A friend of mine has worked almost her whole life. Even in elementary school she helped her parents keep their restaurant going. So it was quite a shock to her when she had to stay home for three weeks while she changed jobs.
“It was so boring!” she said. “I would get up and not even shower all day.” And she stayed in that sad state until her husband finally asked how long it had been since she washed her hair.
My friend doesn’t have children, yet, but she questioned me about being a stay-at-home mom. “I just can’t live that way,” she said. “I would get so depressed.”
It can be depressing to be a stay-at-home mom, especially if you live the way my friend was living—no contact with people, no hobbies or interests, and too much TV.
I remember when I first came home to be with my son. I was definitely busy taking care of my little baby. But I was also definitely depressed. I often felt useless to the world, left out of society, boxed in or imprisoned at home. Every day was the same thing—get up, feed baby, put baby to sleep, read about baby, clean house while I had the chance, feed baby, change baby … on and on until I fell asleep that night.
There were lots of tears and feelings of loneliness. But then I got three pieces of advice that helped changed my attitude from gloomy to glad.
First, always take a shower and get ready for the day. When Benjamin was a newborn, this was my one priority. Sometimes it was the only thing that was accomplished outside of his needs, but if that was done, I considered my day productive and successful.
Taking the time to shower and put on makeup makes a mom feel clean, refreshed, and prepared for the day. If an unexpected visitor comes, it takes away the embarrassment of not looking the best. If your husband wants to take you to lunch at the last minute, you’re ready to go. You don’t have to look like you’re ready for the opera; just a t-shirt and blue jeans will do. But a shower and a ponytail will do wonders for your self-esteem.
Second, stop watching too much TV. When I came home, I wasn’t used to the silence, so it was tempting to turn on the tube for a little background noise. I soon discovered, though, that those flashing images were addictive. Soon, I was wasting my precious little time watching nothing, and I mean NOTHING. I didn’t even like some of the shows I was watching—it was just so hard to turn them off!
There is very little to be gained from watching television. It is a time thief and a brain washer. Look at any study done on television, and they all say the same thing—stop watching it. It seems that our grandparents weren’t too far off when the told us that it was rotting our brains.
Instead, use that time to learn a new skill, read a book, go for a walk, read to your baby (even a newborn), go to a park, visit a friend or relative … the list of opportunities is endless.
Third, create a schedule for yourself. This was probably the most important piece of advice. In the past, I’ve written a lot about the necessity of schedules for babies, but I believe that schedules for moms are just as important. They give structure to our days, space to enjoy activities, and time to get work done.
When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I often wondered where my time went. I found that I spent a lot of it trying to figure out what to do next. I was also cleaning constantly, because the house was always dirty! I felt like I was working all the time and not getting anything finished.
Then a friend mentioned that it was “laundry day” at her house. It never occurred to me to set aside a day to do laundry. So I adapted a schedule of my own. Mondays became my laundry days. Tuesdays are the days I finish laundry and start on the kitchen floor. Wednesdays and Thursdays are special project days. Fridays are usually filled with shopping or running errands. And weekends are set aside for rest and recreation, no housework.
Now when I wake up in the mornings, I know what I have to do. It helps me feel like I have attainable goals. There is a beginning and an end to the things I do at home, instead of an endless circle of chores.
Most importantly, if you’re feeling depressed, don’t try to keep doing the same things. A change in your daily patterns will completely transform your outlook. Many churches have programs where you can connect with other moms. Take advantage of all the opportunities you can get to fellowship with other Christians who can encourage you, even if it means just meeting another mom for lunch once a week. It will give you something to look forward to and someone who can pray with you.