Stir Crazy

I know what you’re all going to say… You’re so lucky to stay home with your girls. It’s so wonderful you have the opportunity to spend these years with your daughters. If you were working you would miss all these wonderful moments at home.

Then why am I so unhappy most of the time? I haven’t left the house since last Thursday, today is Tuesday, so going on a week. And last Thursdays outing was to Hy-Vee with the girls, so not exactly a relaxing picnic. And yes, I do have many moments with the girls each day that I love and will cherish always, but overall, my days are mentally draining, leaving me sad most nights. I feel like I need more balance in my life, more connection with adults, more time that doesn’t involve my duties as a mom… but I’m not sure how to make that happen. I miss my friends.

When I woke up this morning I told myself the girls and I were getting out of the house today, if only to pick up a few groceries. Already though, its daunting. We were up early, Nora went down for a nap at 10:45 and is still sleeping now, its 12:12. My plan was to shower once she was sleeping, but Nadia screamed the first hour Nora was down, and by the time Nadia was situated and napping, well, I was annoyed my day wasn’t going so well. So I sat down to write instead of showering, as writing usually puts me in a calmer mood. And now Nora is already stirring, so not sure a shower is possible anytime soon.

Eric has surgical cases scheduled all afternoon and then it’s one of his partner’s birthdays, so they (he and his two male partners) are going out for dinner/drinks. I know Eric works really, really hard, heck, he worked all weekend, and he deserves time out with his friends too… But just knowing that he is going out tonight, when I haven’t left the house in almost a week, well, it makes me more than slightly annoyed. Last night after work and the girls were in bed he went over to one of his partner’s homes and they worked out the call scheduled. Granted, it was sort of working, but I know chit chat and alcohol was also involved.

I know, I should just hire help, but then I feel guilty, like I should be able to handle all this. And really, what the crap would I even do here with more help? Run my errands? I guess that would get me out of the house at least, but it’s not exactly creating the real balance in my life I need. Our favorite sitter is still on Christmas break, so maybe I’m just burnt out from her being away. She comes back next week and plans to watch the girls on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-5. A lot of this time will be spent taking one of the girls to Iowa City for appointments while she watches the other. Which is a huge help! But even on the days I’m free, what should I do? What would you do if you were home and had a sitter? Some days I don’t leave and just get stuff down around the house, as even laundry seems a challenge when both girls want my attention. It seems really silly though paying someone to watch the girls while I’m home…

Over the weekend my sister and her family went to see my mom and step-dad, just a day visit, as they live about 90 miles apart. If you remember, my mom lives in the city where I was considering moving with the girls, the location about 60 minutes from here where Eric would have to commute from on his non-call days. My sister invited me around 1 in the afternoon, I hadn’t showered, Eric was working so he couldn’t help me get the girls ready… It just felt like too late in the day to make those kind of plans, considering Nora’s bedtime is 7pm. So we didn’t go. But it reminded me of things being easier if we lived closer to my family, in a city with actual things to do, places to go, malls, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. So of course I’m back to wanting to move. But that opens up other issues, like me being alone with the girls even more. Eric could commute on the weeks he’s not on call, but he would have to stay here when he is, which right now is every other week/weekend. I would still need some hired help if we moved I think.

Often I feel like I’m missing out on the wonderfulness of being a SAHM. Everyone tells me it’s so glorious. But when? How? I feel like I need some time away to realize being with the girls is wonderful. I’m stuck in the hard parts all the time. I can’t see the good. I know it’s rewarding, but for the life of me, I can’t tell which parts. Maybe today I’ll put an ad on care.com. Any ideas for what I should be looking for? What my ad should say? What questions I should ask? What hours would be most helpful to me? Should this person be scheduled, or someone I call on whenever I need someone? I feel like I should already know these answers, but I don’t.

26 thoughts on “Stir Crazy

  1. Have you thought about looking for a part-time job? Not for the money but just to give you something else to focus on? I think being a SAHM becomes enjoyable when you have two kids in school all day ;-). But that’s just me. I love my girls but at their ages I’d go nuts if I was home with them all day alone 5 days a week. I feel like I could either handle it for half days or for 2-3 days a week, but the full day home thing would be so hard!

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    1. I did look for part-time jobs, but honestly, the only thing I found near me was for jobs very far below my qualifications, like waitresses, for example. Nothing wrong with waitress positions, but just not what I’m interested in. I have a BA in Finance and MBA, so I was at least looking for something related. The city my mom lives in has lots of positions available though.

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  2. Some people really thrive as a SAHM, other’s don’t. My partner is default SAHM while she looks for a job in the city we moved to for my work. She really doesn’t love it, and is actively looking for a job – even one that isn’t ‘perfect’ so she has some outlets. I do think it would be even more hard without some relief in the evenings and a partner who is willing to take on more of the active childcare when home – which I can do because of my job (and, if we’re being honest, likely because I’m a woman and more likely to step into that stuff than many men!) It seems clear that you both need additional support (paid or otherwise) AND something to invest your time and energy in. A part time job is a great idea, but also maybe a club, group, class, something like that. I think you might find your time at home is easier and more productive if your cup is getting filled elsewhere. Maybe learn a language or take an art class or maybe something at a community college? I think I recall you talking about photography a while back? Why not find a photography class?

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    1. Funny you should mention a photography class… I looked for one in this area, but the only one I found was through the university here, and you have to be enrolled in the major to take the classes 😦
      I’ll keep looking though, maybe one will be offered through another place soon.

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  3. I couldn’t imagine being a full time stay at home mom. And, that’s not to knock those who do it, in many ways I admire them. But for me, I really enjoy working too. I’ve worked hard to get where I am professionally. I will admit now that we have our son and I’m working full time, some days the balance is incredibly hard, but I know I’d go crazy if I were home with him full time. Because of this we have paid help 4 days a week and I’m thankful our current nanny still has not found her “real” job because it means that I don’t have to worry about him while he’s with her – I trust her. I think this is key for me in balancing working and being a mom.
    I guess, the key is to find the right solution for you and your family. But my biggest piece of advice is not to feel guilty for hiring help! If you have the resources and it will help you cope/feel better, then I say hire the help!

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  4. Twice Tom had to live in separate towns for work. I would think long and hard about going that direction. It was hard on our relationship , and very hard on each and every family member. Yes we all survived but our kids were all in school when this happened. Personally I think part of being a stay at home mom is a generational thing. I quit my job before our first was born and continued until our 4th and last was in school. I consider myself extremely lucky! Times were so very different than now! Three of my younger sisters couldn’t wait to get back to work! And they couldn’t understand me not wanting to go back. You have to do what is best and right for you, Eric and the girls. January is a very depressing month and not a good time to make life changing decisions. Enjoy your girls they will be grown before you know it.

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    1. Thank you for the input. I’m still so confused on what to do. Everyone tells me to do what is best for me and Eric and the girls, but I just can’t figure out what is best… I feel like every time I think I know what I want, I think of all the negative aspects of that choice.

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  5. All the SAHM’s I know feel the same way you do at least some of the time (myself included). We miss working outside the home and we miss our friends and we feel at least somewhat isolated and stir crazy. You are not alone.
    You need SAHM friends. I found mine online via that city moms blog and facebook groups. Oh yeah, and I found a moms group I found on that “meet up” website.
    I know you went to a le leche league meeting–did you meet any moms there? I meet moms at the library and the park sometimes too. I’ve also met moms at the gym and since my gym has daycare it’s a way for me to get some time to myself. More people will be getting out and about once spring is here and the weather warms up–great time to meet moms!
    I’m going to enroll BG in preschool part-time (registration is this week) and it starts in August. It will be good for both of us. I know Nora could not be in daycare before due to her immune system, but what about now? Maybe look into preschools for her (warning: a lot of preschools have registration deadlines and waiting lists so even if you don’t want to put her in now, start looking into it in case you need to get on a waiting list).
    I’m also enrolling BG in swimming lessons and dance lessons soon. Fun for her and I’m sure I’ll meet other moms and make some friends.
    My SAHM friends might be fake as f*ck on facebook (acting like they loooove every minute) but they are real with me. These are my suggestions if you want to continue being a SAHM. You gotta build a “tribe” with other moms. You gotta have mom friends who you can text on a random Tuesday and be like “OMG these kids are driving me nuts! Want to meet up at the park after naptime? I’ll bring the starbucks! Pick your poison.”

    But if you miss working then go back to work! Move to the city you want to live in, find a job and childcare, and go back to work at least part-time. See if that works better for you. And if it doesn’t work out (you don’t like living apart from Eric or you don’t like working outside the home) you can always try other things until you find the balance you’re looking for.
    You have to factor in your needs and wants. Like if you need to be closer to friends and family. If you want to go back to work. You deserve to be happy too.
    It doesn’t matter that other people envy your life (lucky you, you SAHM doctors wife). Having what other people want can’t make YOU happy. You have to decide what you want, and then do that, regardless of what anyone else thinks (except your spouse–his vote counts). ❤ XOXO

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    1. I feel like you are one of very few people who actually get how I feel. Even this weekend my mom was over and told me again that I don’t really know what being unhappy is like since I’ve never been unhappy or had a hard life. I just want to scream when people tell me that. You’re also the first person to tell me that if something doesn’t work and make me happy I can change it. I feel like if I move with the girls and I’m unhappy, then I’m stuck and have to live with my decision. I think the more I talk to others in real life, the more upset I become.

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  6. What about a part-time job? How about working as a barista? There’s a lot to be said about leaving a job at the end of the shift and not taking a bunch of work-related stressors with you. It would give you a few hours out of the house and socialization with other adults.

    Have you considered arranging play dates or going to toddler time at the library, etc.?

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    1. I have thought about a part-time job, but all the positions I found were far below what I’ve ever done for work in the past. And not that those jobs are bad, just afraid I’d be meeting young people that I might not have as much in common with right now, being this is a college town. Our library offers story time one morning a week, but everyone tells me it’s not popular. The library is actually really small.

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      1. I’d try a local coffee shop – usually the employees are often a little older than chains.

        Is your family in the other towns able to come and visit you? If they don’t have little ones, it’s often easier for them to do the traveling than for you to pick up.

        How about a MOPs group or Mommy & Me?

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  7. How about free lancing? I did some free lance book editing before my part time job at the surrogacy agency and it was flexible and used my brain. And also, get the help! Spend a couple hours at home getting stuff done, then a couple hours running errands, than a workout, then a couple hours reading or writing or nails or whatever on YOU! The time away will make you enjoy the time at home more for sure

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  8. Oh Stef, I’m sorry you are feeling this way! I wish I lived closer so I could help. I have never had the opportunity to be a stay at home mom, so it’s hard to give advice on this. Being a mom is a hard job and I think with the ages of the girls it would be tough but know that you are only one person and you don’t have to do everything. Don’t ever feel guilty for hiring someone to come watch the girls so you can do what ever you need to do. It’s just as good for the girls to have time away from you as it is for you to have time away from them. I know you have mentioned part time job, and you have a finance degree… what about doing taxes for people this time of year? You could make your own schedule and your own work load. Maybe you use one of your 9-5 days for that and the other to run errands or whatever you need to do.
    Just remember you are a great mom and it’s okay to feel like you need “me” time. If you have the opportunity to get it… take it!

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  9. Lady first of all I don’t necessarily think you’re lucky to stay at home! It’s a choice some women love but it’s not better nor worse than being out of the house, even to work. I get wanting to use your brain and also, for me, there are so many benefits to daycare that are completely down played by the whole SAHM is best always. So I’m thinking of you and hope you find a balance but, girl, don’t ever feel bad for thinking that the SAHM choice might not be the best choice for you 🙂

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      1. Hmm… Ok, so a bit more of feedback if you don’t mind.

        On a very personal level I believe that daycare starting at 7 months is an excellent choice for a kid.The amount of learning a kid gets from observing other children can’t and won’t be matched by staying home with a parent. Maybe if that parent was super creative teacher, and filled their schedule with regular playdates and etc, sure. But realistically how many stay home parents can do that?

        I have close relatives who stay home, and they keep on going on and on how they can’t understand women who send their kids to the daycare until the kids are at least 3 years and blah blah blah. From my side, I can’t understand how they can stay home and not go crazy. I also tell them that they are suffering from this ridiculous notion that women have always stayed home with their children and raised them. Nothing is further from the truth.

        There has been a single point in history, and specifically in Western society, post WW2 era, where women were able to stay home because it was economically feasible for a family to live on a single salary. https://www.census.gov/hhes/families/files/ASA2010_Kreider_Elliott.pdf And please note, being able didn’t necessarily meant women wanting to stay home. Never before, and certainly not today, has it been economically feasible for a family to have a woman to stay home and take care of children. Previously women needed to cultivate the land, and currently, most couples can’t afford to live on one salary, and therefore women have to work. Or as in my case, I simply want to use my brains because I am smart, and I love having career.

        And yes, there have always been privileged women of class who stayed home. But you know they had a nanny per child, along with maids, drivers and etc.

        I encourage you to stand up for your truth and tell your family off in no uncertain terms. In my own family there are all kinds of opinions about parenting, how to do it, when to do, co-sleep, not to co-sleep and so on. Some of us are very vocal about their beliefs. But at the end of the day the stay home moms are not in my shoes. None of them are me. Kuddos to them loving being stay home moms. More power to them if it works for them. It doesn’t for me, so hands off my personal choices.

        Honestly, you gotta do what’s right for you. If hiring regular help, along with regular babysitter for your girls, and freeing up yourself to dedicating more time to yourself is what you need to do for your mental and emotional well being, do it.

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  10. Who wants a part time job? Go in the direction of getting day help and joining a gym or yoga studio. Likely that would lift your spirits because exercise always can be a mood booster and there will be other moms there too for you to socialize with. Even the YMCA where once your kids get older they can go too. I don’t know but like you said a part time job will have you working with younger people so you can’t relate AND then you would have a boss and a schedule…especially difficult with doctors appointments for the kids being always on you. Definitely look for more help. And January is a terrible month so probably good advice to avoid major life decisions right now:)

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  11. As much as I love spending time with my baby, I know I am not cut out to be stay home mom. It is just not in my make up. I feel I am a better mom to her because I have my career and my time away. And that’s OK because there are many different ways to be a parent, and as long as our children are well adjusted, know they are loved and wanted, does it matter whether I spend 8 hours with my kid versus 3 hours a day?

    I have been following your blog for longest time, and your unhappiness with being stay home mom is re-occurring theme, which tells me it isn’t for you. I feel that you have gotten many messages that being stay home mom is a privilege and you feel tremendous amount of guilt for not being happy about it. But if staying home isn’t your idea of the motherhood, I beg of you, look past shame that you are putting on yourself, and have an honest conversation about your own version of being a good mom means to you with yourself.

    I read somewhere that being a parent has two components to it – work and relationship building. The work aspect includes cleaning the house, cooking food, doing laundry and etc. And it is absolutely fine to outsource the work if you can afford it because it isn’t important. In my case, I can’t outsource it because our (mine and my husband) doesn’t allow for that. But if I could I would! In a heartbeat! As good of a homemaker I am, along with being a great cook (no false sense of modesty from me), it is lots of bloody work to keep clean house and cook several times a week. If I could afford it, yes, I’d have my cleaners come in once a week instead of once in three weeks.

    As one mom to another mom, I say, if you can hire help to clean the house, cook, and watch your kids, do it. Stop beating yourself up, stop trying to justify why you should be the one trying to do it all, outsource the work, and enjoy building a relationship with your kid.

    Re career – have you looked into remote consulting services by any chance? 100% remote jobs are hard to come by, but they are out there. Check out http://www.nttdata.com/global/en/ The company just recently purchased Dell Consulting Services, and has a decent number of remote positions. If you like, I’d be happy to share additional leads/suggestions on how to re-enter the professional world and where to look for remote opportunities.

    Oh, and in case you are wondering how I know about remote jobs so much. I am looking for a second job (remote obviously) so I could outsource the work aspect of being a parent! Yeap, I rather pick up an additional gig to pay someone else to do the dirty dishes than do them myself, because I am tired! And I know you are too!

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