Written by: Cally Worden
When pre-baby daily life has been dominated by a vibrant work life and a stimulating career, suddenly finding yourself at home all day can come as a bit of a shock to the new Stay-At-Home-Mum. But relax – you are not alone, and there are numerous ways for the SAHM to maintain her sanity.
Reach Out and Connect
Being at home with your baby all day can be isolating, particularly if your previous life involved being in a busy office surrounded by work colleagues. It’s important to remember that being a SAHM is your new job, and that you’re not the only one doing it. There are plenty of “colleagues” out there in the form of other SAHMs who each work in their own home office. The trick is to connect with them just as you would in the workplace.
Reach out to other Mums at playgroup, in the park or at the Library. Chances are they are feeling as disconnected as you and will be only too happy to compare notes, share successes and vent their spleen with you when the going gets tough. Be realistic about the fact that you won’t make an instant or long-term connection with everyone, any more than you would in the workplace, but by making the effort you should soon find yourself with a few valued friends, and any number of more casual acquaintances.
Embrace the Newbie in You
As a first time Mum you can’t know everything. In fact most second and more times Mum’s still feel out of their depth at times. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual and every model is different anyway. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t always go the way you planned, and if you are confused and exhausted then frankly, you are already a perfectly normal new Mum!
There is No Performance Review
Unlike at work, where we have to justify our existence and regularly prove our worth under the guise a performance review, as a SAHM you are entirely your own boss. This is a blessing and a curse at the same time. It is nice not to be watched at every turn, but every so often a pat on the back wouldn’t go amiss.
As a SAHM you need to get used to the fact that no one, least of all the little bundle of joy in your arms, is going to show you much appreciation. This can be tough to get used to, but after a while you will find it liberating. Lack of appreciation goes hand-in-hand with lack of hassle. Forget to sterilise the bottle? Clock up an epic fail on the nappy change front? No one is going to be on your back about it. Now that feels good.
Manage the Repetition
Once you’re in the swing of SAHM-hood each day can start to feel like Groundhog Day. The same mind-numbing tasks need repeating, often several times a day: nappy changes, washing, making food, preparing bottles, cleaning the house, tidying the toys. There can feel like no end in sight, and the only way to beat this is to ring fence periods of such activity during the day, and make sure you take a break once in a while.
Remember You’re Worth It
Motherhood is the most valuable job you will ever do, and you never get the traditional payday reward. When you flop, exhausted, at the end of a challenging day it is easy to become disillusioned, and wistful about the relative simplicity of working life, where you did your stuff and got paid. End of story. But never forget that the contribution you are making to your family, your household and most importantly, to the life of your child, is priceless. Not everything can be measured in financial terms, so learn to value yourself in your new role for what it is, and for every little smile, and every second of love and patience that you give.
It’s an Ongoing Process
Adjusting to being a SAHM does not happen overnight. As your baby grows so the demands on you as a parent and as a person will shift too. Just when you think you have this SAHM-thing cracked, your baby starts crawling, then walking, then talking … and each stage brings new challenges for you to adjust to. Go easy on yourself, and look at how far you’ve come. There is no other job in the world that is as demanding, and yet so rewarding at the same time. Be proud of yourself, and when you are deep in a stress moment take time to remember your many triumphs.