If you’re a stay-at-home Mom (SAHM), life might feel like you’re walking a tightrope and even seem less fulfilling than you imagined. With cooking, cleaning, errands, and your toddler’s meltdowns defining your day, it’s important to acknowledge how your routine is affecting your emotional well-being.
Sara Rosenquist, a reproductive health psychologist, says having a baby can sometimes lead to a loss in income, and friends and familiar life. With this delicate transition, how can stay-at-home moms minimize the monotony, cultivate adult relationships, and find a happy place?
Here are some parenting realities and strategies to help you flourish and thrive.
The Challenge: Stress
Though stress is a part of life for everyone, stay-at-home moms often experience new feelings and situations that bring anxiety to a whole new level. You might be shouldering one income, so budgeting is tighter than ever, and setting and sticking to boundaries for your kids can also be incredibly demanding.
Communication is key!
Josie, a blogger behind Smart Money Mom, stresses having “the talk” to help with family finances. “It’s hard to do a budget when you and your spouse aren’t on the same page,” she says. “One spouse may be out spending money, and you’re trying to save it. Keep in mind that communication is super important when it comes to budgeting for a one income family.”
Setting up guidelines for your kids and having conversations about consequences for unacceptable behaviors can help reduce anxiety for everyone. Talk to them calmly so they understand yelling and disrespect won’t get them very far. When you’re conscious of how you show up, it gives you much more control and sets a great example too.
The Challenge: Getting Lost in Routine
Your routine becomes mechanical and boring. Repetitive tasks like unloading the dishwasher, meal prep, and folding the laundry lead to a shift in your identity and purpose.
In her Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide, blogger Jaimi Erickson bluntly asks: “If we completely lose who we are when our children are younger, who will we be when they no longer need us to hold them or rock them or fix every single problem?”
In other words, your actions speak volumes about your self-worth and kids pick up on that. For this reason alone, self-care is key.
Schedule “me” time and do one thing every day that is focused on you. Whether it’s taking a walk alone, engaging in a new hobby, meditating, or reading. Getting out of the daily grind and doing something you enjoy even for a half hour a day can bring a new perspective and purpose to your life.
The Challenge: Lack of Adult Communication
You talk with other moms about the highs and lows of potty training. You wear a sock puppet for endless bedtime stories, but a lack of “real” adult conversations affects your overall mental health.
This is more than just “me” time; this is “we” time and both meet different needs. Designating just one night a week to a book club, volunteer work or a dinner date offers intellectual stimulation that you can’t get hanging out with your kids. This engagement will anchor you mentally, physically, and even spiritually so that you can feel whole. You’re human… so go be human.
The Challenge: Employment Gap
Pondering when and if you should go back to work. You’re afraid that your time “off” and out of the workforce will be hard to explain and will impact your chances of finding employment.
According to Gwenn Rosener, Founder of FlexProfessionals,“Your time at home with kids is a great time to dabble in different interests and possible career paths.”
She suggests volunteering in fields that interest you. Intern at a nonprofit that focuses on mental health or if you want to be a writer, start a blog. This lets your soul communicate and express itself while full-time work is on the backburner.
And, remember the importance of scheduling “me” time? Double up and use that scheduled appointment to pad your resume. For instance, take on pro bono projects or host coffee dates with industry pros and pick their brains. Like a box of crayons, you have a myriad of colorful options to choose from… so, communicate your goals to those “in the know.”
Many SAHMs are already feeling isolated during the day, and then numbing their true feelings at night. So, in essence, you might feel like you’re wearing a mask 24/7. Communication with your support group – spouse, parents, friends – is the best remedy you’ll ever need.
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