Being a Stay-at-Home Mom is no walk in the park. Since you're home all the time, most of the housework, childcare, and money worries land squarely on your shoulders. Add on top of that trying to keep up with the kids' busy afterschool schedule, doctor's appointment, and the various illnesses that kids bring home, it's no wonder that many SAHM's start to feel depressed, overwhelmed, fatigued, and depressed. These feelings can quickly snowball into SAHM burnout.
What is SAHM Burnout?
SAHM burnout is when a stay-at-home mom takes on too much and doesn't make sure she has the time or energy to take care of herself either mentally or physically.
What are the signs of SAHM Burnout?
- Always feeling tired or overwhelmed
- Chronic illness / physical issues like aches and pains
- Snapping at the kids or husband
- Negative feelings about your duties, home, husband, and kids
- Withdrawing from family, friends, and regular activities / interests
- Easily overreacting to the slightest comment, good or bad.
What causes SAHM Burnout?
The short answer - kids. Taking care of kids, especially small ones, is a never-ending, thankless job. When you're a SAHM you can't just grab your briefcase and leave at the end of the day. The constant demands, whines, and interruptions can send any sane mama hurtling towards the edge.
Many moms get caught up in this constant craziness and completely forget to take care of themselves physically or emotionally. It's not long before you're wearing your bedroom slippers to Target, coughing up a long (thanks to that cold Junior gave you a month ago that you can't seen to shake off), and buying a monster bag of M&M's to get you through the day.
For many SAHMs, the lack of adult conversation or interaction is a big key to burnout. When you work outside of the house, you're pretty much guaranteed a decent break away from the daily grind of the kids, mot to mention some face-to-face time with another adult somewhere. When you're home, it's just you, the kids, the dishes, and the laundry - day in and day out. There's a reason why moms start to organize "playdates" for their six month-old babies – it's not for the babies but for them!
What can you do about SAHM Burnout?
The first and most important step to solving SAHM burnout is to have an open and honest talk with your spouse. As long as his everyday quality of life hasn't been affected, he probably hasn't noticed your lackluster performance (and let's not forget that God forgot to give guys telepathic powers), so it's important that you let him know that you are close to burning out.
Secondly, make it a point to reconnect with your husband and kids. Spend time as a family doing fun stuff like art projects, trips to the zoo, playing soccer at the park, etc. This will not only strengthen your bond but allow you some quality time with the kids away from the drudgery of everyday life at home.
You should also accept that you're going to have a short fuse for a while, especially when it comes to your kids and hubby. When you feel yourself starting to lose it, you need to stop, take a deep breath, and count to ten. If your kids are old enough to understand, let them know that "Mama is having a bad day. You need to go find something to do and leave me alone for a few minutes." Being truthful and showing that you're human is a lot better than screaming and yelling at them, right?
Find some "me" time each and every day. Don't use this time to do dishes or get caught up on the laundry but rather do something you love to do. I know it's hard to find the time but if you're determined, you will find it. Get up an hour before your kids wake so you can read or enjoy your eggs and coffee in peace or stay up a little later a few nights a week so you can enjoy a movie, soak in the tub, or just read in bed. Whatever you do, do it for YOU!
If you can afford it, hire a babysitter so you can run your errands (and maybe squeeze in a stop at your favorite bookstore) without schlepping the kids with you. Not only is this is a huge stress reliever but you will save a lot of time too since you won't have to unbuckle carseat or say "Don't touch that, Junior!" forty million times. If you can't afford a babysitter, then trade hours with another mommy or ask your spouse to watch the kids while you go out.
Get involved in something that you love to do. Learn a new hobby or take a class. If you want to help others, then get out there and volunteer on the weekends. If you like to read, join an online book club. Or, if you're like me and love to write, start the next great American novel.
Get some exercise, even if it's just a walk around the block with the kids. The fresh air and sunshine will probably do you all some good.
Find a support group made up of friends, family, or other SAHM's (there are many online) and talk to them about what is going on in your life. Just venting to someone that understands will help you feel soooo much better.
Seek professional help if your problems become too much for you (or your marriage) to handle. Your doctor can assess you for depression and see if medication could help you get through this "bump" in life. A counselor could help you and your spouse talk out your issues and work out a more feasible arrangement so you are no as overwhelmed.
Of course, if you have any thoughts of suicide or hurting someone, it's important that you seek help right away, either by calling your doctor, counselor, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255). You ARE worth it…so make the call!