When I became a stay at home mom I had visions of clean kids, playing peacefully in the park while I sat drinking my coffee laughing with other moms.
But let’s be real.
My life is the complete opposite of that.
My kids are never completely clean, my youngest is a flight risk with no fear, and making mom friends is hard.
Plus with the weather in the upper 80’s and ungodly humid, this summer has been less than picture perfect.
I was reading articles about moms who scheduled their kids days and had constant activities planned.
It opened my eyes that maybe I had a problem.
I was truthfully spending most of my day in my pajamas on the couch playing on my phone while the kids kept themselves entertained.
I’d keep up with the dishes and laundry, cuddle the kids when they asked, and of course kept them fed.
But most of my day was spent sitting around counting down the minutes until nap or bedtime.
The more thought I put into it I realized I was on the couch because I couldn’t get myself motivated to do much else.
I wasn’t living, I was surviving and I was clearly in a total funk.
It all came to a head one day when I broke down and spent most of the day crying.
Something had to change, I was miserable and the kids deserved a better mom.
Pulling yourself out of a funk isn’t easy.
I set small goals.
Nothing too big and drastic but small things I would do every day to start moving in a positive direction. I printed out a fancy habit tracker and hung it on my fridge. Now my entire family could tell if I was being accountable.
Take my vitamins.
Do something I enjoy.
Workout (meaning a few situps on my living room floor).
I could do these small things each day, and then head back to my couch if I wanted, but at least I accomplished something.
I had to find something that motivated myself to keep going. For me that was starting sewing again, buying a new book, and restarting my blog. Sewing was something mindless I could work on during nap time instead of taking a napping myself. A book was something I could read in my bath at the end of a long day for some me time, and restarting my blog got me writing again. Something I loved dearly.
I couldn’t be a good mom to the kids if I wasn’t enjoying life. I needed to put the joy back in it, and my hobbies did that.
If I wasn’t in the house I couldn’t sit on the couch all day. I made plans to get me and the kids out of the house at least twice a week. We bought a zoo membership and spent a lot of time swimming at the pool. Chasing a toddler is exhausting mentally and physically so it wasn’t something I wanted to do every day, but twice a week seemed like a good balance. I usually tried to invite a friend or family member along too so I not only had help with the kids but could socialize.
Get in touch with friends.
It’s easy to lose touch with friends as an adult, but socialization is vital. Having a laugh with a friend can make you feel 100% better, even on your worst days. Making an effort to keep in touch or get reacquainted with friends can be great for your mental health. I made sure to text my friends, invite them on outings with us, and visit my family or invite them over more often.
Put your health first.
If you haven’t had a physical in a while. Schedule one. Sometimes there are biological reasons for your funk and it’s worth checking with your doctor about. I had stopped taking my antidepressant, and it was clear I needed to restart it. I’m not ashamed that I take a low dose daily and it keeps my anxiety in check. By mentioning my symptoms to my doctor I also found out that my hormones were way out of whack. We are working on fixing those and it has made a huge improvement in my mood.
Along with that, check your diet. Make sure you’re eating a lot of protein and vegetables. I have a tendency to cook with a lot of carbs and I end up sleepy and lazy. Your diet has a big effect on your energy levels.
On top of that drink a lot of water. Cut back the caffeine and alcohol and stay hydrated. And I say this as the biggest hypocrite. I don’t drink caffeine but I do love a small glass of bourbon once I get the kids to bed.
Ask for help.
I’m bad at this one too, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call up the grandparents and see if they’ll take the kids for the weekend. Schedule yourself for a massage or go get a pedicure. Make sure you tell your husband, friends, or grandparents, whoever that you’re struggling and you just need a break. They’ll understand and you won’t feel so alone.
No one can be on 100% of the time. Sometimes you just need a reset.
For Me this self-improvement process is never-ending. It’s something I have to work at each and every day.
However, taking the above steps have drastically improved my mental health.
I’m not going to pretend like there aren’t still days where I just feel blah and struggle to get off the couch.
They are still there and I hate them.
But if I stay consistent with my self-care and hold myself accountable, I’m not only a happier me, but a happier mom.
Which means my kids get to see me being silly and playful. I look forward to our time together instead of counting down the minutes until bedtime. (ok I still do that some days)
But seriously, stay at home mom burnout is real, and serious, because you and your kids both deserve you to be happy.
So be selfish, put your mental and physical health first and the rest will fall into place.