Hi, I'm Dawn Klinge, welcome!  I write here because doing so helps me to take notice of the sweet things in life.

 

        

  

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Saturday
Oct202012

ten ideas for mental well being as a stay at home parent

 

As a stay at home mom, it's not uncommon for me to hear variations of the phrase, “That's great, but I could never do that.” It's a statement that can sound condescending, though I don't think it's always intended to be. With the exception of those who just don't want to stay at home (which is fine) the two main reasons that I think women say they could never be a stay at home mom are a genuine concern about how to live on one income and/or because they think it would be hard on their mental well being. I can't speak to anyone's individual financial situation, but I have wanted to say something in regards to the second concern, mental well being. Because I'm wondering just what it is that they believe is the difference between us? Why me, and not them? Do they think that I'm some kind of supermom with extra reserves of patience? Just ask my kids, they'll tell you I'm not! Or maybe they think that I really am going a little crazy? Desperately unhappy? Lacking in mental stimulation? No, no, and no. I'm happy in my vocation as a stay at home mom, and I've picked up some practical ideas over the years that have helped me with that whole issue of mental well being. These are tips that can be applied regardless of income level.  I've learned what works for me. It may be completely different for you, but I'll share what I've got,

1. I think in terms of a “working week” and weekends. During the week, I feel best if I maintain the same type of structure that's often seen with paid work.  Some people thrive on flexibility, I thrive with structure. I have a starting time to my days and I try to be dressed and ready to go by then. My kids often hear me say, “We've got to get going on our day!” when I'm trying to get them moving, even though they're homeschooled. I also have an ending time to my work day. It's not that I don't do any jobs around the house on evenings and weekends, it's just that those jobs are more equally shared with my spouse and I'm more relaxed about when I'll get to them. The purpose of doing this is so that I can enjoy some of the same anticipation and sense of accomplishment that I used to have when I was paid to work.

2. I wear make-up and put some effort into my outfit every day (no sweats), even if I'm not going anywhere special, even if I don't see anybody but my own kids until evening. I would do this just for me, even if if my spouse didn't care, though I think he appreciates it too. This may all be in my head, but I believe I act differently when I feel put together. And honestly, I really like clothes and make-up, and I'd feel left out from rest of the world if I didn't do this.

3. Just like any other profession, I believe that continuing education is an important component of being a stay at home mom. I read parenting books and blogs, I seek out advice from older women who have grown children, and I attend the occasional seminar or class. I do think that there are certain skills that can be improved upon to help me to be a better mom, and I am always trying to improve, learning about and taking pride in my job.

4. Goals and rewards are built into each day. A load of laundry folded, the floor swept, put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher= fifteen minutes of time on social media....or whatever motivates you. A menu plan and shopping list is often drawn up while I enjoy a hot cup of tea. Some jobs that I do aren't very exciting, but I try to balance the things that I don't really want to do with little rewards.

5. Volunteer. I always like to have some kind of volunteer work going on outside of my immediate family and their needs. There are several reasons for this, most of all because it's just a good thing to give back, but a more selfish reason is that I think this helps my kids to see me in a different role, one that isn't just centered on meeting their needs alone.

6. I have some rules for myself that help me maintain self discipline. When my daughter was a baby, I started watching soaps while my daughter napped. I would actually find myself getting irritated with her if she woke up early from her nap, because I was missing out on my show. That is an embarrassing thing to admit. So I decided not to watch any daytime television. It's not that I think there is anything wrong with daytime TV, but I needed to draw a line that kept me far away from that temptation towards laziness and misplaced priorities. For someone else, it might be something totally different. This is just my example.

7. I try to get out of the house every day. Just a little change in environment, even if it's just a walk around the neighborhood, can do wonders for my mental well being.

8. Time with adult friends, on a regular basis is very important.

 

9. Exercise. It's not always easy to fit in, and sometimes I have do a video at home, but it's well worth the effort.

10. Prayer. I think this is the most important tip on this list. It doesn't have to be anything formal. It can just be an ongoing conversation throughout the day, a spirit of gratitude, a surrender to God, giving over those problems to someone who can handle them, and contemplation on the goodness of a loving heavenly Father.  I don't care what job you have, prayer helps.

 

This is what works for me. I don't want get into any kind of working mom vs. stay at home debate,  I'm all for choice.   This is simply my response to that old refrain that being a stay at home parent is “great, but I could never do it”. Maybe you really could...just something to think about.

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Reader Comments (8)

My favorite job is a stay at home mom :) I enjoyed reading your list. I think you are a fabulous mom!!

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenise

I'm reading the list and nodding, with the exception of having these things apply to both my home and business life. So, maybe it's not stay at home mom vs. mom with a job outside the home at all, but how you choose to look at and live life.
Did you read about the "Dress Smart to Act the Part" study in this month's O Magazine? Subjects wore a white coat while performing a test that measured attention. One half of the group was told they were wearing doctors' coats, the other half painters' coats. Guess which group performed better? But even before I heard of this study, I believed that clothes have a powerful effect on the wearer. (Magnified x 10 with a teen in the house!)

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Great list Dawn. I NEVER wear makeup. I don't even own any and my husband is glad for it. Nor do I dye the grey from my hair and he is glad for it too. Funny how different we are in that respect. I do get dressed and ready for my day too. It is very helpful and I too feel a difference when I put on a skirt or if I pull on some yoga pants. I could learn from your "hours of work" suggestion though. Some days I leave no time for anything but. I will start that with this coming week. Thanks for the tip.

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I am so glad I found your blog! This post hits home for me, beautiful words!!

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

This is a great list! I think my number one on the list is seeing it as a job. This is my job. Some women find it demeaning to be the ones who "have to" keep the house clean, do the cooking, the laundry, the grocery shopping, the errands, pick ups and drop off. To me that is all part of my job and I feel so GRATEFUL that I get to be the one to do it for my family. If I ever feel slightly resentful (say for having to put the husband's laundry away or pick up after him a bit) I remind myself that he doesn't necessarily enjoy going to work either. He has a very hard job, and he works very hard to support our family and he tries so hard not to complain. We are both working for the good of our family.
Really great list! :)

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Thank you Denise. : )

Tara, That is interesting! I want to read that issue of O magazine now. And yes, my teenager always seems to have an opinion about what I'm wearing.

Michelle- BTW, I think you look beautiful without make-up.

Ashley- Thank you. I'm glad that I found your blog too!

Kat- So true. I think your gratitude shows through clearly, and it's one of the many reasons I love to read your writing.

October 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterDawn

Wonderful essay - strongly but fairly put. I ran into the same thing all the years I was doing it - and understood the myriad reasons behind the statements I was hearing. You have covered the points with intelligence and information. There are always people who don't want to do a thing who need to diminish that thing so that they won't feel so guilty for NOT putting in the energy and work. But there are always people who really, truly can't - because of their resources - participate. Then there are people who don't understand the value of some things - and that's the one I have the hardest time with. And then there are people who disagree, and that's great - as long as people are thinking and choosing a path rather than simply doing what take the least effort and dedication. I honestly have to say that people who have children, then behave as though the children are then the "village's" responsibility repulse me. That's a strong, unkind thing to say, but I'd rather people didn't experiment in their lives to the point of having children. It should be a complete commitment from the very beginning - a commitment to stay with it, and give it their all to the very end, and to be willing to learn, to learn that love is work and pain along with flowers and joy. I shouldn't be writing this - I'm supposed to be preparing a lesson and didn't get enough sleep, so I'm really, really kinda stupid today.

October 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterK

Kristen- Thank you for your kind words. I don't think that what you said was unkind at all. Sometimes hard things need to be said, and I'm glad that there are brave people like you to say it.

October 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterDawn

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