Are you a stay at home mom who feels her brain has atrophied since giving up work outside the home? If spending day in and day out changing diapers, making mac & cheese, and playing Candyland doesn't give your brain the workout it craves, take heart. You're not alone.
Even though staying home and raising your kids can be one of the most challenging jobs you'll ever have, chances are there are things about working that you will miss. Here are some practical suggestions for moms who are looking to maintain their sanity and expand their intellectual horizons while staying home with their kids:
Get Together With Other Stay at Home Moms
It's beneficial to build a support system of other moms who can relate to what you're going through. Writes Mia Cronan,“I make a point to get out regularly and visit with other moms who have small children. That helps a lot.” You can do this on a one-on-one basis, or join a group.
Chances are there is a playgroup or Moms group in your area already, but if not, why not start one yourself? I started a MOMS Club chapter in my area. MOMS Club is a non-profit organization for stay-at-home moms. There are over 1000 chapters nationwide. Their mission is to support stay at home moms through playgroups, activities, and a monthly Mom's night out. Find out if there is a chapter near you by going to http://www.momsclub.org.
Keep in Touch With Single Friends and Working Moms
Make sure to keep up with your friendships with your single friends and working moms, too. You may not have as much in common with them as you once did, but their different perspectives can be valuable. Hearing other points of view can remind you that there's another world out there, and help to reinforce your choice of becoming a stay at home mom. Kit Fisher writes, “I make sure that I go out for coffee with my best friend who is single. It's good to socialize with more than just other at-home moms.”
Take a Class
Whether you're working on a masters' degree or just learning a new hobby, taking a class is a great idea for a stay at home mom. Not only will learning something new offer intellectual stimulation, it can provide a night out by yourself, something not too many stay at home moms get to enjoy. Community education classes are an inexpensive way to learn a new skill, plus meet new people in your community. Or, you may choose to take classes to keep current on your career while you're not working. Online classes make this easier than ever, allowing moms to even earn a degree without leaving home.
Learn While Your Child Learns
You've heard it said that kids are like sponges when it comes to learning new things. Why not take advantage of this and learn right along with them? Find a topic you'd both be interested in. Languages are great to start teaching children when they're young. Check out some French or Spanish tapes at your local library and try conversing with what you've both learned!
Make Time for You and Spouse
Your spouse is probably your easiest access to adult conversation and link to “The World Outside”. Take advantage of that fact while building your relationship as well. Try to spend a little time together each and every day. Schedule “dates” at home for after the kids go to bed. Make it a point to do something together, such as play a game or watch a movie. Be sure to cultivate your relationship by going on a date once a month, at the very least.
Get Media Savvy
We're not talking Pixar DVDs or Radio Disney. It's time to reclaim the TV and radio, Mom! When you're in the minivan, pop in a book on tape or switch the dial over to talk radio. Even if you don't get to talk back, hearing other adults having an intelligent conversation can be stimulating.
The computer is also a great outlet for at-home moms. The internet offers a lot of great resources and support for parents via discussion boards and chat rooms.E-mail can help you stay connected with friends and family, correspond with other stay at home moms, or keep in touch with hubby while he's at work.
Read, Read, Read!
reading can challenge your brain and help you keep in touch with what's going on in the world at the same time. “I read everything, when I am up to date on things I feel that I can actually have an intelligent conversation with someone. Even if I don't talk to any adults at all- at least I feel as if I'm prepared!” writes one at-home mom.
Why not start a book club with other women? Invite a friend or two, and have them invite their friends to join as well. A book group is a great way to get to know new women and spend a night out, too. Having the goal of reading one book per month forces you to take time for yourself.
As the saying goes, “If Mom ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!” Remember to nurture yourself. By taking time to maintain your own sanity, you're giving your family the gift of a better you.