Dr Richard C. Woolfson
Even if you’ve happily chose to stay home with your baby because you don’t want to return to work while she is so young, you may still find yourself feeling stressed, lonely and even downright miserable at times.
When other working mums tell you that you’re so lucky and that they’re jealous, you want to shout: “It’s not as wonderful as you think!” The reality is that staying at home to look after your little one can have plenty of lows as well as highs.
Here’s how you can cope better:
1. Be honest.
There’s no point in pretending that everything is wonderful. Tell Hubby or a close friend (or both) that sometimes you feel so stressed, you could scream, and sometimes you’re jealous of mums who have resumed their careers.
That will enable them to support you in a helpful way, and you’ll feel better having shared your feelings.
2. Don’t blame yourself.
No matter how much you love your child, life with a baby can be very challenging. Not because you’re an ineffective parent, not because she’s difficult, but because a growing kid is naturally demanding. There are very few parents who breeze through those early childhood years with a smile permanently etched on their faces.
It’s natural for you to feel down, hesitant and lacking in parental confidence at times. However, instead of wasting your energy blaming yourself, try to focus on ways that could make stay-home parenting better for you.
3. Have a realistic schedule.
Almost certainly, you can reduce the pressure on yourself by cutting down on what you do. For example, Baby probably doesn’t have to play with a friend every day or you don’t have to wash her used clothes daily. In other words, identify tasks or activities that could be reduced or eliminated. If you’ve a daily schedule that’s too demanding and unrealistic, you’re bound to find it all overwhelming at times.
4. Ask for help.
Just because Hubby works all day doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own. He should be encouraged to help you with feeding, bathing, changing and playing with the little one. The same applies to weekends and holidays – those are the times when childcare tasks and activities should be equally distributed.
And when he does offer to play his part, let him! Use those wonderful moments as “me time” to relax and do something you’ve been looking forward to, rather than worry that he won’t do it exactly the way you do.
5. Meet other mums.
You’re not the only stay-home parent in your neighbourhood, and are certainly not the only one there who feels lonely and over-burdened at times. Make an effort to meet with other mums with kids of the same age, perhaps at the playground, community centre or playgroup.
You’ll feel much better sharing your thoughts and feelings with others who are in your situation, and from hearing their solutions to the same problems you experience. Many such mothers become lifelong friends, partly because they have this common bond.
(Photo 123RF.com/Anatoly Tiplyashin)