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Stay-at-Home Moms - How to Become Healthier and Happier

Updated on April 12, 2012
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Survey Says

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.


Changing Roles

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.


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Walking Club

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.

Exercise

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.


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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.


Additional Tips

  • 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


Mom Activities

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.


Dad Disclaimer

Stay-at-home dads need the same kinds of supports and outlets as well.

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    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, savanahl. I agree, and writing for Hubpages definitely gives us that needed activity! My daughter likes art as well, and we have found a few community classes and even a summer art program with the public schools. But, now, she mostly likes to draw and create on her own. That is a good thing too!

    • savanahl profile image

      savanahl 5 years ago

      Great hub. I think, as a stay at home mom, it's important that we have some activity for ourselves. It could be working out of the house, writing, or whatever else that interests us.

      I like your suggestions for activities for the kids. I used to have my daughter in art class at Gymboree, when I lived in Vegas. Unfortunately I've moved and it's too far now, but I like all of your other suggestions. Thank you for sharing.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Megan. I like your word "release" - and I think there are lots of different things that moms can do to fulfill that need.

      Hi, Ingenira - you are so right! Writing Hubs is fun!

      Thanks, kaurina! I agree - moms can find the best groups by matching like interests - reading, cooking, exercising, etc.

    • kaurina profile image

      kaurina 5 years ago from Surrey, BC, Canada

      Great article! The study feels like such a relief cos I know it wasn't just me. Both working moms and stay home moms have challenges, but I think stay home moms' challenges are totally invisible to the general public so it's even harder to deal with.

      I know when my 3 kids were little and my husband was working 6 days a week just to be able to get by, it was tough. Even though I wanted to get a part-time job, I had no family here to babysit, and having gone from being a full-time university student to a full-time mum, I couldn't get a job that paid more than childcare would cost. Take away taxes and I'd be making -$2 and hour.

      Sometimes joining a mom's group is great, but it depends on the people in the group. Now my kids are older, I've started a mom's group to support moms with mom specific issues, not kid-focused activities.

      Thanks for the article! And kudos to all moms and dads out there, working or stay home!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 5 years ago

      Wow, plenty of interesting and fun ideas here for SAHM. Writing for Hubpages is another fun thing to do too!

    • meganlsmith3 profile image

      meganlsmith3 5 years ago from Texas

      Very good hub. As a SAHM I agree there is a lot of sacrafice, but it is so worth it. You don't need to go back to work, you just need to find a release. You gave very good suggestions for ways to do that.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, toddlermommy! When I first became a stay-at-home mom, my husband thought he would be getting gourmet meals and a spotless house. Boy, was he wrong! I was lucky if I got a shower each day.

    • toddlermommy profile image

      toddlermommy 5 years ago from Buffalo, NY

      I think this Hub brings up an excellent point. A lot of my former co-workers think I must be having the time of my life not going to work anymore. And of course in a way I am, because I love that I've been blessed with being able to be home with my son. But at first, I did feel very isolated and overwhelmed with change. Great suggestions!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, Kelley

      I think working from home is awesome, and I do it as well. My concern with the study is that many interpreted it to say sahm's had to get a part job to be happy/healthy.

      I like your blog name and your blog! I agree that we need to question some of those results in studies that are based on surveys.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Tracey Lynn, for your comments and vote. The learning curve is huge, and despite all the good books out there, nothing really prepares you......

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great hub. I'm a stay at home mom but I do have to admit I love writing and working a little from home just to have a little creativity on my part outside of my roles as a mom. I blogged about this study you are discussing on my website. lifeislikeablogofchocolate.com. Thanks again for the hub!

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA

      This is a great hub, staying home can be a real challenge and for new Moms the learning curve is huge. You have really outlined some great suggestions! Voted up and useful.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Happy New Year, LadyLyell! I hope your daughter gets throught the stress soon. Being a SAHM is such a joy, but those first few years are tough!

      Thanks, rebekahELLE. Yes, I agree that some kind of outlet - part-time work, hobby, volunteering, something! - will do wonders for the new stay-at-home mom. Actually, for ALL stay-at-home moms. Writing has been very helpful to me.

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 5 years ago from Tampa Bay

      This is an excellent hub and full of helpful advice. New stay at home mothers often go through some difficult, moody transitions as they adjust to their new role. I think working part time could be beneficial in so many ways, even a few hours a week. I love the ideas you have outlined. I'm going to share this and tweet it. Well done!

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

      My daughter is a new mom and taking strain. I will make sure she reads your article for tips/advise.

      Happy new year!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, tsarnaudova! You are right about the joy, which is so worth the sacrifice. I should have added more about the positive aspects of staying home!!

      Thanks, alissa! I thought the study was interesting, too, but found some people's reactions a little off. To me , the study showed possible health problems for new stay-at-home moms those first three years. Others seem to see it as some sort of a contest between working and nonworking moms.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      That's really an interesting study. I think if any mom is really not happy with being a SAHM then she should go back to work. Personally I do have rough days but when I start to feel that way I know I need a break and have to make some time for myself. You have given some great ways for SAHMs to spice up their daily routine with and without the kids! Great hub - voted up, useful & interesting!

    • tsarnaudova profile image

      Tsvetana Kodjabasheva 5 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

      This is excelent article, and very true. Stay-at-home moms can be as happy as working part/full time moms, and I think your tips and advice here are fine for new moms - and for the rest of us. The most difficult part is the beginning, when the new baby comes - but there is also the great joy.

      Thank you, ChaplinSpeaks, great hub! Up&beautiful.