Happy first week of September! I know we still have a few days of August left, but I’m seriously excited to see Summer off and usher in all the greatness of the Fall season. I’ve already begun putting pumpkin spice creamer in my coffee every morning and making trips to the apple orchard. If you follow me on social media, you probably already know these things!
So, last week I shared with you a little glimpse into my life as a mama with anxiety, and I was so overwhelmed with all the moms who reached out to say they battle the exact same thing. I had many people tell me I’m brave for putting my anxiety out there for the world, but I don’t see it that way. I don’t believe that anxiety is something to be ashamed about and hide behind. It is not only helpful for me to get those feelings out and share them with all of you, but I also believe it is helpful to many mamas who are facing the same struggles. It helps to know you are not alone. That we’re not all crazy.
It’s not about being brave, it’s about helping one another out. Lifting each other up in support and letting each other know we understand. Because, it’s hard to find people who truly get it.
As many of us are stay-at-home moms, a lot of that stress that turns into anxiety comes from the fact that we do not get time off. Our jobs require us to be present 24/7, no vacations, no lunch breaks, no time off. It is easy to let yourself get lost in that anxiety when your baby is screaming non-stop, you can’t get them to go down for a nap, they’re throwing their food all over the place, and they’re getting into everything that they shouldn’t be. When they do go down for a nap, there is a never-ending to-do list waiting for you to tackle. There is often little or no quiet time for decompressing, and it’s very easy to become overwhelmed.
So, you may be wondering why I don’t just go to work and take my baby to daycare if I get too stressed staying at home all the time. But, let me be clear about something. I love staying home with my daughter. The positive feelings I get from spending every moment with her far outweigh the negative. I feel very blessed that I am able to stay home with our daughter. I don’t feel lazy, or unproductive, or like I’m second to the bread-winner of the house.
I feel blessed. Accomplished. Productive. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Burnt out. Fulfilled.
If those aren’t words that describe a successful career, I’m not sure what would.
But, just like with any career, you need an outlet. Something that keeps you from feeling that “burnout.” Because that feeling can quickly escalate into stress and anxiety. And, it’s hard to come back from that point once you’re there.
So, what are some ways you can “take a break” when you are beginning to feel overwhelmed as a stay-at-home parent?
- Wake up before your baby does, and enjoy some quiet time to yourself. This works really well for us, because our baby goes to bed at 9 and wakes up around 9 the next morning. So, I typically get an hour or two at night and in the morning to reflect, read my Bible, do things around the house, work on the computer, or just sit and enjoy my morning coffee in silence. I use this time wisely, to refresh my mind. I find that if I sleep in and wake up when she does, I am more flustered and not mentally prepared for the day.
- Get out of the house! This is SO important. It is very easy as a stay-at-home mom to hole up in the house. It can make you exhausted just thinking about the process involved with going to the store. Getting the diaper bag ready, packing a snack just in case, getting the car out, loading the baby up, getting to the store, navigating the aisles with a shopping cart and a baby who only wants to be held, checking out with your arms full, getting the bags loaded and unloaded….you get the picture. I can often convince myself that it’s not worth the trouble to leave the house, but it always is. Lately, we have been going for 2 walks a day because the weather has been so nice. In those moments when she is getting fussy from tiredness and boredom and nothing else works, a walk usually will. Even if it’s just around Target.
- Make a play date. Once again, it can be easy to convince ourselves we just don’t want to go to the trouble. Coordinating nap times with a fellow mom friend can be a task in and of itself. But, if you can make it work, it does the mind so much good to interact with another adult during the day. Someone who knows what you’re going through and can offer some emotional support. Even if it’s just meeting at a nearby park for a few minutes, it’s definitely worth it.
- Find a mommy-and-me class. Becca and I have done two Christian music classes together, and I am so grateful we did. Since we had just moved here and didn’t know anyone, I signed up for the class in hopes of not only getting social interaction for her, but also for myself. I met some amazing people, and had an hour of social interaction where there was no judgement about my child’s behavior…or my yoga pants. I will admit, it took a leap of faith for me to sign up. I’m not always so willing to put myself in new social situations like that, but I am so glad I went, because I really needed that time for myself. And, Becca learned so much, too!
- Go to church on Sunday’s. This is by far the best thing I do for myself, and my daughter, each week. I leave every Sunday feeling refreshed, and I have a renewed energy to tackle the upcoming week. Not to mention, going to church gives you another reason to get out of the house and have social interaction with other adults and children. You can read more about why taking my child to church is so important to me here.
- Find your “mom tribe.” I have several mom friends in town, as well as several that I keep in touch with on Facebook. Since starting the blog, I have met so many wonderful mamas, and talk daily to a group of them. You may think it’s weird to be so close to women I’ve never met face-to-face. But, with all the technology in today’s world, it is possible to be connected to them and to share those daily struggles and successes. They are so uplifting, and we pray for each other on a daily basis. It really makes all the difference to be able to share things with others who really, truly understand what you are facing.
- Get a library card. I don’t think I’ve been to a town yet that doesn’t have access to some sort of library. If yours doesn’t, then maybe you can look into starting one up! Our town offers a free library card to those living within the city limits, as I am sure many of the libraries across the country do. I know when I was growing up, we had to pay a yearly fee for ours because we lived just outside of city limits. But, it didn’t cost much. Becca and I go to the library at least twice a month, if not more. I like to occasionally check a book out for myself, as well as several for her. She LOVES books, so we go through them pretty fast. The library also offers some free programs for children of all ages, so it’s another opportunity for interaction.
- Find a hobby, and make time to do it. I know, there are so many more things you need to be doing with your time, like laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc. But, take time for yourself. The rest can wait; it’s not going anywhere! Right now, my hobby is crafting. I’ve been working on small decorations for my baby’s first birthday party in a couple months (cue the tears).
- Try to have a date or family night at least once a week. We go out for dinner, go to the drive-in theater, walk around the mall, go miniature golfing. It doesn’t have to be this big extravagant night. Often times, we just end up going for dinner, a walk, and renting a movie. But, we are spending time together. Keeping your relationship with your significant other strong will make the whole parenting thing so much easier.
- Share your feelings. Don’t bottle it all up until you can’t take it anymore. If you need a break, tell your significant other that you need some time to yourself this weekend. And, don’t feel ashamed about it. It’s okay to step out of the mom role for a minute and let your partner take over. I’m not the best about doing this, but this past weekend, my husband took our daughter in the playroom for a couple hours while I napped. Yes, napping was my “me” time. And, it left me feeling like a new person. Get your hair done, go buy yourself a new outfit, make a trip to the nail salon, or just take a nap. Whatever makes you feel human again!
Tell me what you do to relieve the stress of being a stay-at-home parent! I am always looking for new ideas!!