This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you want more information, please see my Affiliate Disclosure.
Being a stay at home mom is wonderful, but it’s also really freaking hard. I’m a stay at home mom of just one child, but there are many days when my former full-time job as a teacher felt easier. A study done by Gallup shows that 26% of stay at home moms experience feelings of sadness. Compared to working moms, who come out with 16% experiencing sadness, it shows that being a stay at home mom can be an emotionally challenging job. Being happy as a stay at home mom is a formula we’re all still trying to figure out, but in my years of it so far I’ve found some ways to find joy in being home with the kids. Here I’ve compiled several tips on cultivating more happiness as a stay at home mom.
Set Some Realistic Expectations From The Start
The first thing any stay at home mom needs to do when it comes to their happiness is to toss the unrealistic expectations out the window. When we envision stay at home moms, most of us may envision a 1950’s housewife who has a beautifully manicured garden, great hair, an immaculate house, and food on the table made from scratch every night. The truth is that image is so unrealistic in todays standards, and even in 1950’s standards it was ridiculous!
Think about the societal expectations you may have as a stay at home mom:
- Do you feel the crushing expectation to have your house be spotless?
- Are you feeling as if being a stay at home mom means you have to only eat healthy food and cook from scratch? Are fast food dinners becoming a sign of failure in your life?
- Do you feel as if being a stay at home mom means you have to have Pinterest worthy activities planned for your kids always?
- Are you crippled by the unrealistic expectation that you have to complete everything on your to-do list, and that list also seems to never end?
- Are there things that once felt like small things before becoming a stay at home mom, but now for some reason feel like big things? Such as dirty dishes, or unfolded laundry?
I’m sure there’s other unrealistic expectations that you feel as a stay at home mom. Take a minute and write down those expectations and decide whether they are actually fair expectations. If they’re not, then toss it out.
Have A Solid Rhythm
Having a daily flexible schedule, or a rhythm, is one of the best things any parent can have. Stay-at-home parents can especially benefit from having a daily rhythm. When you have at least a rough idea of what to expect every day, you feel much more at ease.
When creating a rhythm, don’t get caught up in rigid time blocks or having a perfectly curated daily schedule. Instead, consider what you can make a consistent, regular occurrence every day. Having those cornerstones in your day really helps you feel less chaotic and more centered. Kids also greatly benefit from having a daily rhythm in the home as well.
Honestly, you don’t need some elaborate stay at home mom schedule with template and all. Start off small to begin with. Maybe just start with a morning routine or a morning cup of coffee alone. If that goes well, work in a regular afternoon activity, or a little time of relaxation at the end of the day. Keeping it simple to begin with makes it easier to make into a regular habit. Even if all you come up with is a simple morning routine and the rest of the day is a total free-for-all, that’s a great starting place!
There are so many wonderful resources out there on creating a daily rhythm that suits your family. Here’s a couple resources that can help you get started:
- Megan Rose Wilson has a beautiful site all about developing holistic rhythms and routines for your family. I’ve gained so much insight listening to the podcasts she’s been on, and from her resources she provides. Many of the resources are based in the Waldorf philosophy of education, but even if you’re not a Waldorf person her information is a great place to start.
- Rhythms of Play has a wonderful blog post all about developing rhythms in your home.
Be A Stay At Home Mom Who Actually Gets Out Of The House
Being a stay at home mom does NOT mean all you do is stay home! Have you ever heard of “cabin fever”? Being at home too often for too long can definitely result in feeling stir crazy and longing for new interactions. Making it a point to get out of the house consistently is a worthy habit to have as a stay at home mom.
I always recommend that moms get out of the house with their kids at least once a day. Even if “out of the house” is just a walk around outside, it’s better than inside. Getting out of your house isn’t going to just be good for you, but your kids as well. Though it may be stressful and a lot of prep work to get out with your kids, actually interacting with the outside world is good for everyone.
If you’re not used to getting out of the house often as a stay at home mom, I recommend keeping it local and free. The library can be a great place to start, and they often have free programs for adults and kids alike. Even making regular trips to a favorite park can be a life-giving experience for kids and moms alike.
I should also note that it is a good idea to get out of the house alone whenever you can. Yes, getting out with your kids is good for everyone involved, but getting out by yourself on a somewhat regular basis is something we all need. I’ll talk a little more about that later.
Plant Yourself In A Community Of Like-Minded Moms
Stay at home moms are some of the loneliest people in our society. Research has shown that stay at home mom report alarmingly high levels of loneliness in their life. For people who are seemingly never alone, they feel alone. Finding a community of mom friends you can hang out with and talk to is such a gift. Investing your time into having good mom friends is worth it.
Peanut is a fantastic app that helps you connect with other mothers in your community, plus its totally free! This can be a great place to start if you are struggling to find like-minded moms to connect with. You can also find many other online resources for connecting with other moms, such as Meetup.com or local Facebook groups. If one doesn’t exist for your area, then don’t be afraid to start one yourself. You can also look into joining local MOPS or MOMS group in your area.
I’m sure other moms wouldn’t agree with this, but don’t be afraid to strike up conversation with other parents you run into. If you meet another mom at the library who seems interesting to you, be the bold one and introduce yourself! Yes, you’re probably going to run into some moms who want nothing to do with you, but there may be at least one who was hoping to find a friend too.
Stay Invested In Things That Fulfill You Outside Of Motherhood
One of the most important things any mom can do is to stay in touch with the person you are outside of motherhood. You are more than a mom, you are a whole human being with unique gifts, desires, likes, dislikes, and dreams. Spending all of your time only doing mom stuff, no matter how much you enjoy it, will eventually lead to burnout. On the other hand, if you regularly make time for activities that energize you and fulfill you, then doing the mom stuff won’t feel like all you ever do.
Make regular time for hobbies, and no I don’t mean scrolling for hours and bingeing the latest season of your favorite shows, I mean an actual hobby. Are you into reading? Then make regular time reading some of your favorite books or finding new ones to enjoy. Are you a crafty type? Then craft just for fun! Do you have no earthly clue what your hobbies are? Then just pick something and give it a shot. No need to be perfect at it right away, just try it. The point is to give yourself an enjoyable outlet outside of motherhood that reminds you of who you are at your core.
Continuing education is also another great route to go. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should become a full time college student. Instead educate yourself on things that interest you outside of motherhood. Every so often our local library will offer free education courses on random topics such as knitting, composting, gardening, you name it. Keeping your eye out for free or cheap local classes, or going online to places like UDemy can be a good place to find a new intellectual interest.
Give Yourself Regular Time Off
Not having enough time to yourself is a universal issue that all mothers face, and it is detrimental to all moms alike. If a typical 9-5 job offers PTO, sick days, vacation days, federal holidays, etc. then being a stay at home mom should offer some time off as well! Even though being a mom is technically a 24/7 job, it doesn’t mean that you can’t at least have a day here and there to have less responsibility than usual. Regardless of whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, everyone needs time off. When you don’t give yourself regular time off, you put yourself at risk of mom burnout.
Get your partner to take the kids for the day, or enlist in the help of family members or trusted friends, and go do something for yourself! You could go bougie and get yourself a hotel room for the night, or keep it simple and relax at home. Whatever it is that would make you feel rested and rejuvenated the next day, make time for it. You spend so much time meeting the needs of your family, surely one day here and there to meet your own needs wouldn’t be some earth shattering occurrence in your family.
If an entire day off is not an option, then make it a point to give yourself regular free time. When my son stopped napping, we started doing daily “quiet time” where he would play by himself and I would have alone time. Adding that into our day made a huge difference in my own journey in being a happier stay at home mom. I also make it a point to have consistent free time in the evenings when my husband is home.
If getting your parenting partner on board in supporting your maternal well-being is challenging, then pay particular attention to the next point…
Ensure Your Parenting Partner Is Working With You, Not Against You
A dangerous belief that stay at home moms have, as well as their spouses, is that they have to do it all. It’s misunderstood that the stay at home parent is the one who has to clean the house, cook the meals, keep up with the yard, play court jester to the kids, and also make time to make the earth go around the sun (or at least that’s how it feels). The truth is that nobody is capable of doing all of that. Not even the most capable stay at home moms. That means that your spouse is going to have to step up and do work around the house as well.
At the end of a long day full of long hours for both you and your spouse, more than likely it’s not just your partner who is tired. You are as well. You’re both doing valuable work, which means that when your partner is home it shouldn’t be a competition of who gets to rest. Instead, find ways to divide the labor at home fairly. Can your spouse do a load of laundry here and there with little complaint? Is he able to mentally step out of the working world for an hour to entertain the little people? Dividing labor at home is one of the biggest challenges couples face, especially when they have kids. But it’s not impossible to figure out. If your partner is willing to work on taking some of the load off your shoulders, it will absolutely help you be a happier stay-at-home mom.
If you’re looking for resources on how to more fairly divide the labor at home with your spouse, the book “Fair Play” is my favorite book on the subject. Honestly I feel like it should be required reading material for all couples.
I’ve also created a few articles on the subject that can be of some help to you as well:
Choose To Be Influenced By Internet Moms Who Actually Keep Things Somewhat Realistic
Social media has made being a stay at home mom feel like a rat race. The internet battle of who has the best play room, perfectly curated routine, cutest home cooked meals, or the best aesthetic makes many moms feel inadequate. I distinctly remember as a new mom feeling so bitter towards the influencer moms of the internet. Because their image made motherhood look so carefree and blissful, when I was just a mom battling postpartum depression trying to make it to the end of the day in one piece! I know I’m not alone in those feelings, which is why being mindful of who you follow really matters.
Go through your social media feed and consider a few things when it comes to the mom-influencers, or even just friends you follow:
- Am I gaining any real valuable information from them, or am I just trying to live up to an unrealistic standard they have set?
- Do I feel better, neutral, or worse after viewing their content?
- Do they have a tendency to put a lot of definitive statements on moms, such as “only the best moms do…” or “this is the only way to do…”
Vetting your social media feed can be the best thing for anyone to do who is feeling the pressures of social media. There are plenty of people to follow on social media who don’t make you feel inadequate as a mom. Choose to follow them instead.
Consider Getting Professional Help
Talking to a therapist about your emotions is one of the best things you can do in managing the stress of being a stay at home mom. A therapist can help you get to the root cause of your overwhelm, and can also help you create healthy coping mechanisms for your daily life. Regardless of whether you have any diagnosable mental health conditions or not, a lot of people can benefit from professional help. At the end of this article I will leave some resources in finding professional help in accessible ways.
- Betterhelp – Is an online therapy service that makes therapy accessible and affordable for all people. They have a huge database of therapist with many specialties, and offer many ways to participate in therapy.
- Faithful Counseling – Is very similar to Betterhelp, but is a database of online Christian therapists. If you would prefer to receive therapy from a faith-based perspective, then this could be just for you.
- Brightside – offers online medication and therapy treatments for depression and anxiety. You can get an appointment with an online provider in as little as 48 hours, and each treatment plan is catered to your personal needs.