Stay-at-home-mom depression is a real thing

You're not alone, mama.

Stay-at-home-mom depression is a real thing

We let them eat the last chicken nugget on our plate. We wear last year's shoes because they need new ones. We spend hours brushing down cowlicks and braiding little pigtails, and then 2.5 seconds on our own top bun. There are so many, many ways we put our children first, but stay at home parents also need to prioritize their own mental health.

Stay-at-home-mom depression is a real thing. While devoting one's self to parenting can be a dream come true for many people it is also very hard. Harder than a lot of people who haven't done it can understand. And it can also be isolating. The pandemic made that isolation worse for many stay-at-home moms, who now can't even go to mom and tot time at the library.

This is really hard, and it's totally normal if you feel down right now, mama.

Even before the pandemic, polls found stay-at-home moms reported more depression, anger and stress than and smile less than moms who worked outside the home. There's a lot of complicated reasons for this, but one of the biggest is because being a stay-at-home parent is exhausting.

A few years ago a Gallup analysis of more than 60,000 women in the U.S. revealed that more than a quarter of SAHMs report feeling depressed, and the researchers hypothesized that "societal recognition of the difficult job stay-at-home mothers have raising children would perhaps help support them emotionally." It gets worse for lower-income moms, because the stress of being a SAHM on a limited income can be extreme.

In the years since that Gallup analysis, America's mothers have continued to say that society is not supporting them. Motherly's first annual State of Motherhood survey in 2018 found 74% of respondents felt society was not supporting moms. In 2018 that was up to 85% and this year it's again increased: Now, 89% of mothers do not feel society is supporting them and 97% report feeling burned out by motherhood at least some of the time.

It's time for society to support mothers. SAHMs need recognition of their unpaid labor, emotional and physical support and access to childcare should they choose to renter the workforce. Some childcare experts say we should even consider paying stay-at-home parents, because the financial stresses of being a one-income family for the third of kids that have a stay-at-home parent are also hurting child development.

We can't give them all of that today, but everyone can give SAHMs the respect they deserve, right now.

SAHMs have so much on their plates and it's easy to put one's own mental health on the back burner from the very beginning. Prenatal depression is the most under-diagnosed pregnancy complication in the U.S. As many as 1 in 5 new moms in America suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (including depression), but a survey by Maven, reveals that more than half of new moms don't get mental health support during or after pregnancy.

New mothers (and fathers—dads can have postpartum depression, too) often struggle alone, sometimes for years, prioritizing everything else before their own mental health. Maven's survey suggests some moms feel they can't take time away from their parenting duties, while others feel the cost of therapy would be a burden to their family.

Other things take priority: Our children, our to-do lists, our day-to-day struggles. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Research indicates that there is a relationship between children's behavioral disorders and parents' mental health, and it makes sense. Parental depression can take many forms that impact our kids. When we don't put ourselves first and get help, we can have a hard time sticking to routines, we can become too tired to do the things we once loved, and, as a recent study on parental depression proves, we can overreact to little things.

Parents, we need to take care of ourselves. We need to put ourselves first. We need to get help when we need it even if we've got pigtails to braid and groceries to get and ballet lessons to drive to.

You are worth it, mama. You are so worth it.

If you need help today, click here.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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