With that being said, I truly believe that if you aren't in the right mindset about staying home with your kids, it's going to be a whole lot harder to make it a positive experience - for anyone involved - you, your kids, your spouse, and everyone else you come into contact with. I know this because I previously spent about 5 months as a SAHM and I HATED it. We had some good moments during the process, but overall I was not happy. When my husband would get home from work and ask how the day was, I would quite often have a response along the lines of, "well my bachelors degree in accounting and CPA license came into good use today as I was wiping butts." Not exactly the answer that puts anyone in a good mood. This experience was when we were in the midst of moving across the country and I had a newborn at home. I wasn't staying home with the kids "by choice". I was "forced into it by my husband's Navy career" (that was my mindset at the time). I was looking for work and a suitable daycare, both of which are stressful processes. I had very few friends here in San Diego, so I was lonely. I was sad, as we were going through the holidays and I was away from my family, I didn't have a job, and my husband's schedule was unpredictable and stressful. Yeah, being a SAHM was no fun then, not entirely because of the circumstances, but because of the way I chose to react to the circumstances.
Looking back, I wish I would have approached those 5 months with a different point of view, but what's done is done and I don't spend a lot of time sitting around regretting prior decisions, because you can't fix the past. If any of you are working as a SAHM right now and it is not by choice, I would like to prompt you to be as positive as you can about the experience, even if it isn't what you imagined you would be doing at this point in life. No, you're not necessarily using your degree or your prior work experience in this role, but being home with your kids is an amazing experience. There are so many moms (and dads) who would give almost anything to be home with their kids more. If you're actively looking for work, you probably won't be "stuck home" with them forever, so try and make it a fun and cool experience that you can all look back on fondly later on.
Some ideas when you are at your breaking point and wondering why you're home with these little monsters instead of at a job, where you wanted to be:
- Step into another room and take some deep breaths.
- Diffuse some lavender or other calming essential oil (I can point you in the right direction if you need help).
- Look at some pictures of them at a younger age and think about how much they have changed already and remember that each day is a big event in their young lives.
- Start a journal for each of your kids and jot down positive or memorable experiences you have with them. This one has many benefits - the immediate benefit is that you focus on something positive each day (or week or however often you write). Second, you can read back through older pages when you're feeling frustrated and smile at old memories you may have forgotten. And third, this will make for an amazing gift for them someday. I have one for each of my girls. Sometimes I'm good about keeping up on them and sometimes I am terrible at it. But something will be better than nothing when they are older and I can present them with these journals of funny things they said, names of kids they danced with when they were 3, etc. Of course, I'm lucky to have girls, who I think are more interested in this stuff, but I think boys would like it too.
- Sing. Anything. Whatever makes you smile!! In our house, it is often Disney ballads. It's hard to stay mad when you're belting out A Whole New World or some other such masterpiece.
There are many other things you could do to create a better SAHM experience, whether it's temporary and not by choice or something more permanent and by choice. I will definitely post more ideas later. I wanted these to be simple ideas of things you could quickly and easily implement with no help from anyone and without even leaving your house (not that I think staying in your house and going it alone is the best way to handle things, but I realize that for some people, that might be your first step!). Full disclosure, I do basically all of these on a weekly basis. Even when you want to be home with your kids, you still get frustrated, and that is OK! Just figure out how to work with it.
To wrap it up, since this blog post seems to be going on and on, if I could leave you with one thought about being a SAHM, try to cherish it. If you're in a slump, or this is a situation you're "stuck" in for one reason or another, make the most of it!! Find your silver lining :-)