Depression is said to be the most prominent cause of disability globally, and although it is caused by an interplay of manifold factors which may (or may not) be inevitable, it hits differently for women. Even in today’s world where depression is acknowledged as the second-leading cause of death amongst Gen-Zs and Millennials, the stereotype associated with depression as a hallmark of failure prevails, making it extremely difficult to diagnose and empathize with unorthodox vulnerable groups such as stay-at-home parents.
In a bid to rationalize the trauma that stay-at-home dads go through, it is safe to say that the depression stems from an unfavorable switch from the breadwinner role to the ‘condescending’ role of changing diapers, cleaning bathtubs or being a clown for the sheer entertainment of your toddler. On the other hand, the toxic masculinity complex that victimizes men who indulge in ‘feministic’ roles can take a huge chunk of the blame for men.
For women however, it’s ironical how childbirth, which is the universal prized feminine accomplishment is accompanied by problematic feelings like loneliness, anger, frustration, identity crisis and other unhealthy spectrum of emotions.
The reasons for stay-at-home mom depression are inexhaustible. (as is similar to patterns of depression). For mothers who had careers or businesses that they catered to before childbirth, the feeling of worthlessness is imminent. Other times, the mother doesn’t have an option due to the expensive cost of childcare. Some moms deal with the feeling of inadequacy that occurs when moms are not appreciated, despite the fact that they juggle ‘mom-duties’ with domestic and family duties-without any semblance of escape.
Worse still, stay-at-home moms are believed to live the most luxurious lives, with no worries, and fat-paychecks to support their lavish lifestyles. This myth makes it more difficult to have the conversation because they’re taken less seriously than mothers who have to juggle career or business with childcare. This does two things to stay -at-home-mothers; restrict them from seeking professional help or help from support groups, and a sense of guilt because ‘why get depressed over a stress-free lifestyle that few women can afford?
Tips for surviving Stay-at-home Mother Depression.
Despite the complexity of the emotions and diagnosis involved, the first step is to make an attempt at understanding what is happening with yourself. Truth is, many mothers experience stay-at-home mother depression can occur after having your first or second child. This helps validate your predicament, eliminate the feeling of helplessness and tries to diminish the blame game that mothers often engage in.
The methods for coping with stay-at-home mother depression is dynamic, due to the varying symptoms that mothers experience.
1. Get Social with an empathetic support group (If you’re bored or unsure of your parenting skills): Reflect on the activities that energize you and search for communities or networks that engage in such activities. If non exist, create these groups and encourage other moms to join in. Its refreshing to interact with other moms that ‘get your drift’. Dialogues will also help proffer solutions to basic challenges.
2. Embrace open air (if you’re getting frantic due to isolation): Why wallow in the wilderness of routines and boring cycles when you can spend times outside your home? Take your kid for a walk, stroll with some friends, get your dose of morning sunshine, or go window shopping. Get creative about getting your much deserved break.
3. Actively engage in exercises (if you often feel overwhelmed): Exercises don’t have to be overly strenuous, you can look up doable tasks from the internet and incorporate into your schedule. Set a work-out goal with a deadline and work towards it. Beyond your body, exercises does wonders for your mind and mental health.
4. Celebrate your every little win (if no one will or if you lack self-love): Get used to the fact that parenting is hard, and applaud yourself for showing up everyday to work the magic of juggling mom-duties, home-making and being a wife. You can think about a passion project to take up, journaling, spicing up your routine, setting a date to hang out with girlfriends, set goals for personal development and reward yourself for every milestone.
5. Create your Me-time (If you feel inadequate): It may not seem feasible to make time for yourself because the kids will always be there to reinvent chores for you to execute, throw tantrums, or demand your attention with their whims. Refuse to get so lost in parenting that you lose touch of your hobbies, skills and even guilty pleasures.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that there is no hard or fast rule in the handbook of parenting, there’s no handbook for starters. To know this, is to know peace, and cherish the memories made and milestones of your kids because you have one chance to make the best of it. Also reach out for help whenever you feel like you’re wallowing in a rut. If people in your circle are not forthcoming with offering help, then seek the professional services of a therapist.