17 September 2009

Q&A: Stay At Home Mom

I had a reader submit a really good question this week--one that I think many of you out there might relate to. Thank you so much to the reader who put herself out there to send me this question...

Q: Is it normal to just not want to be a mom sometimes? I am a stay at home mother and sometimes I just want to quit and go away. It is not that I don't love my children but I get overwhelmed sometimes. I read your post and want to feel the same way about my kids but I don't. I love the fact that 3 of them go to school all day. Is it bad to feel this way. Growing up I always thought that I would go to work and that my husband would stay home with the kids. Obviously it is not that way and it is very hard sometimes.

A: Dear Reader,
I think that your feelings of being overwhelmed, and just wanting to quit are more common than you might think. Being a stay at home mom is HARD! Being a stay at home mom is a long, often times thankless, non-mentally stimulating job. Going back to work was hard, too, but I would definitely say that it was harder to stay home. It took way more self-motivation, I had to find sources of self-esteem elsewhere, and definitely had to take care of myself. The number one thing I would suggest to help you feel less overwhelmed? MAKE TIME TO BE AN ADULT. Make yourself go out with friends every once in a while. Make yourself get dressed at least a couple times a week (haha, serious). Find something that you can do that will be beneficial for your self esteem--like take a class at a local college, exercise, go get a massage once a month, or something like that. It is so easy to wear our scrubby mom clothes and eat nothing but PB&J and macaroni and cheese for weeks at a time. And this gets old. Fast.

Hang in there!! Find other moms to vent to. Pray to be more patient and/or loving and/or whatever with your kids. And know that I think EVERY mom goes through ups and downs, and every mom is relieved some days when her kids finally leave for school, and every mom has times when she thinks WHY IN THE WORLD AM I DOING THIS?!?! It sounds like your expectation wasn't to be home with the kids in the first place, so you have an added layer of adjusting to do with that as well. Is there a part time job you could get one or two days a week while your kids are in school? Maybe that would help.

Mostly I just want you to know that you're not alone. And if you ever feel like you are, and you're having a "being a stay at home mom sucks" kind of day, you can always shoot me an email.

Please leave a comment if you have felt similar to this reader. We could all use some support around the incredibly difficult and incredibly important job of raising our kids...no matter what that looks like for us.


Anonymous said...

I know as a fact my mom went through times where she felt like this.

That does not take away from the fact that she was and is an absolutely amazing mother!! I am so grateful for everything she gave up to be home with us. Now, that she is back in the workforce, she has stood up at corporate meetings among MANY MANY people and been able to say, that her biggest accomplishment is as a mom.

Most moms feel like this at some point. It does not make you a bad mom or a bad person. Nikki is right, you just have to get out there and find a way to feed that social and adult spirit. You need to find you as a person. The healthier and more balanced you are the better mom you will be. It will also serve as a good model to your kids for when they have their own family.

I ditto the fact that you are not alone and it is a scary and honest question to ask.

Cardalls said...

Been there done this...and all I ever wanted to be was a stay at home Mommy! I love my kids to pieces and most days I love my "job", but there are some days/weeks where I feel just like this. I then have to remember all the reasons why I love being a Mom and the joyful moments. One of the things that has helped me is to keep a Gratitude journal about being a Mom. Funny/sweet things my kids do and say, proud moments etc....it helps to go back and read these when I am about to pull my hair out :)

Working Mom said...

I wrote this whole long comment and ended with something I now want to say from the very beginning:

I think it is important to remember that your intent has so much to do with everything. If you work so that you can live a lavish lifestyle, that is just as bad than if you stay home just because that is what everyone expects of you, but it is not what is best for you.

I remember reading something by President Hinckley about the importance of staying home with your children if you can afford it. He said that working to get into a bigger house, or have that boat, or fancy cars is not OK and that you can not replace quantity time with your children with the excuse that it is quality time.

I cried for 3 days because I work full-time. My husband makes plenty of money, and we do have a big, beauitful house, nice vehicles and lots of toys, and I felt so guilty.

And then, I received an answer to my prayers and reality set in. I do not work for the extra money.
I work because I know that I physically, emotionally and mentally can not stay home with my children full-time. I work because I have to.

My husband and I have been able to work it so our children are only in daycare two days a week, which they LOVE. And almost every moment I spend with my children is happy. My children are more blessed with a happy mother the 4 or 5 days out of the week I spend with them, than an overwhelmed, tired, and miserable mom 3 or 4 days out of the week who stays home everyday. And every night when we are playing outside together, eating dinner, reading books and saying prayers, I am able to give my everything to my children. EVERY day, and I mean that.

Everything Nikki said is right on. Find something else you love to do. Get a good group of friends to go out once a month, or once a week. Join a bowling league, go for a drive and rock out to music ALL BY YOURSELF every Saturday. Do something for you for just a little bit every week.

And if that is not enough, remember you do not HAVE to be a stay at home mom. Ever. You have choices, and sometimes it may seem like a pain to try and find child care care or whatever, but I promise you that the Lord wants you to be happy, and we are all wired differently, and there are some women that are better moms when they work.

I am one of them.

And my children are blessed daily because of it.

A dad, therapist, husband, and son...does that still count? said...

Though most things can get stressful if you do them for years, I think staying at home with kids is especially so. I think it's important to remember that just because you're stressed and want to throw in the towel, it doesn't mean that you're bad for feeling that way. It means you're human. Normal. And placed in a very difficult situation for a long time. And while some of the small rewards for your sacrifice are on a daily basis (being there to witness the milestones, etc.), most of the big rewards come LONG after the fact when you look back on your legacy as expressed through your children. It's easy to lose sight of that in the middle of it, especially when the end is years away!

Anyway, I'm rambling. My original point: you're not bad for feeling bad! Just honor your bad, grumpy, "I can't stand you little people" feelings rather than feeling guilty for having them. There's no sin in feelings -- only behavior (so if you feel bad so you beat your kids, that's another story...:) ). Remember, Christ experienced every possible emotion that exists in Gethsemane (even the feeling of being completely over raising kids) -- and He was perfect. THERE'S NO SIN IN FEELING A CERTAIN WAY!

So, again: there's absolutely nothing wrong with feeling like you want a (permanent? haha) break from being a mom sometimes!! It's a completely natural feeling from being cooped up with kids all the time. It only gets problematic when you feel bad about feeling bad. Then you get more short with them, feel worse about yourself, get depressed, and so on. And that's a cycle that's hard to get out of...

So, give yourself a break -- both in the way Nikki suggested, and in how you think about yourself for feeling the way you do. You'll all be the better for it.
Hang in there! :)

Beki said...

I am a stay at home mom too and I often feel overwhelmed. My oldest son has autism and it is usually very challenging. When I'm feeling to down on myself I remind myself that Heavenly Father will never give me something that I can't handle. I still get overwhelmed, but that is when I pray for patience and count my blessing.

Cristi said...

I TOTALLY RELATE!!! I have 2 kids- 5 and 3 and being a mom has been MUCH harder than I anticipated. I thought, Well it's what we're supposed to do, it's the most important job, and I'm a good, nurturing person who tries her best in life so it will be pretty easy for me! Right? WRONG! I was shocked pretty much from day 1 at how hard it is. Some things that have helped me are talking to other moms and seeing I'm not the only one who's kids watch too much TV or who flood the entire bathroom with water. Also, exercising 3 times a week, even just going for a walk helps. As does making myself shower every morning, put on at least a little mascara, and wear something other than sweats and a t-shirt. At least jeans and a cute top-- every day. And I blow dry my hair when I have time. This makes me feel like I still matter. I agree with the suggestions to make adult time and to possibly work part time a couple days a week if possible. I'm relieved that my daughter has just started kindergarten-- having breaks from each other has made our relationship better. Also, I agree with keeping in mind that we will realize what a great work we've done once their grown. Until then, prayer and knowing that this is part of the refiner's fire that I need to help me grow and be prepared to return to our Heavenly Father is what gets me through. We have to not be too hard on ourselves and remember that we can only do so much.

Anonymous said...

I have 4 kids, the oldest is barely 5. I do love being a mom, but it is VERY hard. I think for me the hardest thing is being patient with my kids. They deserve that, but some times I don't give them that. I have a lot of guilt about it. I love them so much, yet often I treat them poorly. Maybe I should get a job as suggested, but I feel like I just need to work at being slower to anger & finding joy (little plug for you:). I think when I make an effort i am better about it. I just get in a rut & mindlessly answer questions & snap at them without any thought. Thankfully I am aware of it & TRY to give them the attention they need, but it's hard. Many nights I go to bed feeling like I failed my children that day & that is heart breaking.

Cristi said...

Check out this incredible song and video by Julie De Azevedo that addresses this very thing. You'll LOVE it.


Amy said...

I REALLY relate to this question. I worked for years and had a great career, we went through years of infertility and it took way longer to have kids so I really came to love my job. I worked from home on a tela-commute basis for the first two years and then when my husband got deployed and we moved I quit. I have been a SAHM for two long grueling years now. Do I think it's better for my kids? yes. Do I think it's better for everybody's kids? no. Do I think it's a good idea to follow Nikki's advice and stay an adult and make sure you have a life? FOR SURE. And I needed to hear it and be reminded that getting my nails done tomorrow is OKAY. In fact, it's saving me in a way from insanity that will set in if I don't get out. Thanks to both the writer and to Nikki. Great one!

B and K said...

Wow. I love how Working Mom put it above:

"I work because I know that I physically, emotionally and mentally can not stay home with my children full-time. I work because I have to.

My children are more blessed with a happy mother the 4 or 5 days out of the week I spend with them, than an overwhelmed, tired, and miserable mom 3 or 4 days out of the week who stays home everyday."

We are expecting our first baby in January and, to be honest- I have a hard time looking forward to staying home with a baby. All. Day. Long. Even though I was almost 25 when my husband and I married, and we both had completed our college education- I continued to work full time for another two years before getting pregnant. Not because I wanted a lavish life style or a big house, but because working was was a need of mine.

And I absolutely agree that you cannot meet your children's needs unless your needs have been met first. I don't not think it is selfish as all to work when you have kids if (like me) that is how your needs are met.

Thanks for putting my thoughts into words, Working Mom!

Another working mom... said...

As moms, no matter the circumstances-whether you work or not, you're married or divorce, you spank or do time out-we all have days where we feel like we failed our children for whatever reason.

The most important thing to remember is what is most important is are your children loved? Are they safe? Can they trust you? And are you raising them to be good, loving, faithful, righteous (whatever you believe that to be), successful people? You can do all of these things no matter the situation.

Is it easy? NO!! What it is so worth it. And if you are able to do this more effectively working because you need that, or divorced because you are in a toxic relationship, than you do it, becuase as moms I believe most of do what is best for our children.

A note to B and K,

The good news is that you may love that baby and want to spend every waking moment with him or her, and all of the sudden feel like staying at home is your calling in life and you would never go back to work again!

The other good news, that if not, you will still love that baby every waking moment (and really every sleeping moment) and you will work. And because you work, you will be able to give that baby your everything since you are able to fulfill your need for a challenge outside of the home with a job.

No matter what, do what is best for YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! Anyone who says that it is ALWAYS best stay home with the children is somewhat naive.

Best of luck!

Question Writer said...

As the writer of this question I am grateful for all of your suggestions. I do try to take time out for myself but I am realizing that I am not taking enough. I have 4 kids ranging in age from 11 to 2. They are great kids but I realize that I need to do stuff that is just for me.
Thanks Again!!!

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