“You don’t have to work; you can stay home.” These are the words that many mothers would love to hear from their spouses. I too was overjoyed to know this was an option for me, but for some reason, I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be once I was thrown into it.
I felt that I needed to work. I still had student loans to pay off from college, I liked getting out of the house and connecting with people, and I felt independent making my own money. I was afraid that if I quit, it would be a career setback and it would be even more difficult to rejoin the workforce as my children got older because I had been out of the workforce for so long.
My new job wasn’t what I had imagined it would be, so it made it a little easier to pull the trigger. But when I put in my two-week notice, I cried. Why on earth was I crying? Emotions flooded over me. I felt guilty that I was letting my co-workers down and that I was giving up everything I knew, but I was also blessed to be able to experience this new chapter in life though I wasn’t sure I was going to be good at it.
After a few months, the burnout was REAL. Things got mundane and boredom set in. Sure, there were things to do around the house, but I didn’t want to clean 24/7. The constant screaming, crying tantrums, sassy attitudes and butt wiping was also getting under my skin. I quickly learned how hard staying at home was and that maybe it wasn’t for me. Having a toddler and a baby at home all day was overwhelming and every day was like it was on repeat. Outings that I was so excited to do once I stayed home became work, because we all know how difficult it is to take young kids anywhere in the beginning.
Staying home definitely has its perks, but I felt that I didn’t have enough patience. I felt isolated and alone.
I started to get depressed and I would wonder why other moms appeared to be thriving staying at home and with more kids than I had. I would tell my husband almost weekly that I had reached my breaking point and that I was going to look for a job, but something just kept reeling me back in.
I literally had to stop and wake myself up! I knew I had to make a change if I was going to make it through this season in life. I had to find ways to embrace the season and remember that this was temporary. I wasn’t replenishing myself. I wasn’t making the time for social outings. I wasn’t asking for help. I wasn’t choosing to see the joy in these moments. I was an empty shell just existing and trying to make it through the day feeling like I had to do it all and had mom guilt like no other.
As the girls got older, I found it a little easier to start doing some of these things:
I started to replenish myself: Taking time to recharge myself, whether it was working out, reading, or just leaving the house ALONE for some quality “me” time. Finding a hobby or interest helped me find something that was just for me that I could pour into.
I started asking for help: I started to lighten my load. I started delegating more things to my husband if he could help, getting a babysitter more often for date nights and having my girls in preschool part-time so we could all have a break from each other. I was able to do more child-free errands and they were able to socialize, be in a learning environment and be around other people.
I made it a point to socialize/connect: I started scheduling more play dates and making more time for my friends. I became more active in the local mom’s group and began meeting new people. I would call and talk to my stay-at-home mom friends just to talk or asking their opinion/advice on things like getting reassurance that I didn’t have to bake homemade muffins for my kids now that I had the time and that the bag muffins they were used too were still OK for them to eat.
I took the stay-at-home mom pressures off myself: My husband wasn’t expecting it from me, so why was I expecting it of me? I stopped trying to have a clean house every day or a gourmet made-from scratch home cooked meal every night. Instead of using nap time to do chores like I was in the beginning, I would make time for myself and watch a TV show, call a friend, take a nap, or read.
I have learned that the challenges you face are necessary because that’s how you grow as a person and become stronger. I have realized that when you take the time for yourself, you come back refreshed and a better mom.
I am super grateful for this time with my children and being able to watch them grow and develop. I feel as if this season in life has better prepared me to handle the current situation of us mostly staying at home. It’s still not all rainbows and unicorns. We are all still going a bit cray-cray here not being able to go out and do the fun things that we used to do. My “me” time has been put on the back burner but I am still trying to find ways to improvise and find new ways to get that time to recharge.
“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown