There are many debates on who has the harder job, a working mom, or a stay-at-home mom. The thing is, neither one of them is harder than the other; they’re both completely different.
Some women are SAHMs because that’s exactly what they want to be. Some women are SAHMs because it’s what makes financial sense for their family. Either way, being a SAHM is not a job for the faint of heart. Kids constantly demand our attention and affection. They make us proud and they test our boundaries. Being a SAHM is awesome, challenging, and exhausting, whether there’s one kid to look after, or four.
Unlike a working mom, SAHM’s can’t just leave work at work. SAHMs don’t really get to clock out. A SAHM works from home, all day, every day. As a SAHM, there are no sick days or time off. SAHMs are on call 24/7/365.
That’s why it’s so easy for SAHMs to get burnt out. As moms, we all have moments where we’re tired or stressed out. Sometimes we don’t even realize just how stressed we are, and someone has to point it out to us. Unfortunately, society has practically programmed moms to ignore their needs and take care of everyone else first, as if pausing to take care of themselves is selfish. And asking for help? No way. Some moms don’t want to ask for help; they can do it all! They’re tough! They’re strong!
But being strong doesn’t mean putting everyone else’s needs first all the time. Doing so can lead to mom burnout, and we’re here with some tips to help you avoid it.
15Kiss The Guilt Goodbye
As moms, many of us can’t help but feel guilt. Some of us feel guilty about returning to work. Some of us feel guilty about staying home and not working. Some of us may even feel guilty about being able to stay home, but wanting to return to work, just to be able to spend time with other grownups during the day. We might feel guilty if the house is a mess, if we yell at the kids, if we don’t feel like having sex. We feel guilty just because we don’t feel like we’re doing enough.
Guilt can lead to trying to do more… and then overdoing it. It can lead to trying to be the perfect mom, with the perfect house, and the perfectly dressed and behaved kids… but let’s face it. That doesn’t exist. Maybe on Pinterest. Maybe on Facebook. But nobody’s perfect 100% of the time.
And that’s okay. Let go of the guilt. Give yourself some grace and go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
14Keep A To-Do List
While having a to-do list might sound like yet another thing you need to worry about doing, it can help you keep track of things, which might relieve a little stress. An old-fashioned to-do list, written with pen and paper, can help keep you accountable, which will motivate you to get things done.
Write down every little thing you need to do during the day, or even write down the things you’d like to accomplish by the end of the week. Write down the stuff that you know you’re going to do, because you kind of have to do it. Wash the dishes, fold the laundry, make the beds, take out the garbage…
Because when you get things done? You get to cross ‘em off the list. It’s super satisfying to see your long list dwindle down to one or two little tasks. It’s also a great way to remind yourself of all the little things you do to keep your family up and running, every single day.
13Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Life isn’t perfect. As moms, we aren’t, either. We all have our moments. Accept the fact that sometimes, things happen, and you just need to roll with the punches.
The house looks fantastic. You’ve finally gotten toys picked up, books are on the shelves where they belong, the floors have been swept, the couch cushions are finally crumb- and pet hair-free. But then nap time ends or the kids get home from school and start arguing and everything is wrecked within minutes. Kids are kids. They make messes. It happens.
You finally have the energy to try a new recipe for dinner. You put a healthy, well-balanced, delicious meal on the table for your family. Your partner’s not all that hungry because they had a big lunch at work. One kid complains that they’d rather have pizza. Another kid would rather smear the food around on the plate with her hands. Remember… it happens. Don’t let it stress you out.
Your kid may, at some point, collapse on the floor in Target and throw the biggest, most embarrassing tantrum ever... you are not the only person this has happened to. You are not alone. Remember that.
12Exercise To Reduce Stress
While it might be one of the last things you feel like doing, exercise is a great stress reliever. During exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that fight off stress. You might have heard of a “runner’s high” – that’s endorphins at work. But running isn’t the only way to get those endorphins flowing. Any type of exercise can be a form of stress relief, whether it’s playing a game of tag with the kids, pushing the stroller briskly through the mall, or taking a yoga class. You don’t have to be in great athletic shape to exercise – you just need to move around a little.
Regular exercise can not only increase self-confidence and help you relax, but it can also lower the symptoms associated with stress, depression, and anxiety. Exercise can also help improve your sleep, which can be disrupted by stress and anxiety.
Remember not to exercise in the afternoon or evening. Even though exercise can help you sleep better, the endorphins released by exercise can have a stimulant effect – which could possibly keep you up at night.
As a mom, it can be a challenge to eat healthy when you’re taking care of your little ones all day. Moms of young kids are surrounded by little bits of food – dry cereal, cookies, fruit, and other snacks – all day long and it’s easy to help yourself to a handful (or two) of goldfish crackers when you’re on the go. And sometimes, when you’re cleaning up after a kid’s meal, it’s easy to pop a couple leftover chicken nuggets or cheese cubes in your mouth, rather than making a meal for yourself. All this unintentional eating can lead to weight gain.
In addition, skipping meals can make stress-related symptoms worse. Try to make your mealtimes relaxed and pleasurable. Try not to skip meals and don’t eat on the run, or you may end up with a headache or indigestion.
Avoid eating to relieve stress. Sometimes we turn to food to comfort ourselves when we’re feeling stressed. Sometimes we choose convenience food because it’s just easier or faster. This can lead to overeating and weight gain, too. If you start to feel burnt out, look for something else to do to that will relieve stress – read for a few minutes, go outside and get some fresh air, take a bath and try to relax.
10Get Some Zzzs
Sleep is a necessary human function. During sleep, our brain recharges and our muscles repair themselves. Lack of sleep can affect memory, judgment, and mood. If you don’t get enough rest, chances are, you’ll end up burnt out in no time.
When your baby is born, everybody tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps. Easier said than done, but you really should rest when you can, even when your kids are older. While the kid is taking his nap, you should take a few minutes and at least put your feet up. There is no shame in taking a break. When you rest, you’re taking care of yourself – which makes you better able to care for your family.
Lots of doctors and family experts stress the importance of a bedtime routine for babies and children. It’s important to have one for yourself, too. Before you go to bed, do activities that will help promote better sleep. Take a warm soak in the tub or read a book or a magazine. (An actual book, with actual pages – not anything on a smartphone or tablet!) Keep your bedroom cool and comfortable. Avoid caffeine in the evening – make sure your last cup of coffee, tea, or soda is earlier in the day. And, even if you think a glass of wine before bed might help you sleep, sometimes alcohol (and medicines) that initially make you feel drowsy will negatively affect how well you sleep throughout the night.
9Put The Phone Down
Modern technology is affecting our sleep, our moods, and how we interact with other people. Many of us are guilty of being constantly attached to our smartphones. Studies have shown that the artificial light from TVs, computers, tablets, and phone screens can affect melatonin production, which throws off our circadian rhythms and prevents us from falling into deep, restorative sleep. Regular nighttime computer usage has been associated with stress, sleep disorders, and symptoms of depression.
Make sure your bedroom is being used for the right purpose: sleep! Keep the laptop and the tablet out of your bedroom. Move the TV somewhere else. And try to stay off the phone right before bed!
If you have to be on the computer or a tablet for an extended amount of time, take breaks or limit the amount of time you spend online. “Fast” from technology or social media once a month, or even once a week. The world will wait patiently for another Tweet or Instagram photo.
8Learn To Say No
Just because you’re a SAHM, that doesn’t mean you have a ton of free time on your hands. It might be tempting to accept playdate invitations and to fill up your calendar with classes and meet-ups and storytimes, but it’s totally okay to say no. Every minute of your day does not need to be scheduled and filled with activities and outings.
The same thing goes with being involved with older kids’ school activities, field trips, and fundraisers. You might want to be the perfect room mom who helps out and contributes 100% of the time, but sometimes, it’s just not possible. And that’s okay.
At times, it might be hard to just flat-out tell someone no, especially if you’re perfectly capable of whatever it is they’re asking of you. You don’t have to say yes immediately. Think it over and take some time to decide if it’s really something you want to do. And if the answer is still no, don’t feel like you need to give a list of reasons or excuses. No is a perfectly acceptable answer.
It can be hard, in this day and age of what feels like competitive parenting, to accept help when it is offered. But parenting is not a solo journey. It takes a village, right?
When you have a baby, chances are, friends and family will descend upon your household with gifts and meals and offers to babysit and clean your house. Accept the help. Take the casseroles and the offers to pick up some groceries. There is no shame in accepting help.
There’s also no shame in asking for help.
Rely on your partner for help. Dads are not babysitters; they’re parents and head of the household, too, and as such, they should be pitching in. Moms don’t have to do it all. Dads can supervise homework, pack lunches, and give baths, too.
Work together with friends to rotate pick-up and drop-off schedules so that you’re not the only one who does all the driving. (Or so you’re not constantly depending on that one friend to do it for you.)
Let those grandparents help out. You know they want to babysit. And you know you
want need deserve a night off every once in awhile.
6Less Is More
When you have a baby, you end up with a lot of gear. A crib, a stroller, maybe a swing… Not to mention piles of diapers, toys, and clothes. All that stuff requires some serious management and organization. And sometimes, more stuff = more mess! Mess can lead to stress, and stress will eventually lead to burnout.
We want to give our kids the world; we want them to have everything. However, it’s important to remember that less is more. When a toy comes in, encourage your kid to donate one that’s been getting less attention. Doing this will help keep the stuff under control, and will also teach your kid about giving and being charitable.
The “less is more” attitude can apply to activities, too. Try not to overschedule your kids’ lives with sports, clubs, and lessons and limit their activities. Trying to coordinate multiple hectic schedules can be stressful. Leave some time for the crazy, beautiful, wonderful moments of childhood.
5Take Time For Yourself
If you’re a full-time SAHM, then it’s just you and the kids, day in, and day out. Their needs take precedence over yours, hands down. The kids probably have a closet full of adorable clothes, while you might just change from the yoga pants you slept in to the yoga pants that you wear around the house. The kids are probably up to date on doctor’s and dentist’s visits, while you’re lucky if you remember to schedule your annual gyno exam. The kids play in the bath for an hour while you’re lucky if you can get in the shower, shampoo, and run a razor over your armpits in ten minutes, tops.
It may sound cliché, but you need to take some time for yourself. Grab a coffee and go shopping, even if it's just to wander the aisles alone for awhile. Lock yourself in the bathroom for an hour to take a bath. Splurge and treat yourself to a massage or a pedicure once in awhile. Meet up with some other moms for dinner or drinks. Just get out and do something. You were a whole other person before you had kids. Don’t forget about her. Take care of her and let her come out and play once in awhile!
As a SAHM, you’re tired. I get it. There are a million things on your plate, but you do like the idea of taking time for yourself. You might even be okay with letting your husband put the kids to bed once in awhile so that you can take that long bath or curl up and binge watch a TV show.
You’d probably much rather do that than go out. Going out with your partner or friends used to be fun; now it seems like a chore. You may have to arrange for a babysitter. You have to figure out what to wear. Gasp! You might even have to dress up. Isn’t it just easier to stay home and veg out on the couch?
Sure. But going out is good for you. Schedule a girls' night out. Let loose. Enjoy some adult conversation and much-needed time with other grown-ups. You don’t have to be a party animal every weekend, but get out there and have fun once in awhile.
We always say we’re going to get together with friends and then life gets in the way and we never do it. Set a date well in advance for a get-together. That gives all parties involved time to make plans and putting a date on the calendar gives you something to look forward to – and something to stick to.
3Talk It Out
Sometimes as SAHMS, we may feel like what we’re doing is being taken for granted. We can feel unappreciated. We can even feel like what we’re doing isn’t really that important, because we don’t “go” to work – our work is just done at home, all day every day. We can feel disconnected from our partner and our friends because we aren’t doing the same things anymore.
It’s important to openly talk about what you’re feeling with your partner. The discussion could surprise you. You might feel like you’re always the one who has to deal with the kids because you’re home all the time; your partner might look at it as they’re missing out because they’re at work all day. Talking about your roles as parents and what’s going on in your lives away from the kids is important for both you and your partner. And if you don’t talk about these things, if you don’t ask – then you’ll never know!
2Don't Compare And Don't Judge
There’s an old saying… “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Don’t worry about what other moms are doing. And definitely don’t worry about how other moms look. Sure, you might wish you could afford a housekeeper like your friend so that you weren’t always kicking around dust bunnies and picking damp towels up off the bathroom floor. You might wish you had the time to shop for and make homemade organic baby food like your neighbor across the street. You might feel a twinge of envy when you see a mom on the playground with impeccable hair and makeup and a well put-together outfit.
Don’t do anything to try to keep up with the Joneses. Everybody has different schedules, routines, beliefs, and parenting styles. What works for someone else might not work for you. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your kids. Chances are, you’re already giving it your best shot.
With that being said, moms shouldn’t be judging each other, either. We have enough to worry about, without wondering where the mom next door shops or what she’s feeding her kids.
When you’re swamped with housework, overwhelmed with taking care of a teething toddler, and just plain exhausted, it may seem hard to find something to be thankful for. Throughout the ages and stages of baby- and childhood, there will be many trying moments. But all of these phases, even the most challenging ones, go by so fast.
You couldn’t wait for your baby to start talking, and now you find yourself counting how many questions they ask you throughout the day. You couldn’t wait to see your baby take his first steps, and now you’re lucky if you can catch a glimpse of him running out the door to go play with his friends.
It really is the little things to take pleasure in and be thankful for. Be thankful for a messy room littered with dolls and blocks and toys; it means your kids have imaginations and were busy playing. Be thankful for a sink full of dirty dishes at the end of the night; it means your kids went to bed with full bellies. Be thankful for the endless questions, and all of the “Why?”s and “How come?”s… It means your kids are curious and want to learn.
While you may have hundreds of diapers to change, what seems like endless laundry to do, dark circles under your eyes, and the beginnings of crow’s feet… be grateful. It means that you’re a SAHM who’s doing one hell of a job.
Sources: Huffington Post, PopSugar, Psychology Today, WebMD, The Bump, Parents, Ask Dr. Sears
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