I have been a SAHM since my 15-month old daughter was born. My husband is in the military, so when he was gone I stayed with my parents and they were home every evening and on the weekends so I got a bit of a "break" having them around to help and play with my daughter.
As soon as my husband returned I moved back to San Diego, which is like a thousand miles from any of my family and I only have one friend here. Fairly often his ships is out to sea for days or weeks at a time, and I'm going freaking crazy at home by myself with just my munchkin to keep me company. She is fun and sweet and amazing, so it makes me really bummed out that I am starting to resent her and not enjoy my time at home with her because I just feel so trapped and lonely.
I have been trying to get out of the house more with her lately going for walks and to the beach, but going places is such a hassle and trying to plan things around her nap(s) is a challenge to. When I'm at home I just feel like I do chores all day and it feels very nonproductive and thankless.
I'm thinking about looking for work just so that I can get out of the house without a toddler in tow and interact with other adults. But with my husband being in the military it can be very difficult for me to find childcare since his schedule is so inconsistent I can't ever depend on him being able to pick her up, drop her off, and so forth. Blargh, it is all so frustrating.
Mostly what I am asking, is how do other stay at home parents keep themselves feeling intellectually stimulated, productive, appreciated, and get some time to themselves?
I hate to sound cliche, but fuel your intellectual needs with something you feel passionate about or find a new passion. Take a new class, join a group, volunteer, or find an activity you both enjoy. My gym has a children's play area so that gives me thirty minutes of alone time while I watch my son play from the monitor. Maybe there are some play groups in your area that would keep your little one happy interacting with other children and you could find an outlet with adult conversation as well. I have a twenty month old and next year I'm planning to enroll him in a beginners tumbling class and a toddler pottery class. At his age he won't be the greatest yet, but he will have fun and this will give me an opportunity to meet other parents who are going through the same things I am with day-to-day-life with a toddler. You are going to have plenty of time at meets to talk to people.
You are productive and appreciated! You are doing the world's more important job! Do it with all your heart! Keep on doing it and learn to appreciate yourself and the sacrifices you are making for your family!
I felt exactly the same way last year, and had to make a sincere effort to reach out to other SAHMs. That's easier said than done for me, because I am very introverted and meeting new people is not easy.
The good news is you're in a real city, so you'll probably be able to find groups you can join. I joined my local Attachment Parenting group online and went to one of the meet-ups. Through that, I met my current best mom-friend. We live on opposite sides of town, but it's so nice to have a like-minded parent to call up and chat with. I also go to LLL meetings twice a month, which has been another great way to meet moms. It's amazing to me how a thirty minute park play date with another mom will rejuvenate me and break up the monotony.
If you have the money, music classes for toddlers are great as well (like Kindermusic), or maybe swim classes? I would just try to put yourself in as many situations as you can to be around other moms, preferably ones that are likely to match you philosophically. It can be hard to put yourself out there, but it is totally worth it.
I have no family around me...I have no friends that live in the area...I live in a very rural area and I have a 2 and 4 year old. So I get it. I really do. (I'm also not light and bubbly...)
1. sleep. I know you wanna swear right now but it is amazing what 8 hours will do...shoot, it is amazing what a consistent 6-7 hours will do.
2. find something that isn't tv or computer or internet, you know, and just do that for about 45 min after your daughter goes to bed. Do something that is for you...not her...so (unless it is your greatest passion in life) don't make toys or clothes for her...learn to make jewelry and make yourself a necklace...learn to weave a purse...that sort of thing
3. when she is down for a nap...take that time to gather your forces and strength...superman gets his power from the yellow sun...green lantern has his magic power ring that is refueled by willpower...that means you have to do both! Nap time is not a time to empty the dishwasher or mop the floor. It is a time to sit in the still and quiet and read a book (try to have it be not a parenting book), drink some tea, and yes, some days cry your eyes out. Your house will be messier. This will help build antibodies! So it is, in fact, a good parenting choice. ^_^ Part of what is so obnoxiously frustrating is that the two of you are moving at two different speeds and with two different goals. Ah-Ha! that's the trick...
No one will know if you live out of the laundry basket for a little while...no one will know if that bra is one day too dirty...no one will care if the socks don't match...and no one will know if your sheets & towels go an extra day or two...or week. But your daughter will know those minutes made a difference and your soul will too.
4. Just hold on tight...just a little bit more, Mama. Your life is about to change...in this situation for the better (here...lemme save the questions later...any problem you will face in the near future will be solved by food, sleep...or she's sick...seriously...that is the secret to a two year old! and the tantrums? pish posh...it's drama...if you don't watch the show, it gets cancelled!) But the beauty of a 2 is that....drum roll...they can dust...they can help clear the table...they can carry dirty clothes to the washer...they can start to play on their own...they can read a book to you...they can tell you what cool stuff is inside their weird heads! They can say (without sounding like a parrot) those magic words, "I'm sorry mama...I love you" and actually mean it. It is very exciting.
5. Find groups...many are free because we all suffer and we tow the line, sister. Library story hour (float to different libraries as some will be geared to your child others not so much), find the local mama group and set up playdates at the park or the museum or the grocery store. I know getting out of the house is hard. Take the time to pack a fool-proof diaper bag (if you want mine, let me know) and treat it with respect. give yourself plenty of time...I literally have a clock set in my house 1 hour ahead. that is how long it takes me to get shoes on everyone, diapers changed, potty time, snacks in the bag, and then driving (20 min). then assume you will leave anywhere in 45 minutes. Be home before 1 or 2 and you will be good to go.
6. schedule one to two days where you do not leave the house. One of those should be a day where you do no housework...maybe rinse some plates and put in the dishwasher...left over and freezer night. This is why breakfast cereal is fortified. pb&j is just delightful.
7. some days you are sure that they will come and drag your kid away because you yelled or cursed or locked yourself in the bathroom and cried or waited until you could be in the same room. You will at these moments understand why some animals eat their young and realize that you were perhaps a little too judgemental on that crocodile. (I highly recommend Louie CK's comedy on parenting stuff as it is just...right on perfect!) CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. What is so frustrating is that you (maybe) think you can't be angry...well, you can...you just have to learn where to put it since this person is all id and so narcissistic she won't be able to handle it. Some times...she goes into the pack and play or whatever (sometimes a room with sharp objects) and you leave that room and you find your calm again. As my friend said to me, "just because you love them doesn't mean you can't hate them from time to time" The trick is to be angry and the master of your voice. Your kid is getting a phd in you...it will take about 3 years (it's an accelerated program). Part of having an operator's manual on mom is knowing how to reboot the system. They need to know where the line is and why you don't cross it. My kids know...don't wake me up unless you are dying. They found out because they woke me up 500 hundred times.
I guess what I'm trying to say...to keep the resentment at bay...be honest about your emotions. When you are angry be angry. When you are frustrated be frustrated. don't put on the fake voice and pretend it is all okay. I know it hasn't come up like this but she can see my 2 year and I recently had a talk that went like this: "are you angry, mama?" "yes." "are you angry at me?" "no. I am angry with your behavior." otherwise you end up teaching your little one to repress her feelings and not be honest with herself. You ignoring you teaches her not to value you or herself. And I get it...if you could clean for just 25 more minutes it would be all done and the house would look better and you would feel better about you...yea...I get it...but you can't. you can't because it is just you right now. Let it go with conscious intent and it will feel better that you didn't vacuum or wash the dishes. It won't always be like this.
You are loved. and you are important. The silly things you do that seem to have no meaning and value are CRUCIAL to your family and to you.
(if you have the money, hire a cleaning person...shop around...at least 1 day per month...or get a mommy's helper at least 1x per month often times it is that little bit that helps.)
I hope this helps...sorry it is so long.
My life in emoticon...oh, I've said too much
I know how you feel. I moved from Baltimore, MD to the boonies of TN and had nobody. Hubby drove a truck all but 4 days a month and I was losing it! The thing that saved me was joining the Y. The childcare is included in the membership as are the classes, equipment, etc. I really enjoy the Zumba classes. Another thing that was a big lifesaver was help from neighborhood kids. I'd pay them to come over and keep an eye on my daughter even though I wasn't going anywhere. Usually they would just stop by to play with her. I always had lemonade, cookies, popsicles. Just sit outside with the baby and folks will stop and talk.
mamaprovides---that was awesome! You just wrote a crash course for SAHM--wish I'd read it when I started this job 2 years ago! I especially love #7. We're in the heat of the *tremendous* two's right now and there are times when I find myself about to explode. And I have lots of practice with this---I was a daycare teacher and a nanny for years before DS was born!
No advice to add---I think the other mamas did a great job covering the bases. I hope you're feeling better Oread!
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DD Seraphina born at home on 2/21/2012!"Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one."
i feel for you, i'm a military mom too and got moved to my current post when preggo, i just cant seem to make friends, and frankly dont have my heart in it cause i know i'll move again. rinse and repeat.
so i have started doing more formal things with my twins, a mommy and me nursery school thing two mornings a week, a swim class (with dad too) once a week, and i'm looking to a music experience class. all to put some order on my day and get me up and moving in the morning.
this too shall pass.
oh and please come join out Military Family Life Group here on Mothering, i know we have at least one other military gal form about to move to San Diego
you can also connect with local moms in the Finding Your Tribe Area: California, Nevada
frankly i wish i was about to get moved to San Diego, one of the folks i would most like to be mom pals with is there i hope you get to meet her.
So what if I don't fit cleanly into a defined parenting style, my kids don't fit into a personality archetype either!