What comes to your mind when you hear that someone is a stay-at-home mom? Typically, there is a stigma attached to the term SAHM. Society likes to think about stay-at-home mothers differently than they feel about stay-at-home dads. It is typical to hear the opinions that stay-at-home moms would be having the time of their lives since they have the “privilege” of not going to work. No one likes to talk about the loneliness, depression, anxiety, and loss of identity that follows this choice.
According to statistics, more than 11 million parents are stay-at-home parents. With a modest increase in stay-at-home fathers, the ratio (28%) of stay-at-home mothers remains constant over the years. Another factor that has stayed consistent throughout the years is depression. Also, the feeling of being lost and a certain sense of isolation has remained constant throughout. This aspect is also referred to as stay-at-home mom depression or SAHM. It is more prevalent than most affected moms would be willing to admit.
What causes this depression?
Let’s have a look at the underlying causes of the matter. As human beings, we grow up believing that the ‘real’ world is outside our homes’ comforts. We are recognized as unique individuals who differ based on what we do and where we work. Before entering the professional world, we go to schools, attend college, and get a professional degree. Subsequently, we get settled and start working on our passions. We get recognized in the outer world based on our contributions to society as we join different professions of our choices. That said, the moment women enter motherhood and take maternity leave, they transition away from the real world into the small world of their homes. At home, their entire existence is reduced to one word: Mom. This can cause loads of confusion, anger, sadness, loneliness, and ultimately, depression.
The Stigma of SAHM
You will find many stay-at-home parents hesitant about sharing their raw feelings and complaints. This is due to society’s opinion of staying-at-home as a blessing. In fact, from the parent’s perspective, it might not be a blessing in disguise. It is typical for the people who work regular shifts to wish for a day off from work. They think that staying at home means chilling and doing nothing. Another pressure that hoovers on the conscience of stay-at-home moms is that society expects them to be living a stress-free life since their spouses are taking care of the monetary incomes, bills, and taxes. Aren’t the moms supposed to be grateful?
Another factor that contributes greatly towards the stigma of SAHM is the Instagram moms who make stay-at-home parenthood look relaxing, sun, and easy. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you will find yourself constantly comparing yourself to them. You might be enticed to try out those Instagram lunchboxes or your kids that look like they have been made by master chefs. Society’s stigma revolving around stay-at-home moms can make one feel resentful and even deeply misunderstood. Not to mention the overwhelming feeling of guilt that can make you more depressed. You might want to be a super mom by always being there for your kids, making them all their favorite meals, and making sure their homework is done.
However, at the back of your mind, you will be questioning your place in life and even the universe. You might even have imaginary walks and talks with no children and family in view. As human beings, we want to be part of something greater, something bigger, and real. The bottom line is that instead of feeling depressed and getting overwhelmed with guilt, you must know that you are not alone.
How can SAHM be treated?
Treating SAHM depression is not impossible! You might start by being direct and honest with your spouse by telling them how you really feel from the inside. Having an honest and open discussion will bring you two closer. Your spouse will acknowledge and value the efforts you put in while staying at home and looking after everything while they are off to work. That said, it is recommended to feel better through counseling. You might opt for an online counseling session since the COVID-19 pandemic has confined most of us to stay at home. You can also try exercising, practicing mindfulness, and self-love.