A Different Kind of Busy
While your office calendar may have been full of meetings, conference calls and deliverables, the work of the stay-at-home mom is entirely different, and yet can be equally stressful. Between laundry, diaper changes, cooking and cleaning, daily housework can often feel tedious and relentless; many stay-at-home moms feel stuck in an endless loop of domestic chores. But unlike finishing that important work presentation, little sense of accomplishment is derived from sweeping the kitchen floor for the third time in a day--particularly when you know you'll be doing it again in three hours. A different kind of gratification, however, occurs in the life of the stay-at-home mom, the pleasure of bearing witness to all of your child's emotional and physical milestones.
The transition to staying home can be particularly difficult for moms who thrive on positive feedback, and can expect none from a wailing infant or self-obsessed toddler. This can lead to low self-esteem and loss of identity--especially if your career previously defined you, or if your spouse fails to acknowledge your efforts.
Many new stay-at-home moms are surprised by feelings of extreme loneliness. From business lunches to watercooler conversation, the typical office is full of stimulating conversation and camaraderie among colleagues. While chatting with a two-year-old can be entertaining, it can also be mind-numbing. One way many moms head off these feelings of isolation is to get into a daily routine. Check your local newspaper for information about story hours at the public library, music classes for infants and toddlers, and other classes and events held at local churches, community centers and rec departments.
Other moms form playgroups, or spend time at social networking sites and forums geared toward moms. These adult interactions aren't only emotionally satisfying, but can also lead to lifelong friendships. Of course, seeking out an evening activity--such as a book group or dance class--when your spouse can watch the baby, can be a liberating way to reconnect with your former self.
On the flip side, many new stay-at-home moms struggle with feeling a lack of privacy and loss of "me time." After all, you can close your door and take a minute or two to recharge at work, but at home with a toddler, there's no place to hide.
Choosing to stay home also has complicated financial implications. While you may be saving money on childcare, your family budget will likely take a hit. Frugality becomes paramount, and many families with a stay-at-home parent sacrifice vacations, dining out, and other previously enjoyed lifestyle choices.
Furthermore, tensions can arise if both partners aren't completely committed to the new arrangement. If household chores were previously split, new expectations about the division of labor can offset the balance of power. The fact is, the dynamics of your relationship will change. By openly communicating about it, you can make sure you stay connected as a couple.