What’s so hard about being a stay at home mother?
Recently, I conducted a survey in a Facebook mom’s group. I was struggling myself with being a stay-at-home-mom and I was curious about if I was alone in my struggles, and what struggles other mothers were going through.
Needless to say, I got a lot of responses. Moms who stay at home with their kids tend to not be asked about how they feel. I mean, we are living the dream, right? So, naturally, these wonderful women jumped at the chance to tell me their feelings.
Here are some of the top responses:
- Not acceptable to talk about how hard it is.
- Failing at expectations.
- No income.
- Feeling “Touched out”.
- Loss of identity.
- Not getting help from partner.
- Feeling judged by working mothers.
Whew! That’s quite a list! I’m sure there are plenty of stay-at-home-moms that none of these feeling apply to, but I think these feelings are worth addressing, for the ones feeling these things.
Finding happiness as a stay at home mom
So, what do we do? Accept that we won’t be living our “best lives” until our kids start school? Or are there steps we can take to reclaim some of life’s happiness that is rightfully ours?
Let’s go through this list and come up with some solutions!
1) Repetitiveness– This one is a tough-y, because there are some things that just need to be done over and over again; like changing diapers, preparing meals, and cleaning up after meals.
Luckily, there are ways to break the monotony of the days. Local libraries usually host story hours for kids of all age groups. Libraries are actually a great place to take your kids, anyway! You can expose them to a wider variety of reading material without spending any money. Local parks and playgrounds can provide a break in the daily grind, or even become a pleasant new routine to add to your day! Natural science museums, aquariums, and farms are tons of fun for kids and a great chance to get some fresh air and meet new people for moms!
2) Not acceptable to talk about how hard it is– Difficulties in life are subjective. A millionaire CEO might be depressed and have a hard time enjoying life. His feelings are valid. A migrant farmer may be having a hard time making ends meet to feed his family, causing him to feel like a failure. His feelings are valid. Other people’s struggles don’t invalidate yours. So, talk about it. Reach out to friends and family, talk with a therapist…just talk. Your feelings are valid.
Not good at being a stay at home mom
3) Failing at expectations– Movies, TV shows, and commercials have really given us unrealistic expectations of what we should be able to accomplish in a day. The kids should be dressed and perfectly groomed, healthy meals on the table, a hot dinner ready for the husband…served by a beautiful wife, complete with make-up and a Barbie-thin waist.
I’m not going to say this never has happened ever in history, but it’s definitely not the norm, especially if you have kids that belong to the more challenging age groups. (Which, I hear, is all of them.) So, lower your expectations of yourself, at least temporarily. Having little kids and babies is hard. Feed them and love them, and you’re doing fine. Cut yourself some slack!
4) No income– This one doesn’t always have a solution, but there are many people who work from home. The trick is to find a position with part-time and flexible hours, because it’s not always going to be quiet in your home at the same time on any given day.
Many stay-at-home-parents babysit or run home daycares, some teach English online to Chinese children, and some work for call centers. There aren’t many options, but there are some. The big issue is finding something you can work on with kids running around!
5) Feeling “Touched out“– As a mother of 3 little ones, there is always someone touching me. Like, always. And after a long day of being touched, husbands don’t always understand that you might not feel like snuggling. My suggestion, is to explain this to your husband and get him to take the kids from you for a bit when he gets home from work. Go to the grocery store, walk around the block, just do something by yourself.
6) Exhaustion– There are days where I don’t make healthy meals, and it’s not because I’m lazy or even that I don’t have time. I’m just exhausted. Staying at home with young kids is non-stop. There is no ride to work, no lunch with co-workers; at no point in the day or night are your kids not in your care. You’re “on” physically and/or mentally 24/7.
Talk to your spouse and get him to pitch in a little more. Also, set boundaries with your kids. Set early bedtimes (It’s good for you and them!). And it’s perfectly ok to implement “quiet time” in the afternoons and (at a certain age) tell them that you need some time to rest and they can go play on their own.
7) Loss of identity– Before you were a wife and a homemaker, you may have been a professional of some sort. You had friends and hobbies. You had a life outside your home. All that went out the window the moment you gave birth. You might feel trapped. Like you’re nothing more than a maid, a cook, a slave to a nursing baby.
The solution to this is inside of you. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. What is it that you enjoyed doing before you had kids? Take every spare moment you have and do that thing! Don’t lose yourself. And if you already feel like you’ve lost yourself, trust that “you” are still in there somewhere.
I worked in healthcare before I got married and had kids. I enjoyed it; I had freedom, money, and friends. Now, I can’t imagine ever working in a hospital again. That was me then, but I’ve changed. I’ve found joy in achieving my Montessori certification and writing to help parents. You may find the “you” you find is totally different from the “you” you lost. Just remember, your kids are not you; they are not your purpose.
Husband doesn’t help
8) Not getting help from spouse– There are a lot of men who feel like bringing home the bacon is the extent of their responsibility. They don’t care (or maybe don’t notice) that you never get to clock out. And on top of that, you aren’t building a work history or amassing a retirement savings.
This is a tough subject because the answer lies in how strong the communication is in your marriage. Do you tell him what you need from him? Do you even feel like you can? Marriage counseling could help you understand each other and really strengthen your communication. Before things get so bad that you feel like throwing in the towel, give counseling a go.
9) Being judged by working mothers– Personally, I have never experienced this. But if you have, please just let it slide off your back. We all have our row to hoe and it’s not possible to put ourselves into someone else’s shoes. Staying at home with the kids might sound like a cake walk to some…it might even be a cake walk for some. But it’s a struggle for many of us. Don’t let anyone minimize your struggles! It’s not worth getting into a pissing match about who has it worse. Parenting is hard, period.
This is most definitely not a comprehensive list of what stay at home moms go through, but these are definitely some main points.
What is your biggest struggle as a stay at home parent? Are you a working mother who can identify with this list? I’d love some feedback on this!
Cheers…and chin up!
*Help is available for those (working moms and stay at home moms) struggling with postpartum mental health issues. http://www.postpartum.net/ can help you find local resources. For emergencies, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 911.*