5 Practical Tips to Finding Contentment as a Stay-at-Home Mom
If you’ve already signed up for the role of stay-at-home mom, please read on. If you’re on the fence, proceed knowing my intent is neither to convince nor deter you from choosing full time child rearing over a career.
I am committed to my decision to stay at home, really. But I wrestle with finding contentment in the actual day to night to day job. Being thankful that I can stay home and actually enjoying laundry, dishes, and rounds of CandyLand are NOT the same. Here’s what you need to cultivate contentment, where to find support, and why seeking out this often elusive mindset is so important as a stay-at-home mom!
What you need
#1 A New Perspective
#2 A Routine
#5 Short & Long Term Goals
Where to find support
If only there existed a store that sold all of the above. In the meantime, check out these practical resources in your pursuit of contentment – Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS.org), MOMS Club.org, Sittercity.com, Gymboree Play & Music, your local community center, place of worship, gym or exercise studio…with onsite childcare.
And if you are truly struggling, these articles may provide some guidance –
A Christian perspective Teaching Values: Contentment
My favorite guilt absolver! All Joy and No Fun – Why Parents Hate Parenting
Why it’s so important
Initially I entitled this post, 10 Tips for Finding Joy as a Stay-at-Home Mom. Then I dropped it to 5, and ultimately amended the objective from Joy to Contentment. Joy just sounds too peppy to be a realistic goal. Maybe it should be How to Not be Completely Overwhelmed and Miserable as a Stay-at-Home Mom. But I’m shooting for contentment. My definition in this context is: Satisfaction motivated by the knowledge that I am doing what’s best for my family. Not circumstantial happiness, but a static inner peace.
#1 Gain a new perspective. Specifically into your view of success and of how you establish your identity. I took great pride in my career and very often struggle with being “just a mom.” It requires me to take the long view each and every day, reminding myself that this is a temporary sacrifice of my profitable skills, not a diminishment of my talents. And the greater your aspirations in the work force, the more you have to surrender. Nobody’s one true calling is emptying the dishwasher. Instead, see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to intimately know and influence the lives of the most important individuals in your life. Keeping in mind you have little control over the outcome..
#2 This is my favorite step. I thrive on rule and order and was ecstatic to learn that children actually benefit from routine. Knowing their schedule allows kids to anticipate what’s next, providing them a sense of security. A routine, tempered with flexibility, will reign in the chaos that easily engulfs a home. Otherwise you may find yourself in a constant state of annoyance, viewing your kids merely as little interrupters to your agenda. Multi-tasking is a bit of a myth with little ones. I attempt it unsuccessfully every day! But am happiest when I focus my complete attention on my children, and save “my stuff” for time alone. So get organized and build in the necessary time to meet your own physical, emotional, spiritual, & intellectual needs.
#3 Solicit help. From your spouse, other family members, friends, hired help if you’re able. No rewards are handed out for martyr-style mothering. And you won’t be able to accomplish #2 A Routine as effectively without help. My insightful OB/GYN said it best: “Women CAN do it all, just not all at the same time.” Her words gave me such freedom to disregard any ideals of being a supermom and just focus on the most important aspects of my job as they come.
#4 Do the work to stay connected to other adults. Your spouse, other moms, pre-baby friends, couples. Schedule regular date nights and girls’ nights. Join a playgroup/moms group, book club, alumni club, running group, dinner club, volunteer group, whatever you need to maintain adult relationships. And don’t just talk about your kids…it gets boring.
#5 Set short & long term personal goals; revise them as needed. Perhaps motherhood is as fulfilling as you’d dreamed and you don’t need any other short term goals. I do. Right now they are small and simple. Lose weight and write this blog. You will always be a mother, but your role as a stay-at-home mom ultimately comes to an end. There will be a next phase of your life and it’s exciting to think about what it could entail.
I hope something here motivates you in your search for contentment, at least until the microwave beeps and dinner is served.