Choosing to Stay at Home
Copyright © 1998 Christine Stoner. All rights reserved.
Choosing to be a stay-at-home parent can be a lonely decision, especially when your child is an infant and you may not be able to get out and about as much as you'd like. Many of your friends and neighbors may go to work during the day and take their children to childcare, leaving you "home alone." Also, if this is your first child you may be looking for answers to the millions of questions which occur every day as your child develops. If you're looking for answers or others in the same situation, start surfing the Net and you'll be surprised at the company you'll find! What follows is a selection of some of the best Web sites that I found when I was home and looking for contact with the outside world. Some of the sites specifically support the decision to stay at home, some are parenting sites that answer many of the day-to-day questions that come up, and others I found were pure entertainment!
One of the first sites I came across was Baby Bag Online, a fun site that includes a wealth of information for the stay-at-home parent. The site offers bulletin boards where you can post questions and respond to the questions of others, and you can even be automatically emailed when a new message on a specific topic comes in. Here you can find valuable information on eating, fun ideas for playtime and parties, and information on children's health issues. You can also submit birth announcements and your birth stories here. Another interesting Web site to visit when you have some time to read is I Am Your Child. This site gathers articles and information that is very useful for the stay-at-home parent. Particularly, there is a section "Ages and Stages," in which you can see what your child is accomplishing in comparison to other children their age.
A really great Web site where you can find other parents surfing around is The Parenthood Web. Here you can keep an online family journal with pictures and text, and read interesting articles about topics relating to day-to-day child-raising issues. You can personalize this site to email you with articles on specific topics of interest and receive a weekly email newsletter. The site also sponsors chats with child professionals, in which you can join from home. If more chat is what you are looking for, visit Parentsroom Channel for live chat with parents of all ages. You can post questions here, but the real benefit is the ability to log on and chat with a real live person when you are feeling isolated or alone.
Another interesting site for finding articles and information geared toward the stay-at-home parent is the "Hearts At Home" organization, a nondenominational, religious-based mothers' support group offering conferences and newsletters aimed at giving emotional and spiritual help to stay-at-home mothers. In addition, a site tailored specifically for stay-at-home mothers is the Mothers At Home Organization, an excellent site. It is advertisement-free, has a wide range of useful information and a good list of links. It's a great place to go when you need a reminder of why you chose to stay at home with your kids.
With the growth of the World Wide Web, many magazines now have online versions. One of particular interest to stay-at-home parents is Parent Time, which is filled with reprints of articles from both Parenting and Baby Talk magazines. The site also offers a reasonably good search engine to look up articles by topic, and there's a really great baby name database if you're expecting. Another similar site is Parent's Magazine, which is a useful site whether or not you subscribe to the actual magazine. If you're looking for information about an issue you and your child are facing, or if you need a specific question answered by experts, this is the place to go!
Online villages are popping up all over the Internet! These villages are a great resource for the stay-at-home parent for both contact with the outside world and information. One of these is Parent Soup, which is part of iVillage. When you visit Parent Soup you will be walked through the process of joining iVillage, which is free and easy. The Parent Soup area of iVillage includes both useful information and fun stuff. If you need a lighter moment, visit the area entitled "Kids Say the Darndest Things." Another similar site found through an online community is Home Parents, which is offered through the Mining Co. village. Here you'll find good information and articles, as well as links to other good Web sites and information. A third village is Suite101.com. Like the other villages and communities, this site offers a Stay At Home Moms page through the Home & Garden section, which is written by another stay-at-home mother. You can comment on her articles and see the links that she has found useful.
Two Web sites which provide information on joining actual groups where you can meet face to face with other mothers are the Mothers of Pre-School Children, also called "MOPS" and Formerly Employed Mothers At The Leading Edge, also called"FEMALE." Both groups will help you to find area chapters of their organizations. MOPS meets two mornings a month for two hours each time. The children go into a nursery-type situation with other children their own age and the mothers enjoy breakfast, a craft and guest speakers. FEMALE, on the other hand, meets one evening per month without children but also sponsors bi-weekly playgroups, book clubs, craft clubs and other fun events for moms and kids.
If you're looking for the lighter side of being a stay-at-home parent and want something to help you retain your sanity, visitThe Mommy Times. You can join for free and receive on an online newsletter guaranteed to help you de-stress. Another group, Manic Moms, has a home page from which you can order a printed bi-monthly humorous newsletter for crazed moms.
Safety is a big issue for all parents. Two sites that address child-related safety issues are Childproofing and eSafety.com. The Childproofing site is a great resource for all parents; it provides valuable childproofing tips for making your home safe for your little ones. You can also buy childproofing supplies directly from them and, if you're looking for a side income, you may want to consider starting an at-home business selling their products. Esafety.com goes even one step further. On this site, you can find the book Kids Safe & Sound, which provides a wealth of information. Also, you'll find a comprehensive list of recalls. This is another site which offers live chat to discuss safety issues, questions and concerns.
You can't spend all your time at home thinking babies. Here are a couple of other sites from which I've gotten good ideas for home decorating and cooking, as well as other household hints.Good Housekeeping Magazine has lots of useful information and ideas, from cooking to cleaning to decorating to family time. A great feature is the information from the Good Housekeeping Institute regarding products you may be considering buying. Another "home" type of Web site that I consider a valuable resource is Lifetime TV for Women. This is the online presence for their daily television program, which was one of my favorite television stations when my child was small. Their online guides provide recipes, hints, decorating ideas and other interesting information. One last site for decorating and homekeeping-type assistance is Home and Garden Television, a great place to go for decorating, cooking and crafting help.
These are some of the better sites for stay-at-home parents, but there are more out there! The World Wide Web is filled with useful and fun resources to make your time at home rewarding for both you and your child. Be sure and visit the links page of each site for links to other sites you may enjoy.
Christine Stoner is a freelance writer out of Elverson, PA. She is also the editor of TimeTipz, a newsletter providing timesaving tips for busy women.