For some moms, it’s a very easy decision to stay at home with her kids. Sometimes, a mom is left with no other choice. In both cases, there is a chance that it might not all go as planned. Actually, that’s a guarantee! And, in some cases this uncertainty can lead to stay-at-home-mom depression.
There is no possible way a mother can anticipate what her stay-at-home parenting journey is going to look like. You can get advice from other SAHM (stay at home moms), read parenting books, and seek tips from all sorts of sources. Nothing can prepare you for your unique situation.
There is the possibility you are not going to love every minute of being a stay-at-home parent. And that’s ok! It’s going to be hard even if it’s something you’ve always dreamed of. It’s especially hard if the current global situation is forcing you to be a stay-at-home mom.
You might love it most days and hate it others. You might feel perfect one day and depressed the next. It’s all ok. It’s all normal. And, unfortunately, this is all something no one warned you about.
It’s ok to feel depressed
Stay-at-home mom depression is a real thing. Someone from the outside might think it’s absurd for you to feel down when you are fortunate enough to be able to stay at home. No one can judge you for your feelings. No one understands your situation better than you do.
The first thing that you must do when you realize you aren’t feeling like yourself is to acknowledge that these feelings are ok. Most importantly, it’s important to know that you are not alone.
It’s completely OK to feel unhappy when you are staying at home with your kids. Staying at home with your kids 24/7 is an extremely hard job. I will argue that it’s the hardest job. Most parents are doing it right now and trying to tackle some sort of workload. There is nothing easy about raising little humans!
Think about it, you are not really the boss at home. You are at the mercy of your children and maybe even other members of your household. Your day revolves around their eating schedules (whether they eat or not!) and their nap times. Your day revolves around school and sports schedules, not your own exercise or personal development plans.
I admit that my personal preference is to be in charge. I like to be in control. It’s very easy to become distressed when I am at home with my kids and things aren’t going my way. Living this day repeatedly can be exhausting.
That’s just one example as to why stay-at-home moms might develop questionable feelings. I won’t go into the countless reasons we have to validate these feelings. Let’s just all agree that those feelings are normal. But what are we supposed to do about them?
Find your mom squad
Another thing that no one told me about being a mom was how much I would rely on other moms. Being a mom immediately lets you into this exclusive club. No initiation required. You can find a stranger or a mom friend you have known for years and immediately connect. There are no filters and if she is a mom, she “gets it”.
Your mom friends are here for you. I am willing to bet almost every other mom that you talk to has experienced the same feelings that you do. Talking about your feelings can help a lot. Knowing that you aren’t along helps even more.
The best part about talking to these moms is that they can provide you with information that’s way better than the internet. Sure, you can google stay-at-home mom depression and some great resources will pop up.
However, the information your friends can give you is irreplaceable. Talking to another mom who has been through acknowledging and seeking help for this kind of depression is priceless. She might be able to provide you with a specific local therapist who specializes in this type of therapy. She also might be able to guide you to an online group or a local group where you can share these feelings.
Seek professional help
There seems to be a foggy line between just being sad sometimes as a SAHM and being depressed. It seems that these feelings and the actual diagnosis of depression are pushed aside and recategorized. I’m referencing comments like:
“Maybe you are just tired.”
“You probably just need a break.”
“Just have a glass of wine, it will be ok.”
“This will all just blow over. It will get easier.”
Maybe you don’t even believe that these feelings require professional help.
I’ll be the first to say that there is no shame in asking and figuring it out.
A few years ago, I thought there could be something off with the way I was feeling. I wasn’t sure if it was a mental thing or a physical thing. It could have been both. I was tired all the time, cranky, unmotivated, and a little concerned.
It was then that I decided to ask my primary care physician what was going on. I asked if he thought I should seek further help or if there was anything I could do on my own. His evaluation concluded that I would be fine without seeking professional help and there were no strong indicators that I was suffering from any form of depression. We did discuss some other options that could potentially help me start to feel better.
And those things did start to help me feel better. I started getting better sleep, eating better, and started to put myself first.
Although it was decided that I wasn’t suffering from depression, it was still a huge step to just ask. Imagine if all the moms out there who felt a little “off” just asked for help. How many of their feelings could be validated? How many lives could potentially be saved? I feel like we would all benefit from seeking the advice of a professional at any point. There is no harm in asking for help.
Put your needs first
If you are reading this and think you might be somewhere along that fuzzy border, there are some things that have helped me work towards the happier side of things. Hopefully they help you, too.
It’s taken me years to understand the importance of taking care of myself, but it makes sense. How are you, as a mom, expected to take care of your family and house if you can’t take care of yourself first?
Reading this article might be the first step for you. Or it might be calling a friend or looking for a local moms group online.
Start small if self-care is something new for you. That’s exactly what I did.
I told my husband that I wanted at least one hour every weekend to work in my garden without interruptions and booked that long overdue pedicure. Eventually, I told my family that I was going to go camping with two girlfriends for my birthday for a weekend away.
It feels amazing to start advocating for yourself in a world that seems out of your control.
You are not alone in this motherhood journey
I hope you understand that you aren’t alone at this point. There is no shame at all in asking for help or asking a friend, “does this seem normal?”
Moms who are feeling depressed do have a lot of resources available for them. There are hotlines, Facebook groups, and local meetings available. There are more resources now than there were ten years ago. Society in general is really starting to understand that motherhood isn’t 100% happiness all the time, and it’s being embraced instead of being frowned upon.
Have you suffered from stay-at-home mom depression? What kind of solutions did you find helpful? Let’s share together and stick together as we work through this crazy motherhood journey!