Being a stay-at-home-mom can be very lonely and isolating, especially amidst a pandemic. Ironically, when you’re a mom, you’re rarely, if ever, actually alone. The days are long, and there are little people who need you – physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is draining. Even when you want to be social with your spouse or friends, you’re often too tired to make time to connect.
When I worked full-time from home, despite seeing my children, spouse, and nanny regularly, I connected with colleagues throughout the day. I had many personas – mother, professional, wife, daughter, friend. As a stay-at-home mom, my life literally revolves around my children, and it’s easy to feel as though I have a singular identity – mommy.
Don’t get me wrong. I know my job as a mother is the most important role I will ever have in my lifetime. But that doesn’t mean it should be my only role, and it doesn’t mean it’s always entirely fulfilling.
I do a few things that help me find purpose beyond parenthood and feel less isolated.
It’s cliché, but you must put your oxygen mask on first. You cannot be there for your children and fulfill their needs if you’re unfulfilled. I find it hard to get a real break now because I’m not comfortable having a babysitter or putting my youngest in school. But I do take full advantage of my 3-year old’s afternoon nap and use that as my time to exercise. On the weekends, I make sure to exercise on my own schedule (with my husband’s help and support).
I am also strategic in how I allow screen time for my kids. I find joy in cooking, so I let them watch TV in the early evening as I prepare dinner for our family. This allows me to zone out to good music or an audiobook and do my thing without managing three kids.
And while self-care options may be limited because of COVID, there are simple ways to put yourself first. A cup of tea. A hot bath or shower at the end of a long day. A great playlist. 5 minutes of meditation. Cozying up with a book on the weekend.
Text, Call, Connect
My close friends are all busy moms – some working, some at home, caring for older kids and younger kids, tackling remote learning, hybrid learning, or in-school learning. We aren’t often able to regularly see each other, especially in these crazy COVID times.
However, daily group texts with girlfriends keep me sane. It’s where we all vent and share the good, bad, and ugly of our lives. It’s where I get my TV show recommendations, my news, and my laughs. It may seem impersonal, but it actually keeps me feeling part of my community of friends.
Before the pandemic, I really only spoke to my mom and mother-in-law on the phone regularly. Those conversations still happen (and help me feel less “alone”). I also have a couple of friends I’ve been speaking to regularly – mostly when I’m inevitably in the car, shuttling my kids to and from school, and generally running around. These check-ins remind me that there are people who care and want to know how my family and I are doing.
Creative and Intellectual Outlets
Giving up a full-time career was a huge adjustment. Fortunately, I was able to find consulting work quickly. The flexibility of consulting allows me to stay engaged professionally, build relationships with clients, and have an intellectual outlet. I step out of “mommy mode” and tap into my decades-long professional identity.
Similarly, writing is a creative outlet that exercises mental muscles that I don’t necessarily use when caring for my children. Writing, building, painting, or any other form of creating provides an opportunity to be more than just a mom.
It’s not healthy to bottle up your feelings. They will find a way out. Talk to a friend or family member, speak to your spouse, seek out a professional, or find another mental health resource. Just verbalizing the feelings that you’re having can release some of the negativity. By acknowledging you’re having a hard time or feel alone, you give a confidant the opportunity to remind you of all the good in your life and the people who care about you.