Encouragement for stay-at-home moms
~My hope with this post is to bring encouragement to worn out mamas by helping them thrive, and a solidarity in knowing that we aren’t alone in the struggle~.
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 7 years now, and I can say without a doubt that it is the hardest job I’ve ever had to do. Mainly, because of the toll the isolation and stress takes on my mental health. I know I’m not alone, I think all moms can agree that mothering in itself is HARD. I don’t want to come off as ungrateful, I love that I get to stay home with my kids, I do. And I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity. I know there are moms out there that would want more than anything to stay home with their littles (I see you mamas! And you have my love ❤ ).
I’ve noticed that there is definitely a sense of loneliness and frequent burn out that comes with the territory of working at home, and it’s this particular struggle that I’m going to expand on.
Over the years, I’ve slowly identified 3 things that contribute to mom burnout and developed ways to combat them.
The 3 common struggles that seem to rise with stay-at-home moms are:
- Feelings of not being appreciated/ valued
- A lack of a self care routine.
Oh the isolation!
Being a stay-at-home mom basically means you never leave your job, and the only social interactions you have are with babies/toddlers/ and children. Your brain turns to mush. As human beings we are wired to crave community, we start to lose a bit of our humanity (and sanity) when our desire for social interactions aren’t met.
I started my journey into motherhood in a new town away from family and friends, and as an anxiety riddled introvert it was hard for me to make friends and build my community-which meant I didn’t have one. My husband is a firefighter with a firefighters schedule, which translates to lots of solo parenting days. For 3 years (that’s how long it took me to make a friend) my day-to-day interaction involved just my littles. I thought I was going crazy. Feelings of being under qualified and inadequate were an everyday occurance. I didn’t have anyone to tell me these feelings were “normal” with being home. Years later, after talking with other stay-at-home moms I learned that feelings of isolation and loneliness is a common struggle.
Game Plan: Make a friend! You NEED a community
Exchange numbers with other moms at church, in your bible study, look at your towns facebook page for family activities, talk to other moms at your local chick-fil-a or Mcdonalds. Go for walks around your neighborhood and start saying “Hi” to your neighbors, Sit in your front yard with a tall glass of iced coffee while the kids play. Make yourself available. As a recovering hermit I’m going to be honest with you-it’s going to be hard. All those insecurities we had with making friends as a kid don’t go away. Social skills take practice and are strengthened with use. There’s going to be lots of awkwardness, and small talk. It’s ok, embrace the discomfort, the awkwardness.
Remember, awkwardness is your friend!
It’s ok to not know what to say. Take small steps, Love. A smile and a “Hello” go a long way. You can even throw in a friendly wave.
See, small steps 🙂
~I want to mention that if your mental health is preventing you from reaching out, give yourself grace.I get it. Some days my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t leave my house. The thought of interacting with someone new would bring on full panic attacks and I would spend most of the day locked in my bathroom crying. Take care of your mental health first, get strong enough where you can be at the place of taking on new social interactions you can read what I do to manage my anxiety Here~
And if your having a Bad with a capital “B”day, in the words of my BF, its ok to consume obscene amounts of coffee and use the tv as a babysitter so you can get 2 seconds to yourself.
If you’re still struggling making a friend, friendship is definitely something you can ask God to provide (Also, to all my extroverted mamas, please find your nearest introverted mama and adopt them)
~When we moved out of our apartment and into our house, I had a strong sense that the Lord knew I needed a friend. I was really struggling to thrive as a stay-at-home mom, and being cooped up in my apartment with crying babies was taking a major toll on my mental health. Everything about the buying process and location was so perfect that I knew the Lord had plans for us. My neighbor had a son the same age as my youngest and we soon became Best friends.I soon started to feel like a human being again, and her friendship has been such a wonderful blessing in my life. We call the wall separating our backyards “the sharing wall”.It is not uncommon to find food or toilet paper waiting for the other ( I frequently run out of toilet paper). ~
2. Feeling undervalued/ Not appreciated: Being a stay-at-home mom is a thankless job. Appreciation and gratitude is something that needs to be taught with little ones, and it’s a hard fact to remember on rough days when your child is having a full on meltdown because you gave them juice in the BLUE cup instead of the GREEN one.
It’s easy to start questioning the value in what we do amidst the massive pile of laundry, dishes, and crying children.
There’s gotta be more to life right?
Setting reminders about the bigger picture, the mission, helps us stay on track and regroup on rough days “Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, car, government,etc, exist for except that people may be fed, warmed and safe in their own homes?…the homemakers job is one which all others exist.”-c.s lewis. Parents (moms, dads, working moms, working dads, stay at home moms stay at home dads, grandparents, guardians), isn’t the ultimate goal of raising littles creating a safe nurturing environment for our kids to learn and grow into extraordinary adults. Our goal is to prepare our kids to LEAVE-to go out into the world and thrive. That’s what we are doing working in our homes, and that includes dishes and dirty diapers. It’s part of the territory, love.
As far as feeling valued, make sure you are not relying on others (our children included) to determine our value. I think we experience disappointment and frustration when we expect our validation and happiness to come from our spouses and children (when we expect our children and spouses to change our moods when we are feeling anything but happy, they are just as flawed as we are)
~My identity is in Christ, my value is determined in the words he has spoken over me saying that I am precious and loved in his eyes. My strength comes from the Holy Spirit, spending time in prayer and sitting in the joy of God’s presence. Fill your spirit up with God’s goodness inorder to pour it out again on those around you~
3. A Lack Of A Self-Care Routine: when was the last time you took care of yourself mama. When was the last time you poured yourself a cup of tea and read a book you were interested in? painted your nails? Our spirits are easily battered when we aren’t taking time to rest and refresh our spirits with things that bring us JOY. Make sure you are filling up your spirit daily.
Game plan: create a self-care routine for yourself
Some Ideas are:
- Korean skincare routine
- Spend time in God’s word and in prayer.
- Meet with a friend.
- Pour yourself a cup of warm tea
- Spend time creating something(painting,coloring,drawing, building)
- A Salt Bath
- Going for a walk
- Paint your nails
- Use a hair mask
- Put on makeup
- Get out of your sweat pants
- Take a nap
- A dance party
Remember that seasons in life come and go. You’ll have both hard, painful, and joyful seasons of parenting.
“Children are not a distraction from more important work, they are the most important work”-c.s Lewis
Denise “The Strong Happy Artist”
Make sure to follow this blog to stay updated on posts, and you can follow me on Instagram and Pinterest @ Thestronghappyartist.