You’ve said the last of your goodbyes, and eaten your last piece of celebratory cake. You’ve cleared your desk, packed up your mementos, and headed out the door, for the final time. As you cruise onto the highway, all you feel is freedom. You’ve left your 9-to-5 grind, and now you’re free … to enjoy domestic bliss, to separate from days of stress, and most of all to enjoy your children. After years of wanting to be a stay-at-home mom, your desire is now a reality. But what’s the catch to maintaining a balanced and healthy life?
Fast forward six months. While you love all of the memories you create with your little ones, the days without significant adult interaction stretch before you. You enjoy being identified as a wife and mom, but the sense of accomplishment you felt from your career has vanished. That alone time you relished during your morning commute has been replaced with five minutes of hiding in the bathroom, so you can think. Being home is what you wanted, but somehow you got lost in the process. You’re suffering, and need to restore some sense of balance. There are steps you can take to still love your children, tend to your household, and be the emotionally healthy “you” that you miss.
Get Out and Socialize
Repeat after me: You are not a bad mom because you want to do something without the kids. Now that we’ve established that fact, go have lunch with your girlfriends. Meet up for a movie or even take a day trip. Reconnecting with friends provides a healthy outlet for you. You can have a stimulating adult conversation, and the opportunity to kick back and have fun, without your help being needed by a little one. You may have almost forgotten what that was like.
Take Up a Hobby
Find an activity you enjoy, and pick it back up again. Maybe scrapbooking was your thing. Perhaps you were an avid bowler, or love getting out in the garden. Painting may soothe you. Whatever it is, reignite the joy it brought to you. Hobbies can relieve stress, inspire creativity and also provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
Get Back to Work!
Another way to experience the feeling of achievement you had while working is to, well, work. You can find work that lines up with your skill set, as well as your interest level, and make some money in the process! Freelance writing, online teaching, conducting workshops, work as a virtual assistant, and computer programming are just a few of the positions with the potential flexibility to accommodate your family’s schedule. Perhaps an opportunity to work as a consultant in your previous field of work may be available.
Schedule in Alone Time
A little time for yourself goes a long way. It contributes greatly to your health, your kids’ health, and the overall health of the household. It took me years to grasp this principle, and I still forget sometimes how much time alone can refresh me. Get away from sneaking a few minutes in the bathroom with the door locked. Schedule a warm bath once the kids are down for the night. Make a mandatory quiet time in the afternoon for little kids who don’t want to nap, then use that time to read. Go for a drive, or sit on the back porch. The bottom line is, schedule time to maintain your peace of mind.
Rest! (and Eat)
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. That does not include finishing what your kids left behind on their plates. It means a plate of your own, with vegetables and protein. It means healthy snacks for you, not just the children. And it means getting a decent amount of sleep each night. You will need every ounce of that energy for your next day of adventure.
We’ve all heard of the countless benefits of exercise on our physical health. But what about our mental and emotional well-being? The Mayo Clinic notes on their website that exercise can help take your mind off worries (I can attest to that!), as well as release “feel-good brain chemicals”, like endorphins. A 2012 U.S. News & World Report article, “7 Mind-Blowing Benefits of Exercise”, notes that exercise can lift depression, improve learning, and even help keep the brain fit and active. How’s that for taking care of your health?
When you’re caring for so many others as a mom, self-care can often fall to the bottom of the to-do list. But I’ve heard it said many times, and it bears repeating – if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else? Remove obstacles to tending to your health. Swap childcare help with another friend. Get family to pitch in to give you a break. Make yourself the best you can be, so you can give your best to your family.