I had worked full time and attended school part time for several years before I welcomed my first child. My husband and I made the mutual decision that after my son was born, I would be a stay-at-home mom. I was excited for this new adventure. I counted down the days at my job and felt like the adjustment to staying at home with my new babe would be relatively seamless.
Well, the rose-colored glasses came off fairly quickly. Those first few months with my son were rough. Between (what seemed to be) endless sleep deprivation and struggling to distinguish his cries (he was a cat napper with a good set of lungs), the mundane daily tasks did a number on my mindset toward motherhood. On top of that my husband decided to go back to school as well as work full time, so I received little relief and often felt burned out. Very slowly I morphed from my social, easy-going self to snippy, isolated Debbie. More than that though, I felt like the world was just passing me by. I was completely in love with my little guy, there was no question there. I was still grateful our financial situation allowed me to stay at home with him, but at times I felt very lost and alone. I hadn't expected to miss the daily office banter. Sometimes I wished someone could give me a quarterly review of my mom job just so I could hear sincere praises of a "job well done."
Looking back at my early motherhood days, there are several things I wished I would've been ready for and done differently as I learned to embrace and love life as a stay-at-home mommy. Here are some tips if you find yourself struggling with transitioning to mom life.
Give yourself something to look forward to.
Whether it's a lunch date with a friend, joining a book club, or taking an art class, figure out something you love to do and gives you a little break. Having something to get excited about each week will make you a much happier person as well as a refreshed mama for the little ones in your home.
Taking a walk, chilling on a blanket at the park, doing some window shopping or simply eating lunch outside whilst soaking up a little Vitamin D can do wonders for the mental state of a hermit mommy.
Find other moms to connect with
Mommy groups have the potential of being a fantastic support for venting your sleep deprivation or teething woes. Also, you can receive some great tips and suggestions for when you are in a parenting conundrum. Online support groups are beneficial as well. Be careful with whom you buddy up with though. Some mommy groups can end up feeling like a bombardment of unsolicited advice or crazy, competitive moms trying to one-up each other. Choose your mom comrades wisely.
Find a passion you can share with your kiddos
. Are you a crafter? A sporty mom? A mom who loves to take nature hikes or experiment with recipes? Whatever your interests are, find a way to share them with your children. I am not a crafter, but I enjoy taking my kids on walks and kicking a ball at the park with them. This fulfills my need to stay active as well as connect with my kiddos. If you love to cook, let your child help on your next culinary masterpiece (and learn to be OK when it's not a masterpiece). Finding something you're passionate about and can share with your kids will enable you to still develop your hobbies as well as enjoy the home life.
Try to keep a healthy perspective on motherhood
. I know the daily grind of changing diapers, dealing with tantrums and having Yo Gabba Gabba! songs replay in your head can feel mundane and frustrating at times. I know there are days where you are literally running on fumes and counting down the hours till nap time or bedtime. I get it. But sometimes it helps to put things in perspective. When I'm struggling with finding joy (or sanity) in motherhood, I try to remember not only what a privilege it really is to stay home with my kiddos, but also keep in mind that I have limited time with them.
Family advocate M. Russell Ballard elaborates, "If a child lives with parents for 18 or 19 years, that span is only one-fourth of a parent’s life. And the most formative time of all, the early years in a child’s life, represents less than one-tenth of a parent’s normal life. It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and...to teach them all we can before they leave our homes."
I have friends who would quit their jobs in a heartbeat if they could just so they could spend more time with their kids. But unfortunately, their circumstances won't allow it. I also have friends who have had a son or daughter pass away and there isn't anything in the world they wouldn't do to have one more day with that child — I'm certain they'd even take a bad day.
It's hard work being the nurturer, cook, peacemaker, taxi-driver, the nose and bum wiper — and still form coherent sentences as well as have some form of personal hygiene. If you find yourself in a funk, remember to make efforts to get out of the house, find things to look forward to and develop and share your passions with your kids. Above all, try to remember that time with your little ones is fleeting and so very precious, so do your best to make the most of these moments while you still have all your children under one roof.