You have one baby and you think “Oh my goodness, I am so busy how can I get anything done?” You have another baby and then you think “Wow, how can I watch a toddler and a baby and clean the house and cook?” You have another kid or two and you start thinking “If I could just chain all the kids to the couch and I knew they wouldn’t pee on it, I could lay comatose on the bed for a few minutes. Forget cleaning.” And so it begins, the season when mom never leaves the house.
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It’s great to have children. It’s great to be able to stay at home with them. It’s great to not miss all those little day-to-day moments. It is also isolating, lonely and harder than I thought possible. I don’t find it hard to manage three children’s schedules. I don’t even find it too hard to get food on the table at various meals and keep the house relatively tidy. I find it hard to be at home all the time with people who are just now only beginning to be able to have a conversation. And Pickles, oh how I love her, really just wants to converse about wearing her blue shoes and “syiding down the syide.” Although she is good for my ego. Just today she said “Mommy, you’re a mermaid. Good choice, mommy.”
The hard part about being a stay at home mom is feeling like you never leave the house. By never I don’t mean never ever, but in comparison to how often you were out of the house before, it feels like a hermetic existence. While you used to do your hair everyday, wear make up and accessorize to match your outfit, today you are lucky if you brush your hair, wash your face and put on clothes that could even be classified as an outfit. Some other moms and kids came over to my house last week for a morning visit and by the time I left I realized how starved I was for company. I am not ungrateful for this opportunity to be at home. I am not trying to be melodramatic. I just think it’s a time and season we moms go through. So, how do you know when you are feeling like a shut-in?
(1) Some days we don’t leave the house.
I thought it was annoying to get a diaper bag packed with one baby. With two toddlers and a baby it is truly an act of Congress (or perhaps not since apparently Congress has stopped working) to get everything together to leave the house. Then, by the time you get somewhere the newborn is screaming to feed, you’re leaking and the toddler has “uh oh, poopoo in the panties.” And this is before you’ve gotten them out of the car. Many days it’s simply not worth it to leave. It isn’t that the desire to stay at home has beaten the desire to go out. It’s just that the hassle to organize it all has overwhelmed the expected payout.
(2) The days we do go out, it is often just to the store.
After a few days of number 1, a woman can only take so much. I mean honestly, we need to go out and be seen. Even if we’re only being seen by the grocery store cashier and the guy behind the counter at the gas station who politely doesn’t mention how regularly we stop in for a Diet Coke and a Slim Jim. Some days I just say stuff it. If I can, I leave the kids at home. If not, I shove them in the car ignoring the fact that my daughter wants to wear my sons clothes and my son doesn’t want to wear pants. I go, buy some food, and feel like I’ve noticed some new trends. I see some trees, get jealous of a few women wearing pencils skirts, and head back home before the next mealtime or nap time.
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(3) All we talk about is kids.
Your husband gets home and you want to share your day. What has happened during the day? Your kids. Your daughter stood in the windowsill behind her curtains after her nap and I think she was naked. You meet with other mothers and what do you want to talk about? Your kids. Is it normal that my daughter prefers to wear her shoes on the wrong feet? Should I be worried that my son is attracted to shiny bracelets? It’s like we finally get a chance to socialize, use big words and not talk in third person and we don’t even take advantage.
(4) We talk about bodily fluids way too freely.
To be honest, I didn’t even know I did this until I noticed the look on other people’s faces. Other people being, obviously, those who are without young children. “Oh, he’s okay except his diapers have been green lately. I think it’s a virus.” “Yeah, things are good except the whole house smells like urine.” “Help yourself to the ice cream, it’s just behind the breastmilk.” I’ve lost track of the things that should and shouldn’t be talked about in polite company. I’m not even sure what polite company is anymore.
One day I’m sure I’ll look back and wish I had as much time with my children as I do now. I don’t mind staying at home most of the time. In fact, I love staying at home. I just don’t like that I feel socially inadequate, clumsy and less charming than I used to be. Not that I was ever Ms. Charming. But, you know, I had a good thing going.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
It is all worth it, though, when my kids laugh with me. When they run over for kisses. When they hug and kiss each other. And when I think that right now, I am the most important thing to them and that’s how they like it. I like to think that even the most successful, busy and creative women around would feel the tiniest bit jealous if she saw all my kids on my lap as we read a story together. Those moments count exponentially more than the others, don’t they?
Read related post What I Learned as a stay-at-home mom with an identity crisis
Kassie Brandt says
I love number 4. I am a working mom, but I still struggle not to talk about poop.
Rachel Norman says
Oh dear..I had to laugh all of the babies’ antics….they are so precious. These are the times you will look back on and smile. Your fondest memory won’t be of a pencil skirt you can’t even remember why you were wearing it or what color it was. This season will pass all too quickly.
Rachel Norman says
You are so right!
I have a rule for myself: I HAVE to get out! I give give give to the kids all day and am home ALL the time so my husband is wonderful about dealing with bed time once in awhile so I can escape and go out with friends. And when I do? I only enjoy hanging out with friends who do NOT talk kid talk all the time :) It’s SO hard to stay connected with who I am outside of “Mommy” and I think those steak and shake nights with the girls really help :)
Rachel Norman says
Great idea and no kid talk. I will definitely try it!!
No way this couldn’t be further from the truth for us. We live in a big city and we are out every single day for half if not all of the day. We have a ton of local playgroups and drop in centre for kids 0-6. In the summer we spend our days at the playgrounds and parks. It’s a must to get out for the kids and for moms sanity !!
Rachel Norman says
Steph, I have some friends who are exactly like you too!! Ha. We are the total opposite! Well, we were, we’re a better mix now I think :)
So no advice? Just keep being a hermit and shuffling back and forth to Target once a week to change things up? I have 4 kids ages 2-9. We left the house once in the past week and it was just to go to the grocery store (gotta get food sometime). That trip started with one kid whining and ended with 2 kids crying and some old lady giving me dirty looks in the checkout line. Other than my husband, who is tired at the end of the work day, I haven’t spoken to another adult for more than 2 minutes in over a month. FML.
Rachel Norman says
Oh Kim, it’s SO HARD to be shut in all the time, huh? I think it’s particularly hard for an extrovert. Do you have friends who could come over to hang out, or to whose houses you can go? Or moms groups in your area?
I’ve been a sahm for 2 years now (I have two young children) and I often feel redundant as a person. I don’t think you can understand how crushingly lonely it can be until you’re doing it. It’s a terrible thing to say, but I’m counting down the days until my son is in nursery 5 mornings a week, as I feel like I’m letting him (and his brother) down…I’ve tried to make friends but live in a tiny town and usually get ditched after a while so have given up on baby groups. Probably because I seem boring and pre-occupied by my sons who can be a handful.
I have such respect for mums who do this with no partner or family support and just have to get on with things. They are my inspiration at the moment.
Rachel Norman says
Hugs to you, Suz, and if you are feeling depressed and need some support, putting your child in care for a time might be a way to help you get refreshed and reset!
What kind of advice would you give a mother with no friends?
We moved far away from our friends and now not only do I not get out, no one comes in. I don’t have anyone to talk to AT ALL aside from my husband. I’m so desperate for a friend, but all I do is try my hardest not to show it because I’m afraid I’ll scare any potential friends away…
Rachel Norman says
Megan, I want to come over and hug you and be friends. Girl, I HAVE BEEN THERE. Oh my goodness have I. I moved to another country and didn’t know a soul. In january I’m creating a village and – while it’s not an in person friend right there- maybe it’ll help you feel less lonely?
Omg, you spoke to my soul! Lol. It’s great to know I’m not alone. My fiancé just doesn’t understand how tedious a work from home, stay at home mothers job can be. Sometimes I feel like a slave and my kids and just throwing the whip lol. I have a almost 2 year old an almost 1 year old and an almost 9 year old, all having may birthdays.
Rachel Norman says
Ha, the kids throwing the whip. That’s *exactly* what it feels like sometimes :)
Im a SAHM living oversea too. I don’t have any friend here. I met others through my husbands but i dont feel connected to them. I hung out with other working moms but i felt unrelated when they talked about work and stuff and felt bored when they talked about kids so i stopped hanging out with them. I dont know what to talk about when i meet people. Im getting more and more shut in. This gets worse in winter.
I got angry when my husband said how our kids wont have friend because of his anti social mom or when he asked me to put on a smile at a party when i was so tired to even fake a happy face. The next day my neighbor came close to talk to me, i bursted out crying from depression and could not say anything else but I’m sorry. It got to me out of nowhere like that sometimes. It feels so lonely.
“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”
– Dr. John Trainer
Dear Rachel I am so delighted to read your words , full of affection, love and the enjoyment you experience in your life linked and focused around your children and home.
There are two kind of people in this world:
1) Those whose aim and priority is family and home. Once they get married, have kids, that it. They return to “home” and that is where they want to be. Socialising is limited to select group of people, and certainly no more “partying” for them. They are “home people”- more men are like that , than women in my observation- but I recognise that this is just my observation.
2) Those who crave and live to be “out there doing things”. Their sole aim of existence seems to be socialising meeting new people “having fun” – but their fun is outside of the home. They are the ones who will feel perfectly fine to leave kids with someone else to supervise, a nanny or a babysitter or whatever gets them to their party/socialising.They are the ones who if challenged with a choice,will consider their home family and kids as an obstruction to their “independence”.
Now imagine if Type 1 gets married to Type 2.
I am type 1, my wife was/is type 2. No wonder she left me. She now seems to be happy and is “out there doing things” with friends. I get kids from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening. In that time, she is gone with the wind. If kids want to talk to her on phone , she will sometimes respond “busy cant talk”. Compare that with when I get a message “he wants to talk to you”, I literally drop everything to make sure he gets to talk to me. When my son (3) wakes up in morning, he loves to be taken into lap with his shirt and mine off, skin to skin, and he feeds from his bottle. Most precious moments for me,. While he feeds in my lap, he plays with nose, my lips my beard and I thoroughly enjoy each and every moment. I have made so many videos of these moments because they will soon be gone and only fading memories will remain. I can tell even now that he is exactly like me- home person. If I take him out of home , he is happy for a while with play or whatever, but then he comes and touches me and says “go home”. My daughter(9 yrs) is opposite-she doesnt want to return home- just wants to be out there.
Let no person dissuade you away from righteousness of what you are doing. Nothing is more important than relationships , family and ‘home’- and all these are built one step at a time, little sacrifices. Some times I even forget to have my food while attending to kids and when I do remember , I always find myself smiling _ I am happy that I am so focused on them that I forget even myself. It doesnt annoy me- it actually makes me happier and infuses a new energy into me. Nothing could be more important for me than this.
Danube ELZ Residence says
Hey! If challenged with a choice, will consider their home family and kids as an obstruction to their “independence”.
I feel guilty for wanting to stay home all the time. I joined a moms club to socialize & also to get my toddler to socialize but I’d rather be in pjs, hang around our yard, & interact with my toddler at home. I worked full time up until a few months ago & I don’t miss traffic & for once I feel rested. I often feel lonely but it’s mostly my fault because I don’t make the effort to seek out people but at the same time I’m not the kind of mom who finds a whole lot of interest in talking mainly about kids & family life. Alhtough I engage in small talk it bores the heck out of me when I’m around these other moms. Maybe I’m still adjusting to being a mom versus being that party every weekend kind of gal who has lots of crazy fun-filled stories that aren’t meant to be shared too often.
So o can’t find any others that I can relate to.
I’m a Mum of a 2 year old and she is wonderful. I work at a school during term time but during the holidays all the toddler clubs stop, we are always watching the pennies and I find myself getting stuck in the house.
I leave the food shop to my husband, the weather is crap so the idea of the park is quite unappealing. It’s gone 1030 and I’m still in my pjs (daughter is dressed and is almost ready for a nap)
I need excuses to leave the house and if they aren’t appealing enough I will just avoid it but it causes such loneliness and isolation.
i am a stay at home mom but i get out everyday or i’ll go crazy! I need to see people and still keep my own interests, with or without kids. I have two a small baby and a toddler. I need to get a shower, fancy clothes, doing makeup, doing my hair. I think if we are unhappy about something we should try to change it, a happy mom is a good mom.
miranda Carrie cunningham says
I cried a little reading this. My husband is a hermit. His parents were the same. He works 5 days a week and to him that is as much OUT as he would like to experience. I actually came across your posts looking up what phycological effects are caused by not leaving your home. I was never taught to drive. come to find out you have to depend on other people to get your license. as ive gotten older ive lost the want to. I cannot just jump in the car and go. I leave our home to get groceries. either my husband takes me or I walk when the weather is good. we have no parks near by. We penny pinch so I can be home with my daughter. So going out is scarce. Within our home I cant get my husband to learn to share time. Every day after work he “needs to relax”. So he comes home flops in a chair and watches u-tube, reddit and that new one where everyone is taking videos of themselves on their phone. While I switch from my kindergarden teacher hat to chef and then maid. By time thats done its bedtime and im exhausted. too often too exhausted to even take a shower. So ive totally lost self care. Once the weekend comes My husband feels hes worked all week so he needs to “relax”. Im not being allowed me time or out of the house time. its all taking a toll. Its nice to have someone else talk about ” I never leave home”. My goal has become to turn the spaces in and outside our home to spaces I enjoy being in. I also have to start planning outings for my daughter and I. Ive been selling what we dont need to pay for some of it. I think its a matter of finding what I need and finding what works to fulfill that. thank you for the post. nice to see someone else express this feeling.
With twin 4-year-olds and a toddler and no car I literally never leave my house. I officially absolutely hate being a mother. Them and their narcissistic father have drained me of everything I have. It is even costing me my health. I pray everyday this is all a dream. This is the worst thing I have ever done. So much regret and unhappiness.
Rachel Norman says
I’d say your spouse’s abuse is contributing to your mental health issues, Lexi, an abusive marriage will destroy you so it’s no wonder you can’t cope.