Being a stay-at home mom may be rewarding, but it’s also hard. Here’s how to hack it. By Lisa Witepski
Before baby, your life was all deadlines, meetings and memos. Now, you’re no less busy, but in a completely different way. One of the greatest challenges you’ll face in this new milieu is finding balance, so you obtain your own emotional fulfillment while still meeting your child’s needs.
This is something that an increasing number of women are grappling with. According to research by the Pew Research Center in the United States, more women are opting to leave their jobs to take up full-time parenting (possibly because, as one of the survey’s findings reveal, Americans believe it is best to have one parent home). In fact, 29% of American mothers are signing up for stay-at-home roles; that’s an increase of 6% from 1999.
Benefits of being a stay-at-home mom for your kids
As you may expect, there are positives and negatives to this choice – as there are with anything in life. On the plus side, the research found that children benefit from having an at-home parent, and not just when they’re at nursery school phase: even six- and seven-year-olds were shown to perform better at school when there was a parent actively involved in their academic life.
The study also showed that children who had been looked after by a stay-at-home mom, rather than spending time in day care, show lower levels of stress and aggression.
Cons of being a stay-at-home mom
The downside, though, is that many moms feel they are spending too much time with their children, and there’s a high level of stress, depression and sadness among stay-at-home moms: In fact, 42% of those surveyed said they felt like they were battling, compared to 36% of working moms.
How to handle it
We asked some stay-at-home moms how they coped with the adjustment from the corporate world to life at home.
Here’s what they said:
I try to get out of the house at least once a day, even if it’s a walk to get a coffee. Podcasts saved me in the first year when I didn’t work. It made me feel like I was surrounded by interesting, clever and funny grown-ups even though I wasn’t. – Chloe
I was in the corporate world for many years, so it was a huge adjustment. I find doing volunteer work gives me a sense of purpose outside of raising my child. – Meaghan
Give yourself time. It feels weird at first, but you have to settle into a new pace. Keep a flexible schedule. Start with a plan, but be open to change. Know that you will feel isolated and lonely at times, and that’s OK. Remember that you’ill be exhausted, but you will not always be stimulated. It’s a tricky situation and no one prepares you for it. You used to be rewarded and remunerated for your efforts at work. You got leave, you got bonuses, you got time off, and you got praise. You need to remember to do those things for yourself when you’re a stay-at-home mom. – Lee-Anne
You need to find your tribe. I made my best friend ever at yoga class just before I had my first baby. I would not have made it through the first year without the women I met there. We would go to yoga twice a week with our babies and go out for lunch after yoga at least once a week. It’s so much more fun and manageable when you have other mommies to share your ups and downs with. – Aimee
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.