THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. We may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you from items purchased through links in this post. Please read my DISCLOSURE for more info.
Ok. Let me just start off by saying that I’m not a doctor or a therapist. With that said, I do have five and a half years of experience being a stay at home mom. I’ve even read some of the recent statistics, but I don’t think it takes a degree for many of us to recognize that the rate of depression among stay at home moms (SAHMs) can be quite high. After all, many of us reading this are SAHMs. Once you stop and think about it, should we really be surprised?
Yes, having a child and being privileged to stay at home with them is supposed to be a wonderful time in our lives. I LOVE my children and my job of being their mom. Danny and I frequently talk about how we don’t even remember life without the munchkins. However, there are a lot of parents who will attest to the fact that raising a little human being is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Here are a few of the many reasons why we may frequently experience feelings of depression:
BABY ON BOARD
For the mother, you have already spent 9 months or longer carrying a baby. Your body is going through so many changes and they all tend to take a toll on you. Even after delivery, hormones and other physical changes begin to add up and can cause an array of emotional shifts for years! This is really a whole other blog post in and of itself. On another note, it is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about how you are feeling. They may be able to help determine if what you are experiencing is a more serious form of depression, such as postpartum depression. If so, you are not alone. This too affects many women after giving birth.
That sweet baby has finally arrived, but guess what… you will be in demand around the clock. If you are the type of person who craves alone time to refuel and rejuvenate, so to speak, this will be quite challenging. There are no more lunch breaks, sick time, or vacation time. If I may be fully transparent, let me also add that chances are, you will rarely even get to go to the bathroom alone. Before becoming a SAHM, I worked with the public in the banking industry. I remember the high demands and stressful days. I remember the feeling of great responsibility. But, nothing, and I mean N-O-T-H-I-N-G, compared to taking care of another person around the clock every single day and night. At least, that was my experience. Without you, that baby won’t survive. Talk about pressure.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION & Depression
With that said, unless you are among the smaller percentage of parents who end up with an awesome sleeper, (they may be rare, but they really do exist) you will be extremely sleep deprived. I thought it was rough when it took our son 9 months to start sleeping through the night. HA! Here we are at 18 months and our daughter still isn’t sleeping through. Every now and then she has surprised us. But it was nothing more than a cruel tease. I will say though, she has another underlying condition that complicates matters and I was warned that it could take a couple of years or longer for children with eczema and other allergies to consistently get a full nights sleep. This too is a topic that I will be discuss in another post.
Yes, being a stay at home mom does not mean you have to literally stay home 24/7. But even so, it can still feel isolating at times. Crazy right? You’re never ever alone, but you can still feel lonely. While I did try to get out as much as possible, especially when I only had just one child and it was a little easier to get around, I realized that being with a child all day does in fact take its toll. Many of us for one reason or another begin to break down from the sheer monotony of the long work days. I desperately craved mentally stimulating conversations and more adult interaction. My poor hubby… there have been many days I’m sure he felt overwhelmed as I talked his ear off from the moment he walked in that door! Then again, who am I kidding… I used to do that to him even before kids.
WHO AM I?
We forget who we are. Yes, you are a mother/father, wife/husband. But what about the things that brought you joy before becoming a stay at home parent? So many of us tend to put everything on the back burner and forget about them. We end up losing a piece of our identity. Honestly, let’s face it…you will have to make sacrifices. The good news is, the sacrifices you make are also 100% worth it. At the same time though, you don’t need to just completely forget who YOU are. There is so much going on when we are taking care of our families. We are so caught up in making sure that everyone else has their needs met that we fail to worry about our own as much. I’m not saying that we need to be overly selfish with our time and energy. I’m just saying that many of us (yes, yes, yes… I must take my own advice) HAVE TO find a little bit of time to take for ourselves so that we remember who we really are and be refreshed in order to continue to care for our loved ones with joy.
So… now what? Are we stay at home parents doomed to somehow “lovingly”care for our families while muddling through feelings of resentment, hopelessness, and guilt? Fortunately, the answer can be no. In the following post, Stay at Home Moms and the Fight Against Depression: How Can I Cope, I’ll discuss 5 coping mechanisms for stay at home mothers.