Notes From a Stay Home Mom
I am fortunate to be a mostly stay home mom and work part-time. But my transition to motherhood was bumpy. Early on I was excited about motherhood and also sad about what it meant for my own identity.
Though I have settled into the role, those mixed emotions never left. I couldn’t surrender entirely to the role of stay home mom and I couldn’t connect with the person I had been prior to becoming one.
It was as if I hit a pause button the person I was prior to motherhood. Pre-mom me was a creative and freer spirit. I couldn’t find a place for her in my new role of stay home mom. This makes sense since giving constantly is a huge part of the gig.
Over the years, I’ve discovered this is something many women relate to: pressing pause on the person they were and becoming a mom.
For some moms, myself included, there comes a time to un-pause only to find that we are not the same as we were. That makes sense–time doesn’t stand still.
So now the question is: how does the stay home mom start anew and reclaim a morsel of self?
Releasing the Mom Guilt:
Someone asked me the other day what I am most looking forward to about summer. I answered that I’m looking forward to the freedom to be alone and dive into purpose other than motherhood.
I know that this doesn’t happen for everyone. Some stay home moms channel their creative energy into their children. They are good at it– even-keeled and graceful. A summer of unstructured fun with their kiddos is what they’ve been waiting for all year. I have friends like this and I admire them greatly.
That’s not me. I love my children and I love raising them. I will save all the reasons why for another blog post. I am grateful that they are healthy, and aside from talking incessantly, they are rad.
But inside me is a longing to evolve as an individual. Yes motherhood is it’s own evolution, but there are constraints.
Throughout this process is the discomfort of not addressing the inner voice that belongs to the person I pressed pause on all those years ago.
This manifests in moodiness and judgement of myself and those around me. The longer it goes unaddressed, the weirder things get and the further away I travel from my true self.
If you are a stay home mom and you have a need to grow as your own person, pay attention. You’re not a bad mom for wanting more.
If you are serious about it, you’ll need to do something you haven’t done in a while: prioritize yourself.
I’ve spent years grappling with this myself. Along the way I’ve collected some sage advice and processes that I’ll share here.
Claim your time.
One of the things I hear from a lot of moms is that they don’t get time for themselves. There is generosity to ensure that everyone else is fed, happy, and accounted for. But when it comes to themselves, there is neglect. As women we give endlessly.
If you want to get your groove back and reclaim your self, it starts by accepting and embracing that you have your individual desires and needs*. To reclaim yourself, you need free time.
Personal time is the one thing that every mom needs more of. But because we give so freely and to everyone, it’s something that we don’t have and don’t think to ask for.
Step 1 is to claim time. This may mean a talk with your partner. It may mean a babysitter for a few hours a week. It does not mean taking whatever time is leftover after every else is asleep.
Reclaiming yourself begins with intentionally giving to yourself and making that intention known.
Now that You Claimed Your Time, Don’t Do Errands. Do You!
There is always a lot to do and if we have childcare, it’s easy to fall into the trap of, “I’ll just do this now, while my kids are occupied. It’ll be so much faster.”
I used to make this mistake until I heard Mom Boss speak. Target-runs and Costco-runs are not the path to the self. Errands are the manifestation of all that life demands of us.
Before you go any further, spend some time daydreaming about the old you. What did she love to do? What filled her cup?
Spend a little time with this question too: In a year from now, what do I want to be into?
The answers to these will be different for everyone: Maybe you were a gym rat and you want to get back in shape. Maybe your friend’s new direct sales business is interesting to you. Maybe you want to go back to school. Maybe you want to do a project in your home.
But only you can answer. Once you’ve honed in on your answer, devote your claimed time to only that thing.
Caveat here: You are not answering the question, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life”? You are watering a part of the garden that’s been untended and bringing it back to life. If you have to try walking a few different paths before you settle in.
Talk to People About Your Ideas (Not About Mom Stuff)
Like I mentioned, I’ve been grappling with this notion of reclaiming myself for 6 years. For reference, my longing is to write regularly and become a coach.
To get here, it’s been 6 years of watching videos from internet role models. I’ve read books and done worksheets. I’ve listened to podcasts.
I talked to loads of people. I’ve overshared. I listened to what they had to say.
I hired a coach and have been to therapy. I took classes on both coaching and internet marketing.
I take my dreams seriously, even though it’s taken six years to get to realize them.
Find your people, virtually and locally and call your old friends too. Speak out your vision. Ask questions. Get curious about what your new old-you will look like.
In this phase of rekindling the old flame with yourself, here’s a tip: do not discuss it with people in your life who are overly self-involved or skeptical. This is no time for anything but support and honest feedback.
Find Where Your Inner Critic and Anxiety Lurks
Motherhood is full of surprises. One of them is an awareness of how much I beat myself up. Hanging out with great moms, all of us trying our best to be good parents, activates both my inner critic and my anxiety.
Unconsciously, I measure myself against these other super women. One thing I’m learning is that when I’m comparing myself, I never even tie. I always lose.
This is different than mom guilt, which is how I feel for not being entirely fulfilled with momming my healthy, happy, wonderful kids.
If I have any shot at evolving, I have to loosen the reigns on my critic and relax the tension. This is something to keep in mind and will be explored in a later blog post. For now, see if you can lend awareness to your inner critic and notice when she emerges.
If possible, tolerate her enough to be able to still take time for yourself and your dreams.
Being a mom changes us, regardless if we work or stay home. If you are a stay home mom, but you feel a nagging urge to evolve as an individual, you are not alone. Nor are you a bad parent or a selfish one. You are a human who misses your own company.
Listening to your own voice means prioritizing yourself. This may be hard if you are in the habit of taking care of everyone. But it’s so worth it. Though your kids may think they need all of your time and attention, they will benefit more from your choice to be an authentic, whole person.
To reclaim yourself, you have to part with your mom guilt and make time for yourself. This doesn’t mean the leftover minutes after a long day of momming. This is an intentional time grab for dreaming and actualizing a personal evolution. Coffee dates with like-minded folks are allowed, as are research and inspiration. What’s not allowed: scrolling social media and doing errands. The motto: Do you baby!
When in doubt, keep in mind that time will march on. Who you are in a year will reflect your choice to tune into yourself today.
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