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What do you do all day?

This is the question many women ask when they decide to join the ranks of stay-at-home mothers.

For many women and men, the transition from working outside the home to working at home, with the company of their children, can be daunting. After all, if one has a question at the office all it usually takes is a walk down the hall to get it answered. It takes a phone call or a play date to experience the same camaraderie at home.

Those who choose this path face loneliness, isolation and lack-of-identity issues when they first come home. So how can the stay-at-home parent make this an enjoyable and fulfilling position?

One: Take some time every week to be alone, and don’t do just productive things; go to the bookstore and browse, or work out at the health club, or just drive around in your car with the radio turned up!

Two: Value your JOB! It is a job, and even though you sometimes take more breaks than your spouse does, sometimes you get no breaks at all, like when baby has a temperature of 102 degrees and doesn’t want to take her afternoon nap. You also perform manual labor, what with lifting your little ones all day, doing laundry, and of course the loading them in and out . . . and in and out of the car, to take them to their activities.

Three: It’s O.K.—no it’s great—to ask for help, from anyone who will, be that hubby, grandma, friend, or babysitter.

Four: If you’re married, take some time out to be alone with your spouse. Because we’re so exhausted by the time our dates roll around, sometimes all my husband and I can think of to do is to walk around the mall, but we do hold hands and talk, so we’re left feeling closer. Have dates with your girlfriends too--WITHOUT KIDS. It’s important to connect with our peers without our children, so we can talk about something besides them, like our dreams and our fears--and yes, you’ll probably end up talking about them, too!

Five: Find and RESPECT your own parenting style. So often among mothers there is either harsh judgment of our own or others’ mothering styles. But the reality is, each style works for that mom and her family. So when my house isn’t perfectly picked up, or dinner isn’t on the table, I know I am doing my job in my own creative way, with lots of hugs and impromptu jaunts around town, which suits my family just fine—while my best friend has a cozy daily schedule which she faithfully adheres to, which pleases her own clan.

As the old adage goes “it’s a journey not a destination.” Sometimes the parenting journey is an exciting one, at other times it’s a rather boring stretch of road and once in awhile, you'll have a beautiful view and all will be right with the world.