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How To Stay Happy, Sane and Connected to the World As A Stay-At-Home Mom or Parent
Do You Feel Isolated and Disconnected From Others As A Stay-At-Home Parent?
I'm a stay-at-home parent so I know first hand that it's easy to let your relationships with your peers slip away when you don't see them regularly. You need to make an effort to reach out and stay in touch or else stay-at-home parents can grow isolated, becoming lonely and feeling forgotten by friends.
Isolation is a factor in causing depression, Mommy blues (also Daddy blues) and postpartum depression.
Don't let isolation trap you! If you're a stay-at-home parent, here are some suggestions for you to stay happy, sane and connected to the world.
Make an Effort to Be Active Outside and In Your Community
Staying at home for several hours at a time can breed depression for anyone. It's difficult to get out of the house whenever you want when you have children and their gear to haul even for a small errand. Don't let that stop you from being an active member in the outside world.
- Plan regular activities outside of your house. Take your kids to the park, mall or library every week. These are great places to walk around and spend time in without having to prepare too much. If you can, plan trips to the zoo, beach or museums. Look for local kid-friendly events.
- Volunteer or charity work is a productive way to get out of the house and participate in the world. If the kids are old enough, bring them along. Volunteering and participating with charities can make you feel better knowing that you're helping others. Visit nursing homes and children's hospitals or make things like goodie bags for the kids. Help out at homeless shelters. Even if you're just dropping off toys or clothes, it can lift your spirits and help ward off the blues.
- Every month, pick a new place or event you would like to attend whether it be a restaurant or an event that's going to be in town like a fair, carnival or concert. Experiencing different things regularly can be exciting and you'll have something to look forward to.
- Break out of your enclosed space! Don't just sit inside all day especially if you'e spending your free time watching TV. The days will seem like a drag. Go outside as much as possible even if it's just to sit outside while your kids play. You can blow bubbles with them, read, throw a ball around or draw on the pavement with sidewalk chalk.
Have a Routine and Stick to a Schedule to Stay Sane
When you're a stay-at-home parent, it's easy to become overwhelmed with the feeling like you have to juggle twenty different things at once with rarely any breaks. This causes stress, making you feel like you've lost control and lost your sanity! You become vulnerable to an attack of the blues.
Having a schedule for EVERYTHING helps give you more control.
- Schedule YOU time! A pampering session at home or at the salon/spa every couple weeks, set aside time to read a book or watch your favorite TV show. Schedule a day to see a movie you've been wanting to watch.
- Make time for your hobbies/interests; join a team or club to make more of an effort to stick to your interests. For instance, join a book club if you like to read; being a part of a group motivates you because you have a sense of obligation to stick to it. Join a local team or schedule regular days to play with friends if you enjoy sports.
- Schedule time for your friendships - make dates with friends and try your best not to cancel. Grab a quick bite or coffee. Invite them over for brunch if you can't get out of the house. Set aside time to call/text/email them weekly. Make it a habit so you don't feel out of the loop with what's going on in one another's lives.
- Schedule time for you and your partner/spouse. It's easy for parents to feel distant and lonely when they no longer have their partner's undivided attention. Schedule time alone everyday even for half an hour to catch up with each other. Send each other texts/emails if you can't talk on the phone. Schedule lunch dates weekly or go on coffee breaks if you don't have much time to spend with each other in the evenings.
- Schedule family time. Plan trips to new places or favorite spots.
- Schedule play dates. If you know fellow parents, take the kids along for a play date or find a play date group so the kids can interact with other children. This helps them interact with other kids if it's just you two at home.
- Schedule the menu for the week so you're not constantly wondering what's for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The better prepared you are, the less stress you'll have. Plan ahead and prepare the ingredients if you can once a week so that it takes less time away from your busy schedule.
- Make it a point to eat on time and take regular breaks. When you're at work, you would have a time slot for breaks and lunch. Give yourself those same time breaks at home. Eat healthy to maintain you're energy, ward off crankiness and hunger pains.
- Designate certain days for specific chores so you won't feel overwhelmed doing a bunch at one time. Clean up messes right away and the kitchen after every meal. Pick one day out of the week to clean the bathroom and other places you don't necessarily need to clean every day. Clean the shower while you're in it if you're not using harsh chemicals. Do one load of laundry a day so it doesn't pile up and you're stuck in the house doing ten loads. If the kids are old enough, assign chores for them to do. Ask them to clean their rooms before bed time.
- You never know when unpredictable circumstances (like tantrums) will strike so prepare things in advance to alleviate stress. Lay out outfits for you and the kids, prepare the diaper bag, snacks/food and any paperwork the day before if you have an appointment the next day.
- Plan out a schedule for activities everyday. You'll feel more productive and in control. Check the weather so you know if you need to plan indoor activities when it will be raining.
Book to Help Stay-at-Home Moms
Keep the Blues, Sadness and Depression at Bay
Parenthood is a journey filled with highs and lows. Staying at home with your children offers several benefits but it won't benefit them or you if you're constantly down. It's okay and expected that you'll have the blues sometimes especially if you're feeling trapped in your own home as long as you can keep those feelings to a minimum.
Here are some ways you can keep the blues at bay:
- Write down your frustrations. Record your thoughts in a journal or on a recording device. It helps to write your feelings and thoughts down or say it aloud even if it's to yourself.
- Write down your blessings and what you love about your life and yourself as a person.
- Have a creative outlet. Paint, start a blog or write a story of how you feel. Write a letter to someone you haven't talked to in awhile or to family or friends you don't often visit.
- Pick up a new hobby like gardening. It will give you a reason to go outside and the sun's rays can boost your happiness. This can be something you involve the kids in, too.
- Take a walk every night or every morning, a breath of fresh air can lift your mood.
- Pray. Go to church. Meditate. This can be a quiet, calm way to lift your spirits and bring peace to your hectic life style.
- Sleep. Fatigue can make you feel more depressed so re-energize with a nap or a good night's sleep. Take turns with your partner tending to the baby at night.
- Read or listen to a joke every day. Attend a stand up comedy show. Watch a funny TV show or movie. Write down funny things your kids say and read them when you're feeling down. Humor and laughter are great stress relievers and puts you in a better mood.
- Take funny pictures of your kids, print them out or make a slide show and write goofy captions on them.
- Exercise. It will keep you healthy and boost your energy which can uplift your mood.
- Take breaks throughout the day, give yourself time-outs when you're feeling overwhelmed with your kids or chores. Take a coffee break or have some tea.
- Play with your kids, get silly, laugh, run and have fun.
- Dress up once in awhile in your best attire.
- Get out of your house clothes or pajamas even if you're not going anywhere. Put on make up and style your hair. You're appearance will influence your mood.
- Find activities to engage your kids in everyday. Interact with them and keep them busy so neither of you become bored. You may notice you feel lonelier and depressed when you're bored. The hours won't seem as long, however, when everyone is busy having fun!
You're Not Alone, Seek Help if You're Depressed
There's a difference between having momentary blues and truly being depressed. Seek professional help if what you're feeling is more than just the blues.
- Join a support group
- Talk to friends and family who you are comfortable with to discuss how you feel.
- Seek the advice of your OB-GYN or a healthcare professional.
Know that this is a common way to feel especially if you are constantly at home with your little one or you just had a baby. You're not alone and it's nothing to be embarrassed about. Staying at home to care for your child can be a difficult decision. Enjoy this precious time with each other!
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