Yes, depression for stay home moms is SO real—and it’s a feeling I know all too well. It can dampen the most joyous of moments and steal meaning from the happiest of moms. To put it lightly… it sucks. Try these 7 ways to combat stay at home mom depression and take your life and your motherhood back today!
If you’re a stay at home mom, you know exactly what stay at home mom depression is. The problem is… most other people don’t, and that makes it even HARDER. Don’t worry though because you’re not alone! It’s estimated that about 27% of moms choose to stay home full time and over a quarter of those women report feelings of loneliness, isolation and loss of purpose. (And I bet that’s a low estimate…)
Turns out, the feeling of losing your identity as a full-time caregiver is a pretty common thing. The question is, now that we have identified it as a legit phenomenon, how do we cope with these feelings and gain back our sense of self? I don’t know about you, but depression is not a state I want to live in. Well, here’s a list of 7 ways to combat “stay at home mom depression” and kick it to the curb by gaining back your sense of self and your sense of worth.
THIS IS NOT ALWAYS JUST A GIFT
One thing I struggle with so much, even to this day, is the stigma surrounding stay at home moms. Not everyone is able to be a stay at home mom simply because of finances. This can lead many men and women alike to label us as “lucky.” While I do believe it is a blessing and GIFT to get to stay home with my kids, it is ALSO a sacrifice.
I mean, staying home with kids isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, right? It isn’t hours of candy land and home cooked gourmet lunches every day. It’s isolating, lonely and downright mentally draining. Oh… and, the clock never stops. There isn’t a 15 minute break when we can punch out, there isn’t a quiet ride home after a long and stressful day, and there certainly aren’t paid vacations. (Wouldn’t that be nice?)
The first step in combatting stay at home mom depression is understanding that it’s okay to feel this way. Let go of that guilt, girl!It’s okay to not love the job and it’s okay to feel like you weren’t cut out for it at times. I’ve been there, too! That doesn’t mean you are a failure and it doesn’t mean you should send your kids to daycare and get a job outside the home. It DOES mean you should talk about it and share how you feel with your spouse and your friends. Be honest with them about how challenging it is physically, but especially mentally—they may just offer you some time to yourself for a much deserved break! If they do… TAKE IT!
START A HOBBY FROM HOME
From my experience, most stay at home mom depression stems from a lack of self identity. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the diapers and the homework and the shuttle rides back and forth to soccer games. You need an outlet that is only yours; a place you can grow mentally and creatively. Take up a hobby or learn a new skill.
Maybe you love to bake—try out a new recipe every week and take the time to really get into it. Are you a seamstress? Buy a new pattern and challenge yourself to grow your skill. Do you love to write? Schedule some real alone time (hire a babysitter for a couple hours if you have to) and work on a new project. Who knows, you may even grow a skill to the point of using it as a ministry or starting an online business from home!
GO OUT WITH FRIENDS OFTEN
I cannot stress this enough. MAKE TIME TO MAKE FRIENDS. Should I say it louder for those in the back? I know, I know, you’ve heard this one before. Well, there’s a reason… it’s crucial! God created us for community and no matter how much we love our spouse, that relationship is just not enough to satisfy our primal need for community. (Neither do “friends” in the online worlds like instagram and facebook.)
Make it a priority to go out with girlfriends at least twice a month. Once again, we love our spouses… but this is not spouse time; this is time with your girlfriends only. (Trust me, it will actually help your marriage to do things apart.) This is a time to reconnect to who you are outside of your marriage and motherhood and to rediscover and foster what you like and who you are as a woman. Go ahead, order that spinach dip, girl… and don’t feel a stitch of guilt!
SELF CARE IS REAL
For years I let myself feel guilty for leaving my children to have any sort of “beauty” care done. I didn’t want to spend the money on myself and I didn’t want to burden anyone else to keep my kids. (I mean, I literally get my hair cut like twice a year…) If that’s you too, HEAR THIS —Mama, you are NOT selfish for spending the time and the money to care for yourself. Get your hair done, paint your nails, shave your legs… whatever it is that makes you “feel like a new woman…” DO IT! You have my permission. 😉
Not only will this make you feel a little better physically, it also helps you gain back your identity as a woman and a wife. You may be a mother, but that isn’t ALL you are… even if it feels that way when you’re cleaning up spit-up or wiping poop off the walls. You are a strong, capable woman with a soul and personality that matters to the world! Eventually your days won’t be consumed by little hands and feet so it’s important that you maintain that identity as well so you know who you are when your kids one day leave the nest.
PUT DOWN SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is a joy sucker, truly. Any time I open my Instagram feed I’m bombarded with images of picture perfect moms doing picture perfect activities with their perfectly groomed and well dressed children. Meanwhile I’m sitting on the couch drinking stale coffee in pajama pants and the same sweatshirt I wore (and dropped salsa on) yesterday. Oops. Of course, now I feel like a slob and an absolute failure because my kids haven’t even bathed in two days… Uhhhh.
Sound familiar? Of course it does because it’s a common phenomenon! We all know Instagram features highlight reels and not real life moments, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling inadequate. If you’re feeling like you’re not good enough, make it a point to put social media away for a day or two. Delete it from your phone for the day so you don’t pick it up and look out of habit. (It happens!) Reconnect with your REAL life and ignore your virtual one for a while—trust me, it’s not going anywhere.
Oh, and also, lower your standards, mama! It’s okay if your kids don’t have perfect braids in their hair all the time or if you’ve left the dishes to pile up today. It’s okay to live a real life and not a perfect, unattainable one. Let the mom guilt go… if you’re working hard to love your kids, your husband and love God, you’re doing just fine!
JOIN A MOM GROUP
This one is a challenge for me because I’m not very good at making new friends. Honestly, though, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and insert yourself into a group for your own sake! Join a local mom’s group and create relationships with women who know exactly how you feel. Not sure where to find one? Check with your local library. They may have one that meets there or they may know of one in town.
It may also be worth checking around local churches. I know we have a local group of moms who meet up weekly to study the Bible at a church and they even provide free childcare. Wherever it is, get connected! You may find you make lifelong friendships bonding over the laughter and the tears of motherhood.
GET A JOB FROM HOME
This one may not be for everyone, but if you are finding yourself feeling unfulfilled and losing your sense of self in the everyday life of full-time motherhood, consider getting yourself a side hustle you can do from home. This will give you a space of your own to grow and allow you to interact with more adults during the day. (Sometimes you just need adult interaction!) Again, I think the BEST thing you can do to combat stay at home mom depression is to retain and foster your self identity.
But won’t that take my focus off my kids? No! You have the right to pursue your passions and still be a good mother. If a side hustle helps you pursue your passion and grow your self worth, it will only help you be a better mother at home. Just be sure to not get carried away and neglect your children and your home in the process—that will only lead to guilt and burnout. It’s delicate balance to juggle hats but its not impossible! (Keep an eye out for a post coming about how to balance life as a work from home mom.)
PUT THE OXYGEN MASK ON YOURSELF FIRST, MAMA
No matter how you choose to do it, take the time to care for yourself and your soul as a mother and also as a woman. You are more than just a mother, you are a child of God, created for a divine purpose… one of those being motherhood and maybe some you haven’t even discovered yet! While you may feel like caring for yourself is selfish, it’s NOT! You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, mama.
How do you combat stay at home mom depression? Have you been able to overcome it and take back your joy? Share with me in the comments below; I’d love to know I’m not alone!
CHECK OUT OUR PODCAST
7 Ways to Combat Stay at Home Mom Depression and GetYour Joy Back – The Simple Servant – The Simple Servant Podcast – Life, Motherhood, Faith
Like this post? Check out more motherhood posts below!
- See this list of 25+ Children’s books about diversity that you need to read today!
- Find out how to have the perfect UN-quiet time when you have chaos around!
- Check out my story about how I became a stay at home mom and found purpose in motherhood here!