Don’t ever underestimate the struggles a stay-at-home parent faces on a daily basis.
It’s a tough gig, as it’s full-on, hard work, there are no ‘lunch breaks’ or days off and to top it all off, it’s unpaid!
In fact, some studies have found that being a stay-at-home parent is HARDER work than working full time.
Here are five struggles all stay-at-home parents face:
Never being off the clock
There are NO lunch-breaks, early finishes or time off when you are a stay at home parent. You don’t even get time to yourself to go to the toilet on your own sometimes!
For many parents who stay home to look after their children, they may face the never-ending cycle of being ‘on’ – all day and also at night. You don’t get sick days either, you just have to muddle through it as best you can with little ones to also look after.
There are numerous surveys that show stay at home parents are more likely to report feelings of sadness and anger than working mums and the general population. New parents may find they feel like this because it’s not always easy to get out with a newborn.
There are strategies you can use to help you cope with being a stay at home parent and overcome your feelings of loneliness and isolation. Joining a parents group or playgroup may help you connect with other parents who are in the same boat as you.
You may feel envious of your partner or working friends
If you enjoyed a thriving career pre-baby, you could feel restricted and like life has settled into a new monotony.
However, you should feel proud of yourself, as being a stay at home parent is the equivalent of is a full-time job, and research reveals that mums work the equivalent of TWO and a half FULL-TIME jobs.
Mums are said to have a ‘hybrid’ role of around 30 different professions including being a teacher, coach, bookkeeper, psychologist, event planner, photographer, plumber and janitor.
A lack of freedom
Along with isolation, there can also be feelings of a lack of freedom. Popping to the shops isn’t as easy as it used to be with a child or two in tow.
You may often feel like you have to fit all of your appointments in when your partner or a family is home to watch the kids. It definitely is a juggle and often feels like a rush to get dinner on the table or just keep up with basic housework.
When you do get time to yourself, make sure you take time for yourself. It’s important you look after yourself before you look after everyone else.
It appears mums still do the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to caring for the kids. About 90 per cent of fathers with children under 15 are employed and the majority of them are in full-time jobs, compared to less than half of mums that work.
It may feel like you are extremely under-appreciated at times, as kids have no concept of exactly how much you do for them! But they will thank you one day – maybe when they have kids of their own!
4 strategies to help you overcome the feelings of loneliness and isolation
1. Get out there
While parenting comparisons are difficult to stop, know that what you see online isn’t real, it’s a small snapshot and you don’t get to see the rest of their lives.
Turn off your social media, put the babies in their prams and go outside for a stroll. It will help your brain by releasing feel-good chemicals like endorphins and it has the added benefit of helping you lose weight.
2. Break the cycle by setting a goal
Monotony is a mood killer for SAHMs. You feel directionless and shut off from the day, you start disengaging from life by doing habitual activities. This can only contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and try something new.
Whatever it is set a goal to accomplish it so that you feel like you have a purpose. Yes, you gave birth to a baby and love it and your family more than anything but if you don’t engage in your life and practice self-care, you won’t be the best mother/partner/friend/sister/daughter you can be.
Try things like leaving the baby in the gym’s creche or with a trusted loved one while taking a yoga or boxing class, swimming a length or taking a dance class.
Whatever it is break the sleep-eat-clean-parent-repeat routine you have going on. You’ll find yourself looking forward to this time and will create a social life separate to being a SAHM.
3. Phone a friend
Reach out, catch up. The old you is still under that isolated and sad facade. Call a friend over for a chat or if you feel too embarrassed about the house and are too exhausted to clean, catch up over a coffee or at the park/beach.
Humans need social interaction and connection, we need to feel like we are part of a group to feel valuable and needed. If we don’t have these connections, we can feel isolated and depressed.
Studies show that people who have removed themselves from these social ties have a shorter lifespan. If you find you don’t have anything in common with your old friends anymore, it’s time to start making new ones.
Join a mother’s group, an exercise group or a reading group. The Healthy Mummy community is full of like-minded and supportive mums from all over the country, join today and you may just find a new friend.
Whether it’s communicating with your partner, a family member or a friend, let people know how you feel. The people in your life who care about you don’t want you to feel this way. It’s perfectly acceptable to put your hand up and ask for help in raising the babies or taking a time out for yourself.
Mums forget that parenthood should be a shared experience between parents or family members. If you have no one to call on, put your child in daycare once a week so you can catch up on housework or practice self-care by reading a book, watching a movie or having a relaxing bath. You’ll be a better mum and person for it.
If you feel depressed, have no inclination to do anything all the time and think of harming yourself or your baby, you may be experiencing post-natal depression.
It is time to get help. See your GP to discuss your symptoms, visit beyondblue.org.au, call Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) on 1300 726 306 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 to speak to someone immediately.
Get more support by joining The Healthy Mummy
Becoming a mum – especially of the first time – can be an exciting, daunting, confusing and interesting experience. You certainly step into a whole new world – that often feels a whole lot unfamiliar.
Breastfeeding, formula, dummies, cots, mastitis, baby health and development – there are so many things to know and understand.
If you are a new mum wanting to connect with other new mums, ask questions and share your own experiences – you should join The Healthy Mummy’s New Mum’s Facebook Private Support Group.