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Being a stay-at-home mom is challenging in so many ways. Caring for children means putting yourself last, almost every time.
But, while this strategy is often needed, it can take quickly its toll on our mental health. Stay-at-home moms risk burnout, depression, and anxiety if we don’t take the time to look after ourselves as well as our families.
In fact, one survey analysis of over 60,000 women showed that of those women, at least 50% felt stress, 41% felt worried, 28% felt depression, 26% felt sadness, and 19% felt anger.
When you’re a mom, making time for self-care can seem impossible, especially when you’re mentally feeling overwhelmed. But, it’s vital for our long-term happiness.
I’ll repeat that again, YOUR SELF CARE & MENAL HEALTH IS VITAL FOR YOUR LONG-TERM HAPPINESS!
This article gives some tips and ideas about how you can take care of yourself as a stay-at-home mom to young children.
If you’re struggling to fit in quality self-care time because you feel like your day-to-day is lacking structure — it’s pertinent to develop a family routine and this course will teach you how! Family Routines was created to help moms say PEACE OUT to overwhelm and HELLO to a happy family routine. I’m not sure how long Family Routines will be around, so if you’re ready to ditch feeling like you never have enough for some simple self-care and implement a family structure that allows you the time you need to refresh, give Family Routines a chance to help by signing up HERE today!
Why being a stay-at-home mom is hard
While some people may believe that stay-at-home moms spend their days lounging on the sofa watching tv, those who actually stay home to raise their kids will know — mom life is not always a bed of roses.
In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite on most days, loaded with challenges that we all have to simply navigate through and overcome.
Plus these days, most “stay-at-home moms” sometimes have some kind of side gigs going on like blogging, being a virtual assistant, freelancing, or other kinds of work to try and help with the finances.
So no – being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean moms are just lounging around all day having a vacation, and even if they didn’t have a side hustle, taking care of kids IS HARD WORK!
I asked a few moms what they felt was hard or challenging about being a stay at home mom and this is what they had to say:
Samantha Flores, a full-time stay at home mompreneur & blogger at Her Journal shares:
“Being a work-from-home-mom is something I always wanted. I could watch my children grow up while making money and life would be lovely. What I wasn’t prepared for were the challenges that came along with this role. Some days are hard on my patience when it’s time to sit down to focus. Before I know it, I’ve spent the whole day doing nothing for my business because I’ve been on mom duty all day. Even when I try to plan for work during naptime, inevitably one of my children will be up instead. This makes it hard to focus and quite frankly, it’s exhausting. I find myself oftentimes working long hours at night after bedtime. My children will always come first in my life, but I can’t help but feel frustrated when I can’t get things done for my business as well.”
In fact, Samantha knows this struggle all too well, she also shares tons of great productivity for mom tips on her own blog too!
Next, I had the pleasure of talking to another mama, Siobhan Alvarez — let me tell you, this “stay-at-home-mom” has her hands FULL of work outside of being a mama.
Siobhan is a mom to two young sons and shares her motherhood journey on her blog Mimosas & Motherhood — where she shares easy recipes, DIY projects, pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and much more. You can also find her sharing all these tips on her Facebook and Instagram social media pages too!
She is also the Executive Director of the Atlanta Autism Consortium, a nonprofit organization that provides free educational programs and events for the autism community both in Atlanta and across the country.
When I asked her about the challenges she faces, here’s what she had to say,
“Being a work at home/stay at home mom is the most challenging and amazing job. Every single day I get to have a leisurely morning with my boys before heading into my office. I’m able to take breaks for lunch and be there every night for dinner. While I wouldn’t change it for the world, being a mom who works from home while also being an active caregiver can be super hard at times, too. There are so many days where I just want to blow off work and spend the day exploring with my boys or building forts, or even just cuddled up on the couch watching a Disney movie for the 85th time. It’s even harder on the days where I know that they need their mama a little bit more than usual.
On days like that, I remind myself exactly why I’m working so hard: to be able to provide the kind of life I’ve always dreamed of for my family, without sacrificing being able to actually BE with my family at the same time. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead an organization while also growing my own small business, and that these opportunities have given me time with my boys during these incredibly valuable “little years.”
Another mama, Sonnet — a full-time mama to two sweet babies, songwriter, singer, music licensor, vocal coach, AND co-host of Not Your Mother’s Podcast says,
“Mostly it’s hard because you’re tired. It’s so rewarding to be there for your child day in and day out – and you have to be diligent to take care of yourself and keep filling your cup so you can fill your child’s.
It’s hard because you are there for the ups and downs all day for your child. Which is a gift – but it takes the mental stamina of a small country to keep up a children’s needs, attune to them, and show up doing your work as a part to help support them through.
It’s hard because you are constantly navigating moving the day along, teaching your child life skills, school skills, feeding your child/ children – attuning to their emotional needs and yours – oh yes – feeding yourself – and letting go of mom guilt of not doing enough – and after an epic bedtime – having a few mins to yourself. And doing it all over the next day.“
If that last sentence isn’t true enough “AND DOING IT ALL OVER THE NEXT DAY”.
If any of those mom’s days sounds easy to you, I encourage you to read again.
Stay-at-home mom burnout
The early mornings, tight schedules, and multiple get-ups in the night can make it tricky for moms to get enough sleep, especially if you’re newly postpartum.
Add in juggling multiple children and the pressure gets turned up.
By the time the kids are in bed and the house is looking half-tidy, it’s time to go to bed yourself before the cycle starts all over again.
This repetitive process can be draining if you never stop to catch a break and for once, refill your own cup.
Juggling housework, appointments and education is no easy task.
The mental load of an ever-growing to-do list can weigh us down. Stay-at-home moms often find themselves drowning in chores with no time to stop and rest.
Add on the responsibilities of showing up for our marriage, friends, and at some point ourselves, it can really leave a mama feeling like her mental capacity is on overdrive.
Being a stay-at-home mom can be incredibly lonely and you may find yourself socially isolated with little in common with your old friends who don’t have kids or whose kids are older than yours.
Even if you’re lucky enough to have mom friends, you might not feel close enough to them to discuss all your worries.
Sometimes, it can be harder to connect with mom friends if they share different values from you — enters the mom-shaming and judging remarks, totally unnecessary, but it happens and just leads to more loneliness.
Feeling bored as a stay-at-home mom is normal. When each day blends into the next, you may feel like there’s nothing to look forward to anymore.
Making small changes to your routine from time to time can be a great help, such as:
- Taking a different way to get to the grocery store
- Shop at a new store
- Try a new recipe for dinner
- Put on some makeup and get dolled up just because
- Take the kiddos out for some ice cream (they’ll love this one!)
These are just a few small things you can start with to change up your routine and make things feel a bit less boring at home!
How do stay-at-home moms not lose their mind?
With so much chaos and responsibility on your shoulders, you might wonder how other moms make it look so effortless.
Social media has a lot to answer for here. If you’re comparing your real life to someone else’s highlights, you’re bound to feel inadequate.
The truth is, that even those who look like graceful swans on the surface have their legs flapping away beneath the water to stay afloat. However, with a little forward planning, you can prevent yourself from going crazy.
How to be a happy and successful stay-at-home-mom
If you’re happy within yourself, it will be much easier to keep your kids happy. And if they’re happy, you’re happy. It’s a circle!
Being happy starts with self-care. This vital ingredient to wellbeing is often overlooked. But it mustn’t be! It’s incredibly important that you include self-care in your daily life to keep your own happiness levels high, so that you can successfully look after others.
See some self-care ideas in the image below? Which ones could you easily implement in your busy day-to-day?
How to take care of yourself as a stay-at-home mom
Here are some self-care ideas for moms:
- Work out – 30 minutes of exercise every other day will improve your mental and physical health
- Get enough sleep – there’s no better mood booster than a solid eight hours, but naps help too
- Fuel your body – without proper nutrition, our bodies won’t have the energy to function
- Socialize without kids – whether face to face or over the phone, talking with a friend staves off feelings of loneliness
- Pamper yourself – take a hot bath, wash your hair and give yourself a manicure
- Read a book – transport your mind to another world for a while
- Spend time with your partner – go to a restaurant or get takeout, just the two of you
- Learn a skill – Take a class in painting, cookery, sewing, or learn a language
- Write in a journal – Many people find that journaling helps to improve their mood (if you’re newly postpartum, this fourth trimester journal may come in super helpful!)
- Meditate – Focusing on the present with yoga or meditation will improve your self-awareness
How do I make myself time as a stay-at-home mom?
Now you might think, ‘Yes, that’s all very well, but I don’t have time to brush my hair, let alone work out’.
Once you recognize the importance of self-care, you must make sure that it’s high up on your list of priorities. And the way to do that? Make a schedule.
Take a pen and paper, a calendar app, or whatever works for you, and plan your routine for each of the next seven days. Your schedule should include at least 30 minutes every day for self-care, longer if you can.
I’ll be releasing a special planner specifically to help with this exact task — The Busy Mama At Home Planner to help you organize your day and pencil in that self-care time pronto! Be sure to stay tuned and sign up for my newsletter if you want to be the first to know when it’s available!
How to fit everything in?
Moms are great at multitasking. You’ve been practicing multitasking since the day your baby was born, even if you don’t realize it.
You’re about to use those special skills to master refilling your cup in 3-2-1…
We can use our multitasking skills for self-care:
- Chat with a friend while you exercise
- Eat healthy food while you enjoy a meal with your partner
- Read a book while you soak in the bath
- Listen to music while you give yourself a manicure
However, what doesn’t work is half-heartedly attempting self-care while juggling your mom duties. A conversation with a friend where you both speak in half-sentences while jumping up to catch falling toddlers doesn’t count!
Ask for help
Just because you’re a stay-at-home mom shouldn’t mean that you have to take on everything by yourself.
Ask your partner to get up early with the kids one day each week. Or ask a family member to take them to the park for an hour. Explain how you’re feeling and why you’d appreciate the help.
If you’re unhappy being a stay-at-home mom or find yourself struggling with anxiety, depression, boredom, or loneliness — think about how much time you’ve been devoting to self-care lately. Is it enough? Do you need more than just a self-care day? Do you need to discuss this with your doctor?
Establishing a routine that includes time for yourself is vital to your happiness.
If you’re feeling exhausted and frustrated with your life, then take a step back. Plan out your schedule, being sure to include at least 30 minutes every day to focus on activities that make YOU happy.