Guest post by Maria from Parent On Board
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) for almost 3 years now. It’s been an experience unlike any other in my life. I’ve had some ups and way too many downs. And I know that I am not alone in this. I’ve had countless SAHM friends tell me that they have fallen into mommy ruts of their own and are not enjoying their life at all.
Hearing this made me feel more normal in my experience, but also more determined to find a solution. There shouldn’t be so many women (mothers) out there who are not living their best life. So I searched for ways to beat my mommy rut and finally succeeded.
Now, I can’t wait to share my tips with you, so you can do the same.
Do you remember your teenage days of sitting on your bed and inscribing your most sacred thoughts into a horribly decorated notebook? Do you remember how amazing it felt to put pen to paper and write, “Dear, Diary, today was a difficult day…”?
I remember. I remember it helping me get through some dark teenage days. And while most of us put it aside as a silly teenage endeavor, there has been some exciting research pointing to clear benefits of journaling.
Journaling can help in many ways. It allows us to write down our negative thoughts and experiences and free our brains from them. The extra mental space is a huge benefit to us mothers because our mental load is already immense.
It also allows us to visually organize our thoughts, so they are not chaotically bouncing around in our heads and keeping us awake at night. Journaling also helps us focus and create goals.
So go ahead and give journaling a go. Pick up any journal that appeals to you and start writing. Hone in on your negative and intrusive thoughts and experiences and get them down on paper. Free your brain from them. And write down some goals for yourself, so you have something to work towards.
The biggest part of being in a rut is not having any goals to achieve. Once you have goals, you can begin creating a plan for achieving them.
Find a Hobby or Employment
Let’s be honest, while there are plenty of women who are staying at home because they have always wanted to raise their children, there are also plenty of women who are staying at home because childcare is just too damn expensive. And those are the women who are more prone to falling into a mommy rut. If this sounds like you, then something needs to change in your life.
While it may not be (financially) possible to send your kids to daycare or preschool, it’s possible to utilize downtime to do something for yourself. Use nap times to improve your life, not clean or do laundry.
So many of us moms use naps to either get through our to do list or mindlessly watch TV, neither of which is truly enriching your life. But what if instead you use naps to pick up a hobby or find a work from home opportunity? Having a hobby can give you a creative or mentally stimulating outlet, while working from home can bring some cash in and fill the holes in your resume. You’ll have something to look forward to in a day and expand your horizons.
Maybe you don’t know what kind of hobby to pick up, and that’s OK. How about enrolling in some courses through either Coursera or Udemy? They are either free or inexpensive and can be done from the comfort of your own couch.
Don’t let the fact that you are staying at home with small children stop you from growing as a person.
Improve Communication With Your Partner
When one parent stays at home and the other parent works outside the home, a lot of tension and misunderstanding can arise. It can at times feel that you live on two different planets and don’t have much of a connection. It’s especially difficult if the working parent has very gendered expectations of the stay-at-home parent.
It’s no wonder so many SAHMs feel in a mommy rut. When you are not only feeling responsible for the children but also for all the household-related stuff, there is no time or space left for anything else. And that’s not fair to you, mama.
So you need to discuss with your partner how to better split household responsibilities, so you have time to pursue your interests. And explain to your partner why it’s important that you pursue interests outside of childcare and domestic duties.
Despite what many people believe, you do not have to be responsible for all the household chores just because you are the one staying at home with children. If you are at home with children, your primary task is childcare. Just like your partner’s primary task is working at their job. The household tasks are secondary and should be split equitably.
So sit down and make a plan with your partner. I recommend getting a weekly planner that you can put up on a wall and put your tasks up there. Also keep a daily planner with to dos in a visible spot, so you can check off tasks as they get done. Color code tasks by priority and make sure the most important ones get done first. Don’t stress if not everything is getting done; you (or your partner) can finish up another day.
Make sure that you spend time talking with your partner about not only every day to dos but also about hopes and dreams. Spend time talking about your goals together. Create some individual and family goals.
Make sure your life as a family is not stuck in the everyday rut of getting things done.
Connect on a deeper level. Remember that the person you married is still there and still has deeper needs beyond working, taking care of kids, and running a household.
Cultivate Female Friendships
When we become mothers, we realize our time is precious and there is never enough of it. We forget about our friends and lose important connections. But it’s not good for us to do so. We need our friends. We are social beings, and becoming isolated in a house with small children is not good for anyone’s mental health.
Make the time to see your friends. It’s important. And if you lost your friends to motherhood (let’s face it, not everyone sticks around), go out and make some new ones. There are mommy meet ups everywhere, with other moms looking to get out of the house and reconnect with the woman they once were. Do it! You won’t regret it!
I hope that after reading this post you will be motivated to go out and make positive changes in your life. You are amazing, mama! You deserve only the best! Go out and make it happen!
Maria is a mom of 2 active toddler boys and a mental health professional. Her passion is to help parents thrive in their new roles by becoming more empathetic towards themselves and their children. You can find information on child development, self-care, parenting, and motherhood on www.parentonboard.com. Follow us on Pinterest.