Being a parent is the toughest job in the world. One of the things that makes it so challenging are societal attitudes toward stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs). It’s natural to internalize some of the negative messaging that bombards you.
You might also mourn your former life at the office, followed by happy hour with your colleagues. Getting used to your new life requires some adjustment and can leave you feeling down for a while. Here are eight tips for coping with SAHM depression.
1. Get Mindful
Resolving your SAHM depression requires you to unearth the messages behind your emotions. Your feelings exist to signal you when something is amiss in your mental or physical world. However, you might not recognize what’s bringing you down until you spend some time meditating on what it is you find distressing about being a SAHM.
Perhaps loneliness lies behind your depression. You might spend 24 hours a day with your child — but that’s hardly a substitute for an adult companion with whom to share your thoughts. Can you set aside a weekly date night with your partner if hitched? Join single parent activity groups if you’re solo?
You might feel bored, especially if you previously worked a fast-paced job. Could you take a class to further your career while your baby naps? Could you volunteer to help with a community project or committee?
2. Find Meaningful Work
Many SAHMs become depressed when they leave their former workplaces. They may miss the camaraderie they had with their old colleagues, the freedom of earning a paycheck or both. However, the pandemic made it more possible than ever for people to telework while raising their children.
Cash in on the labor shortage, driven in part by those who would rather quit than return to the office full time. Look for telecommuting positions you can do on a part-time basis. Does your previous employer need a consultant? You could also use this time to explore a career field that always interests you, knowing that you don’t have to make a full-time commitment if you don’t enjoy it.
3. Get Moving
Exercise is one of the best natural antidepressants there is. Physical activity prompts your body to release endorphins, natural chemicals that ease mild pain and elevate your mood. Plus, the increased oxygen intake wakes you up, making you feel more alive.
Are you struggling to get going because your depression whispers, “why bother? Stay in bed?” If so, try making a deal with yourself. Promise yourself that you’ll work out for only five or ten minutes, allowing yourself to quit after that timeframe if you so desire. You’ll find that you prefer to keep going once you get moving more often than not.
4. Go on Playdates
If loneliness plagues you, one way to meet new friends is at the playground. Connecting with other mothers in your neighborhood opens up opportunities for playdates. Your kids get to enjoy playing with their buddies, and you get some much-needed adult time.
What if you have social anxiety, and the idea of approaching others in person terrifies you? Why not look for groups on apps like Meetup and Nextdoor? You can find those specifically for SAHMs near you and get acquainted online before meeting up in person.
5. Join a Support Group
Even the most sensitive partner might not understand your SAHM depression. After all, you no longer have to deal with office politics and micromanaging supervisors. Sometimes, it takes another person who has been in your shoes to understand.
Fortunately, you can find plenty of online support groups for single parents. Your local parks and recreation department, YMCA or religious organization may have referrals to in-person meetings — all it takes is a phone call.
6. Take a Break
Being a parent is a 24-hour-a-day job, seven days a week. However, everyone needs a break now and then. Research shows that taking one can help relieve stress — making you a more patient and even-tempered mom.
If you’re partnered, set one night aside for you and your spouse, leaving your littles with a sitter. Solo SAHMs can ask their parents or a trusted friend to watch their children while sneaking off for a DIY spa day. Please return the favor when your babysitter needs a chance to unwind
7. Consider Therapy
If your SAHM depression begins to interfere with your daily activities, keeping you in bed past noon or making you forget your responsibilities, you may need to seek outside help. There’s no stigma associated with seeking therapy. Your primary care physician is your first stop for a referral.
What if you lack health coverage or don’t have money for a copay or time to attend live sessions? Consider one of today’s therapy apps. Some versions allow unlimited texting with licensed professionals and phone support.
Coping With SAHM Depression
Any significant life change can cause emotional turmoil. Follow these seven tips for coping with SAHM depression.