I isolated myself. With no office to go to or co-workers to talk to, I spent hours every day, day after day, without adult interaction. I was new to the area I lived in, and didn’t have friends to go to “play dates” with. And I used the exhaustion of new motherhood as an excuse to not go out and make friends.
I stopped doing everything I loved. I stop writing. I stopped doing graphic design. I stopped reading interesting books. I stopped being me, and let diaper changes and bottle feedings completely take over.
I didn’t shower, put on a bra or comb my hair most days. It took a forced trip to the grocery store because we ran out of formula for me to get dressed.
I didn’t exercise or eat right. I sat on the couch watching talk shows, and I ate whatever was easy, like Little Debbie cakes for lunch. Tasty, yes, but not part of a well-balanced diet.
I ended up with a pretty bad case of the blues. I was tired, cranky, short-fused and for lack of a better word, generally bummed out. And it was self-perpetuating. The more I stayed home and sat on the couch in my pajama pants, the less I wanted to do anything else.
When you’re a stay-at-home-mom, especially one with young children, it’s easy to loose yourself. Your children need so much of you and your time, you’re tired and with good cause, and there aren’t a lot of reasons to leave the house or stay on a schedule. But it’s not healthy.
I finally snapped out of it when David was 2 1/2. I joined a MOPS group to meet other moms, started blogging so I had a reason to write again, and started reading books again to have something more stimulating than laundry to think about. It made a big difference in my outlook on life.
Here’s some tips to help you avoid or cure The Stay-at-home-mom Blues:
1. Find other grown-ups to hang out with. Arrange play dates with other mom friends who have kids. Get involved in a church. Find a weekly meet-up group like MOPS to join. (Try meetup.com to find something in your area.) Don’t feel guilty about asking your husband to watch the kids once in a while at night or hiring a babysitter if it’s in your budget, so you can go out to dinner or a movie with a friend.
2. Get a hobby. Washing dishes isn’t a hobby. Neither is watching soap operas. Find something you enjoy that stimulates you physically, mentally or creatively. Chances are there’s something you did before kids that you would enjoy doing again — running, sewing, learning Spanish — you get the idea. Squeeze it in during nap time or put a movie in to occupy the kids for a bit. There’s nothing wrong with having a little “me” time during the day.
3. Get dressed. When you don’t need to go anywhere it’s easy to wear your PJs all day long, but there’s something about wearing PJs that’s utterly unmotivating. I’m not saying you need to put on full make-up and curl your hair every day. But a bra, clean T-shirt, yoga pants and a neat pony tail can make you feel 100 percent better.
4. Take care of yourself physically. Maybe running 5Ks isn’t your thing, but even a walk just around the block or the backyard will boost your mood as will the sunshine and fresh air. You also need to eat right. You probably won’t be eating according to federal food pyramid guidelines. But if donuts and soda make up most of your daily intake, adding in a few veggies, fruits and lean meats will help give your body the nutrients it really needs.
As a stay-at-home mom you’ve dedicated yourself to taking care of your children. But you can’t be the best mom you can be if you don’t take care of yourself first. You deserve to do something good for yourself, so you can be good for your kids.