Sneak peek: Learning how to be a happy stay-at-home mom can be a struggle for many of us. Tips and ideas for not just surviving but thriving as a stay-at-home mom.
After being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years, I’ve learned that it is a role full of paradox. Yes, it is a privilege to be able to be with my kids each day. And it’s also true that being a stay-at-home mom involves a lot of sacrifices. For me, the key for how to be a happy stay-at-home mom is making peace with this paradox and all that comes with it.
Recognizing that being able to stay home with our kids is a privilege doesn’t mean you have to enjoy every minute of it. Being a stay-at-home mom is challenging. There is no getting around that. We sacrifice our careers, much of our free time, and our own agendas to be stay-at-home moms. I think what most of us recognize, however, is that these sacrifices are somewhat temporary. Ultimately, as our kids mature, we return to careers or creative outlets. The time we spend with our kids when they are young is irreplaceable.
How Can a Stay-at-Home Mom be Happy?
When I consider what I’ve learned over the years about how to enjoy being a stay-at-home mom, it mostly involves finding balance. It is easy as a stay-at-home mom to give all of yourself 24/7 to your kids and forget about your own interests and well-being. Stay-at-home mom life doesn’t have to be that way. We can keep a piece of ourselves alive and well, even in the midst of giving so much to our kids.
A few consistent practices that have helped me learn how to be happy as a stay-at-home mom include things like:
- building in time for self-care (that relates to boundaries too!) and
- changing my mindset to recognize the importance of the work I do each day
While these may sound simple, these habits of mind can be challenging for stay-at-home moms to implement.
Boundary-Setting for Stay-at-Home Moms
When we think of boundary-setting we often think of setting boundaries with our kids and that is important. Boundary-setting for moms often includes knowing when to say “no.” This could be saying no to too many commitments, saying no to too many kids’ activities or saying no to certain negative thoughts that run through our heads.
Self-Care for Stay-at-Home Moms
For many stay-at-home moms, self-care is virtually non-existent. Many mothers have the impression that giving everything to their kids (e.g., physical duties, emotional strength, time, energy, etc.) means they are “good” moms. When I started my journey as a stay-at-home mom, I thought this too. I thought if I just gave my kids my everything, then they would turn out “perfect.”
What 11 years of experience has now taught me is that we can support and guide our kids but their choices and ultimately their development is their story, not mine. Like the old saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and this is very true for motherhood. As stay-at-home moms we must find little ways to fuel ourselves, our needs and our personalities if we are to have anything to offer our children.
Mindset for Stay-at-Home Moms
Although not often discussed in mom circles, changing your mindset is crucial to being happy as a stay-at-home mom. Let’s face it, the stereotype of stay-at-home moms in our culture is not so great. Our role in society is not well-respected or even well-understood. Stay-at-home moms are often depicted as caring and loving but also simplistic, unintelligent, hypervigilant to their kids’ well-being and sometimes even spoiled. Although in reality, none of this stereotype is even close to accurate, I think this image often seeps into moms’ mindsets. They begin to see themselves and the work they do at home as unimportant, not relevant, and not contributing to society as much as parents who work outside the home. This mindset often contributes to stay-at-home moms not feeling as fulfilled in their role as they could feel.
This is where mindset change is crucial. Altering your mindset (and reminding ourselves regularly) to see the valuable work that you do with our kids each day can change everything.