How not to regret being a stay-at-home mama

I’ve been a stay-at-home mama just short of three years.

Sometimes it feels like it’s been a lot longer than that. Sometimes I think the years haven’t actually gone by.

The decision that led me to become a stay-at-home mama was based on several factors. I had just left a job I wasn’t happy at, which was causing me more stress than anything, in September. We decided to keep the boys home until I was able to find something else to help with our financial situation.

The next month I was able to land a freelancing opportunity with acquaintances and the first month looked promising. By the end of the month, I was told I wouldn’t be needed anymore and financially they didn’t pull through either. Once again, I was back home, looking for employment.

Around the same time, Kid1 had the first of his assessments done by a Occupational Therapist, and we had an idea that his development wasn’t on track and he would struggle to keep up with the class pace.

It wasn’t completely an overnight decision, yet it was an easy one to make.

We decided it would be best for me to stay home with the boys and help Kid1 catch up on the necessary milestones and get him in line with what he needed to know for his age. I could do this and still be on the lookout for freelance work.

I would be able to give Kid1 the one on one attention he wouldn’t’ be able to get at school.

By December that year, I was officially calling myself a stay-at-home mama.

As time went on, and Kid1 showed more improvements with his development, we just went with me staying home with the boys, and focusing on their growth and development.

I have loved the opportunity to stay home with my kids and have the time with them to bond, teach them, watch them grow. Even though I had to go through all the ups and downs to get here.

There are always good and bad days, being a stay-at-home mama. Some days are over before you know it, and others drag on with no bedtime in sight. I’ve had days filled with laughter, and days where I’ve broken out in tears from exhaustion and frustration. I’ve sat crying in our car some days, in the bathrooms, in our bedroom. I’ve broken down in front of my family.

Being a stay-at-home mama wasn’t as beautiful as some mamas drew it out to be. I think partially, for me it was hard because I had a special needs toddler to take care of and a little baby. I was alone most of the time as HB was working days and coaching rugby in the evenings.

I had even less of a social life than when I became a mama, being so isolated from the rest of the world. While I was working, I had colleagues I could talk to each day and it was good to be my own person for a couple of hours a day.

At home, while I had social media, I had no other face to face interactions.

Isolation was the theme of my life.

Loneliness, regrets and doubts too.

I doubted that I was made out to be a stay-at-home mama, that I was doing a good job being my children’s teacher. I doubted that I had the patience to continue for however long I needed to, the tolerance of isolation and the ability to teach and help my special needs child with no experience or knowledge.

Many times I though back to the career I didn’t have anymore. While leaving my job was a choice, I often wondered if I was missing out on my career. How far I could’ve been had I entered the working world earlier as we had originally planned? There were many ‘what if‘ speculations to go through in my mind.

I felt from a career perspective, I had come to a complete standstill. There were no achievements to my name, and with each passing year, I watched friends move ahead in their careers, even HB, and I was exactly where I was.

Looking back on these years in the future, what would I list as what I’ve achieved? What would I put to my name?

I never voiced these worries; I couldn’t complain about having the opportunity to stay home with my kids, especially knowing that so many mamas would make the trade in a heartbeat.

My value was also lowered by others commenting on my non-existent career. That I was just a ‘mama‘ at home ‘watching TV all day‘ while my husband brought home the bacon. That being a stay-at-home mama served little purpose in my life; I wasn’t making anything out of myself by staying home and looking after our kids.

It wasn’t until I did speak up about my worries to HB that he said something that changed my perspective about my role as a stay-at-home mama.

What I did and do matters.

I’m raising our kids.

I’m teaching them valuable lessons. I’m building on their foundation years, laying down rules and experiences to prepare them for later years. I’m teaching them how to be good human beings, to be kind and empathetic, respectful to all.

I’m teaching them values and morals that HB and I stand for together, without it being taught by an outsider, who doesn’t share the same thoughts and perspectives.

I’m raising the future.

If that statement doesn’t make you think your job as a stay-at-home mama is worth more than what society paints it to be, I don’t know what will. It certainly gave me a wake-up call.

Over the last year, I’ve had less and less negative feelings towards being a stay-at-home mama by changing my approach to certain routines and perspectives.

These are the steps I’ve been taking to help me shift my mindset to a better place, one filled with less complains and more gratitude.

You have to love it.

If you’re not loving it just yet, try to at least like it. If you don’t love, or at least like, being at home with your kids, you’ll never discover and keep the joy being a stay-at-home mama brings you.

No, you don’t need to love every single moment of it. For the days that are hard and draining, don’t feel guilty for not enjoying them. We’re humans and we feel. Not all days are good, and that’s normal. Enjoy the good moments, love them, embrace them.

Remember your WHY.

When you’ve lost your way as a stay-at-home mama, remember why you started out as one.

Your WHY is very important to finding happiness as a stay-at-home mama. Think back to the beginning and use that motivation to remind you, and give you the encouragement and strength to move forward.

Break routine.

Having a routine, or a little some sort of a routine, is pretty important when staying home with children. It creates security for your children, while allows you to manage your day. Not all days follow routine because some days tend to derail with the smallest details. It happens and you just try to make the best of them.

Yet sometimes, it’s good to disconnect from your every day routine. The best part is you don’t need to do so with your entire routine, you can just let go of a few things that can just be moved on to another day.

Breaking routine gives you and the children time to rest, shifts the focus of the day to trying something new and just unwinding a bit from the busy pace.

Stay connected.

While I don’t spend too much time socialising each day because my days are filled up with tasks and looking after two kids (Kid1 being at school now), I try to respond to a few people each day online. It’s my gateway to the outside world, and even though I don’t meet with anyone everyday face to face, the little bit of social interaction reminds me that there is life outside the four walls of our home.

Change of scenery.

I don’t get out much lately; mostly to top up groceries or run errands, pick up Kid1 after school – and that’s it.

With Covid-19 shutting down most social activities, we’re still avoiding many public places. A change of scenery right now counts for any reason when leaving home.

By leaving home, with breaking routine a little, a change of scenery can help balance out a little of your day. It can help with your mental health, regulate your emotions and find yourself taking a fresh breath of air.

Get dressed every day.

One thing that I realised brought my mood down at home was not getting dressed during the day, or staying in my pjs for the majority of the days.

I found that I wasn’t productive when I didn’t get ready in the mornings, I didn’t have an upbeat mood to move through my day which left me demotivated and didn’t make me enjoy my time at home much.

Minimal make-up goes a long way

I don’t do make-up every day. I don’t have the time nor the energy to do the full do every single day. When I was working, I did my make-up every single day. It was a relief to take a break from it when I started staying at home.

Unfortunately, it became such a normal thing to not give myself much attention, I stopped looking after myself. Some days I didn’t even brush my hair in the mornings, just pulled it in an excuse of a bun and went on.

I can only imagine what I must have looked like to HB in the yearly days. While I ‘let my hair’ down, I let go of myself in many other ways too. I needed to find myself again, to start caring about my own appearance. Some days, when I’m feeling of adding just a little colour to my day, I’ll spend a few minutes extra in the mornings and doing minimal make-up. Usually just some eyeliner and mascara. The little bit already elevates my mood about myself, and adds on to improving the mood of the rest of the day.

Have a hobby.

You’re reading this and asking yourself, “Where on earth did you fall out to find time for a hobby?”

It doesn’t need to be a full-time thing, because realistically, there isn’t enough time in the day, and evening, for this. That doesn’t mean you can’t have one.

I try to schedule at least two days a week to doing something I love: reading, doodling, colouring in. Some days the hobby falls onto choosing extra sleep, and that’s okay.

By doing something you love will help with keeping your identity outside of mamahood alive. Having a hobby leaves you looking forward to doing something that makes you happy. Doing things that make you happy, uplifts your mood and brings joy into your days.

Being a stay-at-home mama has it’s ups and downs, just as any season in life.

I’ve been changing my perspective on life as a stay-at-home mama over time, seeing it in a different light, a brighter outlook.

I’ve been recognizing my role during this season of my life.

I know there is importance behind it. I accept that there are good days, and the bad, and try not to let me them get me down.

I hope this post has brought you a fresh perspective about life as a stay-at-home mama, and using these tips will bring you joy and acceptance, and positive thinking to your life.

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