The “SAHM” Emotional Cycle
When I became a Stay-at-home Mom (SAHM) I didn’t even know there was such a label. I thought of myself as a mom that was taking some time off work for a few years until my daughter started school. I was just happy to be at home with her and have “all the time in the world” to see her grow and to raise her. Little did I know that staying at home was going to be harder than I thought and an emotional roller coaster that I’m still trying to figure out. I believe that when you leave your full-time job and the routine of knowing how your day will unfold, having predetermined tasks for the day to not knowing what to expect each day, you can hit rock bottom and eventually feel depression and anxiety.
I have stayed at home for about 5 years now and I believe that there is a cycle every SAHM goes through. I’m talking about those women that had a job most of their life and suddenly became housewifes and moms not knowing what it would entail. You have an idea, or at least I thought I knew what being at home meant. When a woman decides to take time off from work to be a full-time mom, the feeling of joy overpowers any fear of the unknown. You no longer have to worry about missing any milestones.
I call the SAHM cycle the EDR Cycle (Excitement Doubt Recovery Cycle). The EDR Cycle is a rollercoaster of feelings. When you go from having a set routine to trying to create a new one, your feelings go into overdrive. You now go from Working Outside the House Mom to Working at the House Mom. There are some sublevels in the cycle, but the major ones are Excitement, Doubt and Recovery.
Excitement is when you just quit that job that was keeping you from enjoying your baby. You are now done with those long working hours and feelings of frustration when you felt you were missing out on so many things of your baby’s milestones and “Abuela” was becoming more important to her than you. You have new hopes, high energy and are fully motivated for new goals and house projects. This excitement period varies from person to person, but it’s not a long period. You eventually start getting frustrated when you see that all that time you thought you had is non-existent. You start feeling tired and overwhelmed from the lack of a routine and you haven’t met any of your goals.
Doubt comes knocking at your door when all the excitement has run out. You start feeling down, lose confidence in yourself, start blaming others and feel your goals are impossible. You start asking “Why did I ever leave my job?” and feel a lack of independence. So to deal with this feeling of doubt you start the avoidance game. You start focusing on things like decluttering your house, organizing your pantry, finding groups to join for mommy and me events. You try to fight that Sad SAHM Syndrome because you know that it’s making you unhappy and the ones around you too. Some moms even start looking for jobs again, trying to get back to the old routine.
Recovery slowly arrives in bits and pieces. You continue to fight the sadness and loneliness of being a SAHM by creating a new routine. You start taking time for yourself, getting back that glow of being a woman and not just a mom. You experiment with new hobbies and look for jobs that will be flexible. Some even start volunteering more at their child’s school and continue the search for activities that fulfill them while being a mom.
I am no therapist or an expert on SAHM emotions. But I can speak from my experience and the experience of those friends that have gone through the same path. I can only say that being a mom is not easy and the cycle continues. Sometimes I feel I’m finally out of the Doubt and I have found my purpose, but then I fall back into frustration. As a SAHM I continue to discover new things each day and it’s not about being perfect and never being depressed again, it’s about how quick I bounce back into Recovery Zone and find my way to Excitement again.