Beat the Stay at Home Mom Blues
Stay-at-home moms struggle with monotony, boredom and lack of intellectual interaction everyday. Find tips here on how to deal with these challenges.
Almost every stay-at-home mom will tell you how lucky she is to be able to give up her career or job and stay home with her children. She will rave about the milestones and accomplishments of her toddler and glowingly describe breastfeeding her infant on demand as moments she will treasure and woefully mourn when no longer required.
Amidst these joyful tales, there is an unspoken dark side of which most of us are too ashamed to speak. I am talking about the monotony, the dreaded drudgery, the unmerciful boredom that springs from completing repetitive daily tasks with such efficiency that our minds are not required to be present and are left to wander to the “what if?” ponderance, which only leads to more doubt in our self-sacrificing choice and a resounding echo in our well of fulfillment that is strangely not overflowing the way we anticipated.
Stay-at-Home-Mom Depression Is Real
Many stay-at-home moms are struggling with the guilt of disappointment in motherhood’s failure to provide fulfillment, and they are ashamed, believing if they were more dedicated they would feel no guilt or twinges of missing their formerly child-free lives. So they delve full throttle into finger-painting as an art, reading Goodnight Moon 36 more times than usual, and playing ring-around-the-rosy so many times they wake screaming the rhyme in their sleep. But the answer is not more of the same. Those twinges arise from many of the dimensions of womanhood that cannot be satiated through motherhood alone. Placing the burden of realization of our intellectual, spiritual, emotional and social satisfaction upon the heads of our children through our motherhood choices will neither satisfy nor quell the voices rising from within. They demand attention. And we must listen.
For all the energy we put into nurturing others, we must nurture ourselves in order to replenish that energy and be ready to do it all over again tomorrow. Try one or all of the following suggestions and take note what works for you and replenishes your energy as opposed to draining it.
Take Time Off
Make it a point to get out of the house a few hours a week, or even just once a month, without children to do something you want to do that does not involve packing crayons or wipes. If you do not have a friend or family member to care for your offspring, and babysitting fees are not in the budget, consider reaching out into your community and creating a play date/babysitting exchange service with other responsible mothers needing a break. Another option may be to check with your local churches for a Mother’s Day out program; these programs are designed specifically to allow stay at home moms a break.
Inspire Your Spirit
Turn off the television at night and pick up a book or magazine instead. You may be surprised how something you read can replenish or inspire your spirit. It may even jumpstart an idling part of your imagination or intellect that is yearning to be revved and raced.
Get Involved in Your Community
Try getting involved socially and in your community with your children. Join a community center or check your public library for storytelling hours and art classes. These activities offer toddlers the opportunity to develop social skills while moms interact and compare notes or share stories with other mothers. Knowing you are not alone in your challenge can be very comforting.
Take a Field Trip
Schedule “field trips” with your children. Pick a child friendly museum, nature trail, or age appropriate theatrical performance such as a children’s ballet or musical storytelling. Tour a local chicken or dairy farm and take a hayride. Turn an educational experience into a fun and memorable one as well. This not only breaks the monotony for you, but for your children as well. It gives them an experience they will talk about for weeks after and they will look forward with excitement to the next one.
Write and Release
Start a daily journal; write about your daily challenges and stresses and after two or three weeks review what you have written. You may discover that your stress has a common source that can be managed to be less stressful or even eliminated altogether. For some, the process of writing itself is a way of releasing stress.
Relax, Indulge, Rejuvenate
Most importantly, ease up on yourself! When the kids go to bed, it is not time to play catch up on laundry, housecleaning and bill paying. Okay, so maybe it really is the only time you can do those things, so compromise; allow yourself at least one or two nights per week of completely selfish “me” time. While the little cherubs drift off into never never land, soak in a hot, bubbly tub with a good glass of vino, listen to a little soft music with candles burning and cell phone off, or watch that Lifetime movie you’ve been secretly dying to see!
As you lovingly nurture, guide and broaden the horizons of your heavenly charges, you must also nurture and replenish your own spirit. You cannot water from an empty well, love to capacity with a broken heart, or give when you have not received. You get the idea, nurture is nature.