When it comes to being a stay-at-home mum (SAHM), I think there are endless topics I can write about since this is the hardest, longest, most challenging yet most rewarding 'career' I've had so far.
Let's see. I talked about how to be a SAHM and not feel like a bum, I explained the differences between a tai tai, housewife and mother and why you should never call me a tai tai, I wrote a heartfelt post about why I chose to be a SAHM through the eyes of my child that resonated with thousands of people out there.
When I was asked to share my SAHM survival tips, I took time to think about what it is that I really wanted to share with you. I can't share much about cooking or recipes because I don't serve delectable meals and I just make sure my family is fed. I don't have much cleaning tips since my house is constantly in a mess and I've learnt to just close one eye. I can't give advice on how I teach my kids because I teach them things very randomly and out of the blue. I am not able to share a routine that works for my family because in the first place, we don't have a routine. As much as I wish to pen down some practical tips, I think many other awesome mum bloggers have covered them all and gave inspiring tips and tricks for SAHMs to keep it together.
So, what is it that I have to share? It took me a while to realise that I should do what I love to do - write a heartfelt post, pour out my innermost thoughts, tell you how I build up my emotional well-being, let you into my story and share with you on how I do my best to be A Happy Mum.
Today, I am going to share with you 8 ways on how I try to improve and maintain my emotional well-being as a SAHM. What works for me might or might not work for you, but hopefully we can all find the right paths in our journey.
1) Accept that life will no longer be the same
From the day you see the positive sign on your test kit and jump for joy, you should know that life is going to change. Lifestyle, priorities, hobbies, body shape, size of your jeans, state of the house, weekend pastimes, departments you hang out most in shopping malls, type of movies you watch at the cinema, spending habits, time for you to get ready to go out, these are but just some of the things that will likely never be the same again. Dread it or embrace it, some things will just have to go.
Kids don't make you give up your life. They just give you a totally brand new one.
There are SAHMs who find time to hang out with girlfriends, go for facials and mani-pedis, have some me-time and go for couple holidays without the kids. Other than being lucky to have babysitters, they believe that this helps them to rejuvenate and recharge, making them happier to go back to the kids when they feel refreshed.
Then, there are other SAHMS who can't seem to get away from the kids. It's not hard to tell but I am one of them. I am very much a hands-on who likes to solely rely on myself. Ok, and the hubby, sometimes. I think it's firstly because my mum raised me up teaching me to never depend on others and secondly, stepping into motherhood and spending my first three years in a foreign land with no extra pair of hands means I have gotten used to the notion of doing-it-all-myself. It's like I have become accustomed to and actually love doing everything on my own so having to ask for help just feels weird and not something I like.
I take care of the girls on my own every day, wake them, cook for them, clean them, bathe them, teach them, read bedtime stories to them, fetch and bring the big one to school, coax and feed the small one, go to the supermarket with them, visit libraries with them, watch movies in cinemas with them. In fact, the hubby and I bring them on every vacation because we just prefer to stick together as a family. You might say it's not advisable, it's overtiring, it's unhealthy, it's damaging to our relationship, but the two of us somehow like to keep it this way for now, at least when the kids are still young. We have dreams to visit Las Vegas again when we are older, just the two of us, then play at casinos overnight, relive our clubbing days, down flaming lamborghinis, play finger-guessing games, do the wild things that we used to do, go on cruises to Alaska and explore places of the earth we never knew existed, but for now, all those can wait. There's no good or bad in this, it's just a matter of preference.
Decide on the type of SAHM lifestyle you wish to lead. There's no right or wrong in wanting me-time and being away from the kids, all this doesn't make you a better or worse mum. As long as it makes you a happier mum, do what you need to do.
3) Find an outlet
As always, there are good days that leave you with a big smile and there are the bad ones that threaten to leave you with zero sanity. On those gloomy days, it helps if you have an outlet to let off some steam. It can be a hobby like crocheting or crafting, it can be a form of exercise like zumba or jogging, or it can be something therapeutic like blogging or reading. Do it while the kids are having an afternoon nap or when the hubby is around to help take care of them. Find something that helps you to ease those intense emotions and put yourself on the right track again.
Learn to vent out your frustration without blowing the steam onto your spouse. Or the kids.
4) Let your spouse know how you feel
The decision to be a SAHM is not an easy one. For reasons that I do not understand, there is still this social stigma attached to the term stay-at-home mum and people tend to view you in a different light. Even years after I made that choice, there are still times when I feel dejected, inadequate and insignificant. My pocket money comes from the hubby and he is the one who pays for all the household utility bills. I get comments from people that I play mahjong all day long, that I am leading an easy life, that I can just shake legs every day. I've stopped trying to explain it but instead brush it off with a smile. Why bother?
The most important thing is that you have a spouse who wholeheartedly supports and stands by your decision. I am thankful to have a hubby who not only supports, but he is proud of me for choosing to be a SAHM. In his eyes, I am a good wife and mum who keeps the family going so that he has a happy home to return to. Not for once has he complained about the fact that I am not contributing much to the household income and when I started attending blogging events, he even takes time out to accompany me so that he can help with the kids. Definitely the best husband ever in my eyes.
Becoming a SAHM is a mutual decision which both you and your spouse must support. You have to work together as a team and put in effort to make ends meet.
Admit it, mums tend to feel envious at times. Why is that dads get to go out on Friday nights and chill out with friends? Why is it that mums have to breastfeed six times in the middle of the night while dads just sleep through? Why can dads play football every weekend while mums can't even find time to exercise? Why do mums do 90%, if not 100%, of the diaper changing? Why do dads get to be the playmates while mums have to act like maids? If you ever feel this way, have a good talk with your partner, come up with ways for him to ease your burden, and if you need to, devise a timetable so that both of you can get time-outs and not feel unjust.
Jealousy means counting someone else's blessings instead of your own. It is a wasted and somewhat useless emotion.
6) The grass is not greener on the other side
There are stay-at-home mums who dream of being full-time working mums and working mums who crave to stay at home. Yes, sometimes I do envision how it would be like if I was still working in the media industry, where will I be, what will I be working as, how will I be feeling? The thing is, it is okay to daydream but not okay to keep wishing you were on the other side of the fence. If anything, we should be thankful that we are blessed to even become mums in the first place and have these miracles in our lives to love and to hold.
Take off the rose-coloured glasses, open up your eyes and be grateful for the people you have around you. Give love, feel love and see for yourself just how beautiful the grass is on your side.
7) Recognise that there is no perfect mum
Don't beat yourself up over the little things. It is okay if your kid eats something from the floor, it is okay if she falls off the bed by accident, it is okay if he knocks against the door and cuts his lip, it is okay if you cook something yucky once in a while, it is okay if your dining table is never neat, it is okay to let your child throw her tantrum and cry for half an hour, it is okay if the laundry is piling up in heaps, it is okay if the sink is full of dishes. It is okay. It really is okay. Things will work out somehow, they always do.
I mean, if we have no helper, no babysitter, no other third party or robot to help around the chores, the fact is something will always be undone. There is a limit to how much one pair of hands can achieve. Learn to let it go, focus on what is important and don't let yourself suffer the unnecessary stress.
Even though we can never be perfect mums, we will always be awesome mums in the eyes of our children.
The initial period of being a SAHM might be one full of doubts, skepticism and apprehension. However, there comes a time when you feel more at ease about your decision, when you start to reap the rewards of pure love, hugs and kisses, when you know that this will probably be the best period of your life. That is when you start to cherish every precious moment, when you stop lamenting about the "What if"s and "If only"s, when you feel thankful to be a mum who can be there with your child in every step of the growing up process. I like to think that I have entered that phase where I am totally comfortable with being a SAHM and in fact, I am happy, grateful and proud to be one.
Keep a positive outlook on life, savour the magical moments of being a parent and create memories with your child that will last you for life.
I think my life has just begun. What about you?
This post is part of a blog train hosted by Gingerbreadmum where 31 stay-at-home mum bloggers share their survival tips. Do hop over to read what they have to say and I hope you will enjoy reading our posts, find our tips useful and know that you are not alone.
Next up, Homeschool@sg is a mom of two kids age 7 and 3. She's been a a SAHM since the birth of her eldest child. Join her at http://