It's just that most of us, including myself, weren't trained for being home. We were trained to manage our time, be organized, be outgoing, and independent. Nothing is wrong with these things, but they aren't necessarily the most important skills needed to be a happy (and not overwhelmed) SAHM.
I'm about to share a secret with you. It's the #1 skill you need to be personally happy at home. It is all about making a lifestyle change, and just as if you were moving to a foreign country for the first time, learning the ins-and-outs of being home will make your transition smoother.
Read on, dear SAHMs, read on.
What in the world does that mean? It means that when you're home, no one is there to grade you, give you a raise, or approve of you. How do you determine if you’re important, loved, and interesting? Is it based on your career, or lack of one? Is it based on your ambitions or the amount of money you make or how busy you are? How do you know if you're valuable without someone there to tell you that you are?
This is, I think, the biggest, most difficult mindset adjustment you have to make when you come home to raise your babies. You can really run yourself into the ground if you get this wrong. If you hold on to the idea that because you’re not “working” you are therefore boring and lazy and just wasted your education, then I’ll bet my front tooth that you’ll go around in life busying yourself with volunteer work, helicopter parenting, doing your kids’ homework, hen-pecking your husband, and getting riled up about Dancing With the Stars. You will be spinning your wheels until kingdom come trying to be noticed and important because you are looking in the wrong place. It’s the idea that what you do outside of the home is what makes you important. If you’re a SAHM, it’s how you treat the people inside your home that makes you important.
There is no “boss” or “teacher” to instruct you, grade you, or time you. It’s a major lesson in thinking for yourself (which, honestly, we aren’t taught how to do in school or at work). It's a major lesson in maturity and personal awareness. And honestly, it ain't easy. But when you come through it (like childbirth), you will be proud and amazed at how strong you are.
So, how do you begin to learn to value yourself, outside of work, grades, and constant applause? (Great question!)
1. Remember who you are. Look through old pictures, read letters from friends, talk to people who really know you. Think about what used to inspire you - you know, when you had endless time and you'd be so absorbed in something that hours would pass you by in moments. I guess just get real honest about what you're good at and what you're not so good at. Don't be dramatic or have a pity-party, but be fair-minded and balanced. Knowing where you've come from, what you can do well, and what you need to work on is a good starting point.
2. Do little things to take care of yourself. When you're a mom, it seems so easy to focus on everyone else and forget yourself. (At least it is for me, ya'll.) I'm just going to put it out there, when I'm worn out and tired, I'm no fun. In fact, I'm a real stinker. And the funny thing is, that your husband and kids don't say, "Mom, when's the last time you had a long bath?" or "You could really use some me-time right now. Let me fold the laundry. Go tear it up downtown." Unless you live in an altered-universe that I'm unaware of, of course. But we have to recognize when we're running low and just do small things to care for ourselves, just as we have to wipe our own butts. Sorry, that just slipped out.
3. Avoid Perfection in chores, appearance, and reputation. Hypervigilence to do and be everything right is a symptom of not valuing yourself. It's the act of trying to prove oneself by what you do. I have done this, my friend, oh I have done this until I was blue in the face! It about ruined me, too. I tried SO darn hard to be perfect in every way when I was home to somehow make myself important. It didn't work. It's like when my kids try to show off to the people that work at the grocery store. They aren't paying attention, they don't care, and they just think you're a terd. When you try so hard, it usually comes off wrong.
Did this topic resonate with you? Do you want to go deeper? I am finishing a book called SAHMrelationships: You & Yourself that will be released in early November. In it, I go much more in depth to this issue of your relationship with yourself in regards to the SAHM lifestyle. Keep an eye out on the newsletter for the announcement.
I’m not here to tickle your fancy (or anything else, for that matter), but I am here to tell you the truth: Being home is a different lifestyle that slaps women in the face once they get there (especially if you’re a type A, go-getter, very ambitious, organized, and were raised to be career-oriented ... uh, like me). It’s an adjustment, but it can absolutely, unquestioningly be made if you are aware of the tougher side of being home, and even more especially if you’re seeking out resources like SAHMconsulting to help you along the way.
Well, did I just drop a load on you or what? If you’re currently a SAHM, did you agree with my insights? What would you say is the #1 thing you should know when you become a SAHM? And for those new or soon-to-be SAHMs, do any of these ideas excite or scare you? Tell us all about it in the comments below. We’re all on the same team here!
If you want to hear more from me and get the inside stuff on being a high-class Stay at Home Mom, sign up for my newsletter. I’d be thrilled to have you on board because I'm an extrovert and having more people with me really gets me feeling squirrely - that's why I had so many kids!