How to be a supportive partner to a stay-at-home-mom?
A 2014 Pew Research study found that 29% of mothers stay home after having a baby. There are many positives to being a stay-at-home mother. It can increase the bond between a child and mother, it can improve a child’s school performance, and most kids with a stay-at-home mom tend to have less stress. How to be a supportive partner to a stay-at-home-mom?
Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages to consider, not necessarily for your child but for the mother. She may have a desire to go back to work, she may feel socially isolated and alone, and some mothers can even slip into depression when they’re home alone all day with a baby.
What can you do to be a supportive partner to a stay-at-home mom? How can you help them through this new life change while you’re dealing with the challenges of parenthood yourself?
Understand the new challenges of motherhood
Actress Colbie Smulders said, “A stay-at-home mom is a working mom. Being a stay-at-home mom is a job.” She’s not the only one who thinks so. A study done by Welch’s surveyed 2,000 American mothers to discover that an average stay-at-home mother’s workweek is about 98 hours – 2.5 times more than the typical full-time job. And, of course, these mothers aren’t getting paid for their jobs either.
It’s obvious that one of the challenges new moms face is exhaustion. Imagine how you would feel having to work a 14-hour day, every day. You wouldn’t just be sitting behind a desk, either. Your daily “to-do” list would include the following:
- Changing diapers
- Doing laundry
- Cleaning the house
- Filling bottles
- Soothing a child
Exhaustion and stress combined with the social isolation that often comes from staying at home alone with a newborn as well as the newfound feeling of not being able to achieve personal goals can put a new mother at risk for depression. In fact, a 2012 poll discovered that 28-41% of stay-at-home moms were diagnosed with depression or some type of general overall sadness.
Additionally, many new mothers are diagnosed with postpartum depression(PPD) each year. PPD can cause mothers to feel hopeless and irritable, and it also triggers feelings of worthlessness and shame. They may even feel like they’re not good mothers.
If your partner is struggling with the stress of being a new mother or if she’s dealing with PPD, you can be supportive by learning more about these symptoms. Postpartum depression doesn’t last forever, but it might help your partner to seek out therapy or counseling to get through it. You can do your part by being a support system for her. Take care of the baby as much as possible and assure your partner that her feelings do not make her a bad mother.
Encourage a healthy balance
When new moms stay at home, it’s easy for them to feel like they’ve lost a part of their lives, especially when it comes to the social aspect of things. They’re also dealing with extreme changes to their bodies. Some women experience hair loss during or after pregnancy due to extreme fluctuations of hormones. Many also experience stretch marks, swollen feet, and joint pain.
You can help your partner’s physical postpartum recovery by encouraging her to drink water, eat healthily, take vitamins, and get enough rest. When she feels more like herself again in her own skin, she will feel more comfortable with her new situation.
It’s also important to help new moms strike an emotional balance. Stay-at-home moms need time off. They need to spend time doing the things they love, and they need to spend time with friends and loved ones. Stay-at-home mothers are rarely able to devote attention to themselves, so give your partner as many opportunities as possible to do something for herself. Taking the baby (and older kids) out for a few hours so mom can get some relaxation is a great place to start. You can also offer to take care of the kids and the house so she can go out with friends one night a week. This can help her feel more like herself again and not just a mother. It can also assist with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Don’t ignore your relationship
One big mistake new parents tend to make after a baby is born is they ignore their relationship. It’s understandable. You’re both tired and adjusting to a new way of life. The problem is, when your partner stays at home all day with the children, she might start feeling neglected.
You can help your partner feel more like herself and remind her that she is more than just a stay-at-home mom by doing things together, away from your new baby or other kids. Don’t feel guilty about asking a family member or friend to watch your children for a night while the two of you go out. Practice small moments of intimacy each day.
A simple goodbye kiss before you leave for work each morning can let your partner know she’s special. In addition, talking to her about her day each night can help her unwind after watching the kids all day. It’s extremely important to give your relationship attention and care when your partner is home all day.
The best thing you can do to be supportive of a stay-at-home mom is to understand things from her perspective. It’s a full-time job and then some. Whatever you can do to make her feel like herself and to take some of that work away from her can make a big difference in how much she feels supported.