Are you a domestic commando?

Stay-at-home mom didn’t come close to describing the job Toni Garcia Carpenter felt she took on the moment her son came home from the hospital. It certainly didn’t feel like it reflected how much energy she put into being a mom, she says.

3 tips to steal from Toni

  • You can vacuum less frequently with the help of an
    old-fashioned carpet sweeper. They are lightweight, don’t need to
    be plugged in, are virtually silent and easy to empty. They are the
    perfect quick touch up for your rugs and carpets.
  • Clutter is the enemy. If it takes longer to move all the items
    you have on display than it does to actually dust the horizontal
    surface they rest on, give some of them – and yourself – a break.
    Store at least half in a cupboard or closet and rotate them
    seasonally. You may even find you don’t miss them at all.
  • Measure dry ingredients over a piece of wax paper. The excess
    that falls onto the paper can be easily returned to the container
    while your counter stays clean. This is a big help when little
    helpers first start contributing in the kitchen.


“My job was to do the best I could for my family,” she says.

With an old military commercial as inspiration, she created a title she feels better fits: Domestic commando.

Carpenter, a mom of two living in Florida, has spent the past 10 years compiling tips, facts and advice for all the other moms she thinks don’t want to be defined by the stay-at-home mom label but who didn’t know what to call themselves. She was in Chicago this week with her new book, Domestic Commando: A Stay at Home (R)evolution, and spent a few minutes with Chicago Parent.

What is a domestic commando and should we all aspire to it?

“It’s really about trying to, within reason, to do the best for your family without allowing such a passive term (stay-at-home mom)to define you. It really is such a personal thing. If it fits you, then that’s who you are.

“…It’s not about being the perfect parent because I don’t think there is any such thing. The whole supermom ideal is highly overrated and next to impossible and has people basically responding to outside influences that really have nothing to do with their families. I think people should figure out what works for them and what works for their family and basically set some limits.”

Some of her personal family limits include not allowing any activity that interferes with family meals or bedtimes.

You have developed some strategic principals. What are a few easy one for moms?

One, no matter what a child tells you, no child ever died of boredom. Society has caused kids to think they need to be entertained 24/7. They don’t. Start them off as early as you can with things that don’t need to be plugged in and build in downtime.

Two, make opportunities to sit down to dinner as a family.

What should be the biggest takeaway for moms from your book?

“Whether they are going to be home for a few weeks or a few years, they are entitled to that time as much as their child is. I happen to think you can have it all; I don’t think that you necessarily have to have it all at the same time.

“…But whatever your time is that you get to have with that child, stop to actually enjoy it. We become so caught up in being doers instead of having the experience of actually being. There is a joy to be experienced that if you just get so caught up in being perfect, which you can’t be, you forget the joy.”

As she says in her book: “Do whatever you can every single day to make sure you laugh with your family.”

Find out more at The book is available through the website, Amazon and ordered at bookstores.

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