I worked full time for 15 years before having my first taste of motherhood when my teenage step daughter came to live with my husband and I on a permanent basis. Although I didn’t quit my job, as I worked an hour away from home, I did reduce my hours so that I could be home more.
My son was born the following year and I initially took six months maternity leave. That first six months was a blur, particularly as my husband is a FIFO worker, so I was often left on my zombie lonesome to raise our son and my step daughter.
Going from long term, full time employment to being at home all day, every day with very little adult interaction did start to get to me after a while. In the early days, I was too tired to notice but once I got into a routine, the loneliness started to creep into my days. Before I knew it, six months maternity leave was up and although the days being at home were often long and isolating, I didn’t have the heart to send my son off to day care and go back to work, especially as it was so far away from home. Thankfully with my husband’s income, although we had to make changes to our budget, we were in a financial position where I did have the choice to extend my maternity leave.
Being the introvert I am, I soon realised that after so long without daily contact with other adults, if I wanted to remain functioning at my finest, I had to start introducing new activities into our routine that were away from the home. I had to give these activities a chance and stick with them, or at the very least, give them a chance before dismissing them with excuses.
Join a Mothers Group
Get in touch with your local Community Health Centre, they normally start a group every month or so. In some areas, local churches also host mothers groups without any religious affiliation. This is a great way to meet other women who are often in the same position as you, with children the same age.
From the age of six months, most recreational centres have swimming lessons for babies. Not only is this teaching your child some basic water safety skills, you are getting out of the house and meeting other parents. Why not set up a coffee and play date with someone in your child’s class?
Libraries are a wonderful place for young children. Most of them will have weekly activities such as Baby Rhyme Time or Toddler Story Time. The events will often incorporate sensory play, singing and dancing into their activities and the best thing about them is that they are free.
Join a Play Group
Play groups are great for you to meet other parents and for your child to gain valuable social skills. Most play groups will be free to attend on your first visit. If you wish to continue going, some require an annual fee to be paid in addition to a weekly gold coin donation and contribute a piece of fruit each week. Every play group is different but you should be made to feel welcome. If you are made to feel uncomfortable, tell the Coordinator about your experience. If you don’t say anything, how can they expect to get new members? Personally I found my original playgroup unsuitable and told them so. I then found another one that made me feel welcome.
Were you working full time before becoming a stay at home mother? How did you cope with the transition?