The back to school Mom rut

I didn’t think I would struggle as much as I have this past month. I’ve held this title of a stay at home Mom for the past 8 years. Watching my baby girl, along with my son, walk into school that first day brought unforeseen emotions. Happy I’d have a few quiet hours to  myself, sadness I wouldn’t be experiencing their day with them, and a bit of loss, knowing this point of time in their childhood was passing. More so – the period of time, as a mother, was now behind me. Tho I have long surpassed the newborn and toddler stage, there would be no more casual napping, no more staying at home in our pjs the entire day because we can (unless on weekends), no more at home lunches, or mid-day car rides just to get out of the house. No more day time company. It would just be me. With my husband’s new job, he’s at home more, so I’d have him nearby a few days each week, but again .. I wasn’t facing similar territory.

What’s funny is that I’ve found the time spent and activities done here at home now that they are in school are no different than before. My morning workouts are the same, the time devoted to my business is the same. I carry on household duties the same. Tho it seems as if everything is put together and a routine has been set, I am still lost.

Being a stay at home mom, I’ve developed a pride in being needed. Mom will take care of the laundry, and the meals. She sounds out words, buckles my seatbelt, and opens my snack bags.  She’s in charge of the groceries, and getting me to practice on time. Side note – if you’ve followed my Instagram stories lately, the mom guilt of not living up to that parent expectation crept in real quick last week. Showing up to baseball practice sans bat bag and glove didn’t earn me any Mom points.  You can imagine the self talk after that incident .. “Get it together, Sarah. You are given extra time to take care of Mom stuff, and you miss the mark? You clearly are lost.”  I’ve already had thoughts cross my mind that I am no longer needed. And when I cannot even do the small tasks I have left, it kinda solidifies my rut residency.

I write this post because I know I am not alone in feeling this way. I’ve heard this is normal. Similar to the ’empty nester’ stage when children are college bound. My hope tho is that I’ll know what to expect in later years, having experienced this now. And I’ll carry a few coping mechanisms under my belt to fill the void. So today I’ll share a few Q&A below that I’ve sorted out the past month; Answers and validations I’ve landed upon that are slowly getting me out of the rut and into this new stage of parenting.

Am I still a stay at home Mom? Yes. Very much so. Your roles may be slightly different, but you are still the same Mom you were before their days were spent elsewhere. Instead of finding mindful activities, organizing play dates, preparing day time meals, and mastering the trip from point A to point B without going crazy, you are left with quieter days and a whole closet full of other hats to put on. You are now the lunch packer, school form filler-outer, and school taxi driver. And don’t degrade yourself for one second and go back to the mindset of ‘being a stay at home Mom’ isn’t considered a job. My kids aren’t home, so what’s it worth now?’  You still are holding down the fort. YOU, Momma, are still valuable. You may not be the sole financial provider of the household, but if it weren’t for you and your super Mommin’ powers, this home you stay in – wouldn’t stand a chance of survival.

Do my kids even need me anymore? Absolutely. Why do you think they want to share their day’s highs and lows with you the second they hop in that car at school pick up? They value your opinion, your approval, your time. Their school learning is in the hands of others trusted, but not to worry – you’ve got a whole new set of needs to meet when it comes to life lessons. Friendships, work ethic, responsibility, … it’s really just the beginning.

Think about it. Who’s the first person you call in a time of need? Majority states family. And 90% of the time, it’s Mom. If you are anything like me, whenever I am sick, all I want is my Mom. She comforts me, tells me everything will be ok, unconditionally. Even in my adult years, I still need my Mom. She’s the one I call seeking advice, when I need to vent, or just to get an update on life’s happenings. If I stands true at nearly 37 years of age, it’s a given your elementary kiddos take right after their own.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, they do still need you physically. They still need their laundry done, driven to practice, help with homework, lunches packed. They need you. They love you. And tho you may feel a bit out of sorts, their world would fall apart if it weren’t for you.

Where is my motivation? Meaning where’s the drive to set goals and set out to achieve them? I’ve struggled with this carousel of a question in my attempt to climb out of the rut. I don’t mean goals solely in regards to my business, tho that is a large chapter in itself. It applies to my everyday – fitness goals, household chores, and even mundane tasks such as emails and meal planning. This may seem odd, but could the reason be because I don’t have anyone watching? No one is around to notice the successes or question procrastination. Before they were present all the time. They’d noted my routine and if something was off, my little cheerleaders would notice. Now my days are quieter and I’m left being the sole self motivator. I am not saying I need their physical presence to celebrate my success, but everyone loves a cheerleader. My motivators head off to school and my motivation seems to repeatedly follow right behind them.

When both or one of them were still home, Mom-ing took priority, naturally. Tasks took a bit longer. It was understood there would be interruptions, and I’m not going to lie and say they were always welcomed with open arms. Its funny tho; What once was a bother – an assessment of the playroom’s toy situation, breaking up a sibling argument, grabbing a ‘rightnow’ afternoon snack – is now missed. The interruptions somehow validated my SAHM duties. It ties back into that role shift and the desire to be needed, and we’ve already discussed that in length.

So the workout? Meh. Maybe I’ll take it easy today. The laundry can sit another couple hours in the dryer. I’ll turn on the refresh cycle until they get home. Maybe we can go out to dinner? You get the idea .. The motivation is lacking, the rut is deep and I need a revival. Judging from my typed response, it’s clear I am still working thru the answer. I think, however, it brings us to one thing that has thus far proven me a step in the right direction. And that is finding something new.

Find something new. What you’re reading right now is my ‘something new’. Well, it really isn’t new. I blogged some when Jonah was born. It proved a very therapeutic nap time activity that seemed to naturally medicate post partum. But you know – your family continues to grow and nap time means tackling the Mom to-do’s, rather than sitting down to a computer. My online family updates, and any documentation of Hancock happenings hit the back burner. Change was evident this past Summer. I took it to heart and decided to roll with this concept of embracing my authenticity and sharing something I’ve always been passionate about. Just ask my Momma. She’ll tell you the fashion niche has always been my way of personal expression. So I did it. I researched, googled and stayed up thru early mornings to discover what this blogging world is all about. And let me tell you, it’s been so much fun. I am a learning newbie here, but it feels so good to have something to call my own.  That all said – Now that the kids are in school, do something for you. Enroll in a new fitness challenge, start that business you’ve categorized in the ‘someday’ slot, re-model that bathroom, volunteer on the PTA, or start a blog!! Finding something new or going back to something that once gave you joy gives way to filling that void we SAHMs face. It gives you purpose and direction. Your new, is the way out of your rut.

So you’ve asked yourself these same questions. Maybe you’ve nodded your head to some of the same answers I’ve concluded to. This shift in roles is still hard to process, right? I am with ya, Momma. Getting out of the unexpected rut is not gonna happen over night. (Obviously. I am writing this post nearly a month post back to school.) But remind yourself each day of your worthiness. You are still a SAHM. You are still their Mom, whom they love and depend on. Despite the residing ditch, you’ve taken on this Mom role shift whole heartedly.  You’re now a lunch packing, homework helping, taxi driving rockstar – with a few open hours in between. Embrace it. Live it up, girl! Drink a cup of coffee without the thrice re-heat.  Take that uninterrupted stroll down the Target aisle.  Hit that workout in all it’s power without worrying the noise level. Karaoke T-swift’s ’22’ and mean it. This time for yourself is so deserved. Tho diaper years and nightly feedings are long gone, it doesn’t dismiss you’ve worked hard for this bit of freedom take back.

Tho in this rut deep, providing them the means to an education, and social skills development is really something we should pride ourselves in. This is a good thing. The benefits outweigh the struggle. Emotionally it’s been draining, and I continue to ask myself the same questions over and over … but I’ll be cliche and state it is for the best and all part of growing up. I’ll get out of it sooner or later; We all will. With a few new tools under our Mom belts to prove it.

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