Being home with your kids all day can get lonely. You're isolated with little ones who can't carry on an adult conversation. If you left your career to care for your children, you might miss spending coffee breaks with your co-workers and lunch meetings with clients. Social isolation plays a role in many other issues, including sleep problems, stress and addiction, notes Band Back Together, a website that provides resources for stay-at-home parents. Make an effort to meet other parents at the park or library or join a class for parents and their children that lets you dance or do art projects together.
Some women who become stay-at-home mothers experience feelings of depression, with some having mild symptoms and others having severe symptoms. The risk of depression is higher if you would rather be at work, but circumstances don't let you, according to a 2011 story at PsychologyToday.com. Depression can also occur if you have high expectations for your days. If you want each day to progress smoothly from an educational game to a snack to a load of laundry to a nap, you'll ultimately be disappointed. Life with kids is typically pretty unpredictable and little ones don't always cooperate. Loss of previous friendships can also contribute to depression.
Staying at home with your kids, particularly if you're leaving the work force, can cause anxiety. You're worried about having enough money to pay the bills, buy food and necessities for your family, and do enjoyable activities. This can translate into tension between you and your spouse and boredom if money is too tight to eat out or go the museum. You might also be anxious about making good parenting decisions and ensuring your children grow and develop as they should.
At work, you know when you've done a good job because it's acknowledged. Raising kids doesn't always give you that pat on the back that lets you know you're doing your job well. The loss or suspension of a career also can make you feel as though you've lost your identity. Dads might lose their sense of masculinity if they spend their days changing diapers and hanging out at the park with mostly moms. Men who aren't the breadwinner might feel inadequate for not caring for their family financially.
The most obvious skill that a stay-at-home-mom needs is the ability to appropriately care for her child. Just like day care and preschool workers are skilled in this art, the stay-at-home mom must have the ability to supervise, entertain and educate her kids. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2011 American Time Use Survey, women spend an average of 2.31 hours per day caring for household members. This time includes caring for her children, activities that relate to the child's health and activities that relate to the child's schooling or education. While this is the average across the board for all moms, stay-at-home moms typically put in more than a 40-hour work week caring for the kids. This is especially true when you factor in middle of the night wake-ups and weekend care.
With sports schedules, the baby's feeding time-table, nap time and fitting in grocery shopping, time management is a valuable skill that all stay-at-home moms should have. Time-management skills can help moms to orchestrate a steady routine, in which the kids know what to expect and when. Additionally, knowing how to manage time can help the mom at home to accomplish all of her daily work, tasks and activities. For example, a mom who picks, and sticks with, 10 a.m. as nap time knows that she has that free period -- barring sleepless tantrums -- to get the laundry done or catch up on cleaning the kitchen.
Calm and Relaxation
Picture a snowy winter day where you are trapped in the house with a tantrum-prone toddler and a colicky baby. The ability to keep your cool, calm down and relax is an essential ability that every stay-at-home mom must have. The Child Development Institute suggests that moms practice deep breathing for five to 10 minutes every day, listen to music and avoid foods and beverages such as caffeinated coffee that might hinder the ability to relax. Mastering relaxation, or self-calming, skills can make the difference between a well-run house and a chaotic environment.
Of the many skills that stay-at-home moms need, taking care of the house makes up a primary part of the job description. This includes cleaning, general upkeep or maintenance, scheduling home appointments -- such as a pre-winter furnace check or calling the washer repair person -- cooking and shopping. While these can be mundane tasks, without the stay-at-home mom's efforts, the household won't run well. Although many working moms must also take on these tasks, the stay-at-home mom might have to spend extra time on these jobs or tackle these activities without any help from her spouse.
While caring for your children is the No. 1 task, make time to pursue a hobby or two. Whatever you enjoy, from painting to knitting to flower arranging, should fit into your day somewhere, suggests Debra Gilbert Rosenberg, author of “Motherhood Without Guilt.” If your kids nap, you might spend part or all of a naptime pursuing a hobby. You could also schedule hobby time in the evening after your kids go to bed. Your partner might even help out with kid duty while you spend time on a hobby.
Taking a class can be an effective way to keep your mind engaged. If you’re still working on a degree, take a class to continue to earn credits toward your degree. Even if you don’t have a degree in progress, consider several types of classes. Learn a new form of art such as pottery or jewelry-making. Take a class to learn a new skill such as gardening or cooking. Some class venues might even offer on-site child care for students.
Staying fit and healthy is an important activity for everyone, including moms. Your options for exercise are many, including walking or jogging with the kids in a jogging stroller and bicycling with kids in an attached trailer. Another possibility could be joining a fitness center or gym to take classes or use exercise equipment. A benefit of joining a fitness center might be onsite child care provided for members.
To avoid isolation and monotony, it can help to connect with other moms and children. Look for opportunities to meet other parents such as at community programs or library story times. Search for a children's play group with regular outings and scheduled play times. Once you have a network of other moms, arrange additional social gatherings to enable everyone to connect. A “mom’s night out” or even an organized clothing exchange might be ways to spend time socially with other moms, suggests Melissa Stanton, author of “The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide.” You might find that both you and your children benefit from the social contact with other people one or more times each week.