Like everything in life, being a stay at home mom comes with its own list of pros and cons. There are really good days when you cherish this wonderful time you get with your kids and marvel at how lucky you are to be able to be home with them. You feel fulfilled by your everyday duties and championed by others. You look forward to a day full of activities and time together.
And then there are other days…
Days when you feel like a member of post apocalyptic society that has emerged from their bunker, bleary eyed and disoriented with no knowledge of how to function in present times. Days when you spend all hours doubting your ability as a parent and assuming you’re monumentally damaging these kids that someone has so foolishly put you in charge of.
And both of these kinds of days will come in equal measure.
I’ve been a SAHM for 5 years, starting when our daughter was just over a year old. A year and half later we added our son to the mix and it’s been the 3 of us since. Day in and day out; winning, loosing, throwing tantrums (literally ALL of us) and in a lot of ways, growing up together.
What has gotten me through?
I could be so meme-ish and say “Wine! Coffee!”. But honestly, it’s been one very specific thing, MY MOM FRIENDS.
If you are new to the SAHM scene, listen carefully:
THIS WHOLE THING WILL BE 6,000 TIMES EASIER IF YOU HAVE A GROUP OF WOMEN YOU CAN TURN TO AT THE VERY DARKEST OF TIMES.
So here’s how you do it.
Leave the Damn House
No really, you need to leave the house. Nothing will change, you will meet no one sitting on your couch watching Odd Squad. I don’t care if you’re not showered, I don’t care if you’re in the same clothes you were last Tuesday, I don’t care if you’re on 3 hours of sleep and the kids are channeling demons….LEAVE. THE. HOUSE.
It can be something as simple as throwing everyone in the car to drive 2 blocks to a park to sit on a bench and breathe fresh air. Odds are there’s another mom just like you, doing the exact same thing. Smile and nod to her, she’s your people. You are in these trenches together.
Find Your Local Library
I am a huge proponent of looking at the world directly around you and using it to your advantage. Check out programs at your Rec Center, Google free events for kids in your area. GO TO THE LIBRARY.
I found my first group of mom friends in the play area of a local library. Honestly? It like dating all over again. Like some bar scene we all know too well, but with a slightly different cast of characters.
You’re all milling around the same place, drink in hand (it’s coffee now, so basic) trying not to make eye contact but also desperate for some sort of connection. There’s the one always drunk friend that you need to keep an eye on (toddlers fill this role so well) and you feel a natural camaraderie with the other drunk friend handlers (moms). You’re all in the same boat.
“Ugh sorry about all the spit sharing, he’s teething. I’m Katie, that’s Evan.”
Hopefully the response you get will be…
”Oh girl, no worries. They’re all so gross anyway. I’m *new mom friend*, that’s *new mom friend’s kid*.”
There’s your mom friend. Hang on to her.
Find Your Tribe
Now that you’ve made it out of the house and are conversing with like minded women who are also out of the house, time to build your tribe. I’m not going to lie, this can be easier said than done but it is SO worth doing. Like any other relationship, it takes a minute to find people you mesh with and there could be a few trial and errors before you land where you need to be.
But just keep trying. Look to places that come with an already established group; mommy and me exercise classes, locally organized playgroups, library programs, etc. I found an amazing group of women when I started going to Fit 4 Mom fitness classes.
I started Stroller Strides when my son was just under a year old and in addition to getting into be best physical shape I’d been in in years, I was introduced to women who, to this day a little over 3 years later, remain some of my closest friends.
No Matter What, Keep It Real
Here’s something I’ve learned not only in the last 5 years of building mom friendships but, like, in general.
The more real, genuine and authentic you are with your mom friends, the closer and more supported you will feel within your tribe.
It can be tough to let your guard down with anyone but I assure you, all these other women are feeling, thinking and experiencing the same things. They are all a sweaty, overwhelmed mix of elation and worry and exhaustion and love. Showing up as you and nothing more will give them all the permission to do the same.
I promise, new SAHM, it does get easier. You will find your legs and babies will not always be babies and toddlers will eventually go to school and you will sleep again (maybe not for years but, you know, eventually) and the time you have with them day in and day out will fly by.
I know everyone loves to urge you again and again to enjoy this time. But remember it is 1000% ok to NOT always enjoy this time. To think you’ve made the wrong choice to stay at home, to think you’re actually the world’s worst mom and these kids are on their way to be irrevocably screwed up. It’s all ok. It truly is all temporary and having a group of women around you, living the same days, feeling the same way will help. Simple as that.
Go find your tribe Mama. They’re out there waiting for you.
This article was originally published at Medium.