Let’s face it, Stay at Home Moms have a pretty bad rap.
There’s been a lot of noise all over the internet about how much a SAHM is worth because of all the different jobs they accomplish, but there’s still this notion that stay at home moms have it easy.
Quite the opposite is true! It’s a demanding, 24-7 kind of job.
It has its reward, for sure, but SAHM’s know that sitting on the couch doing nothing is a far cry from the actual job description.
Hear me out – I’m not saying that being a SAHM is harder than a working mama. There’s no one path to mom greatness, and no matter what a Mama does from 9-5, she works crazy hard. There are sacrifices involved either way – for stay at home moms, working moms, and work from home moms.
Being a mom, any way that looks for you, is a tough job. Hats off to all Mamas, everywhere, doing the best they can to raise their kiddos. That’s what deserves to be celebrated.
Today, I just wanted to talk about something you don’t hear a lot about, but I bet if you’re a Mama who stays home, you’ve experienced this.
In the same way you can experience burnout at a 9-5 job, there’s a real thing called “Stay at Home Mom Burnout.” It’s a tough job. Some women dream of being able to stay home with their kids for years, and are surprised when they find themselves feeling exhausted, resentful, or frustrated at their situation. You’re not alone, sweet friend, but you don’t have to stay there.
I wanted to share some helpful tips I’ve found on dealing with the stay at home mom burnout.
But first, to clear the air, it’d be helpful to know what a stay at home mom is, what she is most definitely NOT, and what exactly stay at home mom burnout is.
What a Stay at Home Mom Is Not
I think it’s super important to start here. There are a few key things a stay at home mom is NOT, and yet many times, these ideas dominate the thoughts of what Mamas who stay at home are.
First, a stay at home mom is not just a housekeeper. Granted, a perk of moms who stay home is that they are able to take care of things around the house as well, but their sole job or reason for existence is not to be a housekeeper. I know I’ve experienced a lot of guilt as a SAHM when my house isn’t perfectly clean, or I feel like I haven’t done a great job in one of these housecleaning areas. But when I take a step back and remember my job is not solely to be a housekeeper, I can let go of that guilt and instead focus on those other things that need my attention.
A stay at home mom also doesn’t equal a voiceless mom. There’s this antiquated notion that a stay at home mom is a doormat, compliant with everything and everyone, content to make no decision of her own. This simply isn’t true. A stay at home mom has opinions, feelings, leadership skills, and many other assets that benefit a family. Stay at home moms most definitely have a voice, and shouldn’t be afraid to use it for good.
Lastly, it’s super important to remember that SAHM’s aren’t Moms without needs of their own. This one is easy to say, but not so easy to implement. Mamas (whether they stay at home or not!) already spend so much of their day thinking about the wellbeing of their family, and how they can contribute to this, that they often put themselves and their own personal needs on the back burner. If you’re not taking care of yourself, Mama, you’re not going to be able to take care of others. It’s VITAL that you take the time to fill up your cup, so that you can then pour out on others.
What a Stay at Home Mom Is
Simply put, a SAHM is a mom who just happens to stay at home. Everyone’s circumstances are different – there is no one way to be a stay at home mom. Some moms homeschool, while others carefully balance the time their children attend school. Some moms work on hobbies or passions from their homes, while others work to create income for their families. Some mamas plan activity after activity for their crew, while others prefer to stay within the walls of their home. Whatever it might look like, a stay at home mom isn’t limited to particular circumstances, only that Mama is at home.
So, What is Stay at Home Mom Burnout?
Burnout is one of those phrases thrown around that is quite ambiguous. People say they’re burnt out when they’re frustrated, tired, overwhelmed, or unmotivated, among a lot of other things.
Burnout has come to represent any time when you’re just feeling done with your job, whatever it may be. Burnout is a serious indicator (like a gas needle pointing to E) that you need some space to reflect and recharge before moving forward.
Burnout is most often applied to a professional job, but looking at the description through the lens of the job of a stay at home mom, it’s no wonder burnout occurs frequently. When your job is in your home, it can feel like you have to always be on. There is no downtime – Mama is always Mama. It feels like there are no breaks, no time for YOU, and this leads to an overwhelmed, stressed, frazzled, burnt out mom.
There is some good news here, though. While you can’t necessarily leave your job in search of a more perfect unicorn (which is often what is suggested when experiencing burnout in the corporate world), you can change your mindset and some of your circumstances. A simple shift is often all stay at home moms need to get out of the burnout funk and on with enjoying their job.
How to Avoid Stay at Home Mom Burnout
When you feel like you’re at the end of your stay at home mama rope, what do you do?
I know for me, personally, I feel the most burnt out when I am disorganized. When chaos abounds, I usually end up only focusing on a to-do list (that is unruly and unmanageable), instead of what truly matters – my relationships! When the tasks at hand seem to weigh me down, I’m guilty of not taking the time out for myself to do something that gives you life.
This is where a schedule can be life-giving – when you’re in control of your to-do list, rather than the other way around, it frees you up for the important things that feed your soul. I know it might seem counterintuitive to retreat from the to-do list when it looms large and in charge, but pulling away to fill your cup always makes for a happier and more productive Mama, and is vital to kissing burnout goodbye.
Mamas, you need some time to yourself. Swap days with a friend, where you keep her kiddos one day, and in exchange, she keeps yours another. The kids have a blast playing together, and Mama gets some much needed quiet time and rest. Or tell your husband how you’re feeling, and work together to come up with a schedule where he can invest in the kids while you invest in yourself and can return recharged. If you have family nearby, maybe they would love some extra time with your children while you get a few hours to yourself.
However you do it – JUST DO IT. Since we don’t have family nearby, my husband and I usually swap our Saturdays – one of us will play with the kids all morning while the other retreats, and then we swap for the afternoon.
Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to be elaborate. Secluding yourself in a room with noise-cancelling headphones for a few hours to do as you please can be just as life-giving as a weekend away.
Escape to a coffee shop if the house is distracting you, and enjoy your favorite beverage and the change of scenery.
It’s also important for Moms to be themselves, and not get lost in the role of Mom. You are a mom, and a great one at that, but that isn’t all you are. In these little pockets of time, find a passion and invest in it. Whatever breathes life into you – be it time with a friend over coffee, or fighting human trafficking – do it with gusto.
Being a stay at home mama doesn’t mean you give everything up that you love. Find ways to make these things part of your normal routine. You will always be Mom, but you are never always ONLY Mom. Burnout happens when we begrudgingly leave behind all that we once loved in pursuit of our current job. It’s not an either/or. There is balance (and lots of grace!) here. If your kiddos still nap, naptime is an amazing time to pursue your passions and fill up your cup while they rest. Maybe while the house is still dark, you have an hour to yourself to dream, plan, and jump into action. Whatever your situation is, it is good to focus on what sets your soul on fire, outside of being a Mom.