Stay-at-Home Moms - How to Become Healthier and Happier
A recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that moms who work, especially part-timers, are happier and healthier than stay-at-home moms during the earliest years of the first baby's life. This really comes as no surprise to those who understand the sacrifice and working conditions of the stay-at-home mom.
Some have theorized that the part-time work gives a mother something valuable that the stay-at-home mom lacks in her life. Maybe working provides an outlet or some much-needed adult time. Part-time work may be a positive experience for some moms, but don't update your resumes just yet. There are many others pathways available to ensure that the new stay-at-home mom is happy and healthy.
All new moms experience a huge upheaval in their lives when the first child is born - from the amazing body changes, to the whirlwind of emotions, to the new sleepless schedules. Stay-at-home moms have an additional life change. Most are giving up a job or career to take on the new role. This may be met with apprehension or with glee, but it is like taking on an entire new identity.
One week you are working a 40 hour job, receiving a paycheck, taking lunch breaks, meeting friends after work, and then the next week, you are home alone with a new baby. Who you were in that former job is in the past, and you no longer have that much in common with your old work buddies.
After the first couple of months at home, the novelty wears a little thin and reality sinks in. You probably spend a lot of time in the house to accommodate nap times, and you often feel isolated. If you ever get a moment to yourself, it will definitely not be to exercise or clean the house. You are exhausted. Your sacrifice will take a toll on your mind and body. The good news is that you can do something about it.
Start a trend in your neighborhood by creating a Walking with Strollers Club. Recruit other moms to join you on certain days of the week. Not only will you be motivated to make the walking date, you will benefit from the adult conversation.
Once your body has recovered from childbirth, and the doctor says your baby is ready to venture around town, nothing is stopping you from getting some fresh air and exercise.
Invest in a jogging stroller and make walking or running a part of your daily routine. You may find a good deal on a used stroller at a consignment shop or on Ebay. If you live near a park or zoo, pack the baby up and walk the paths. Your child will also enjoy the scenery more and more as he grows.
You might also consider joining a gym that has a children's room. One hour a day at the gym will invigorate you and keep you in shape. The YMCA also offers free Childwatch while you take an exercise class or work out independently. A healthy body lends to a healthy mind.
Do you think taking a part-time job will make a stay-at-home mom healthier and happier?
Join a Moms Group
There are many different groups that offer support to stay-at-home mothers. Make the connection and become involved with other people who share your life choices and interests.
The MOMS Club is a nonprofit group that offers support to at-home moms of any aged child. Weekly events may include field trips, playgroups, park dates, parties, book club, and community service projects. The majority of the events are scheduled to include moms and children together. There are local chapters in all 50 states and some international groups as well. If there is not a chapter in your area, the MOMS Club will support you in starting a new one. There are also leadership opportunities available such as becoming a board member or activity coordinator. The group I belonged to had over 75 members, so I had the chance to meet a variety of women and made many life-long friendships.
MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International is a wonderful support group for all moms with children from newborn to five years old. Typically, the groups are sponsored by local churches and meet two mornings a month, though there are a few groups that convene in the evening. The children are cared for on-site while the mothers meet for about two hours. The moms may share a meal or snack, participate in small group discussion, and then listen to a speaker or work on a craft. It is a great way to network and expand your mind while your child is enjoying his own program.
There also may be some local Moms groups that meet in your area. Do some online research or ask around for what may be available.
Take a Parent/Child Class
There are many different companies that offer play or music classes for mom and child. All three of the organizations listed below offer free introductory classes, which is a great way to check your interest.
Gymboree Play and Music offers music and play classes for children from age zero to five, and can be found throughout the US, as well as internationally. The colorful room is full of kid-friendly soft tubes, slides and ramps for the children to explore. The instructor leads with fun songs and age-appropriate games. Classes are typically one hour per week, and parents participate with the child.
Kindermusik exposes your child to music and musical instruments at an early age and gives you the chance to connect with other parents. The kids love to dance and move to the music! You can even bring the fun home with Kindermusik cds, songbooks and instruments. The parent/child classes are for newborns to seven-year-olds.
The Little Gym has over 300 locations around the world. Their parent-child classes are for children aged four months to three years. They also have other classes for kids up to age 12, such as karate, dance and gymnastics. The instructors lead the little ones through fun and enriching activities in this kid-sized brightly colored gym.
The connections you make in these types of classes could lead to the formation of playgroups and friendships. When my first child was nine months old, we met five other families through Gymboree and formed a playgroup. Ten years later, the group still remains together.
- Check your local library for parent/child story time
- Start a weekly playgroup for kids and moms
- Check your local recreational center for parent/child activities
- Volunteer at church or in the community
As a stay-at-home mom, you will find that much of the day revolves around your child and his schedule. Don't ignore your own personal interests - instead, make time to enjoy them.
If you love to read, start a book club. Spread the word around your circle of friends or neighborhood and invite those interested to your home for the first meeting. Let the group decide how the books will be selected and how often you will meet. You may decide to follow an established book club list from the library or another source, or you may take turns selecting the book. If you meet during the day, have some toys set out for the kids to play with. It may be hectic some days with the kids present, but you will still have fun and enjoy the company. An alternative is to meet at night when you may be free to attend alone. That would be a treat and a much-needed break!
Moms Night Out is another popular way to take a break from your mommy duties and connect with your friends. Select one night a month to meet and make it a standing "appointment." You can rotate who gets to pick the location. One month may be a movie and the next could be a restaurant. Connecting with old or new friends minus the kids is important in maintaining friendships and keeping your sanity!
Many churches offer Bible studies during the day for stay-at-home moms and retirees. Childcare is usually provided by the church. This is a great opportunity for you to learn something new, meet other women, and provide new experiences for your child as well. Most Bible study groups meet weekly in the morning and encourage you to read and answer questions between meetings. Don't think of it as homework! Use this study time as a way to relax and grow spiritually.
Your Future Health and Happiness
The new APA study did not find any differences in the health or happiness of working moms and stay-at-home moms after the first child started preschool. We do know that those early years with the first baby are very tough, and you will need extra support adjusting to your new life as a stay-at-home mom. As your child grows and even if you have more children, it will be important for you to have the resources to stay connected with others and the experience to know what works best for you and your family.
Stay-at-home dads need the same kinds of supports and outlets as well.