To Be or Not to Be a SAHM! I'm at a crossroads in my life - please help!!

Sherry - posted on 04/02/2013 ( 4 moms have responded )

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Hi! I'm 36 yrs old, have a 6 yr old son and almost 5 yr daughter. I work FT, commute an hour to and from work each day, my husband is in law enforcement so he has an erratic schedule, I have pretty much have no family/friend support as far as being able to have date nights, take vacations, run quick errands, pick ups and drop offs etc, my son is in kinder and my daughter is in daycare. I have been going nuts these last 4 years, with symptoms that include, fogginess, dizziness, irritableness, lack of focus and concentration, panic attacks, anxiety, depression. After seeing all kinds of Dr's, I stumbled upon a naturopath that has helped me get all those symptoms under control. But one thing hasn't changed, I still go crazy at home and recently have become more stressed out and depressed. My husband is a huge supporter of whatever I choose to do but I'm so stuck! I've been at my job for 11 years, I've worked since I was 16 and now I'm terrified about making this decision. But I know that I'd be happier because I'd be more of a wife and a mother to my family and I think I'd be able to discover myself again. How did you decide that this was the right decision for you?

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[deleted account]

I went back and forth 3 times before I settled into the SAHM role. I went half mad staying home with J on maternity leave. I couldn't wait to get back to my office, but then I missed him tremendously when I finally did go back to work, and both my work and home life started to suffer, so I stopped working. And I went crazy again--hated it. This time I put in a home office and tried to work from home while our live in nanny watched him--this way I could pop out and see him all the time, but I could concentrate and focus without worrying about him or being interrupted if I needed to. That didn't work either--I couldn't keep myself away from him when he was cute, and I worried every time I heard him cry, so I got way behind. I ended up quitting again, and of course, I sucked at being a SAHM. Knowing there was no way for me to be happy working, and totally failing at staying home I found myself in a deep pit of despair. I was given this advice when I confided in a good friend:

You have to treat being a SAHM just like you would treat a career. It takes A LOT of self discipline, organization, dedication, determination, and commitment to be a successful SAHM. I don't mean successful as "one who has great kids" though that is a rewarding part of that success, but more so as "one who is HAPPY in her position, role, and life as a sahm."

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Julia - posted on 04/08/2013

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A few things to consider. While this is based on various studies I am a career counselor and see these issues regularly.

1) moms who work part time rate thier work/life balance as better than moms who stay home or moms who work full time. Also they report being more satisfied/happy.

2) women who leave the workforce for family reasons and later return after a significant break typically return to a lower level position making less money than the position they left. So if you decide to opt out keep your skills fresh through volunteer work, freelancing, part time employment or in some other way.

I have done all three for at least 6 months (stay home, work full time and work part time). I have enjoyed all of those options in different ways. I will say when working full time I had live in help so that made a big difference.

We often don't change because we fear change. Elinor Roosevelt said "do one thing ever day that scares you". I see a lot of people sit in a job too long because they are afraid of change. Do some self evaluation maybe this is a chance to take some time out of the rat race and reevaluate.

As for schedules, don't make yourself crazy. If you are a scheduler by nature then by all means go for it. If you aren't much of a scheduler don't force yourself into a mold that doesn't fit. I have never been big on scheduling and we are all happy and healthy. My son isn't a picky eater and he can roll with it if we are out later than usual on vacation or we have an unusual day. The most important thing is kids have a mom who is happy and healthy whether she lives by her planner or is more of a free spirit.

[deleted account]

If you really do hate it, you can always go back to work, so there is really no harm in trying it out for a while.
One other tip, while the schedule is VERY important, make sure it's not too strict. Kids are unpredictable, and you don't want your whole day ruined because you never got the bathroom cleaned. I prioritize my to do list into 3 categories:
Must Do
Should Do
Want to Do

Must Do items are the items that are most important to me, that will make a true impact on my life if I do or do not do them--like one on one time with J, cooking dinner, special activities or appointments I had to schedule specifically.
Should Do items are things like chores, that I "should do" everyday, but it's not going to be a big deal if they get put off to tomorrow.
Want to Do is a long list of things I would like to do if I have time. I keep this list specifically because every now and again, I end up with 15 minutes of free time, or sometime even a few hours, and if I don't keep this list I will spend the whole friggin time decided what to do with my precious time :P
It also includes weekly activities for J that we haven't paid for or anything, but are available, like story times, play groups, etc. If a morning is going well, I'll see what's going on and we'll go out. Sometimes, I do Want to Do items when we are having a really BAD day, because they can help us relax, and it won't kill us to put off a chore or two.

Sherry - posted on 04/02/2013

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Thanks Kelly! That actually really helped and was very comforting. My girfriend told me the same thing. She has 3 kids, 5, 3 and 2 but she says that keeping a schedule and sticking to it is what keeps her days running smoothly! I'm just scared that I won't like it, but I know that if I don't do it, I'd still be miserable. It's just a huge adjustment!

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