The Challenges of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

Bringing up a child is one of the keenest pleasures in the world and there are many women who want nothing to come in the way of doing this well. However the decision to be a stay-at-home mom is not an easy one since this involves innumerable adjustments on the personal front, as part of a family as well as the larger society. Here are some challenges of being a stay-at-home mom and how you can cope with them.

A smaller disposable income

To start with the basics, staying at home involves raising a family on one income instead of two. This not only means that funds are limited and have to be stretched for buying the necessities, but that you have to think twice before splurging on yourself or allowing your family to have certain luxuries. You need to make the single income go as far as possible which could translate into fewer trips to restaurants, cineplexes or shorter vacations. Plus if you want to get your husband a gift on your anniversary or on his birthday, you may have to take money from the very person who you want to surprise with a present. For all these reasons, it may be quite upsetting to have a limited income and you may even be tempted to get back to the workplace. To get round this problem, you can agree early on to set aside some money for small family and personal indulgences. You can also explore various options of generating some income, even if it’s only selling things you’re going to throw out anyway on an online portal.

A low self-esteem

In the intensely materialistic culture that we live in, a person is almost always evaluated in terms of what he/she does and how much money he/she makes. Thus stay at home moms tend to suffer from a serious lack of self esteem even if the family is financially comfortable. The absence of formal job titles, public appreciation and a wider forum for recognition of their efforts is what bugs them most perhaps. This is especially true for educated and qualified women who feel that they are wasting their abilities simply sitting at home when their less smart friends are being promoted and earning ridiculously high salaries. The situation gets particularly depressing when a stay at home feels even her own husband and children do not take her seriously. The only way to cope with this challenge is to bring about a paradigm shift in your values. You need to reassess your priorities and realize that your rewards and gains are not the same as those for women who work outside. While the latter may be waking up at unearthly hours to finish presentations, you get to dawdle in bed and wake up to your kids’ kisses. Also while they may have to step outside in pouring rain and freezing cold, you can snuggle up comfortably indoors. Above all, you are teaching your kids to be well-adjusted human beings and what else is more rewarding than that?

Missing out on adult company

Stay at home moms, of younger children especially, often feel frustrated at the lack of adult company and conversation in their daily lives. It is as though all their waking hours are spent talking parentese with their kids. However this is one of the lesser challenges since as kids grow, they will become more independent, leaving you to go back to your social life. In the short run though you can hang out with your friends who have equally young kids, no matter how briefly. You could also go on play dates, do volunteer work or take up short courses. Explore online options for adult conversations, even if it is only for exchanging stewed apple recipes. Finally go on regular date nights with your husband; you may need to spend money on a good babysitter but the relief and pleasure will be well worth the expense.

Feeling redundant

While in the long run bringing up a child is no less demanding and challenging than a regular job, the same domestic environment day in and day out, can threaten to make you feel less mentally aware. You may fear that you are letting your intellectual faculties rust and sinking to the mental level of a first grader. Most of these perceptions are not true and yet they are enough to make you feel upset. To counteract this feeling, the best remedy is to keep reading – not just fiction or magazines but educational material as well. Remain abreast of current affairs, global happenings and other important trends in education, politics, economy and sports. If you can spare some time, take up a new hobby or pursue other passions or even go back to college for a short course. All these will not only help you to remain intellectually alert but also be good way of preparing to return back to the workforce, should you wish that at some later date. finally take pleasure in learning along with your kids – the evolving nature of education means that they will be doing a lot of science, history, general knowledge and computers which you missed out on your school days and still know little about.

Being taken for granted

It is very common for stay at home moms to feel that they are being taken for granted and in most cases it is true as well. Your kids’ drama teacher may delegate the task of organizing the props to you, your husband may always expect you to keep the freezer stocked, you kids may ask you to fetch things which they forget to take to school and even your own mom may fix up a shopping date without informing you ahead – all because you don’t “work”. And the worst part of all this is that you begin to take yourself for granted as well – for instance you may feel guilty about cuddling up with a book when there is the laundry to be done. In order to break this vicious cycle, you will first have to start respecting yourself. Keep in mind that it is alright for you to take a break and the house will not fall if there are dirty dishes in the sink. Also encourage your kids to assume age-appropriate responsibilities and ask your husband to do his share of chores as well as parenting. Learn to say no to other people’s chores and if they get too insistent or ask favors more than once, bring up the possibility of being paid.

Being a stay at home mom is not for every woman. This is simply because the challenges and adjustments involved are significant. However if decision is based on clear priorities and communication between everyone involved is kept open, it is far easier to enjoy the rewards of such a setup.