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“Who the heck am I? Mom? Wife? Where did Keri go? When did she disappear?”
This is something that I found myself asking a few years ago, and on occasion, these questions still come up. If you are a stay at home mom, you probably understand.
If you ask me, stay at home mom depression is almost inevitable. Taking plunge to care for your family 100% of the time requires sacrifices that the outside world often does not realize.
Over time, underappreciation and lack of direction begin to wear on you. It might take months, or maybe years before you start to feel that twinge. Some very intentional women never do.
However, if suddenly you find yourself wondering “What is my purpose?”, you are not alone! The good news? There are a few ways to combat depression and thrive as a stay at home mom.
1. Rewire Your Inner Voice
Depression has a funny way of sneaking into a person’s psyche. All of the small things that impact our day negatively, eventually start to affect our mindset. That is when depression often rears it’s ugly head.
If we aren’t conscious about feeding ourselves the same amount of positivity, these negative feelings will consume us. If they go unrecognized, they might even make us forget who we really are.
Combat these negative thoughts by feeding yourself positivity every day:
- Surround yourself with positivity. This can mean finding a group of friends that don’t complain about motherhood or even filling up on podcasts and following influencers that make you feel empowered. Do everything you can to avoid hearing negativity from outside.
- Choose a few affirmations to tell yourself whenever negative thoughts start creeping in. Start by targeting the parts of your life that you are struggling with most to make the biggest impact.
- Pay attention to the little things in life that you are doing well. Praise your hard work, and reflect on your progress.
- Focus on why you can, not why you can’t. More often than not, these excuses are only in our head.
- Choose a quote that will help you remember what you really want out of life, and help keep you focused. A mantra if you will.
RELATED: HOW TO BE A HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE SAHM
2. Change Your Perspective
One of the reasons that stay at home moms burn out so often is because so much of our job is maintenance. We get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities. Then, when we get burned out by doing these same things time and again, we start to yearn for a greater purpose. Only a short time before, being an amazing and present mom was the greatest purpose for our lives that we could imagine!
Well, this can be overcome by choosing to shift your perspective! I’m not saying to just decide that scrubbing the toilet will make you happy. But decide to take the steps that will make it the smallest part of your day so that you can enjoy the good parts of life.
For a long time, my focus was in the wrong place. I spent at least five hours a day cleaning and cooking. I was l
It felt like I needed to prove that I was worthy of staying home. That I was contributing. Dog-gone it, if I was home, then I had better be the best homemaker out there. If I wasn’t the next Martha Stewart, I was failing.
This mindset was making my job so much harder! It was miserable. I wasn’t being the mom or wife I wanted to because of it.
I was so trapped in trying to prove that I was
Simple Ways To Shift Your Perspective:
- Go on a gratitude rant every time you start feeling frustrated about chores, or tantrums, or cooking. Replace the negative talk and start reminding yourself of all of the wonderful things in your life. Consider what life would look like if you had to go to work outside of the home right away, and remember why you chose this path. Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to remind yourself of all of your blessings in life.
- Work on creating healthy habits that will alleviate some of your pressure. This is a long-term strategy, but worth the energy!
- Stop making excuses. I was the queen of excuses and I didn’t even realize it! Just decide that you won’t justify your situation to others. Either you do something, or you don’t. The reasoning behind it is irrelevant. Own it.
- Get into a simple routine and work it so that your days don’t work you. Keeping up doesn’t have to be hard. It can be as simple or complicated as you make it.
RELATED: HOW TO BECOME A MORNING PERSON EVEN WHEN YOU ARE EXHAUSTED
3. Find Your People
Staying home with your kids can be so, so lonely. I didn’t have any friends nearby after we moved out of state. I struggled to make new ones because I was a teen mom. When I met other mothers, they were older than me. They were living a different stage of life, and that intimidated me. How could I possibly connect with these people on a true level? I didn’t know where to start.
On top of that, I was so self-conscious of my home. Not because it wasn’t nice, but because I felt like it was a reflection of how well I was taking care of my family, and it never felt good enough to let an outsider into. I was never ready.
Maybe your story is different, but I would be willing to bet that the solution is the same. You must allow yourself to be vulnerable before you will ever connect on a deeper level.
Make Real Friends That you Can Lean On
It wasn’t until I met one mom that accepted me fully. She loved me regardless of my story, my messy house, my age, or my dirty pajamas. Finally, I started to let people in. I realized that maybe all of these parts of me that felt “not good enough” weren’t even relevant.
I started inviting people into my home, even if it wasn’t perfect. But the change went deeper than that. When someone said, “How are you?” I actually told them instead of responding with “I’m fine, you?”.
By letting go of my insecurities and taking the chance to be real, I also started letting go of my walls. The freedom of not being afraid of judgment anymore was exhilarating.
The amazing part of all of this? When you show your vulnerabilities, the other person is more likely to as well. Suddenly you are getting to know people instead of trying to create a relationship while discussing the weather.
If you find yourself lonely and struggling to find your tribe, go to a few events for kids and meet some moms. Actually ask for their phone number if you hit it off! Then you reach out and make plans. Don’t wait for them to do it.
If that feels too hard, make some online friends. Join some Facebook groups and engage in the conversation. Just start talking to people that are outside of your regular circle, one way or another.
Put in the effort. Be real. Take the chance. After all, strong relationships are what will help you through the rough times and make the good times even sweeter.
RELATED: LET YOUR FRIENDS OFFER YOU STRENGTH OF MIND
4. Get Inspired & Set Goals
The indefinite daily grind of dishes, laundry, diapers can definitely break anyone down. The actions aren’t hard, but staying sane is. It can be so mundane, and the workload is never-ending.
Over the years, I can think back and pinpoint all of the times that I got inspired and it affected my mental health.
- When I had my second baby and vowed to get my body back.
- When I planned a friend’s baby shower and reveled in being able to dictate every adorable detail. I love party planning!
- When I decided that I was going to be in control of my life-and got started the same day. Decluttering, managing a budget, organizing. It all feels great after it is done.
- When I dove headfirst into starting an Amazon flipping business, then followed my heart to where I am now.
As you can see, these activities are all pretty different, but they all helped light a fire inside of me. They helped me to break free and make a change, whether that meant shifting my focus away from my day-to-day, or mastering it.
It’s a shame that it took me so many years to spark inspiration, and then keep it going. But it is totally worth facing the risk of failure and pushing outside of your comfort zone. I sleep less but feel more rested. I work harder but feel more energized than ever. Before, I never would have believed it, but it’s true that when you make big goals, they inspire you.
My journey has taken tons of trial and error. Keeping up with my house is still a regular thing. In my business, my end goal has changed 23,151 times. Sometimes it has been so, so hard to keep pushing when things at home go awry. But I wouldn’t go back, and I am nowhere near quitting.
I challenge you to figure out what part of your life needs attention and then seek inspiration, whether that is a business or a personal journey. Fill up on the feeling of excitement or accomplishment and let them help carry you through the challenges of motherhood.
RELATED: REDISCOVERING YOURSELF AFTER MOTHERHOOD
5. Self-Care is Important
When we are stuck caring for other people all the time, it doesn’t take long for our needs to go unnoticed. Make sure that you give yourself the attention you deserve.
Exercise. Take a few hours to go somewhere alone if you get the chance. Figure out what kind of activities fill you up emotionally so that you can work them into your days.
Once you know what you need, have a discussion with your family, or your spouse, and make your desires heard. If you never let them know how to help you, they never will.
This was a real struggle for me. After years of serving my family at their every whim, it has been a real adjustment to set time boundaries for them in order to reach my greater goals. It’s a work in progress, but a journey that I strongly encourage you to begin.
How Do I Set Boundaries?
Even though I am home all of the time, it is okay for me to not have the same priorities as they do. I use timers as my boundary setter, and before I try to do anything for myself, I make sure that my kids have everything they need. This includes exercising, taking a shower, working on my blog, even relaxing because I just need it. If they agree that all is well and I start my timer, they know that they have to wait until my timer is done before I am available again.
Giving myself these chunks of time doesn’t mean that I care for them less, it just means that I also care for myself and I deserve my attention sometimes. A happy mom that is fully present most of the time is better than a depressed mom that isn’t ever really “there”.
RELATED: WHY YOU NEED TO RE-THINK YOUR TO-DO LIST
6. Get Outside & Relax
If push comes to shove and we are having a really terrible day, I ditch all of my responsibilities and we get outside. We don’t go to town or visit the trampoline park. We don’t go anywhere that there will be outside pressures.
Instead, we get personal with nature. We go for hikes, collect flowers, bundle up and treck to the frigid, empty park if that’s what it takes. There is something about unplugging that can heal a bad mood.
The worst thing that we can possibly do on a terrible day
It is okay to take a break! It is okay to be imperfect. If you have things that need to be done on your to-do list, but you are struggling, chances are that you will fail to complete them whether you try or not. So give yourself the chance to restore yourself and just get away from it all, just for a day.
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Stay At Home Mom Burnout
If you are struggling as a stay at home mom right now, just know that it gets easier. The kids get older, the house stays cleaner, and the nights feel longer. But don’t ever forget to take that breather, and drag yourself up when you have fallen down. You deserve to love staying home, and your family deserves to have a happy and healthy mama!