When my friend and colleague decided to be a full time ‘stay at home’ parent to her two kids aged four and six, little did she know that she would soon start to feel that her nine to five job was in actuality a piece of cake in comparison.
When I called her last week for a ‘girls’ night out’, which used to be a regular affair until recently, she said to me, “If only…!” When I asked her what the matter was, this is what she said, “The worst part about being a stay at home parent is that nothing ever ends.
When I have just finished cleaning the floor, little Annie comes along and spills some of her juice on it, and I have to do it all over again,” she said.
“When I put my feet up finally, to relax and have a cup of coffee, there Robbie will arrive with his demand for a story or something else. I know that I must not raise my voice at my kids, but this seems to be never ending and relentless.
I don’t know how to do it any more…I feel anxious and unhappy that I am complaining, but at the same time, I feel that I am not doing enough for my family. What do I do? Help me…” she cried.
I sat down with her, and we spoke at length about what she could do to alleviate her stress at being a stay at home parent.
These were some of our thoughts:
- Science has proven the fact that women like to discuss things with other women. For a stay at home parent like my friend, contact with other women had been effectively cut off, and this is what she needed to resume if she wished to stay mentally healthy and happy taking care of her kids full time. In fact, contact with girl friends can be a great stress buster, and it can even reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and the formation of the stress hormone cortisone. Even better, an evening out with friends could provide a release for her pent up emotions, and also prove to be physiologically beneficial for a long time to come.
- A stay at home parent has to learn to let things go sometimes. How does it matter if your sofa has a little dust on it, or if your kitchen counter has bread crumbs dusted on it? Let go, and enjoy life, and more importantly, your kids. Kids do start to feel responsible for their parents’ unhappiness, and you must try to stop this happening.
- A stay at home parent must have the freedom to call up child care, so that she could have some time to herself, to do what she wants to do. She must be able to hand over the responsibility to someone else, even for a few hours. This is a great stress buster, and many parents believe in this.
Today, my friend does not complain so much. She tries to follow the advice I offered, and she says that she feels much better, now that she can get away from it all, if she chooses to. She is a better mom, and a better person too, because she learned how to handle a tough situation.