Stay-at-Home mom depression is real. As a military wife and fellow stay-at-home Mom, I encounter many women who feel that they have put their lives on hold to care for their husbands and children. The misconception about stay-at-home moms is that we have it “easy” when in fact, our lives are in fact anything but easy. We work hard each day, many times putting our own happiness on the back-burner for others. Although taking care of our family is our top priority, we don’t have to become consumed by the task of it. One habit of a happy stay-at-home mom is to care for herself, first.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t properly take care of them.
Just like anyone else, stay-at-home moms have the power to create their own happiness. Honestly speaking, a happy stay-at-home mom must first be a happy woman. When your job is literally to care for others all day long, life can begin to feel mundane – therefore, it’s up to you to invoke the excitement in your life! Society tells you to act, look, and feel a certain way to prove to be a “good mother”, when in actuality being the best version of who God created you to be is all it takes to be a great wife and mom.
Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work. -C.S. Lewis
My stay-at-home mom journey began in October 2010. I didn’t plan on being a stay-at-home mom, in fact, I thought I was going to be a working mom with a fancy corporate job. However, life didn’t work out for me that way. God had a better plan for me, a plan I hadn’t realized yet.
Shortly after becoming a mom, I become consumed with all that was in front of me. I became obsessed with taking care of my kids and being a good wife. In the process of it all, I forgot about my personal goals and dreams. After five years of being a stay-at-home mom to two small children, I became burnt-out and started to doubt my life’s purpose. I fell into depression at the hands of the dreaded “stay-at-home mom slump”.
My husband did his best to help with the kids, but because of his military career, he worked 24-hour shifts for weeks at a time, and we lived thousands of miles away from home. I knew I couldn’t go on feeling sad for myself forever, so I decided to seek help and went to a session with a therapist.
Although sitting down to share my feelings with someone was relieving, the true change came for me the day I realized no one was going to save me from my own thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t pray it away and no amount of therapy sessions was going to do the work for me. I was going to have to make the change. This was my life, and I had little people depending on me to take care of their every need.
The most important work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home.
I changed my mindset about being a stay-at-home mom from “why me?” to “I’m grateful it is me!” That was the game-changer. Practicing gratitude and thanking God for all I had really helped to get out of my stay-at-home mom slump.
From that moment on, I have come to the realization that life is what you make it. Take the time to cultivate joy in every area of your life, in a way that brings you peace. Despite what your husbands and kids may do, ultimately you are in charge of your happiness. When you are living and enjoying life, your littles will learn to enjoy life too.
If you are a stay-at-home mama struggling with your joy, please know that you are not alone. Here are 10 daily habits I like to exercise to remain happy and healthy as a stay-at-home mom.
10 Daily Habits of a Happy Stay-at-Home Mom
1. Get dressed. Just because you are a stay-at-home Mom doesn’t mean you can’t look beautiful doing it! When you wake up in the morning, get dressed and style your hair even if you don’t have to go anywhere. Just the act of pulling yourself together and putting on a little lipstick each day can keep you from falling into the dreaded stay-at-home mom slump.
2. Keep a strict routine. Statistics show that children thrive with schedules and routines. By teaching your kids to live on a schedule, you are teaching them healthy habits to live by. The predictability of the day helps them feel like they have control over their environment, even at a young age. Keeping a regular routine helps you have control over the day and keeps the kids at ease. Exercise your authority as their mom by scheduling naps, meals, playtime – and sticking to it. Avoid the chaos and stress of uncertainty and create a daily routine for you and the kids to follow.
3. Eat healthy snacks throughout the day. The chemicals and hormones in junk food can bring down your mood and leave you feeling sad and sluggish. Throughout the day, eat mood-enhancing foods and snacks that are good for your body and brain.
4. Practice self-care daily. Self-care looks different for each woman I know. For me, self-care activities include journaling, bubble baths, or watching something funny. Remember, you are a woman who has needs before you are wife and mom. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t properly take care of them. Find time in your day to do one activity for at least 15 minutes that is for you and only you. Your sanity will thank you for it.
5. Listen to books and podcasts. As a stay-at-home Mom, sometimes adult interaction is few to none. To keep your brain from becoming flooded with baby shows and songs, choose an informational book or educational podcast to listen to. Use your listening time as an easy opportunity to learn something new each day.
6. Play music. Listening to music has the power to decrease levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in your body, counteracting the effects of chronic stress. Whether you choose to blast your music for the neighbors to hear or you would prefer to listen quietly with headphones, play your favorite artist or playlist to help keep a smile on your face throughout the day.
7. Get a hobby. What do you like to do, make, or create? It’s time to start doing that again. I am amazed at the number of Moms I meet who don’t have a hobby. I always think to myself, “No hobby? How has she not gone crazy?” Your hobby doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, in fact, a hobby can be described as an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. For your sanity’s sake, choose one thing each day you want to do – and do it.
8. Get some sun. Vitamin-D is very important to your mood and well-being. The fastest way to get Vitamin-D? Indulge in sunlight. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I open all the blinds and curtains to let in as much light as possible. If you have a chance, take a walk or sit on the porch for a few minutes. Sometimes all you need is a breath of fresh air to revitalize yourself.
9. Stay on top of housework. Statistics show when the environment that you spend the most time in is a mess, your attitude and sanity will be in disarray as well. Because you spend most of your time at home, keeping the home tidy is more important for your mental health than it is for the aesthetic of your home.
10. Sleep. Of all the tips, this one may be the most important. Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore, rejuvenate, and synthesize hormones. Researchers have also shown that after people sleep, they have better moods and perform better on daily tasks. As Mom, the entire show is depending on you being at your best. Turn off social media, leave that chore for tomorrow, and get some sleep. Your entire family will thank you for it.
I hope this helps!