While stay at home moms don’t have jobs, raising children on a single income household demands so much of physical strength, mental health, and financial gymnastics. But it’s our choice to be SAHM right? We know our purpose and reason of our choice. So in the midst of the struggles that come with being a SAHM, how should we manage when negative thoughts come? How to thrive as a SAHM, and not just survive?
Five years ago, I chose to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) to my firstborn. I chose to left my job in Singapore and go home to Philippines to raise my own child. Being away from my precious treasure for two months only made me miserable and a crying wreck in my commute bus rides that people started looking at me.
Being a SAHM was the most unusual decision I have ever made in my life. It’s because I love working. I enjoy the perks. I’ve been working since college, with summer jobs and part-time jobs. I got my first job right after graduation with a career that I truly loved and which made me go to different countries.
But there I was, choosing to leave the workforce. Motherhood hit me hard.
Before giving birth, I said I will continue working. But the very first time, I repeat, THE VERY FIRST TIME that I saw my daughter’s face after my CS surgery operation, something inside of me just suddenly got awakened to make me protect my child WHATEVER IT TAKES. My maternal instinct switch was turned on. FULL BLAST.
Clueless as I was, I never expected I was in for a ride. The sudden loss of financial freedom and lack of brain simulation with work contributes to feeling of being inadequate and unproductive. It was an unexpected reality.
Being present to my kids is the best decision I have made in my life. Five years on, I still say that with conviction. I will never regret of choosing to be a stay at home mom. But the road was and still is not full of butterflies and rainbows. Motherhood is full of sacrifices made in tiny details in the ordinary motions of everyday life.
To thrive as a stay-at-home mom is challenging. Here’s how you can thrive, and not just survive as a stay at home mom:
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6 ways on how to thrive as a stay-at-home mom
1. Fight against negative thoughts
One time, someone jokingly told me that I only chose to be a SAHM in order to escape having to work and to be on my husband’s payroll. Uh-oh. That was really something huh.
‘You’re not enough.”
“You’re not contributing to society.”
“You don’t know how to raise your children.”
“You don’t have a job. Why can’t you keep your house clean or the kids behaved or get them to eat vegetables?”
“You must find at least a work-from-home job.”
The list is endless.
When you allow yourself to listen to these negative thoughts, I urge you to stop it. Fight the battle against negative thoughts. Allowing these voices to enter your subconscious will slowly creep in to your thoughts and eventually, your whole life. Do not feed these seeds of self-destruction. Focus on why you became a stay-at-home mom in the first place. You know what’s best for your own kids.
Be brave enough to avoid people who trigger these negative motions in your mind and heart. If you can’t, strive to find a way. “There’s always a way,” that’s what my daughter’s favorite fish character, Dory would say.
If there really is no way, then perhaps take it as a lesson coming from God that He might be working something in your heart. And never stop fighting against negative thinking.
2. Create your own personal space
Having your own personal creative space other than your family does not make you a bad mom. It does not deprive your children any part of their mother’s self. In fact, it fills up your reservoir of happiness which in turns can make a you a happy mom too. It can truly help you thrive as stay-at-home mom.
Find a hobby. Open a Youtube channel. Start that blog. Read that book.
Finding time as a SAHM is challenging. Nevertheless, create your own personal space where you can breathe, express, and recharge your self. And moreover, make that into something more tangible. Find a space in your house that you can claim as your own. It does not have to be fancy or a big room. Just any space where you can place a table and a chair, or just a pillow on the floor, or it could just simply be a corner by the window. Find that space. Create that space. Claim that space.
3. Open communication always with your husband
Men are from Mars, women from Venus. And in marriage, it can never ring truer.
The mind and heart of men and women work differently. What makes one gender strong does not indicate the other sex as the weak one. Their strengths are just as varied as their weaknesses, but put them together, they complement the balance of life, of family, of society, or of any organization.
Speaking of family, the complementary roles of men and women create the atmosphere which their children live within. And because each must play a role, they must communicate. And that comes as a struggle sometimes.
When expectations between partner no longer align, it is when contempt start to arise.
“Why is he not helping with the dishes?”
“Why is she asking me to do the dishes?”
“Can’t he/she I am tired too?”
He says, she says. But only in their thoughts.
As a stay at home mom, put your feet forward and strive for open communication always. Tell your stories about being a SAHM. Involve him in your children’s games (and bedtime routines * cough cough). Talk about the challenges of being a mom. Reach an agreement on what is a clean house with kids and what is not.
Open communication does NOT happen by magic. It does by decision.
4. Sleep well and wake up earlier than your kids
When you have a newborn, this is of course relatively impossible. Sleeping through the night becomes just part of our dream, if we even have the time to dream at all. You’re breastfeeding, rocking, bouncing, and carrying your child all the way through the wee hours of the morning. Sounds like a party huh? It is!
When the kids get older, you can sleep longer, albeit still interrupted. The sleeping hours get longer hour by hour. It gets better eventually. And when this finally happen, wake up earlier before everyone in the house does.
Waking up earlier than your kids does so much wonders. It lessens being cranky and impatience which positively impacts the whole course of the day. Whether it’s one long hour or just ten minutes, that space of time gives you clarity and peace at the start of the day. Rather than making your kids’ screams and cries as your alarm, wake up earlier.
5. Take yourself and the kids out of the house
Leave the mess from your homes and take the kids and yourself out of the house. Whether it’s just five minutes or so, getting fresh air does wonders for your mind and your children. The sun, the wind, and even the coldness of winter diverts your body from the monotonous temperature inside your house. At the same time, it diverts your mind at least for a while from the laundry, dishes, and loneliness.
Get out and make friends. Smile your biggest. Laugh your loudest. Being an introvert person, this all comes as a challenge and a burden. But who knows, the mom next to you in the grocery store needs the same thing as you do.
6. Pray girl
Pray girl, pray! You really need to.
Even when the clouds on your head have become grey for too long, don’t give up. There are days when you would fall. But learn to rise again, eager to fight bravely again.
You cannot do it everything on your own. You need guidance and providence. And you need to ask God’s blessing for your home and family. Without His blessing, your sacrifices and work will be like the Tower of Babel whose efforts of men only built the edifice, but lacks the foundation of God. Thus it fell.
Don’t let your sacrifices fall on the ground. Let them rise to Heaven. Let them live unto generations from your children to your future grandchildren.
You are doing your purpose. You are doing your duty. You are doing your choice. Do not think of it any other way.
Final thoughts: SAHM is your choice, so smile!
But you made the decision to be a SAHM yourself. No one did that for you. So remember why you made that decision. And use that as your central motivation during the tough days.
I know it is so much easier said than done. But don’t give up for the sake of your children because you are your children’s most important person, you are the center of their universe. As they grow up, their universe becomes less centered on you and widens in to school and community. While you are still the only nucleus of their existence, try to thrive as a happy stay-at-home mom.
All the best moms!