SAHM: Judging Success

I am now a couple days into my first regular (non-holiday) week as a SAHM (Stay-At-Home Mom) and I am finding myself super irritable and frustrated. This is not how I imagined myself being when I stopped having to deal with the stress that comes with daycare and work, yet this is how I am. Cranky, easily frustrated, focusing on the negatives, and just a pill to be around. Somedays are just cranky days and I was still recovering last week from our trip to Omaha where there were 2 nights where I didn’t sleep due to life in a hotel room. However, I should have been recovered by this week and here I am crankier than ever. It could be that the weather here in MN has been colder than cold, like colder than Mars (the planet) and the South Pole cold (I’m not making this up!) so we have not been playing outside and getting our energy out at all. I think this has impacted the crankiness as everyone has a bit of cabin fever. School was canceled Monday and again tomorrow so all the kids are home with me.

Last night, after breaking down into tears when Joel said something about S cleaning her room half not and half later I realized that maybe I wasn’t just cranky. Maybe something else was going on. After praying and calming down a bit I came to realize that something VERY BIG had been going on. I was angry with my kids. No, they hadn’t done anything wrong. In objective measures they were being really good considering we hadn’t gone anywhere in DAYS but I was still angry with them. Angry that they didn’t drop what they were doing when I asked them to do something. Angry that there was sass towards me and disrespect, just angry.

When I thought more about this I came to realize what I was so angry about. I am a SAHM, I am with my kids ALL the time, they SHOULD be behaving amazingly so I know that I am doing a good job as a SAHM.

In my working world there were very objective ways to measure success. In fact, every 3 months you HAD to measure the success and progress you were making for the insurance companies to keep paying you. Clients shared progress and success with me during sessions. In consultation and supervision I discussed the successes and frustrations on a weekly basis and it always seemed easy to pick out if I was going well or not in my work.

Being a SAHM there are no supervision meetings with older, wiser, more experienced SAHMs that can help you work through any issues you face. There are no 90 day reviews of the progress being made or the goals that you are working to achieve. There are no calm reports of success and failures from the children. There are tantrums, runny noses, naps refused, laundry to fold, dishes pilling up, and food eaten.

As a perfectionist in reform I was translating my children’s normal childhood behavior into the measure of my success as a SAHM. There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with that measure of success and it led me to be super frustrated (and frustrating I imaging) mom.

Thankfully, after a couple of days of this crabbiness I realized what was contributing to this and spent some time really thinking about what success means for me now that I am a SAHM.

After some serious thinking I have come up with some guidelines for me to think about what success is and what it is not.

Success does not mean that all my kids listen to me all the time, that I have all the chores done all the time, that I have plenty of reserves of energy and patience.

For this SAHM success means:

– showing my kids what a safe, loving home feel like.

– showing my kids what a healthy, positive romantic relationship looks like through my relationship with Joel.

– providing for the basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of my kids.

– working WITH the kids with keep the house clean and have healthy food to eat.

Going forward these are my 4 goals as a SAHM. These will be how I will measure success, not on the behaviors of my kids because that sets everyone up for a bad day. I am hoping I can shift my mindset. It will take a while I know, as after having all these thoughts last night I still woke up today and got crabby. I realized a couple hours into the day what was going on and had to consciously try and change my thinking. This will be a battle I bet.

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5 thoughts on “SAHM: Judging Success

  1. It’s a big adjustment just parenting let alone changing from working full-time outside the home to inside the home. Be easy on yourself. The goals are good and clearly you’re a person who enjoys structure (so am i) but just remember to give yourself permission to be frustrated sometimes, crabby sometimes. I’m also a perfectionist with terrible OCD when it comes to a clean house. Some days I just have to take several deep breaths and remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect. In the eyes of our children, we already are!

  2. You and I have a WHOLE lot in common…I had to learn my kids wont be perfect (even with me home). Some days are just perfection…some days I feel lucky to survive…some days I fail completely. BUT every day I love my family! I find getting up, dressed, fully awake, and having my quiet time before they wake up makes me a better mom.

  3. What Faith said about getting up, awake, and having quiet time BEFORE they wake up – my days are so different depending on if I do this or not. It’s such a blessing to everyone else and me when I do.

  4. And to top it off, you’ve got “instant children!” You didn’t get the chance to get to know them slowly from infancy. Do you belong to a post-adoption support group? I imagine you could get lots of strength, experience, and understanding from those who’ve been there.

  5. I love your markers for SAHM success! It’s a rough job. Even on days where I feel like I’m knocking it out of the park as a SAHM (in my mind, this usually means getting a lot done around the house and spending quality time with the kids), the kiddos can have a rough day and by dinner I’m ready to pound a bottle of wine just to make it to bedtime. The day-by-day feedback/attitude from my children is NOT the way to measure success…especially with toddlers!

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