Going from NOT HAVING a baby to HAVING a baby is difficult enough on its own, right?! BUT when you couple that with transitioning from a full-time career (or even a part-time job) to becoming a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM), it can become quite the culture shock! As it turns out motherhood is kind of a world all in its own; and it can be a lonely one if you’re not equipped for that transition to stay at home.
When you’re working you typically have routines and a rhythm to your days (ie. get up in the morning, get dressed & ready, go to work, come home, make dinner, relax with your spouse, get ready for bed, go to bed, get up and do it all again the next day). During that time you have interaction throughout the entire day. When you’re a SAHM those interactions sometimes go away all together. It can be hard to maintain relationships when you’re dealing with such a time consuming and busy part of your life. In a nutshell, it can really take a lot out of you!
I’ve Been There:
I went from working full time to staying at home full time. I had just moved from the suburbs to the beautiful countryside (aka “middle of nowhere”), so everything in my life was a new routine. It’s funny (now) thinking back to how ridiculous it was – I couldn’t even get cell service INSIDE my house! This meant all phone calls had to be made standing on my front porch; which isn’t very convenient when you have a newborn inside!! (Can you picture it?!)
I was naive enough to think that the routine of becoming a SAHM was going to be super easy. I pictured it this way: I can wake up and get dressed whenever I want to, I get to stay home and cuddle with this precious new baby, I’ll have time to get dinner on the table when hubby gets home, the house will be picked up because I’m here all day, and so on… BUT there are many things that were not accounted for in that scenario! Like, what sleep deprivation does to you, and the way that you feel (or don’t feel) like doing things around the house, or wanting to just lay there and hold your baby and not do anything else (for me that was way more important than making sure the dusting was done). I got into a rut and It. Was. Not. Pretty.
I had been looking forward to staying at home and although I did enjoy being there for my son, I became overwhelmed and very lonely. The solitude was something I had NOT expected or planned for (especially with friends all still working at that time). Postpartum depression set in; and that’s something you don’t always recognize until you’re in the midst of it. So it’s my goal to share this experience with people and raise awareness in the hopes that they don’t go through the same things that I did (or if they do, at least they know they’re not alone). Had I been more knowledgeable, that time would’ve been very different for me.
- Have a solid support system: thankfully I had my mom and one of my sisters who were in frequent contact and were so helpful to me (but I should’ve had more people in place). Make sure you have a BIG support system… friends, family, church family, neighbors, past co-workers, etc. Remember – asking for help is a STRENGTH, not a weakness.
- Have built in interaction time (daily, weekly, and monthly): Plan to go out for coffee with friends, have girls night in, go out for date night, etc. Make sure you’re still having those interactions, fostering relationships, continuing hobbies, and setting aside time for you. Putting things on the calendar that you can look forward to is helpful when the days seem really long and the baby is crying non-stop. You’ll know you’re going to get a break (and it’s going to be ok). If you don’t take care of YOU, you can’t take care of baby (or anyone else in the family).
- Adjust your standard for housekeeping: The way you maintain your home isn’t necessarily going to be the same once you have a newborn/toddler. Priorities shift and it’s a completely different routine. You’ll provide more attention and time to your family than to housework. Let yourself off the guilt-hook now! Guilt is counterproductive. Loosen (not lower) your standards, and be ok with it.
I Conquered That:
I conquered that whole scenario. It was rough in the beginning, I stumbled, but recognized my weaknesses and overcame them. I was able to create new systems and routines, and a new way of living (oh and a new cell phone provider)! It took a mental shift, but I learned to look at my whole schedule differently than when I was working a 9-5. I found that I had to be a bit strict and structured with myself so that there was a natural order of when things were to happen. It was not so regimented that it was overwhelming, but it WAS enough that I knew what needed to happen and when. It kept me focused. I also made sure I planned things like weekly coffee dates with girlfriends and playdates (as my son got older). From that point on, all of those things were built into my calendar.
As my son grew, my systems and routines grew and adapted too (and they continue to grow with him). That’s what it’s all about. Growing as a person and as a family. The more prepared you go into something, the better you are able to handle it.
I wish YOU the best of luck if you’re making the transition from working to becoming a SAHM. May it be a most pleasant and enjoyable time, filled with memories you can cherish in the years to come.