Being at Stay-at-Home-Mom is often the best job in the world. Most days, I make my own schedule (whether to fold that laundry now or later), and I have the freedom of many choices, because I really only answer to myself and my family. Unless the kids are sick, or you have enrolled them in 20-too-many activities, you get to be the ultimate boss of what you are doing and when. Don’t get me wrong…I still have to clean my house and feed my family, but if I am having a horrifically bad day, I have the ability to let some things slide. I also get to spend my days with these two clowns:
And watch every moment of their high-jinks as they grow from my beautiful babies into rambunctious little boys.
Though I am usually very accepting and Zen-like about my life as a SAHM, even I have days when it gets to me. These days don’t come often, but when they do, they result in a severe funk. They are the days when I wake up, and I think I will have a nervous breakdown if I have to pick up one more dirty sock. They are the days when, despite all my efforts of cleaning and cooking the day before, I still wake up to the SAME clothes on the floor, the SAME dishes in the sink, the SAME dirty floors, and I feel like a hamster spinning on my wheel. These are the days when Mom snaps, and tells everyone she is not their bleepity-bleeping maid, while sounding like a shrill, fed-up harpy.
As you know, I live 30 miles away from major civilization, and as a one-income, one-car family, I do not have the ability to go anywhere during the day. This probably exacerbates those days when I get slightly mental. Add isolation to the never-ending repetition of life as a housewife, and you would probably have one of those days too.
Luckily, when these days come, I still keep some conscious bucket of sanity tucked away in the back of my psyche that tells me I am being unreasonable and ungrateful. This small measure of sanity also prods me to be proactive about removing myself from the funk, by any means necessary.
Over the years, I have developed some solid strategies for dealing with these occasional funks. I’ve accepted that those days will come, but I have to put on my big-girl britches and work to get past them. No wallowing allowed, because wallowers become unhappy, bitchy screaming banshees…
And we can’t have that.
So, here are some test-driven methods to counteract the impending dirty-sock-nervous-breakdown:
1) Get some validation and inspiration. There are plenty of books that can give you a little inspiration, and communities like Happy Housewives that can give you some commiseration and support. The key, however, is to find material that will uplift you, not contribute to the problem by feeding into your huffiness and self-righteous tantrums. I have several books that I go to, from home-keeping books to motherhood books, and they help remind me why I love this job. As far as online communities go, you have to be careful to find some that are positive and will help you get going again, not groups who like to affirm to one another that they have the right to be miserable harpies.
2) Break the mold. I will try anything to change things up a bit. Maybe I will try some ridiculous new recipe, even though I know my husband and kids will hate it. I do it because I’ve wanted too. I will skip the standard housework, and focus on some special project that has been bugging me for a while, like re-doing a closet, or scrubbing down the cabinets. Yeah, it is still housework, but it breaks me out of the frustration of monotony. I will grab a book and go read in the backyard for 30 minutes. Basically, I will try anything that breaks up the routine, and distracts me from my boiling need to throw the dirty laundry on everyone’s beds and tell them to do it themselves.
3) Know when it is time to call in the big guns. Every once in a while, I go out alone after my husband gets home, for a couple of hours away. I usually catch a movie, or maybe hit the bookstore. My husband is really great about knowing when these times come. Sometimes, we just need alone time away from our homes. Can you imagine how life would be if you never left your office? Well, that is how a SAHM can feel sometimes. You may be relaxing on the couch in the evening, but your mind is still reminding you that you have 16 things you could or should be doing. Removing yourself from the house is often the only way to get some true downtime.
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned about the occasional SAHM funk is that I have to acknowledge it when it comes, recognize that it is often unreasonable and take proactive steps to get through it. Super-Mom Awesomeness will return in time.