As a Mom, especially a stay at home Mom, the expectation is to enjoy every second with your children. Comments such as “You are so lucky” and “not everyone gets the luxury of staying home with their kids” bubbles up the lovely “mom guilt” that each and every one of us with kids more than likely experiences.
But what if every day isn’t all butterflies and rainbows? The truth is, being a stay at home Mom can be incredibly isolating. The days are long, especially when you aren’t getting a good nights’ rest, it can be daunting doing a 24/7 job that you don’t get acknowledged for, and oftentimes you are simply running on empty. Society expects us to live in motherhood bliss, when behind closed doors, each day can be a struggle. Anxiety and feelings of sadness, even hopelessness can take over.
So, what can we as Moms do to share our truth and feelings, and beat the stay at home isolation and anxiety in motherhood?
1. Speak Up- be honest with friends and family about how you are doing. There is no reason to act like you have it all together, all of the time. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” holds true. If you are feeling like you need a break, reach out to friends and family to see if anyone would be willing to come and watch the kids, or even just bring you a meal or groceries. Do you know where the phrase “it takes a village” comes from? Back in the day, community living was a given. Dating back thousands of years, people lived in communities for safety, socialization, and shared resources. The “villages” would literally help raise each others children. Our society now doesn’t work in that way anymore. So, we have to do our best to make our own villages with the resources that we have. Speak up, reach out, be honest, and ask for help.
2. Get out of the house. Being at home all day each day promotes that feeling of “cabin fever.” Anxiety can creep in and depressive thoughts if you feel trapped in the house all day. Getting out with the kids, and even simply being around other people helps break up the days, and makes you feel less alone. Heck, there is probably another Mom (or 10) doing the exact same thing as you are, wherever you decide to go. Even something as simple as a walk to the park, and feeling the fresh air on your face, will help rid those feelings of exhaustion and isolation.
3. Stay connected with those that “understand” you. Hold your Mom friends close. It is almost a guarantee that however you are feeling, someone near and dear to you is feeling the very same way in that moment. Anxiety and depression in motherhood is so common, and feels like a cliché to talk about. It may be beneficial to hold space once or twice a month to have a “playdate” with the kids and a fellow Mom friend. Time easily can escape our grasp, so being intentional about setting up and holding a time to get together holds everyone accountable for the follow through.
4. Start a journal. There will be times when you won’t have someone to talk to, and you feel like your words may not be understood. Starting a journal and writing down how you are feeling can really relieve some of the pent-up emotions you may be experiencing. It really is therapeutic to get thoughts down on paper. You can even share this with your spouse, or just keep it for yourself if that is your preference. Writing can de-escalate feelings of anxiety, depression and hopelessness.
5. Seek talk therapy. Taking time to speak to a therapist is beneficial, they can validate your feelings and help you to gain back control of your life. Therapy can assist you in better communicating with your spouse and children, and assist you in setting necessary boundaries. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, speaking to a therapist about what you need is incredibly beneficial and empowering.