Your little bundle of joy is the centre of your universe. You would do anything for that little angel. Which is why you quit your job and decided that stay-at-home-mommy, or SAHM as they’re called now, would be your new designation. But a few months (or years) down the line you notice that there’s too much of you devoted to the home and hearth and none to yourself and that you’re at the edge of a burnout. You find yourself yearning for social connection but discover that no one has time when you have time. Dearie, you’re only going through what every mommy at some point in her homebound life has gone through, including me. Which is why I have compiled a list of 5 essentials that every homebound mommy should do to retain her sanity.
Before you roll your eyes and go, ‘Duh, that’s why I quit working’, read my own story. As someone who started earning for herself in college itself, depending on someone for all my financial needs was exceptionally hard for me when I married, moved to another city and found myself in a family that did not approve of working bahus. I decided to study further instead and finished my Masters in Law, but couldn’t work because I had just become a mother. Two years of being a devoted mom taught me that I was indispensable to everyone in my family, yet my contribution was seldom acknowledged and instead, I was always expected to give more of myself to everyone, regardless of whether I had any time for myself. I was perpetually irritated, exhausted and stifled by the lack of ‘me’ time. That’s when I decided to take on a home-based freelancing job, and even though it didn’t pay well at all, it taught me two very valuable lessons –
- Compartmentalization – of your work, chores, roles in the society as well as your feelings. Everything should have its own time and be defined within clear boundaries. No overlaps!
- Independence – that no matter how meagre an amount you earn, it’s yours and you have not only earned yourself money, but also the respect of your workplace. That’s something to be proud of!
Even though you may argue that the same may be achieved by getting a hobby, a hobby does not have the sense of achievement or importance that working has. Period! Working offers you financial, emotional and physical independence. It also nourishes your self-worth and teaches your family the importance of your time. Someone may point out someday, ‘It’s just a hobby; let it go’, but with work, they will be more careful and eventually your family will adapt to your working hours and its requirements if you decide that work is important to you. These days there are so many types of stay at home jobs or part-time jobs. You don’t even have to leave the confines of your home to be working. Don’t limit yourself to only what you’re qualified to do. Just work where and when you can.
Have you ever felt lost when you picked up the phone, wanting to talk to someone, to hang out with someone, only to realize that there’s no one to call or go out with because everyone you know is either off at work, or doing something important with their lives? Or have you found yourself sighing when you are socializing with your Husband’s or your MIL’s friends because you can’t identify with them? I have, countless number of times.
No matter what the world may think about us SAHMs, we know that we have no time and generally, no life outside of our homes. It’s a fact that homebound moms are one of the loneliest people in the world, and with the advent of the working-women era, they have become lonelier because suddenly they find themselves confined at home with their children while there is no one to emotionally support them because everyone they know is working. We do turn to social networking but that offers comfort only to a certain extent.
We all need our kind of friends who share our thoughts, who can relate to our problems, which is why SAHMs should take every opportunity to socialize with similar moms. And why limit your friendships to only SAHMs? Mingling with people we like is what is important here because it helps us feel socially connected. Leave no opportunity when you find that even one single of your friends or someone like you is attending an event. Your toddler’s pre-school, or school or activity classes or even the playgrounds are excellent places for making friends with similar moms.
At the same time when you have made friends, ensure that you devote time to maintaining those friendships too. It need not be a party or something lavish, it could even be just coffee at a common friend’s house. Tell your family that you need some downtime with your friends and be firm about it. If you can adhere to their time schedules, once in a while they should too.
While it’s important to take care of your emotional health, your physical health surpasses everything else to become the most important thing for us SAHMs. It took me one bad blow to the knee and three months on the bed to realise just how important my physical health was to my family. SAHMs are the wheels of the family wagon. If we conk off, it’s only so long before the family comes to a complete standstill. But this is one place where our kids can help us out. All you have to do is become an active participant in their playtime. I still struggle to work out every single day, but when I don’t get an hour for my workout, I involve myself in my daughter’s playtime. Some days the only form of activity I can manage is running around the house playing hide and seek with my daughter, but even that helps. Every bit helps. Plus, you have a happy child who thinks Mumma is fun! I know it gets difficult to find time to work-out with everything that needs to be done but be bullish about finding time and don’t make the excuse that you’re tired. This one isn’t important just for you.
4. Pamper Yourself
I still remember the first time I went to a beauty salon after my daughter’s birth was seven months later and it gave my ego a huge pump just to have my eyebrows shaped and my hair blow-dried. I didn’t become regular with a beauty regimen even after that but that’s exactly the point. Our appearance is often a barometer of how much time we give to ourselves. And most women give a lot of importance to how they appear, just not most SAHMs. Working moms have at least an excuse to get dressed (though I know somedays they too just put on whatever they can find); we don’t because we think no one is going to care about how we look anyway and because we’ll be at home, and we keep postponing our next appointment at the salon because of exactly that reason. Why bother wasting time at a salon or spa when you could spend that time catching up on sleep? Right? Wrong!
Pampering ourselves isn’t only about looking pretty, it’s about having time to relax and for once, letting someone else take care of us.
You don’t even need a salon to pamper yourself. Just take out some time, slather on that hair mask you bought before you had kids and relax for half an hour and marvel later at what it did for your peace of mind.
5. Stop Obsessing Over Perfection
Our lot has this habit of trying to be super-moms and the perfect homemakers. We start feeling like failures if we see another Mom doing it better than us, or even if that Mom only says (know what I mean?) how she’s handling things much better than us. It doesn’t help when (unhelpful) people point out that we’re doing something wrong. Then it becomes a matter of pride for us SAHMs to get it right or we sulk that we failed at it. But,
There is no such thing as a perfect mom or a perfect wife.
Those women we idolize as perfect queens of their realms have made their own mistakes and have learnt from them. And secretly they too wish to be perfect like someone else. SAHMs must learn to let go of this desire to seek perfection in every aspect of their lives. So what if your child is not potty trained even at the age of three? So what if days’ worth of laundry is still piled on the bed? So what if your husband has to take leftovers to work? So what if you hired help to clean up your place while your MIL never needed a hand even with two kids?
One slip up does not define you and these things are neither the end of the world nor the most important things in the world. Let no one tell you that you are imperfect because you can’t fold bedsheets into perfect rectangles, or because your kids are not eating the way their kids ate. You are different than them. Your kids, your family and your circumstances are all different than theirs. Besides, you are the one doing it for your family. Why then should anybody else have the right to make you feel bad about something that they’re not even doing for your family?
To sum it up, every SAHM must remember that Motherhood was a choice, so was being a stay at home mom, but to a large extent, it is in our own hands to not let ourselves be defined by that tag – SAHM. Every woman can be much more than the roles she plays. Being a SAHM is a privilege many working mothers would die for but cannot afford. That’s something to be grateful about indeed. But never should you let that tag limit you in any way.
Above all, please remember-
This too shall pass.
Someday they’ll grow up;
Someday your time will be your own again.
Copyright ©2018 Pradita Kapahi.
All rights reserved.
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