This is a topic that I’ve been dealing with for the last month or so and I’ve found through seeking articles and advice online that TONS, if not all SAHMs go through these feelings. If you don’t have family, church and spousal support you are basically sunk. Two out of three ain’t bad, but there will still be a struggle for you. Now people who don’t attend church, have a church-home or just aren’t Christians, can to some extent replace that with friendships or other SAHMs. But being under the care and providence of the Lord of all creation (including the creation of YOU and motherhood) cannot be substituted. The Lord shows us that loving-kindness through fellowship of other believers, which you’ll find at a good Christ-centered, Bible believing church.
For me, family support is practically non-existent and so I believe this is where I had fallen apart. Depression, isolation, and the confusion of being a first-time mom is only the devil’s attack on you. I gave into it, because my spouse support was also waning, which was partly my fault. Don’t we all feel like we need to do everything because our husbands is working 9-5 (and sometimes 8-7!). We feel like he’s doing such hard work out there that we need to have everything perfect at home. But when he comes in the door, even after 10 hours of working we must remember: 1 – He probably didn’t finish every single task that was to be done that day. 2 – Our job doesn’t have a clock-out time and we’re still on duty. So we and our spouses need to realize the pressures of being always on-call and our clock-out time usually is when we close our eyes for bed. You cannot expect to get EVERYTHING done, 24/7. Remember the Sabbath! I know, it’s become non-existent for most SAHMs but God expects everyone to take breaks and your spouse should think the same way (especially if he is saved). So trying to do everything all the time can really cause motherhood burnout.
Another huge reason for my personal fall out with being a SAHM was lose of direction. Yes, I’m mom. Yes, I have a duty to bring my child up as a god-fearing person. Yes, I have a duty to my home (cleaning, cooking, etc.). And yes, also I have a duty to my husband and being that helpmate the Lord wanted wives to be. But what about.. yes, what about me? I used to be someone, have an identity apart from household duties. Am I now a nobody that washes dishes and sings “Baa Baa Black Sheep”? Being a SAHM (and yes any mom), can lead you to thinking you don’t have a purpose outside of that. And for some, that’s all the direction they need in life. But for me and many others, the question of who am I unveils itself.
Well remember you are a child of God first. He created you in His image for a purpose. Yes, a large part of that purpose is motherhood and being concerned of the home. But far more important is glorifying Him. This is what all mankind is made for. Are you glorifying Him? Read Mark 1:16-18 with me:
16Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
17And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
18And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
What’s going on there? Jesus is calling Simon (Peter) and Andrew out away from the routine, away from their daily duties, away from their job and lifestyle to do what? To glorify Him by bringing others to salvation. They will minister to others. Isn’t this apart of staying home? That you now have more time (yes I said MORE time) to help those around you. Our first call is Christ.
‘But how do I do this, it’s like adding one more thing on my to-do list?’ Yes, but this is your out as well as an addition. As you enjoy glorifying God with you time He will lead you to help others. Pray while you are feeding the baby, in the bathroom, while you are doing the dishes, during their naptime. Pray that the Lord reveal to you who to help, how, and who to pray for during your prayer time. Be attentive to others and pray for that! Think about it, when you are depressed, feeling isolated and confused who are you thinking of? Self. But when you draw your eyes to Christ and what others are going through you will be (slightly at first) less concerned about the issues you are facing. This is when you keep praying for His help. He will start showing you the obstacles others are facing and how you can help. If you like to cook, make extra and take a trip to see them. You will be thankful for the time out of the house. If you scrapbook, do a project for that other person, you can give your kids some paper, etc. to be creative with while you make your project.
Now here are some other suggestions I’ve found very helpful with dealing with this frustration:
Go out as much as possible: to the grandparents, the park, the library a few times a week (their is usually some kid activities or story-times you can attend). Take a walk or take the bus occasionally. Grab a friend and go to lunch, window shop, volunteer, organize a play group/book club. Go to the local YMCA to work out, swim (do baby swim lessons), or just walk on the treadmill and read a magazine. They usually provide childcare, which gives you a break and your baby some time to play with other kids/be in a different atmosphere.
Activities for baby and me: Show them things and repeat what it is. Start on ABC's, or 123's. Get some Little Einstein cards and videos and work with them. They really can learn a lot when they are under 1, so take advantage before the back talking and tantrums start! There are also online games for infants and up!
Socialize: Try to talk to people on the phone or online. Ever hear of play dates? Plan a time with another mother who has a baby of similar age and get together so they can play. Visit your neighbors, mark the calendar and go visit nearby family at least once a month (if you have some issues with them, but more if you don’t).
Activities for just mom: Find a hobby! Learn to sew, start digital scrapbooking, practice taking pictures of your baby. Learn how to crochet or knit and start making scarfs for winter and cute little hats for baby, or to give away. Learn to make a quilt and then make them for Christmas presents. Create a newsletter. Learn how to create a website and start something for young mothers. When the baby is napping, polish your nails, put some makeup on, take a soak in the tub or watch your favorite show (record it or DVR if it comes on at a busy time for you). You could even try doing a "mini spa day" at home and put on a face mask, paint your nails, and read your favorite magazine. Do something that makes you feel like your old self! Ask dad to take over once a week and do Girls night out, get a pedicure, get your hair done, have a tea party, etc. At least go grocery shopping without baby. Get organized! No idea how to keep house or what to do, research. Find out about coupons and saving money, best methods for cleaning, etc. Make a daily schedule for yourself to keep your house in order. Make a weekly schedule for projects. Get a big calendar and write everything down. Look up things to do online. Do something else, like projects or Bible studies at church are great, but don't over book yourself and don't do things that don't interest you. Start a workshop in your home or at church. Start a bible study at your home or at church. You can get a part time job if you can get free childcare. You and another mom can swap childcare and you can each work a part time job. Do job share. Listen to music and dance! This is a great stress-reliever. If you do it when baby is sleep, try earphones! Use a MP3 or iPod while you clean, etc.
Join some Groups: Mothers of Pre-Schoolers is www.MOPS.com Gymboree once a week its an hour long you can meet moms and play with baby. Search for a Gymboree (http://www.gymboreeclasses.com ), the little gym or my gym in your area!! Try a MOMS Club chapter in your area. Every chapter is different but most offer a variety of activities like playgroups, park days, field trips (say to the zoo or museum, etc.) and even specialty activity groups geared towards the moms (while the kids play) like book club, cooking club, MOMS Night Out, etc. You can check out their website at www.momsclub.org to see if there is a chapter near you! Try http://www.cafemom.com/ Also try www.momslikeme.com If you know enough moms, organize a mother's group that meets once a week/month. Visit your library for more options (usually flyers are around the kids section).
Read (de-stress, get ideas, and organize yourself): The Bible, A good book is "Slow and Steady Get Me Ready". and Invisible Mom. There’s lots of books available on the topic of motherhood and caring for the home. Search via Google.com but remember you know your child best and the Bible is your first book of instruction for life.
Some other Star advice:
Know the difference between the "urgent" and the "important". The baby is "urgent", but he cannot supercede the "important". The hard part is deciding what is important, what is urgent, and what can wait. If having a spotless house is important; then simplify. If meals are important then plan for that. If the dishes can wait.... then ask for your husbands understanding. Being a mom is 12-16 hours every day! Don't expect to be able to add housekeeping (and other projects) onto it without being overwhelmed.
Everyone needs exercise. The baby is included. Unfortunately, screaming is great exercise. The baby cannot go run around the block or do push-ups. So when he’s in a bad mood, let him exercise! 30 minutes a day... Don't forget as he gets older he will still need to exercise. Put him someplace safe, set the timer. And then do 30 minutes of whatever is important. (if you just can’t stand it, I recommend 20 minutes)
Whatever you are doing, keep the baby near so he still feels connected and give him things to play with that are of similar color or shape to what you are doing. Or give him a similar activity. Involve him in some way with what you are doing but you don't have to give him 100% of your attention all the time.
Still plan a portion of the day when you do give him your full attention for a short while. A good time is right before bed and right before you do a long task that will take a lot of your attention away from him.
So those are my thoughts. Leave me comments about yours!