*Trigger Warning* Mentioned are depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
Parenting Is Tough
After my son was born, I decided to refocus my career on setting new goals as a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) goals.
***Full disclosure, I was a first-time mom in my 40s. Read, First-Time Mom at 42 Years Old! Shocking but True!***
However, when both my children, Jackson and Michaela started school, there was a magical question I kept getting asked? “What am I going to do?”
Easy answer! I am setting new goals. However, I needed a plan.
Whether you are a SAHM, stay-at-home parent, work full time out of the home, work part-time out of the home, go to school, or whatever your circumstances … being a parent can be a tough gig! It does not matter how much you love it, or how fulfilling it can be, it still has challenging moments.
To state that one group has tougher than another is not fair. Frankly, it is not supportive of other moms.
Please note, that I am solely reflecting on my own experiences as a SAHM, and what influenced my journey in setting new goals.
When I decided to become a SAHM, I left a financially lucrative career. However, we were fortunate to have the option for me to stay at home with my son. Unfortunately, everyone who wants to stay home does not always have that option.
Before we go any further, have you listened to this episode?
SAHM Setting New Goals
There was a trigger moment for me why I decided to refocus on my goals.
We started looking at childcare and went to a well-known daycare. It was clear to see why this daycare was popular because the owner was very intuitive.
As I was holding Jackson, she was showing us around. She looked me straight in the eye. With genuine sincerity and without judgment said, “You are not ready to do this.” And she was completely right!
Later that night, I woke up my husband while crying. The woman at the daycare was correct. I was not ready to make that transition. Yet, I was not ready to go back to working full-time out of the home. I needed to be home with Jackson.
Luckily, we were able to reach the first of my many SAHM goals.
Delusional Momma Goals!
In certain aspects, I was completely delusional about being a SAHM.
When setting mom goals, I planned on doing daily activities from Pinterest, all food was going to be organic, and he was going to be speaking three languages, by the time he was four years old…I think you know where I’m going with this.
Believe me when I say I’ve had my parenting failures. Read, How to Learn From One of My Worst Parenting Failures.
All these unfair expectations I put on myself created unrealistic goals. I did not realize how hard it was going to be.
Some days, I am more exhausted at the end of the day compared to when I worked full time 12 to 14 hour days.
The Magic Question: “What Am I Going To Do?”
Back to the magical, consistent question I kept getting asked. “What am I going to do?”
Possibly, that was not necessarily the correct question to ask. Maybe the questions should have been around my personal goals:
- What am I going to do because I’m going to be freed up to do things I couldn’t do before?
- What am I going to do for myself?
As I discovered quickly, being a SAHM is an all-consuming job.
The Mommy Guilt Is Real
Regardless of your situation, as a parent, we all feel some guilt. The guilt is real!
As a SAHM, I have always felt guilty for doing anything for myself or having any goals outside of my family.
As parents, we need to stop imposing self-inflicted guilt. If we choose to have a career or a job, or if we’re stay-at-home parents, we need to stop judging ourselves (and stop judging other parents).
The parents that I know who work out of the home seem like their guilt comes if they think they are going to miss a milestone. All parents NEED to do something for themselves and realize it is okay to have an identity separate from your kids.
As a SAHM, I know that I have felt guilt for spending money on myself or if I’m doing something for myself.
SAHM Depression Is Real
Many of those negatively inflicted guilty feelings took an extremely scary turn for the worst around 2018. I’m not sure if there was a specific instance or a build-up of stress that triggered my very deep depression.
My anxiety went through the roof. I was unbelievably moody.
In the past, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. By no means am I an expert in mental health, but my understanding is it is very common for people with chronic diseases as well as ADHD, also be diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Add in being a SAHM…
But what made this much scarier than in the past, is that I was having suicidal thoughts. It was at such a point that I knew exactly how I could do it.
Thank God, my husband was able to identify that something wasn’t right. He realized I was sleeping a lot, he’d come home from work, and I would go right to bed. Again, I was easily irritated.
There is no doubt, it was difficult and scary for him to initiate that conversation. Luckily, our honest relationship gave him the strength to say “I love you and I don’t know how to help you. We need to get help. You need to get help.”
Getting Help For Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
My children and husband are my world so, I don’t know if I truly would have ever gone through with it. However, I’m so grateful that he dared to have that conversation with me.
That was not an easy conversation for either of us to have, especially with your best friend, your soulmate, the person you love more than anyone in the world.
There is courage in asking for help. In the future, I will hopefully gain a new level of courage to talk about my suicidal thoughts in more detail. Right now, I am not ready to do that.
No Regrets, No Matter The Struggles to Reach SAHM Goals
There is no way in the world, no matter what other struggles that have happened during the past few years, would I ever make a different choice about being a SAHM.
It has been an invaluable gift for me and it was definitely what worked for our family.
With that said, all families are different and our choices do not mean it is best for all families.
My Identity: Mom and Wife
My identity was being a mother and a wife. Anything that I did that didn’t involve my kids, required me to find childcare because that was my primary responsibility. That’s my responsibility as a SAHM.
Luckily, my husband normally does come home earlier in the day and never considers himself a babysitter. He is a parent, and it’s his equal responsibility.
We have a wonderful network of people who will do whatever they can to help. Like many other parents, with COVID into the mix, that group became nonexistent.
My husband is definitely not doing anything wrong, but childcare isn’t always at his forefront.
For example, my husband can make doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments more easily than I can because he can either go during a lunch break or go on the way home from work. If he needs to help a friend, he will check with me and make sure it’s going to work, but he still has more flexibility.
With that noted, he does not spend enough time with his friends. I wish he would set that as one of his goals.
My husband is the hardest working person I know. However, he can get adult social interaction while at work.
Adult Interaction As One of My SAHM Goals
As a SAHM, you have to search for adult interaction. Sometimes, adult interaction feels like a treat but, it is a necessity. COVID, unfortunately, eliminated all my adult in-person social interactions.
When I took my weekly yoga class, I would feel guilty for leaving if the kids weren’t feeling well, my husband was tired because he gets up before 4 am, or if the kids were challenging that day. My husband is always insistent that I go and extremely encouraging.
I always made sure dinner was ready because I didn’t think it was fair to him for me to leave.
Especially with type 1 diabetes, exercise is important in managing my health but I still felt guilty for him having to make dinner. Let me reiterate, any guilt was completely self-inflicted.
My husband has NEVER made me feel guilty.
Finding My Own Identity
In my first podcast episode, Let Me Introduce My Imperfect Self, I talk about my voice getting lost. Come to discover, it’s was about having goals outside of mom and wife life.
As much as I pride myself and feel grateful, to be a good mother and a good wife, I can’t be my best without having an identity beyond mother and wife.
My Goals Beyond SAHM Goals
Back to the original question that I’ve been asked numerous times: “What am I going to do when the kids are in school?”
What am I not going to do when the kids are in school! My list is never-ending. I could go on forever naming my list of all the things that are going to get done, but I’m just going to share my top ones :
- With flexibility, I’m actually going to be able to make and keep doctor and dentist appointments
- Try a new barre class during the day, so I don’t have this guilt feeling of inconveniencing anyone
- Clean those little dirty dusty corners that have been neglected longer than I care to admit. (And I know y’all know what I’m talking about because we all have them.)
My Most Exciting Goals
This is very easy to answer! I’m most excited about growing Mom Treading Water! My podcast has been a blast and it has been wonderful meeting fantastic people! Mom Treading Water is available on all podcast apps or check it out here!
Here are my goals:
- Expand this website so please don’t forget to subscribe!
- Grow my social media presence. You can help by following Mom Treading Water on Facebook!
- Promote my online store by promoting positive thinking, self-care, and kindness
How Will YOU Set Your Goals?!
Choosing to become a SAHM was the greatest decision for us and I am happy I was able to achieve that goal.
However, I now realize that I need to have goals beyond mom and wife.
What are you going to do for yourself? I challenge you to find that voice if you have not already!
Share in the comments below how you are setting goals.