Whether you’re a working mom or stay-at-home mom, at the end of the day, you’re burned out. You’ve dedicated much of your time to a never-ending pile of responsibilities and other people’s needs while compressing the needs of your day into an ever-shrinking window of alone time and self-care.
In other words, gone are the days B.C. (before child) when you were actually “off” when you could just pick up and go, sleep in, or be carefree with how you decide to spend your time. But that’s the new reality for any parent.
What I found to be a common thread between many stay-at-home moms, including myself at times, is the emotional toll it takes on women and the adjustment that’s required to cope with their newfound sets of responsibilities and lifestyle.
Here’s what I’m finding to be common contributors to stay-at-home mom depression.
Loss of identity.
When you are a stay-at-home mom, your life revolves around your child’s schedule. That could be their sleep schedule, school schedule, feeding schedule (if you’re nursing), appointments, play dates, naps, etc., etc. Your life no longer belongs to just you. Unlike working moms, stay-at-home moms have to be more intentional about having an identity and life outside of parenthood. This can be through a hobby or career.
The reality of when you become a stay-at-home mom is the fact that your child isn’t the only priority. You have to share your “free time” with whatever home duties you have on your plate. This could be meal prepping, laundry service, cleaning, grocery shopping, or other errands. When you spend the majority of your time at home, the majority of the upkeep of your home falls to you. You’re constantly cleaning up messes just to clean up messes, leaving even less time for you to dedicate to your passions and interests. For this reason, delegating some household chores and utilizing delivery services can offer some relief.
Everyone’s heard the saying that “a mother’s work is never done.” This is especially true for stay-at-home moms. Because of this, I think it’s easy to underestimate the level of burnout that can come from living a lifestyle that is structured around your child 24/7. Being a stay-at-home mom is time-consuming and demanding both physically and emotionally. Having a community is invaluable when you’re needing a break or desire to counter some of the burnout.
In addition to postpartum depression, stay-at-home moms are also susceptible to being depressed from the drastic change in lifestyle if they transitioned from the workforce. When you make a shift going from a working woman to a stay-at-home mom, you move away from society into a more isolated lifestyle. If you are the type of woman whose value is connected to your career or what you do for a living, then this could potentially take a toll on your mental health. Join a support group of other moms at your local church or make new mommy friends for you and your little one through platforms like Peanut to help you get more adult interaction in your day.
Society says you are what you do, and if you want to be successful, you have to be “high-performance.” Don’t listen to society! There is too much pressure on women to be “productive.” And too much emphasis on that being the source of their value.