Unemployment is stressful. Parenting is stressful. Put the two together, and you have the makings of a full-blown breakdown. Childcare is out the window, and after having so many years of ‘adult time’ at work, being with your own children 24/7 is quite a challenge (insert guilt here). How can you apply for jobs when little fingers are constantly pressing computer keys? How do you answer the phone for a potential job interview when your child’s inner banshee is released whenever you pick up? How can you retain your own sanity, while at the same time reducing the stress on the children?
Swallow your pride and take people up on their offers of childcare.
You need peace. Your children need a break from you. Say yes – people wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to help.
Maintain a Schedule
It’s tempting to sleep in-don’t. It’s tempting to ‘go with the flow’-don’t. Scheduling is just a big of routine for your kids as it is for you. Give your kids the stability they need with some predictability in both of your schedules. It will keep them on track and you focused.
Find a Support Online
Why online? It’s convenient; you can read in short bursts, you can type when the kids are asleep, and you can make contacts that can help you keep sane and find a job. Try Yahoo groups, Portland’s Craigslist’s forums, and local parenting groups such as Urban Mamas.
Get Out of the House – For Free
No money? No problem. Many libraries in the Portland (Oregon) Metro area offer cultural passes-free admission to local attractions. The Multnomah County Library pass is limited to only the Children’s Museum, but the Beaverton Library has a well-established pass system. See the Chinese Gardens, Children’s Museum, or other great kid-friendly places at no charge to you. On weekends, go to Lowe’s and Home Depot’s kid’s clinics and make something.
Get Out of the House – For Little Money
Ride the Max – have a picnic – ride back. Somehow, someway, I have never taken a kid on the Max or the Downtown Trolley with bad results. Develop a scavenger hunt to where you are going or along the route (done, of course, on the internet when they’re asleep!) The Oregon Zoo is $4 on Tuesdays. Multiple websites keep tabs on free or cheap events; try Portland Family Adventures, Portland on the Cheap, Oregon Mom’s free and cheap calendar, and Around the Sun.
Most of all, try to relax. Our kids are smarter and more perceptive than we think. When you’re under pressure, they pick up on it and misbehave because that’s the way they handle it. And keep little fingers and juice boxes away from the computer.