Hey Mama, Ask for Help
Being a Stay at Home Mom (and I capitalized it because it is a full-time job and deserves a proper title) is hard. Maybe, you decided to stay at home because child care is ridiculously expensive and you wanted to give your child the personalized attention he or she would not have received otherwise. Perhaps, this is a temporary situation that provides a little more flexibility in your life until the little one is old enough to go to school. Or, you might have made the commitment to be the homemaker/homeschool teacher until the kids go off to college. Whatever your situation is, mama, I see you.
There are innumerable unique reasons why we choose to stay home with our kids, but at least for me, I feel so much guilt if I need to step away from full-time child care to take care of myself. I don’t know where this comes from. Maybe, it is because the idea of the Stay at Home Mom is one in which the mom doesn’t have any needs to be met or no other goals in life besides child care. If this is what’s going around, it is patently false. We have needs, dreams and goals, and it’s just so hard to balance those needs with the needs of our children, and their needs always end up taking priority.
I decided to stay at home because I was struggling with Postpartum Depression (PPD). I got on medication at my six week postpartum wellness visit. I was starting to feel better until I decided to stop breastfeeding because of the emotional toll it was taking on me, combined with it getting in the way of my sleep. Then, the PPD got really bad. Even with sleep and the increase in dose on my medication, some days I felt okay, other days I did not. We had my mother-in-law come over to give us a hand, which was tough, but necessary. I would have bad days, and I didn’t want my son to see me zoned out or in tears, so I would just go back to bed and sleep until I felt better. When I would finally come downstairs to see what I had missed all day, I felt horrible for not spending enough time with my son, and it would just start the cycle of negative thoughts all over again. I would then stay up all night with the baby to prove to my mother-in-law that I was still a good mother, and it just got in the way of my recovery.
Now that I am recovering and several months have passed since that very dark period, I regret that I felt bad for taking care of myself. I regret that I needed to prove to others that being a mom with PPD did not make me a bad mom, when it was true all along. Let’s let go of the “bad mom” syndrome. If you care about how your choices and actions are affecting your child, you’re an awesome parent. That’s how it should be. So, instead of proving and striving to be someone that you’re not right now, let it go.
If you are having a hard time getting the cleaning done while taking care of your baby, hire a housekeeper for an hour, ask for a hand from your spouse or a friend, or just accept that the house will be a mess today. It’s okay to order take out if you didn’t get around to fixing dinner with all you had to do. It’s okay to have someone watch your child so that you can go to the doctor, see your therapist, have some quiet bible study time, or catch up on some sleep for your wellness. And it’s definitely okay to put your child in daycare, even part-time, so you can get focused time to launch or work on your home business.
We were not designed to do it all. Even employees at regular jobs get vacation days because it makes them more productive at work. How can we be fulfilled Stay at Home Moms that are overflowing with patience, perseverance, joy and love if we are constantly depleting ourselves and not refilling our cups? It is important to take care of our children’s needs, but we are doing them a disservice by putting our own wellness on the backburner. I made the choice to take care of myself, and while I may have missed some days with my baby, I can give him so much more now that I am well. What are you doing for yourself today, mama?