a cat.

+ Kids change like whoa. One of the things that made me feel the most guilty about putting my son in daycare was how much he would change in the span of a few days. He’d come home and tell me about this new hand game or nursery rhyme and I’d feel subpar because I had no hand in teaching it to him. Hell, most of the time his teachers understood his babbling chaos better than I did. But now, even though he’s RIGHT HERE (currently at my feet, squeaking about eating more after a third bowl of cereal), he still changes before my eyes. Instead of learning from his daycare teachers, he learns from the things around him at home, on TV, or from other kids at the playground. The other day he came to me giggling that “the hedgehog popped the balloon!” HEDGEHOG! HOW DID HE LEARN ABOUT HEDGEHOGS AND THEIR SPIKY NATURE?

+ He eats all my food. I don’t think I paid daycare enough for the amount of food my kid eats in one sitting. Of course, he converts it all directly into SUPERHUMAN ENERGY and flies about my house like a hummingbird on speed. I’ve already started a savings account to buy food for his teenage years.

+ Being a parent kind of sucks. Keeping my cool in the middle of a three-year-old tantrum is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a parent. Telling him “no” and establishing boundaries is difficult for the both of us; compromise isn’t on the radar for either of us. I want him to not scream his head off about having to go to the bathroom like a big kid and he wants to pee his pants and swear at me in Toddlerese. I think.

+ Less sick days, more at-work injuries. See the part above about the broken noses. Since he’s less exposed to germs from other kids, my kid is sick a lot less, but he also doesn’t know his own strength and has a habit of unintentionally injuring me.

I’m sure there are a dozen more items to add to this, but it’s lunchtime and my monster kid turns into a gremlin when he doesn’t eat every hour.

If you have things to add my list, feel free? Or if you have tips for keeping my precious little sanity in tact, also leave them for me. Finally, if you would like to donate food to my son’s SUPERHUMAN ENERGY CREATION SERVICES, send me an email. I’m trying to figure out how I can use his powers to fight crime.


  1. Aaah. I remember those days. I won’t annoy you with advice that probably wouldn’t fit your child (they’re all different, duh). But I will tell you what I’ve told so many of my younger friends when they had kids: the days are long but the years are short. They grow up in a blink–the longest blink ever, it feels like some days, but still. Most importantly, you will survive. :)
    Linda Grimes recently posted..My Bright Before Sunrise NightMy Profile

  2. Oh, I know things will be okay. I’m not worried about that. The scary part is I’m watching him and EVEN STILL he grows right before my eyes. It’s MAGICAL and TERRIFYING. <3

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