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I wanted to start a thread inviting commentary from those in the feminism thread -<br><br>
I wanted to discuss the mental health issues of SAHMing.<br><br>
Both my mother and my mother in law were / are SAHMs for over 30 years. My dh and I both feel that the isolation they lived in brought about the mental health issues and lack of understanding about the business world, etc. that they live in today.<br><br>
I find for me on days when my dh is at work all day and goes to grad school at night and I get no break - I am about to really lose it. I can't imagine the stamina of women who do it without any relief. 24 hours a day with small children, alone and often living financially a little tight because of the one-income issue - it's got it's own challenges that can be really tough mentally I think.<br><br>
I think at first with one baby or 2 kids at 'easy' ages, it can feel really ideal. For those of us who aren't just total 'kid' people (as in - never met a kid you didn't like, find nothing annoying about any kid behaviors, etc.), sometimes just the intensity of it can make me feel bonkers!<br><br>
Yes of course the advice to me would be 'get some breaks'! And I do, but not always when I want them or need them - there is just no possibility sometimes as I'm sure most other SAHMs deal with that reality too. There are days you just feel like losing it from the intensity and no way to get away and regroup in your mind.<br><br>
Questions:<br><br>
What factors do you think could / would make SAHMing be a better arrangement for women concerning mental health?<br><br>
Will you share your own perspective on your mental health or others you have observed in the SAHM role? (I know WOHM, etc. also have stressful lives and mental pressures, but lets stay on topic please - this is about the unique dynamic of mom at home with kids for often years, in the typical modern isolated arrangement, etc.)<br><br>
What do you do that you *really* think helps you maintain sanity as a SAHM?
 

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I find being a SAHM much easier and less stressful than working ever was. Much easier. And, I am "on my own a lot" My husband is away at work during the week, so we only see him on weekends. My parents do live downstairs from me, so I see them often and they do help, but not all that much. They never babysit, unless I absolutely need it, or occasionally I do. But, I still find SAHMing much better than WOH.<br><br>
The things which I find helpful are<br><br>
1) having a routine and rhythm to the day.<br><br>
2) getting out of the house EVERY DAY and planning fun things. Spending time outside in the fresh air...as much as the weather permits<br><br>
3) seeing other moms who are FRIENDS and getting together frequently with them and their children (I find I need to get out and see other moms/friends at least 3 and 4-5 (is better) times/week to feel happy/satisfied.<br><br>
4) doing some other "work". Whether that is volunteer or paid. I manage a "very small" internet business..which I enjoy doing. I also am a LLL leader.<br><br>
5) finding ways to get "me time" while still caring for my kids. I can surf the net and read on MDC while nursing my toddler. I read "fun" books while I nurse my toddler down for nap. When my kids are happily playing together, I sometimes take time to read a book I like or get on the computer. When I am doing housework, I usually take little breaks in between to sit down at the computer (notice a theme here with the computer. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">). I don't feel like I am "on" all the time. I get lots of little breaks..my kids play together<br><br>
For me, staying busy is key. I LOVE to be busy. I love looking at my week and having activities and things planned for EVERY DAY. I love going out and doing things. As long as I get out and talk to other people more days than not..I am happy and satisfied.
 

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Well, for me, ideally we'd live in close relation to family, friends, and neighbors. It's taken me over a year to really get close to my neighbors. And they are awesome! I dont know why it takes me so long, I just dont want to be annoying I guess. Also, recently my mom has moved in with me, since my parents are getting a divorce. It has been nothing short of wonderful. Yes, there are some issues, but really, just having another adult to talk to at the end of the day is great. My dh is away on business for 6 months, so if she wasn't here, I'd be a single mom. We live in a cul-de-sac, with only 5 houses, so it's very safe to let the kids run around outside with the neighbors (we are out there too). I feel ok to leave dd outside with our neighbors while I run in to pee or check on dinner. We share recipes, cleaning ideas, marriage struggles. Ideally, we would have this wherever we lived, and not be so isolated.<br><br><br>
I really feel that, despite how much people say it, there is a huge misunderstanding of how hard being a SAHM can be. It's not just the cleaning and cooking, it's the mental exhaustion of "Mamamamamamamamamamama!!!!" and then "Yes, dear?" Blank stare. Nothing. I start cooking/typing/crocheting/ect. "Mamamamamamamamamamamamamamama!" Allllllll day long. The whining, the crying, the crawling all over me, the fact that I dont 'get' and coffee/cigarette breaks, the crumbs, no sick days, ect. And of COURSE, it's all worth it, but it's hard all the same. THere is this misconception that all of us sahm are Betty Crocker's in the kitchen, Martha Sewarts in the home, and Mr.Rogers with our children. We play, cook, clean all day, and enjoy every minute of it. Our children are well behaved, play alone so we can take a shower, and watch Oprah. Our homes should be spotless, dinner made from scratch, cookies in the oven, and we should be dressed and made up every morning. Yeah right. Some days I dont even get a shower.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"> I find that the misconceptions are the hardest thing to deal with. Because if everyone really understood, there wouldn't be this pressure to have a spotless house, when we have guests, or I wouldn't be embaressed to admit that I didn't cook dinner AGAIN, and we'd be having turkey sandwiches. I would be able to admit that somedays, I totally lose it with dd<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> and I'm in desperate need of a break.<br><br><br>
What helps me the most? Gettting out everyday, no matter what. We really get stir crazy in the house, and it's lonely. In the morning we leave no later than 9:30, and we do something. I meet with either my mom (who is a nanny) and her charge (who is the same age as dd) or I try to meet with some other AP moms at least 1 times a week. I meet with my mom at least 4 times a week, since the girls are so close in age. We go to the park, playground at the mall, bookstore, library, shopping, whatever. After dd's nap, at about 3, we head outside in the front (cul-e-sac) and our neighbors come out to play. The kids are 6 and 10, so much oldre than dd (almost 2) but they get along great. We bring out bikes, trikes, skates (not for dd!) chalk, paint, bouncy balls, power wheels, ect. The kids play for about 3 hours. I take my lawn chair and sit and chat with my neighbor about whatever. Then we all go in for dinner. Usually, by this time my mom gets home, so she can entertain dd while I get a shower, or if she's late, we take one together.<br><br><br>
Even with all this help, it's very hard. Its very isolating. I have had to make a HUGE effort to get where I am. I am not a social butterfly by nature, but after a year and a half being totally isolated with dd, I had to do something to change. It's been much better, and I'm even brave enough to organize and host and invite people to a playdate! I have little business card with my name, e-mail and cell phone number on them. I also put that we are ap, we breastfeed, clothdiaper, gentle discipline, and homeschool. That way if I see someone with a sling, or who is being particularly gentle with their toddler on the playground, I walk up and hand them a card, inviting them to contact me if they want to join on a playdate. I am very vocal (now) about how we parent, and I think that makes such a difference. I have found that even mainstream parents often do or wish they knew about the things we do, like co-sleeping and baby wearing. I found that important, because I might otherwise not be so open to them if their baby is in a stroller or whatever, yk?<br><br>
I have worked outside the home, and it was MUCH easier that staing home with a toddler. I also worked in daaycare with toddlers and that was MUCH easier than parenting my own!!! I was ill prepared for how har it was going to be. I was extremely humbled when I became a parent. I used to be so critical of the parents of my daycare kids. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> I used to think "MY kid will NEVER do _______" Or, "If I can handle 8 daycare kids, SURELY I can handle ONE toddler!!!" Yeah right!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/duck.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Duck">: Lets just say, I learned REAL quick!!!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> ANyway, this is a great thread...I'll be watching the responses!
 

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<b>Questions:</b><br><br><b>What factors do you think could / would make SAHMing be a better arrangement for women concerning mental health?</b><br><br><span style="color:#808000;">1. I think it would help a ton if people actually respected what SAHMs do. I think that would be a huge morale booster. 2. I also think that a lot of adults (don't want to limit this to women or sahms) need help in learning how to run a household. A lot of people don't learn these skills growing up. Most of us don't know how to organize, plan/cook meals, budget, clean, etc. I've been a sahm for 3 years now and I've been in relentless pursuit of household-upkeeping knowledge. I"m slooowly starting to learn that I can keep my house in decent order, I can cook decent meals, I can spend quality time with my kids. I'll never be perfect in any of those things, but I'm making good progress.</span><br><br><b>Will you share your own perspective on your mental health or others you have observed in the SAHM role? (I know WOHM, etc. also have stressful lives and mental pressures, but lets stay on topic please - this is about the unique dynamic of mom at home with kids for often years, in the typical modern isolated arrangement, etc.)</b><br><span style="color:#808000;">I don't think isolation is good for anyone, but I also think there are very few instances where it HAS to be that way. I think there are a ton of things sahms can do to get out there. It seems like there's this invisible bubble that keeps a lot of sahms from really reaching out and connecting with others and I can't quite figure out what it is, but I've seen it to be true with me anyway. When I think about it, I realize that I actually have a lot of opportunities, but I come up with even more excuses...Dunno what that's all about.</span><br><br><b>What do you do that you *really* think helps you maintain sanity as a SAHM?</b><br><span style="color:#808000;">1. I really try to keep my mind challenged.I check out books on topics that interest me. For instance, I wanted to know more about marketing so I got a copy of Marketing For Dummies. I'm certainly no marketing expert now, but I at least know something about it. I purchased a book about economics at the thrift store. Next I want to learn more about financial planning so I'll borrow/purchase a book on that. I plan on taking online classes when the baby is a couple years old so that I can be working toward a degree. 2. I take my role as SAHM very seriously. I have been trying to learn skills that can improve the quality of life for my family - meal planning and prep, budgeting, decluttering/organizing/simplicity. 3. I do take time for myself on occasion. Usually just a few hours at a time here and there. Reading books, hopping onto MDC for a bit, a bath, running to the fabric store ALONE, getting together with a good friend for a coffee and chat. Simple stuff like that.</span>
 

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I wish I knew the answers since I"m trying hard to maintain my sanity. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I think living close to family is the best preventative. I don't care if my mom babysits, I'd just like to have her nearby to talk to. She's visiting right now and I've got DS on my lap as I type--it's just knowing that if I needed help, it'd be there and it wouldn't be resented or an imposition, or if it were, she'd just deal w/ it. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
I'm not trying to sound snarky, but I get tired of hearing from SAHMs who give me advice on how I should take breaks, develop a support system,, etc. and they have two sets of grandparents in town or older children who help with childcare. Yes, I KNOW I should take breaks, DH WANTS me to take breaks, but sitting here on MDC w/ DS on my lap watching Teletubbies is my break today.<br><br>
My SIL is always reminding me that "she" never got any help, yet she lived w/ her in-laws. Oh, but she had to ask them to help--they never volunteered! Well, gee, that must have been a strain. THAT'S a strain--knowing that if DH and I came down w/ the flu (or just me for that matter) we'd be SOL.
 

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You know, sometimes I wonder if certain kinds of emotional and mental problems make it more likely that some women will choose to stay home.<br><br>
Take me, for example. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"> I've struggled as long as I can remember with mild depression issues, and anxiety problems that wax and wane. These things make it very difficult to 'put myself out there', to make and meet goals or plans, to have enough confidence in myself to believe that I *could* go have a great career, that I would have the ability to balance work/family, to trust other people enough to put my son in their care.<br><br>
My pregnancy was not planned. It was a huge shock to us, and to be honest I was quite angry about it for a long time (ok, let's be honest. sometimes I still feel that way). I hadn't wanted to have children because I KNEW how hard it was. I wanted more freedom than that.<br><br>
But in some ways it was a relief. We knew from the start that we wanted an at-home parent, and given my lactation ability and his earning potential, the choice was a no-brainer. And it gave me something to do with the next few years. I *knew* what I would be doing, where I would be, how I wanted to parent. So while all the idealistic and altruistic reasons were there when I made that choice, I also knew I was saved from having to make any big personal choices for a while. I didn't have to worry about promotions at a job I hated in the first place, I could just give my notice and not get any flack about it. No worrying and panicking about being given more responsibility than I felt I could handle, but not being able to turn it down because my bosses thought I was so great and we needed the pay raise.<br><br>
My husband knows me well and has commented on it sometimes. The truth is, his schedule is adaptable enough and his relationship with DS so strong, that if I had the guts, the confidence, to spend more time out of the home pursuing my dreams I could do it easily, without sacrificing the health and happiness of our family. If i knew what my dreams were. If I would allow myself to know what my dreams are. In fact it would probably *benefit* the family.<br>
He's told me DS is getting older, it is time for me to stop using motherhood as a shield between me and the world. And he's right. It might sound harsh or awful to some people, but in this particular case it's true, and we both know it. I can't hide myself from the world behind my kid forever. And I don't want to.<br><br>
It's so easy, when it's so hard for me to go out and try things or do things or meet people, to fall into martyrdom instead. To feel resentful and held back by my family obligations, when the reality is it's my own self that holds me back. But motherhood and homemaking are a great excuse,because who can argue with that, you know? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> It's noble and important. Never mind that I'm not satisfied by it, not entirely. Some people are and I envy them that they've found and acted on the knowledge of what they want from life.<br><br>
I see lots of people who seem to be in similar situations. I'm of course not saying that ALL or even most sahm's have mental health problems, but I do think that it's not entirely uncommon that staying home and not doing anything else can be more of, I don't know, a symptom or effect of those problems rather than the cause.<br><br>
So, err, I hope I'm still on topic enough <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy">
 

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Very thought provoking, sincitymama. I think we all fall into the martyrdom syndrom. And I know for myself, I wouldn't have a CLUE what to do for a job, if I had to get one. I mean a career. I used to be a dancer (a legitemate one, not a stripper) but there is no way to re-enter that career. So I suppose I'd be hiding behind my children too. Even though dd is only 22 months old, and we are planning more children. I also plan to homeschool, which will keep me home for even longer. So if we have more children for the next 12 years (we want a big family, so assuming we have 4 more children at the rate of 1 every 3 years) and I homeschool all of them until they 'graduate' or turn 18, that is my life for the next 30 years!!! Holy cow, I haven't really thought about it that way...
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mommy2abigail</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7266017"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Very thought provoking, sincitymama.</div>
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Phew! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I made sure to use only myself as an example, because I was worried it would come out sounding like I think only mentally ill people choose to stay at home, or something equally bizarre and completely not what I meant. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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Ugh. I'm one of those reluctant SAHMs, the kind who periodically wishes to either hang herself or throw the kids out the window (kidding! kidding!) but the cost of daycare subtracted from the low value of my pay makes the whole point pretty much a moot one.<br><br>
Anyway, I'm on drugs. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> That helps. hahahahhaha.<br><br>
Um, hangin' with other moms helps a lot, too. I'm a social critter, a talker and a bullshitter and a gossip hound.<br><br>
Things that make it all harder are the 21 hours of darkness that you get in the far northern winter (man, talk about psychosis-inducing!) and extreme cold and only having one car. My husband's schedule is often erratic.<br><br>
And I got my kids out of my bed. It just wasn't working anymore, honestly. Even my 5-month old wakes up and shrieks every time someone rolls or adjusts their arm, and that made me feel frighteningly irrationally violent and sleep-deprived.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> But I'm better now than I have been for a long time. Funny how when you go crazy, you're always the last one to know about it.
 

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And the other thing I am contemplating doing for my mental health is informing my husband that I no longer plan to clean up after him.<br><br>
Seriously, how long can I be expected to haul his stale sweaty workout clothes down two flights of stairs???<br><br>
"Until death do you part"<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/angel.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="angel">ofthehouse:
 

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Very interesting topic!<br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">What factors do you think could / would make SAHMing be a better arrangement for women concerning mental health??</td>
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I think the getting out, being involved, being part of a social network is very important.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Will you share your own perspective on your mental health or others you have observed in the SAHM role?</td>
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Being a SAHM is turning out to be much more difficult than I thought it would be - I knew kids would be a huge personal energy investment, but knowing pales beside the reality. I live in an isolated rural area, about 45 min. drive from the nearest stores, a little over an hour's drive from a major city. DH complains about his commute, which is often 1 1/2 hours each way. I was going to go to a LLL meeting a couple of nights ago, but what with needing to get my 9 mo. DD fed & ready to go by 5:30, for the 6:30 meeting, which breaks up between 7:30-8, then another hour drive home - I'm also 17 weeks preg, sleep deprived, & afraid of dozing off at the wheel. I didn't go. My mom does live next door, & does come over watch DD for 1/2 hr weekdays - but that's it, & she's always trying to get me to do bookkeeping & computing work for her (she refuses to learn how to answer her own e-mail). I'd never let DD visit her house, because it's filthy - I mean piles of junk, dust, cobwebs, mouse crap all over, etc. DH does not like her at all, & I really wish we weren't stuck renting this house from her, but it's what we can afford right now. DH is starting to come around to the idea that he should help more w/parenting, but there's a lot of "I have my job to support you, so you can do all the child care, I'm too tired."<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">What do you do that you *really* think helps you maintain sanity as a SAHM?</td>
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The hope that someday, I can once again take a shower when *I* want to? That in another 3-5 years, the kids will be able to be household participants, rather than energy sinks? Thank god for internet bulletin boards, at least I get *some* social contact this way!
 

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Being a sahm is, I won't say essential, but certainly very, very helpful to my mental health. The concept of hiding behind one's children is interesting; I'm sure I could be accused of that, but I don't see it that way. I am not cut out for the mainstream world of work. At all. I am probably more in my niche as a sahm than I could be in any other field. So perhaps I'm unusual in that respect.<br><br>
Some things that help me maintain my sahm'ing mental health:<br><br>
1. Have a routine. Not necessarily a schedule, but a set pattern of doing things. Have certain things that you do every day and don't allow yourself to get "too busy" to do.<br><br>
2. Help older kids help themselves. My 2 older ones have access to their own snacks, drinks, and toys without my help. That this sometimes means more cleaning is outweighed by the fact that I don't have to get everything for them.<br><br>
3. Make necessary chores into a family project. No, kids under 4 or 5 probably aren't going to be any real "help," but they'll feel involved and be occupied right there with you.<br><br>
4. Color code. This is more of an issue of household organization than mental health per se, but to me, they're closely related. The more I can simplify all that household stuff, the less stressed and overwhelmed I get, and color coding is an easy way to stay relatively organized without much work.<br><br>
5. Try to get the sleep you need. Nap when your kids nap, if need be. This is key for maintaining mental health whether sahm or not, but we are particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation.<br><br>
6. Make outings managable. If you're like me and hate outings, it's tempting to get it all over with at once, but little people have little attention spans, and even if you can stand to run 10 errands in one day, kidlets may be much less willing to cooperate. We make outings part of our routine and space them out so we don't get ovewhelmed.<br><br>
7. Control the environment. One of the many benefits of being a sahm rather than working outside your home is that you have control over your own work environment. Take advantage of this. Treat your home the way you would treat an office or workspace you had free reign with--this is where you work, after all.<br><br><br>
Those are just some things that work for us. Other people have different needs and would need different solutions.
 

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What is this "mental health' you speak of?<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: Never heard of it.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/duck.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Duck">:<br><br>
Seriously, I agree that living near family is huge, but only if your family helps and doesn't make you more crazy!<br><br>
For me it was acknowledging that parenting brings out ALL my issues. I tend to cycle through depression anyway, so I am hyper-vigilant about monitoring my mental health. I have been on anti-depressants, I have taken herbs, I excercise when I can. The kids and I have play dates and go to the library and play groups etc.<br><br>
Parenting is hard, but for me it would be waaaaaaaay harder to get everybody out the door and to daycare and pre-school and manage the house and groceries etc. if I were working. I would be a REALLY crazy woman in that case. Now I am simply a mildly out-of-my-mind person.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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I have never been able to keep interested in a job, so instead I used to work temp work, which I really loved, and go to school, which I also LOVE (although I hated it when I was a kid...go figure).<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">What factors do you think could / would make SAHMing be a better arrangement for women concerning mental health??</td>
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If there was one thing I would do that would make being a SAHM easier, it would be to move back near my family. They do drive me crazy, but I miss having the support that having family around brings me. I was a single mom w/ my son and never would have made it w/out them. I have my husband now, but nothing can replace the relationships I have with my mom and dad. If there was a second thing, it would be to go back to school 1 night a week...just to get back that intellectual stimulation that I really feel lacking in since I've been home. I have been meaning to, just such a financial bind from being a SAHM and buying a house, added to having trouble finding a rhythm in my role as a SAHM. Maybe I will do it this fall. That would be nice. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Will you share your own perspective on your mental health or others you have observed in the SAHM role?</td>
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I think that being a SAHM doesn't "make" me mental (lol) but it gives me a lot more time to focus on things. I thrived on climbing the corporate ladder and learning new things at work, and when I don't have that, I tend to go a little nutso. I really don't know any other SAHM that have had mental health issues other than reading of people's frustrations here, so it would be hard for me to speculate. I'm a scorpio, and have always struggled to find my place in the greater scheme of things, and having to focus on my family instead of world "stuff" has really taken a lot of adjustment.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">What do you do that you *really* think helps you maintain sanity as a SAHM?</td>
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Finally having a schedule and sticking to it during the week and getting a shower and a cup of coffee before the kids are up. Having my husband to talk to, and my computer/internet to keep in contact with the outside world.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Brigianna</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7269416"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Being a sahm is, I won't say essential, but certainly very, very helpful to my mental health. The concept of hiding behind one's children is interesting; I'm sure I could be accused of that, but I don't see it that way. I am not cut out for the mainstream world of work. At all. I am probably more in my niche as a sahm than I could be in any other field. So perhaps I'm unusual in that respect.<br><br>
Some things that help me maintain my sahm'ing mental health:<br><br>
1. Have a routine. Not necessarily a schedule, but a set pattern of doing things. Have certain things that you do every day and don't allow yourself to get "too busy" to do.<br><br>
2. Help older kids help themselves. My 2 older ones have access to their own snacks, drinks, and toys without my help. That this sometimes means more cleaning is outweighed by the fact that I don't have to get everything for them.<br><br>
3. Make necessary chores into a family project. No, kids under 4 or 5 probably aren't going to be any real "help," but they'll feel involved and be occupied right there with you.<br><br>
4. Color code. This is more of an issue of household organization than mental health per se, but to me, they're closely related. The more I can simplify all that household stuff, the less stressed and overwhelmed I get, and color coding is an easy way to stay relatively organized without much work.<br><br>
5. Try to get the sleep you need. Nap when your kids nap, if need be. This is key for maintaining mental health whether sahm or not, but we are particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation.<br><br>
6. Make outings managable. If you're like me and hate outings, it's tempting to get it all over with at once, but little people have little attention spans, and even if you can stand to run 10 errands in one day, kidlets may be much less willing to cooperate. We make outings part of our routine and space them out so we don't get ovewhelmed.<br><br>
7. Control the environment. One of the many benefits of being a sahm rather than working outside your home is that you have control over your own work environment. Take advantage of this. Treat your home the way you would treat an office or workspace you had free reign with--this is where you work, after all.<br><br><br>
Those are just some things that work for us. Other people have different needs and would need different solutions.</div>
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I found your post to be very helpful--thank you!
 

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I think one of the things that is becoming clearer to me in these discussions is that one of the things I personally find harder about the SAHM life is that it's so exclusively female. For my entire life, about 50-75% of my friends have been male. Now I have some <i>great</i> female friends that I adore today and I find to be interesting people. But often the average discussion at general playdates is not <i>enough</i> for me (not referring to my close mommy friends). I am fascinated with children, cooking, all things domestic, etc. It's just not all I'm fascinated with. I like science, history, engineering, politics, medicine, religion, academia, etc. I know moms who discuss those things (here on MDC especially). But due to the general way women are raised in our culture, it's harder to find some of those more 'male oriented' topics in our culture. And men aren't often SAHP's or around for daytime play dates. I do surround myself with people like that, but in general, that's just not the SAHM world to be in that environment (at least mainstream - I think some of the more all-natural mamas fit that type more in my experience).<br><br>
I think that's one of the factors in being a SAHM that aren't met for me by just 'getting out to playdates' etc. And volunteering is often mostly female as well and I don't really have time anyways. I do have male friends that my dh and I have over regularly and like I said, I have female friends that are also interesting people to me like I described in my interests above.<br><br>
I'm also naturally a bit achievement oriented and I don't *believe* in competing with other moms to be the 'best mom' as far as cleanest house, etc. (bleh!) so sometimes I feel a bit murky on that end too (achievements have to have meaning to me). I did really well in the job world but have no desire to go back into the field I was in before. I would love to go back to school but there are quite a few reasons I won't be able to do that for a while at least until dh finishes.<br><br>
I often find the whole getting out with little kids process to be really challenging. I also find playing intensely interactive games with my highly verbal and emotionally intense dd for hours a day to be hard to keep up with. I know that sounds like I'm being resistant to the ideas here -I've been doing this for 3 years. I know the drill. I'm not dying here or clinically depressed. This just isn't the bag o' chips that it is for others. I derive a lot of satisfaction from cuddling with my dd and the time I spend with her when I'm at my best. When I'm grumpy, bored, stressed out (from the financial life we are living), or just really missing mental stimulation beyond internet surfing, I'm not the greatest care provider for my dd even though she is the greatest thing in life, if that makes sense.<br><br>
I love to see her coming in from being out on a play date (on her own) full of life and happiness. It's so much better than we're alone all the time together. Sometimes we get a bit argumentative from just being home alone together so much. We do get out several days a week and dh is home on weekends, but she would like to be out probably about every day of the week. She's a very social kid and wants to play with other kids. I've got her on a waiting list for a preschool - that will help.
 

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Hey, this is a great thread. I said this is the other thread but I think SAHM'ing can be greatly influenced by your lifestyles and economic status. Money always seems to be an issue, from only having one car to not affording outings, not having own income, and arguing over every expense. If we had more money that wouldn't be such an issue. I try to keep things in perspective though. I don't want to make having more a priority in my life, just how to deal with having less I suppose...and it's hard. Each time I turn on the tv (which isn't often btw) I am bombarded with SUV commercials, real estate commercials with people in cookie cutter homes, jewelry commercials, tv shows about SAHM's in beautiful houses. All of these things can be depressing and make me feel like I'm on the fringes of society for my choices. Then again, maybe for a SAHM with more household income and mainstream values this isn't an issue.<br><br>
What do I do to stay sane? I take time for myself in the evenings. No, we don't cosleep and when the little ones are in bed I kick back with a beer or glass of wine, listen to the radio, get online, or maybe watch a little tv.<br><br>
I also have low tolerance for women who can't discuss anything but the safety level of every carseat ever manufactured. I enjoy a lot of things outside of kids and babies, even if that is what takes up most of my time. I'm not ashamed to talk about things other childless adults do or go to the same hangouts just because I have kids now. That includes the way I look. I refused to trade in my flamboyant fashion for a mommy bob and sweats every day. I'm still me.<br><br>
Ultimately though, I think SAHM's need a better support system...and I don't mean one that we have to actively seek out all the time. Like some of the others mentioned, I too have suffered from some depression and anxiety. It is easy for me to get in my shell and I'm not one to go talk to strangers or moms I don't know to find a support system.<br><br>
I don't think there is one answer or group responsible for helping the situation though. On a cultural collective we have to give more respect to SAHP's in general and acknowledge them instead of hiding them away while we talk about CEO's and corporate success...not to mention the shows that romanticize SAHM'ing like Desperate Housewives. It leaves the rest of us feeling isolated and not at all validated for what we do. Combine more cultural acceptance with economical support to all SAHM's, including free universal healthcare and childcare. I don't think this is too generous when you consider that these programs benefit defenseless children who are our future.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>sophmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7271703"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think one of the things that is becoming clearer to me in these discussions is that one of the things I personally find harder about the SAHM life is that it's so exclusively female. For my entire life, about 50-75% of my friends have been male. Now I have some <i>great</i> female friends that I adore today and I find to be interesting people.<br><br>
But often the average discussion at general playdates is not <i>enough</i> for me (not referring to my close mommy friends). I am fascinated with children, cooking, all things domestic, etc. It's just not all I'm fascinated with. I like science, history, engineering, politics, medicine, religion, academia, etc. I know moms who discuss those things (here on MDC especially).<br><br>
But due to the general way women are raised in our culture, it's harder to find some of those more 'male oriented' topics in our culture.</div>
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Yeah, I miss my guy friends, too!<br><br>
It's funny, I've almost forgotten how to talk to men anyway. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: But I miss the debating and trash-talking and the directness of the men I used to work with.<br><br>
Another problem there is that a lot of times, people will think I'm "flirting" by talking to men. That was an issue when I was single and working, too, and it was annoying then, but not potentially catastrophic like it is now.<br><br>
So I'm hypervigilant about not sending mixed signals, which makes me avoid men altogether. Even at my UU church! How crazy is that?!<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: Damn, that's just totally dysfunctional. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>eightyferrettoes</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7267885"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Ugh. I'm one of those reluctant SAHMs, the kind who periodically wishes to either hang herself or throw the kids out the window (kidding! kidding!) but the cost of daycare subtracted from the low value of my pay makes the whole point pretty much a moot one.<br><br>
Anyway, I'm on drugs. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> That helps. hahahahhaha.<br><br>
Um, hangin' with other moms helps a lot, too. I'm a social critter, a talker and a bullshitter and a gossip hound.<br><br>
Things that make it all harder are the 21 hours of darkness that you get in the far northern winter (man, talk about psychosis-inducing!) and extreme cold and only having one car. My husband's schedule is often erratic.<br><br>
And I got my kids out of my bed. It just wasn't working anymore, honestly. Even my 5-month old wakes up and shrieks every time someone rolls or adjusts their arm, and that made me feel frighteningly irrationally violent and sleep-deprived.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> But I'm better now than I have been for a long time. Funny how when you go crazy, you're always the last one to know about it.</div>
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eighty, I could have almost writing the same thing except for the darkness 24/7 and the drugs.
 
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