New Roles and Changes in Your Marriage
In addition to the physical and emotional changes most women experience with new motherhood, women who stay home often take on more housekeeping and baby care.
Thomas had difficulty adjusting to the role changes in her household. "My lifestyle changed, and the demands on me were different. You function differently in the workplace than you do at home," she says. "My husband and I both had different expectations about working inside the home versus outside. My home responsibilities increased greatly and my husband's decreased because he was the sole income winner. I took on more housework, yardwork, or things my husband would have normally taken care of when we had two incomes."
Many women experience feelings of guilt when they stop bringing an income home, even when this decision is taken jointly. A woman accustomed to earning her own salary may find it difficult to ask her husband for money.
Brothers says it helps to recognize these changes and address them with your spouse, particularly if you're feeling overwhelmed. "If you want or need something, ask… without whining or crying. He would be glad to help if he knew what you needed."
Brothers also encourages couples not to neglect their marriages. "Plan a date at least once a month," she says. "…nurture your relationship and communicate with your partner." And remember that you are not the only one experiencing change. While your husband may have relinquished certain household duties, he may feel increased pressure as sole breadwinner and new father. Take time to discuss how you feel with your mate and listen to his concerns too.
Time for Yourself
It's crucial moms find time to nurture themselves. "Find a babysitter before baby arrives and plan time for yourself at least once a week," says Brothers. "Any time mom gets away by herself, even if it's just to the grocery store, feels good. Those who make time for themselves to exercise, maybe scrapbook with a friend, attend a book club, go bowling etc. feel most satisfied and have renewed spirit as a mom and partner." Even if you can't get out, Brothers encourages moms to grab moments of quiet time. "Sit down with a magazine, a cup of tea, have a chocolate truffle! Just take time for yourself, time to renew."
Thomas says as a mother, her needs became mixed in with the needs of her family. "If the kids are happy I'm happy; if my husband's doing ok, I'm doing ok. After a while I was able to refocus on my independence and my sense of self." Once her kids were no longer infants, Thomas fulfilled a long-term goal of becoming an aerobics instructor. "I allowed myself the time to pursue this goal. I'm able to get out and meet people more. I also started volunteering for more things in MOMS club and did some volunteering at church."