Mrs. C, who contacted me by email, left the work force after many years of climbing up the career ladder to become a stay-at-home wife and mother. She now has a wonderful husband and two lovely children - but she finds it hard to adjust to her new lifestyle. Switching to one salary means that there is less spending money, and Mrs. C's home is very modestly furnished. Mrs. C is considering starting her own business, but wonders if it's a good idea with a small baby on her hands.
Mrs. C is delighted to have the opportunity to take care of her children, but at the same time she feels bored and lonely because her husband is busy working long hours, which leaves little time for him to pay attention to his wife's thoughts and needs. I also assume that the majority of Mrs. C's neighbours aren't stay-at-home moms - and thus have more time to spend doing activities without the children, something Mrs. C finds extremely difficult to arrange.
"I'm overweight and don't have time to go to the gym," - says Mrs. C, - "I don't spend time with my friends anymore. I'm neglecting my hobbies. I'm frustrated. I'm not good at all as a stay-at-home mother. What do I do?!"
Well hello there, dear Mrs. C, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to discuss this important issue! Please keep in mind that my perspective is very limited, though, since I'm not a mother and I'm not even married yet - I'm a young, excited bride-to-be, thrilled with the thought of settling in our little home and making it a sweet and welcoming place for my dear new husband.
I'm so delighted with becoming the mistress and queen of our new home, however small and modest, that right now I can't imagine ever being bored with improving it and doing lovely things for my husband. Having limited financial resources only means I will have to be more creative. But this doesn't mean that a moment won't come when suddenly tiredness and frustration might challenge me. Maybe one hot afternoon, heavily pregnant, cleaning the floors or washing dishes, I'll let out a depressed sigh and think to myself - "I'm miles and miles away from the glamour of professional advancement my friends are living out. I'm not doing anything real with my life. What do I do?!"
I think that many people, when confronted with such a situation, would say - "Why, of course you're bored and unhappy! You're trapped in your home with no company but two small children you can't get off your hands. You aren't doing anything mentally challenging. You don't have time for yourself, and you don't have enough money to buy nice things which would fill your life and make you feel satisfied. Go out there, drop your children in daycare and get a job!"
... Go back to work. Sure, that's the easy, "obvious" solution. But it wasn't without a reason that you quit your career after so many years, was it? I'm sure you seriously considered everything when you made the switch from career woman to stay-at-home mother. You did that because you felt it was the right thing to do.
Why exactly? I don't know your situation well enough to answer that. Perhaps you felt God calls you, as a woman, to take care of your husband, children and home. Perhaps you felt it was more important to invest in what will last for eternity - the legacy of your family - than in temporary goods that could be bought with the income you would bring; or maybe your husband felt Mom is needed at home with her children. Maybe you felt pressured by the unbearable rhythm of career and longed for the peace and flexibility of a well-managed, orderly home. Maybe you and your husband even decided, after making the calculations, that your salary would be reduced to nothing or almost nothing, after considering gas, childcare and other work-related expenses.
Whatever were the initial reasons for your coming home, I believe you should take time to think about them all over again. Often the big decisions in our life become overshadowed by the endless flow of routine. Who knows, maybe after the n-th load of laundry I will forget for a moment that I'm making a haven for my husband. Maybe I'll pull my hair in frustration and exclaim, "there's nothing but dirty laundry in my life!"
Perhaps this is happening to you. Maybe when you were preparing to become a mother, you had a vision of your children growing happily at home, with Mom by their side. But after a long day of preparing meals, picking up and cleaning after your children, changing diapers and giving baths, you feel like wanting to get away.
You know it's said, "grass is always greener on the other side". Compare the frustrations you have now with the frustrations you would have if you hadn't left the workforce, for whatever reason. Imagine you would have to trust a stranger with your dear children's health, hearts and minds, every single day. Imagine you wouldn't have time to take care of your home. Maybe you would have had a bit more money to spend on furniture or decorations, but you wouldn't have time to enjoy them. As for spending time with your husband and communicating your needs - I don't think it's easier when both of you come back from work exhausted. By the way, this is something you might take into consideration when you think of starting your own business as well: working at home gives you flexibility, that's true, but talking from experience - it might steal quite a bit of your time, and you must think just how much you can give away at the moment.
I do believe you should find the time to have a calm and sincere conversation with your husband and let him know how you feel. Do it when you are both relaxed and unhurried, and without accusations ("You aren't meeting my needs!"). Let your husband know how much you appreciate everything he does to become a good provider for your family, and how much you value the blessed opportunity to be home for him and for your children. Tell him about your challenges - and how much you want to become happier in your noble vocation. Each one of you may give suggestions as to how make that happen. Perhaps just your husband's attention, understanding and appreciation would be enough to boost your confidence and give you a fresh shot of energy!
Consider the given situation (your husband's work schedule, your current financial resources, etc), and think of how you can work with it. If you haven't done that yet, start developing an orderly and efficient schedule for your household duties/taking care of the children/homeschooling - and it should also contain a window for your creative hobbies, however limited at first. Work on making a healthy, balanced menu for you and your family, and find creative ways to do your exercise without going to the gym (squatting several times when I have to mop, or lifting a light weight with my hand when I'm dusting with the other hand works for me!); browse second-hand shops or online sales for inexpensive items to decorate your home and make it more welcoming - or if you can't afford to spend anything at all right now, you can rearrange your furniture, pick some flowers, or dig out a centerpiece you haven't used in a while.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. And remember that what you do is important; you are the heart of your home, and you are building it up, when every day you dedicate yourself to your husband and children over and over again.