Being a stay at home mom is harder than working. At least I think so. Stay-at-home mom depression is a real thing. It’s normal to feel anxiety about going back to work after being a stay at home mom. But these feelings are not insurmountable.
Here are ten tips that have been helping me personally in terms of how to feel fulfilled as a stay at home mom:
1. Recognise your achievements
If you don’t value yourself, no one else will. You’ve learned invaluable skills as a stay at home parent. Whether it’s multitasking while dealing with multiple kids, cultural awareness from a move overseas or meeting deadlines for your family, your skills are valid. You need to believe in these skills yourself before you can convince others, including future employers should you want to get back into work one day. Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis indicates that over the lifespan of a 30-year career, women with children outperform childless workers at nearly every stage.
2. Show your skills are current
Your time as a stay at home mom shouldn’t be a gap on your CV or an embarrassment. The hard truth is that many people will judge you for staying at home. Now it’s your job to educate the ignorant and believe in your skills. If you’re job hunting, you’ll need to show future employers that your skills are useful in the current market place. If you feel you’re losing touch with the pace of your industry, consider online training programs, voluntary work and pro bono projects in your field of work. Keep your CV and LinkedIn profile updated with these skills.
3. Maintain your professional network
Whether or not you’re looking to return to work, keep in touch with former colleagues. Network with people in your profession. Attend events, join professional organisations, socialise with ex colleagues. Whether you’re looking to find work again or just stay abreast of industry changes, it’s vital to stay in the loop. If you’re living abroad, it’s just as valid to keep in touch digitally as it is face to face. Don’t be shy to start the conversation after a long gap; networking is in everyone’s best interest. If you’re struggling, find a reason for getting back in touch. For example, consider how you might add value to them ― perhaps you have a business proposal, perhaps you know a contact who could grow their business, perhaps you could link them with new clients?
4. Make a life plan
Stay at home parenting is just one phase in a long career. Visualise where you want to be in five years time and make a time plan to get this point. Making a plan for the future is vital for seeing a future in yourself. Draw up monthly or trimesterly objectives and congratulate yourself for progressing. Whether it’s updating your LinkedIn profile, revising your CV, attending a professional event or completing a training workshop, breaking down the path to a future career is a manageable and satisfying way forward. If you don’t see yourself working for the foreseeable future, set yourself other personal targets. It could be learning a new language, mastering a new skill or fulfilling a bucket list. It’s not about beating yourself up for not reaching targets, but congratulate all the times you do.
5. Consider alternative work options
While a full time office job might not fit with your new lifestyle as a parent, don’t exclude all professional options if you do want to work. There are many possibilities out there besides the 9-5 lifestyle. COVID-19 has opened up flexible working and it’s time to take advantage of this change. Job shares, freelancing, remote working and part time work are great options. Returnships, i.e. internships for the highly qualified who have been out of paid work for some time, are a great way to gain confidence, network and retrain. If finances aren’t an issue volunteering is a great way to add skills to your CV, meet locals and do something fulfilling.
6. Reach out for guidance
Stay at home mom depression and anxiety is a real thing. You’re not alone. There are plenty of smart stay at home moms who understand what you’re going through ― talk to them. Research online and reach out to others who get your mindset ― Mumsnet, bloggers like Mother Pukka, online platforms such as Digital Moms, The Mom Project and Proyecto Moms are all great resources. Connect with stay at home mothers who’ve made the transition back to work. Maybe they can recommend a qualified life coach, therapist, career adviser or other expert who helped them get where they are.
7. Build a non parenting related identity
Sharing your feelings with fellow parents is vital. But restricting yourself to parenting groups alone can feel suffocating. It’s vital to build a non parenting related interest. Set up a book club, join a volunteering group or connect with like minded hobbyists for something outside parenting groups. Read, paint, run… nurture your mind, body and soul.
8. Accept the mummy hormones
Feeling guilty for leaving your baby to go back to work or to have some time to yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, biologically speaking it means you’re a good mother. Your child’s cry is a siren which has been fine tuned to disturb you more than anyone else. When I dropped my first child off at nursery, I would feel a pang of guilt and my boobs would suddenly rush with milk! Guilt is not a pleasant experience, but it’s natural. I found recognising and accepting these natural feelings the best way forward.
9. Partner with your partner
Just because you’re the stay at home parent, doesn’t mean you own the children or your partner owns the stress of providing financially. Mutual respect, communication and teamwork are essential. And that’s easier said than done in a sleep deprived, stressed out household with kids. Hurtful comments that you don’t do your share are most likely signs of sleep deprivation and stress, than a reflection of your abilities or relationship together. If you feel that you’re not working well as a couple, it’s important to have an open, honest and non judgmental discussion at a time when you’re both feeling level headed. Love brought you together, love brought your kids into the world and love should be the basis of your partnership.
10. Remember it’s your life, not someone else’s
The transition from life as a stay at home mom to a working parent or vice versa is different for everyone. There are statistics proving both types of parenting are better for your child, but in truth only the parents themselves know the best lifestyle for the family unit. Every situation is different, depending on finances, the age of the children, the size of the family, the partner’s job and so many other factors. It’s not helpful to compare yourself to others who seem to have it all sorted. (They don’t, I don’t, no one does). Identify your own journey and keep evaluating this path as you grow and your life situation changes.
Are you a stay at home or working mum? How do you cope? Leave me a comment below.