Boredom & Motherhood
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- related page: Dull-Witted Mom Syndrome
OK, I am not saying that I don't love my child...I delight in him. But I am having the experience, started when he was about 7 months old and getting more active...that I am the busiest I have ever been, but I am also bored out of my mind. I mean, I do all the things I see other mother's doing, going to the park, little farm, kindergym, mom's group, walks. The rest of the time is spent distracting him while i do the endless mundane tasks of managing a household. I even work outside the home part time. And while I love my child and have a lot of fun with him, I often find myself counting the hours till my partner comes home, just out of sheer boredom. I woke up this morning (a day I am not working) with this pit in my stomach knowing I had a whole day to fill ahead of me. What to do? Later today my son fell asleep in the car and I drove for 45 minutes aimlessly just to make sure he got a good nap. It didn't matter to me, because the only thing I had to do at home was more housework. Its like I am always just killing time. Maybe the problem is that I work part time and haven't developed enough of a routine, friends, activities for my son and I during the time I don't work. Maybe the answer is that I am just not cut out for this and should get a full time job. I really hate feeling this way because I know that before I know it, my son will be off to school and I will look back on this precious time with him and wonder why I didn't enjoy it more. Does anyone else feel this way? Do you have any suggestions besides the activties I mentioned? He's a little over a year old... a really hard time because he's old enough to want to be doing activties but is not yet old enough to actually do stuff like crafts,etc. How can I make this precious time in my son's life more meaningful for me? Or how can I get an attitude adjustment?
busy but bored
I feel like you are writing my story. I too was very bored when my child was little. I felt really guilty about it, but I just couldn't help it. Some mothers are just not meant to be stay at home mothers, but it does not make you a bad parent. I started working full-time when my child was 2, and I am so much happier and patient than when I was home. A happy mother working outside the home seems to me much better than a un-happy mother at home all day. My mom gave up her profession and stayed home to take care of 3 children, but she was so terrible unhappy that she ended up an alcoholic. This is just my personal story, and I am in no way suggesting a link between stay at home mothers and alcoholism. What I am saying is that some mothers are just happier working full-time, and in some cases like mine, kids might be better off in the end. I am still struggling with the effects of growing up as a child of an alcoholic mom, that I would have been better off in quality day-care with a happy working mom.
I stopped working when my son was about 18 mos old and he is now almost 33 mos old. I had a very demanding job that included a lot of friendships among my clients and colleagues, and going from working to not working felt like going suddenly from 60 miles per hour to about 15 miles per hour... enough to give you the bends. It's especially hard when your child is really young, but as they get older, activities and friends will engage them more, and they will interact with you a lot more as well. The best thing we did was to start playgroups with moms and other kids at the park we liked. To be honest, it was more about my connecting with the moms than the connection of our kids in the beginning, since they were so young, but now my child loves and asks to see his ''friends'' all the time, many of whom actually attend preschool with him a few mornings a week. Playgroups give you an opportunity to socialize your child and provide developing relationships, and also give you the chance to have some stimulating adult company, conversation and help while you are enjoying your activities. If you go to a mom's group or a playgroup and you and/or your child don't connect, try another or start your own by talking to people you see around your neighborhood park or other activities. Some activities I would have loved my child to take a strong interest just didn't do much for him tempermentally. Sometimes my husband and I loved the other parents and our kids couldn't care less about each other. In all actuality I think this past 16 mos has been a great time for both of us in that I have more time to spend with my new ''girlfriends'' than I have had since before I was married and possibly in college. The children we have met have turned into treasured friends for my child. I should add that we belonged to a playgroup that met two days a week, but many of the members worked part time and just attended one day a week. We varied our locations (different parks, special trips to destinations in SF, other areas) to keep everything interesting for the adults as well as the children. It is also a whole lot less hassle to plan a trip with more than one parent to help out, and more relaxing for the moms that way. I also found it helpful to set aside time for just having fun with my son every day... generally out in the mornings before lunch, and to confine my ''chores'' and other things like exercise to certain times (such as nap) so that I didn't feel like I was cleaning and cooking all day long either. I also make it a point to clean up toys etc (that aren't dangerously placed or dirty) only twice a day, once before my husband comes home or around nap time, and once after bedtime so we can all start with a clean house the next day. Hope this advice helps! Time not working and being with your child can be a wonderful ''sabbatical'' and you will really see the fruits of your efforts at enrichment and quality time with them when they start talking and it seems all so much more worthwhile. Remember you will have the rest of your life to work A WHOLE LOT after your kid is in school, and then you can be a grown up ad nauseum again, so try to slow down and enjoy this brief period! p.s. check out the UCB parent's website for places to go with toddlers etc!
I agree that the stay-at-home life is not always filled with excitement. I got some advice shortly after my first child was born and that was to approach staying at home as if it were my career. That has helped me to keep my schedule going so that I am also having some fun. After all, even careers that are great do have times of boredom and busywork. I plan my schedule for the week and try to ensure that there are activities that I enjoy. My house is much messier than it was before children, and I try not to care too much. I have had to go out of my way to talk to other parents, often other people go to the park at the same time and you can develop some nice friends.
Get out of the house after your child's afternoon nap. Even if you just go to the park for an hour, or a nice walk, it can really perk up those awful hours before dinner when it seems that the day will never end. Most importantly, lighten up. This time will pass so quickly and you will be happy that you had it.
There is nothing wrong with you! I felt exactly the same way. I wanted to do things right for my child -- especially since I felt neglected as a child. But it turns-out that I'm just not cut-out to be a stay-at-home mom. When I went back to school part-time and then full-time and then started my career, I was so much happier! And fortunately for me, my daughter loved her childcare -- she's extremely social and needed the stimulation. Being with me was boring for her too! Be assured -- you can only be who you are. And if you are miserable, how can that be good for your child? One very good example for you to give your child is the example of loving yourself and taking care of yourself.
I could really relate to your message. When my first child was an infant, I was so bored and lonely that I sank into a mild depression -- I too woke up one day and couldn't stop crying at the idea of spending a day home taking care of a baby or doing chores. This is despite working part time and being in a mom's group etc.
The solution for me was to increase the amount of hours my child was in childcare and decrease the amount of time I was home alone with him. Of course, I felt very guilty. ''What kind of mother am I? etc. etc.'' ran through my head. But I came to accept that I have perhaps higher than average need for adult stimulation & company and my child seeing me crying and resentful was not very good either. This is a difficult, very loaded issue because mothering is suppose to be fullfilling. But if mothering and childcare is so wonderful, the cynical feminist in me wonders, why is it usually women who are doing it? Ok, Ok, many men are starting to do it too, and of course there are moments that are absolutely golden but you get the point.
Now that my first child is six, it's getting better for me. He can do more & more semi-adult things. It seems like a long time in the future but hang on! There are more interesting things out there than Thomas, lego, and Dr. Seuss! Household chores: I actually use to enjoy doing but now I feel very burned out on it. I do 90% of the cooking, menu planning, shopping. I work fewer hours than my husband who must work fulltime so it only seems fair that I pick up this slack -- but I am soooo sick of it. I'm experimenting with grocery delivery & other ways to lessen this burden on me. And my husband may have to take some of this on even though it eats into our weekend time.
To summarize, it's all about creating a balance that works for you and your family. I've had to let go of a lot of the ''oughts'', many of which come from progressive circles, in order to provide for my needs enough so that I can turn around and take care of my family. Good luck finding that balance and when you find it, don't undermine it with guilt! And you will likely enjoy your child(ren) more as they mature and mesh their interest with yours.
I totally know what you mean. I went back to work full time for precisely the reason you mention, and it really does help in my case. I work four days a week, and am at home three days -- and if my husband is gone on the weekend, which he often is, I can really feel I need a break by the end of the three days I'm with my child -- even though I love him. A couple things I've done to reduce the ''mundane household tasks'' drag: I have a housecleaner come, so I don't have to do some of these tasks (money well spent, in my opinion); I cook several meals and freeze them on one day of the week, so I don't have to spend every single evening cooking and cleaning up, and I get my husband to assist with some of the other tasks (he folds laundry while watching TV at night). Another thing is, I make sure that I do stuff I like, rather than just household tasks. When my child naps, or after he goes to bed, I spend some time on my hobbies. Is there something you like to do that you can do at home: art, writing, gardening...? If so, make sure you spend some of your free time doing it, and let the house go if you have to. Lastly, I get out of the house now and then, alone. Sometimes my husband watches our child, sometimes I get a babysitter. But at least a couple times a month, I take days just for me, and take a class, or go out for dinner with friends, or go to a spa, or whatever.
I was happy to read your message. Don't take me wrong! I am not glad about you being bored, but I am glad that you had the guts to write about it. I've felt the same way many times and I find that it is difficult to share my feelings, because most Moms I know try to look like everything is perfect. I attended a ''Baby and Me'' support group at Kaiser for a while and left because everything was about ''baby'' and nothing about ''me''. It seemed that all those women were happy as clams dedicating themselves 24/7 to their infants. Of course that made me feel like an awful mother, because that has not been my experience. Not only I've felt bored sometimes and I've wondered what to do for 10 hours until my husband got home (my baby only took two 1/2 hour naps for months!), but, even worse, I've felt depressed and angry for the loss of my old self that motherhood entailed. As a matter of fact, I have suffered from postpartum depression on and off and had to get help (therapy, homeopathic medicine for stress, etc). I have to add that my baby has been what they call a ''high need baby'' with a diagnosed ''challenging temperament'', which made things harder, and I am an older Mom (44 years old), which also makes it more difficult in a sense, because you are so used to your freedom.
All of that said, let me go to the ''advice'' part. What has helped me the most has been to connect with 2 or 3 Moms with whom I can be totally honest about my feelings (and vice versa) and hang out with them and babies regularly (but not on fixed dates and times). I am not talking here about playgroups, where you get together with other people simply because they have babies that are of a similar age than yours, but everything is kept superficial in terms of the Mom's relationships. I am talking about one-on-one outings (or just meetings at the park or at home) with Mom and baby. These women have become friends, and I can call them without previous notice, meet without protocol, talk with honesty and even cry if necessary. Time goes by a lot faster for the Moms when they get along at a deeper level, and the babies enjoy being together too. It took me months, though, to struck these friendships (my son is now 11 months and I only have connected with thse new friends 2 or 3 months ago).
Changing activities also helps. I try to explore new parks from time to time, or I take my baby to the zoo, the Hilltop mall playground, or something similar instead of the neighborhood park. I have 2 or 3 videos that he adores, and when I am exhausted I play one of them (he does not watch TV, and only watches one 20 min. video a day at the most, but that gives me a much needed ''break'', a little time to prepare dinner, wash the dishes or, if I am lucky, read the paper).
He has just started 2 weeks ago going to daycare 4 hours a day, so I can work (I work at home). Once in a while, when I am particularly stressed out, I'll take those hours for myself (maybe just to run errands, but at least I am not working or cleaning, and I am out of the house alone). I find that I enjoy the afternon with him a lot more after that, and the relief lasts several days.
I am also asking my husband to help more with the baby when he is at home and during weekends. Again, that does not change the fact that sometimes the endless tasks of caring for my son and entertaining him for hours on end get challenging, but it does help to make me less stressed and more able to enjoy his company.
I also find that as he gets older, things get easier. He just started to walk and immediately has become more independent. He never liked playing on his own for more than 5 minutes, and even that was rare; now everyday he will play on his own for 10 minutes or more several times a day, which is a great relief, because I can at least do some cleaning without him grabbing my legs and crying to pick him up. So it is improving. However, I think it is important for us, Moms, to recognize that caring for somebody else 24/7 IS tough work, and it is not always fun and exciting as some people would like us to believe. It is worth it, but it is not a fairy tale.
I, too, have had trouble creating a life that engages me since having children. I love my children (3.5 and 1.5), and enjoy playing with them. But somehow I wish I could do it for less time, especially when I read a certain book for what seems like the 100th time, ''play princess'' for the third time in one day, or cook dinner while at least one child screams for attention. I work part time, and while it is a great relief to me to get out of the house, I feel that all my child and household concerns remain in the front of my mind, and it's hard to really feel part of my job. I also realize that it is a great privilege to have the set-up that I do, and wonder why I am not really enjoying it. The timelessness of childcare and household tasks contribute to my feelings of aimlessness. I count hours and ''get through the day,'' because bedtime is at least some kind of marker, a day accomplished. I think part of the problem is I am not a stay-at-home mom, for whom there are playgroups and classes (which invariably occur while I work), nor am I a working-full-time mom whose time is already filled. Going outside to play helps. I've tried some classes, and they are a mixed bag. Sometimes they entertain us three, and sometimes I feel I'm just dragging my children to them to entertain myself (and it isn't the entertainment I'd have chosen.) I've really, really tried to make friends with other families, and had only very limited success. Everyone (myself included) has elaborate childcare, school, napping, work, etc. schedules. But only I still seem to have many hours per week which I would love to fill playing at someone else's house or at mine or at a park, where we might have snippets of conversation. I look forward to seeing the answers to your posting. Maybe they will properly adjust my attitude.
Also busy and bored
Your comment about the tedium of housework made me think of something Flylady (of Flylady.net) said, that housework blesses your family and is a way of showing your love for them. Perhaps a new way of thinking can help? good luck
Oh, man, you sound exactly like me. I don't even have anything to add because that's exactly what I would have written if I had written it! Hanging out with other people seems to be the only thing that works for me, with the kid or not, but usually with him because... what else am I going to do with him? :) I think we should start a support group for us ''bored moms.'' Email me, maybe we can get together!
I can relate to your post about boredom. I too love my child dearly, and have made the decision to only work part-time to spend lots of time with her, but I have in the past, and do now, struggle with bouts of boredom as we go about our day. Here are two things that have helped:
1) Age. As your child gets older, and begins talking more, your interactions will get a LOT more fun and interesting. There is still the repetitive play, and/or the going from one thing to the next willy nilly that makes me crazy, but just talking to my child and hearing her insights/thoughts/etc. is FASCINATING. As they talk their imaginative skills improve, too, so there is more play acting that is also fun to witness and participate in.
2) Play dates. I can't stress these enough, because they have saved my sanity. Just accompanying your little one to a park, kindergym, etc. is fine but doesn't address your own boredom, because there is very little adult socializing. Group activities like classes are okay, but I really like a one-on-one play date. The other parent and I can talk (and vent!), and the kids can play (parallel or together). While we still interact with our kids, we do not have to play with them in that more focused way because they have, and are interested in, each other. Good luck! Please don't think you're weird or not a good parent for feeling bored; I think lots of us grapple with this when our children are very young.
Boy, am I glad you posted this. You've made me feel a lot better about my own ambivalence toward fulltime at-home parenting. And can I just add that I really can't stand going to the park and the farm? After about a half-hour I start to twitch with anxious boredom. I have however found something that alleviates the problem. There are several volunteer opportunities out there that you can do with your child. The few hours a week we spend volunteering give me that same sense of I get when my spouse gets home from work. There is a website: www.voluneerinfo.org that posts volunteer opportunities in the Bay Area. What I'm looking for, though, is a resource that lists volunteering opportunities you can do with kids. If anyone out there knows of such a source - please post.
I knew when my son was a few months old that I didn't want to be a stay-at-home mom. I was very bored! I think I'm a much better mom if I'm not with my kids all day. Even now (kids are 7 and 12) I have a hard time sometimes in the summers when they don't have activities that give me time away from them. I have been very privileged to have flexible work hours as an academic. If you are lucky enough to pick your work schedule, I would recommend trying to work four or five days a week but not all day. Working long days is hard as a parent. If you can work 5-6 hours a day I think you'll be happier and so your baby will too.
Just in case I need to give this disclaimer--I realize that some parents ARE very happy to not work outside the home and I completely respect that decision, just wouldn't work for me :)
I could have written your post 12 years ago! When my older daughter was a baby I too was bored, felt guilty about it, wondered if I was cut out for the parent thing. What I've gradually come to accept is that I'm just not that interested in babies. They're cute & fun to spend a little time with, but hour after hour?! I'd try to find ways to fill up the time & put a good face on it, just like you're probably doing. What I've discovered over the last 12 years, though, is that I find my daughter more and more interesting the older she gets. By the time she was 3 she was a terrific companion -- no diapers, no bottles, she could talk and walk, and it's just gotten better and better. Big kids are so much fun! This is not to say I'm not occasionally bored with parenthood still, but you just accept that & try not to feel guilty. Far from regretting not enjoying those first two or three years more, I'm actually glad her (& her 8-year-old sister's) babyhoods are over. I guess I'm just not a baby person. So, my advice would be this: relax. You've got many years ahead to enjoy your child's company. Also take lots of pictures. When I look at pictures of one of my daughters as a baby & those days come back to me, my first reaction is ''Oh! I'm so glad I don't have a baby anymore!'' and I appreciate their current stage of semi-maturity much more.
First, know that you are not alone. I am a full time stay-at-home mom and have had many days like the one you describe. And, I've talked with many friends who have shared the same experience. Next, make a plan to steer clear of boredom. You are doing a wonderful thing by staying with your child. However, you must be happy too. So, if full time work is the answer - go ahead and work and don't feel guilty. If you'd like to continue staying home part time, do yourself a favor and find a mom's/parent's group. I belong to one (with primarily older children than yours - though all are welcome) that meets twice a week for mom and baby activities; once a month or so for potlucks, picnics, etc - with entire families present; has two moms' nights out a month; AND goes on camping trips and little getaways as a group. It has changed my outlook about parenting completely. I now truly believe in the ''takes a village'' theory of raising children, as all of these families are helping us to raise ours - all the while keeping me busy, happy and never, ever bored.
A Happy Stay at Home Mama
I bet you'll get plenty of feedback on what seems to be a common concern -- even if people may be reluctant to speak openly about it. I recognize myself and my own situation in your description - - particularly the role of de-fault housewife could drive me up the wall. I also missed, terribly, intellectual exchange with co- workers and others in the field that could not be replace with child-oriented conversations, whether in mom's groups or in the immediate family. Anyway, when my baby was around five months old, it got so bad that I felt like my whole life was meaningless and without purpose. At that time, I began suspecting that I suffered from some kind of delayed post-partum depression symptoms. I contacted my health care provider, was assigned to a psyiatrist who recommended an anti-depressant and therapy, and now, six months later I feel like I have recovered and rediscovered my old self. I have been on Zoloft 100 mg since then and am seeing a therapist with whom I feel very comfortable (Dr. Jeanne Lin in San Francisco -- would be happy to recommend her). One very common symptom of even a mild depression, I have learned, is precisely the loss of pleasure in things that previously have given you pleasure or that one thinks should give one pleasure -- sometimes expressed as lethargy and boredom. I wish you all the best. Good Luck.
Been in a similar place
Wow - I could almost have written your message! I've been feeling exactly the same way about being a stay-at-home mom. I do not have a part time job though and was hoping that might be a solution to my ''problem''. Doesn't sound like it helps much. I wish I had some great advice for you but frankly I'm just waiting anxiously to see what suggestions others may have! Maybe it gets better with time? Dunno when that would be though - my daughter is 17 months old...
I think virtually everyone has felt that way at least sometimes. There are days when I think I will scream if I have to do one more load of laundry, or play peek-a-boo one more time. But I promise you, it gets better! A few possible insights:
1. You are correct, working part-time actually makes it harder in some ways to really lock into the stay-at-home mom network. I also work part time, and it is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I am fortunate enough to love my job, and the people I work with, so I really enjoy going to work. OTOH, the moms in my neighborhood do fun stuff together, and really support each other - take turns babysitting, go to the park together, etc. I get kind of jealous when I hear them talking about how much fun they had at Habitot, or something. But, there is a middle way. You mentioned that you are in a mom's group. Are there any specific other women you feel like you click with? If so, get on the phone and invite one over to hang out and watch the kids terrorize each other. Or meet someone at the park, or go out for coffee with the kids in tow. Take the initiative - I have found other women to be really receptive, if I make the effort. And getting out and talking to someone you like really helps.
2. It gets better! One problem may be that your child is still too young to be a really great companion. Don't get me wrong, babies are fascinating, but IMHO toddlers (like 2 year olds) are way more interesting. They can talk, and have some really hilarious things to say. Also, they can do a lot more stuff - crafts and things. I know that's cold comfort to you now, but it might help to remind yourself that it does get better!
3. Get out of Dodge City. Can you go away somewhere, even if it means taking the baby? It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, even going to stay with a friend in Santa Cruz for a weekend can help. It gives you something to look forward to, something to plan, and then you also get a change of scenery. Reading this over, I realize that this is all probably stuff you already know, so I guess my main message is - you are not a monster, nor does it mean that you aren't cut out for motherhood. It just means the baby stage probably isn't your favorite.
formerly bored mom
Some things to consider:
1. That you're responding naturally to your child's development...most babies under seven months want love, food, sleep, more love. They're easy--except if they don't sleep--and they can't really crawl around and get hurt. When children begin to able to explore by themselves, but are not yet able to keep themselves safe, your attention must be individed. Yet, they're not speaking more than a few words, or engaging in play that an adult might find interesting. It gets much more fun as they get older, I promise.
2. That you're depressed for some reason. You didn't mention any reason why you might be but being bored is a symptom.
3. That you don't do anything kid-centric for a while-- kindergym, little farm, etc. Maybe just drive to the beach or anyplace that makes YOU feel good, and hang out with your son. Find a way to get something you need, or like, during your excursions. Or, go with a good friend. Do something that you've always wanted to do (museum? a hike?) and just bring him along. I know this is hard with all the paraphernalia of a one-year- old, but it's manageable.
4. House chores are incredibly boring, even without having to distract someone. At around this time, we were lucky enough to live in a house with a fenced-in back porch right off the kitchen. I put out a wading pool, which would keep my son occupied forever. A sandbox might help, too. Or, if you don't have access to the outdoors, get a big plastic tub (to hold the spills) and two little ones and put water and/or sand into one of them.
5. Get with a friend and trade care: you get both kids for a few hours of the day, then vice versa. Having two kids is more interesting than one, and then you get some free time to do housework or something for your own brain.
6. Why drive around for 45 minutes? Bring a book, and park in a nice place. Or get a book on tape at the library, if he needs the motion.
I was bored during this period, too. So it's normal, I think. And if you really think you'd rather work full-time, then why not? One of the best things I read during this period of my and my son's life was that children need interesting mothers. The other best thing is some advice a midwife friend gave me: put your lifemask on first, and then help your children with theirs.
Yeah, I know what you mean about the boredom, which was something I worried about before I even became a mom. I used to work as a nanny, and sometimes I felt as if I would go barking mad from the endless repetition of it all. However, here are some things that have helped me (I have a similar situation, where I work out of the home part time, stay home part time). Music Together: this is fun because it places the burden of ''entertainment'' on another adult, puts me in touch with other parents/caregivers, and allows my 1.5 year old to have some social time. Structured play group: we always joke that this is more about the moms and dads than the kids -- we have about five neighborhood families all with kids around the same age and we meet once a week, usually at a park in good weather, sometimes at someone's house. The adults chat, chase kids, whatever, but again, it's that human contact that counts. Finally, leave a good book, a magazine, or a crossword (whatever floats your boat) in the car. That way, if your son falls asleep, you can hang out and read. That down time when your brain gets to stretch itself is so important. At Girl Scout camp, where I once worked as a teenager, we called it ''me time.'' Make sure you get your ''me time.'' It can be really tough, I think, with a small child to stay mentally up. Don't be too hard on yourself if you're struggling. I think you might find that a lot of stay at home parents (even part-timers) are in the same boat.
Not so bored anymore
I think many moms and dads have feelings you express- feeling bored with the tame, mundane and repeating tasks of raising a baby, but anxious that these days will pass too soon and you will have failed to appreciate them enough when your baby is grown. The other moms and dads are too busy with competing demands and don't feel they have enough time to appreciate these baby days either. If you work more, you will just move from one group to ther other, although I get the sense that more palpable accomplishment, such as those provided by meaningful work, is something you may need. Sure, lots of moms choose not to work, make sacrifices to be home with their precious infants because they find the work of motherhood so fulfilling, but an equal amount of us moms work more than we need for subsistance and comfort, because our minds and hearts need more outside stimulation, all the better to provide their precious little ones with a more fulfilled mom. A condition of parenthood is that you are wistful about the transience of childhood from Day One, but most of us don't have sufficient ''enlightenment'' on a daily basis to live in a state of constant appreciation. I can't wait to see my kids when I get home from work, but once I'm there, I get restless with all the things I need to get done or wishing I could just turn on the TV and zone out, instead of reading them stories and doing the dishes. My own solution is to try to take just a few minutes each day to really feel delicious about my children and be fully in the present with them, and accept that most of the rest of my day, at home or at work, involves alot of hard labor, drudgery and/or boredom, but makes those few precious minutes possible. I also keep a journal where I write one, usually mundane sentence, about our day, so that each day doesn't seem like the next. After 6 years, I have captured a tiny bit of the rhythm of days with my small kids. Oh, and I take alot of photos. I am interested to know if other moms feel as we do, too.
I remember feeling a similar sense of dread, as I awoke to the beginning of a long day with my 2 toddlers, 3 and 1. Part of the solution for me was to find a preschool which accepted kids at age 2,where they now both attend part-time, and to pace myself. This means not attempting to complete all the tedious chores every day, to try to find some activities I genuinely enjoy sharing with my kids. Not to feel guilty if I continued to find playgroup, etc. and a lot of the kid's activities dull. Set aside some time every day ( nap time) when you can read or do something for yourself.
I can relate to your situation. I've been at it full time for about a year now and have gone through some of what you've described. Best tip I can give is to have an exercise program. Something that you do every day. It is good for you, for YOU (rather than for all the others demanding of you) and gives me the energy and mind space to be with kids. But frankly, some women are just more into it than others. I put myself in the later group. It DID help to become full time mom as it forced me to invest more in other ''mom'' relationships. I find having another adult there to engage with really helps. Also, as your child approaches 15 months or so, you'll find they are so much more enjoyable to be with, as they are doing more and exploring language.
I SO know what you mean. I've always needed a job or being back in school to keep me sane - I just am not the stay-at-home mommy type. Number three for me was really hard, especially the early months when I was off work and at home full time. I'll confess to you what I did to stay happy: On Fridays I spent the day with my friend who has a baby the same age, and on Mondays through Thursdays I watched a movie every morning. I know all other moms in Berkeley take their babies to the park and the kindergym and music lessons and playgroup, but I just don't have it in me. I joined Netflix (home delivery of DVDs) and every day usually after breakfast, after my husband went to work, that dead part of the morning, I would have my Special Happy TV Time while I rocked the baby and fed him. Over a 6-month period I watched the first two seasons of the Sopranos, all of the Sex in the City episodes on DVD, a whole bunch of great movies on the Independent Film Channel, and got addicted to three BBC shows that came on during my morning TV Time. This probably sounds really irresponsible, but I only did it for 6 months and hey, when I got up in the morning I was happy because I knew I'd be watching the next episode of whatever! And somehow it was just enough me-time to make the rest of the day be happy too. (PS: plan out dinner and start a load of laundry before you sit down to watch the movie and then you'll feel like you've really accomplished something!)
Don't feel bad! I had exactly the same experience starting when my son was about 8 months old. I was so miserable and often ended up moping through chores and errands. I often had the feeling like I was wasting my days even if I did manage to get a few things done. I finally started to really look for a job when I realized that I was spending so much time with my son that I was no longer enjoying him. I often felt annoyed by his seemingly constant need for my attention and grew more and more irritated when I couldn't get something done because of it. I finally just decided that I would rather see him less and appreciate the time we shared than spend all my time with him and hate every minute. I now work about 25 hours a week and the situation has improved dramatically. You mentioned that there are days that you don't work. Maybe you could continue to work part time but start working at least a few hours every day. That's what I do and it's great to be able to do at least a little of my own thing every day. The schedule I have is pretty ideal...I start working at 10am and finish around 3 or 4pm. It's great because I don't ever have to rush in the mornings and I'm able to pick up my little boy before dark. They say the quality of time spent together is more important than quantity, right? I definitely agree based on my experiences. So don't feel bad about admitting that you aren't enjoying your full days with your son. Figure out how you really feel about the situation and then try to find a way to make sure you get what you need so that you can enjoy your child. One more thing...my little boy goes to a small family daycare while I work and he absolutely loves being around the other kids and playing with them. That's entertainment that I would never be able to duplicate if I stayed home with him. Good luck in finding what works for you!
I'm a stay at home mom, and I can relate to some of what you say. I have two questions. First, are you getting enough time for yourself? I don't mean the time you're at work, or the time you drive around while your baby sleeps in the car. Maybe some time for a run or a work out or a bookclub or something might make the time you're alone with the baby a little easier. Second, can you get some help with the housework? Hiring a housecleaner or bringing some laundry to a fluff and fold once in a while might enable you to focus on enjoying your time with baby instead of trying to do too many things at once. I don't profess to have figured it out ... I just thought I'd share my thoughts. Good luck to you. I'll probably see you kindergym!
Mother of an 18-month-old
You sound pretty normal to me. I also work part-time, and the time alone with my child can be brain-numbing. I try to keep myself stimulated and he is just happy to accompany me and that is how we enjoy being together. Sometimes I try to have a more kid- oriented outing, like Discovery Museum or hilltop mall and sometimes it is something that is purely for me, like trying to get a bit of shopping done. I also have taken different classes, like music classes, that get me around a few adults.
I went back to work when my first child was five months old and worked 80% time until his little sister came along (when he was four). When my 2nd child was born I resigned my job and have been a full-time mom ever since (she is two). As a SAHM, every day is a struggle and I really have to work hard to stay positive and remember that it's a privilege to be at home with my kids. Here are a few things you might try that have worked for me.
-Find something that engages your mind (especially if your p/t job isn't that challenging). I joined a writers' group.
-Network with other moms. Try to find moms who share your interests or at least your sense of humor.
-Get regular exercise. It's a natural anti-depressant and if you can afford to go to a gym with on-site child care, it's a good way to meet other moms.
-Accept that it's a tough job. You are making an incredible sacrifice being home with your child and it's not easy.
-Take breaks if you can. Go to the movies with a friend or go visit friends or family out-of-town for 1 or 2 nights. Getting away from my kids once in awhile gives me a chance to miss them and I love them even more when I return. Hang in there and if it doesn't get better with time, you can still go back to work and your child will be just fine.
I know what you mean - there's no end to housework! I keep at least one day a week free of housework. I minimize cooking dinner as much as possible (saves on clean-up time also). I keep one day just for doing kids' stuff (no errands and again, no housework). Lastly, I keep at least one small, creative project on hand to give me something to figure out in my few and far between free moments (currently I'm knitting and crocheting toddler sweaters).
Boy can I relate! I had similarly ambivalent feelings about the sheer mundanity of daily life with an infant, whom of course I cherished above anything else. I filled my days with routine activities, knowing how important such things are for little ones, but the flip side was that I saw my life (not to mention my career) slipping away for the sake of the stability, and therefore happiness, of my family. I kept reminding myself that staying at home with my child was my conscious choice, and that in the end, it will become more apparent that for me, it was the RIGHT choice. But I still had feelings of resentment, especially toward my husband, who didn't skip a beat on his career track. And he's a great husband and father. It actually got to the point where I broke down one day while playing with her-- my husband came home and said something generically nice, like ''Hi, I'm home! How are you?'' I couldn't take it anymore, and told him so. My daughter was 2 then. My husband totally sympathized with me, for we had had numerous conversations in which he would thank me for sacrificing my career to stay at home with the baby. He knew enough about my ambivalent feelings to let me know every now and then how much he appreciated my decision. When my daughter turned 2 1/2, we enrolled her part-time in a montessori preschool ostensibly to ''socialize'' her, but in reality, to give me some scheduled free time. She's 3 1/2 now, and call me crazy, but we just had another one. I anticipate going through similar feelings of resentment and related guilt, but I now have this wonderful child to remind me that I had made a wise decision, and one which I will never regret (too much). I have given you no advice whatsoever regarding what to do with your feelings, because as far as I'm concerned, life with an infant really IS boring. There's no getting around that. I can glibly tell you that you will NEVER forget the special moments shared between you and your child, but that doesn't change the fact that you will probably continue to count the hours until your husband comes home. It's a strange thing, but now that my first child is older, I tend to remember the marvelous things we did together in the first years, while selectively forgetting how utterly boring much of it was for me. There are probably two reasons for this. First, subconsciously, I don't want my sacrifices to have been for naught, so I remember the good stuff. Second, I look at it from my child's point of view-- life was (and still is, but I'm not her only connection to the world anymore) this amazing thing full of new (for her) experiences. The sky, rocks, water, feeding animals, trips to the grocery store, trips on the train, trips to the zoo, trips to the park. Music, stories, the alphabet, building toys, chewing toys, favorite toys. Changing diapers, baths, nursing, eating new foods, eating favorite foods, rejecting yucky foods. It's all boring to us while we're living it, but in retrospect, it's what life with babies and toddlers is all about. Hang in there. Before you know it, your son will be six-foot-two, asking for fifty bucks and the keys to your car. The more time you spend with him now, the greater the chances will be that you will handle those later situations appropriately-- simply because you will KNOW him.
Dear busy but bored:
I don't know that I really have much useful advice for you, since what you are doing sounds good, but I can certainly commiserate. I adore my wonderful son (he's 20 months old); I love being a mom and have no regrets about how my life has changed. However, I find I can also simultaneously be bored out of my skull; and I didn't start feeling this way at 7 months, as you did, but from the very beginning of motherhood. I chalk some of this up to sleep-deprivation -- that makes it hard to have a rational perspective, and hard to have the energy to face a day or evening when you must continuously think of creative/fun/educational/entertaining things for the two of you (one of whom has a very short attention span) to do. I worked part time until my son was 6 months old and full time since then. For me, the bouts of boredom have decreased steadily as he could sit up, stand, walk, and now -- how wonderful !!!!! -- talk. But that may be in part because I am not exhausted through a whole day (well I am on the weekends) of running after the busy little guy, and I empathize with you about how this would perhaps be even more difficult than taking care of an infant. The bouts of boredom I have now (which also include yearning for my partner to be home already on some nights !) happen most often when I am very tired. I try not to feel guilty about it -- that is just how I happen to feel at that moment. I think it is more important to accept your boredom and not feel guilty about it (i.e., don't pound yourself over the head with ''he will be grown up so soon'' and that you should not be feeling bored). Better to accept some boredom than to feel guilty (the latter seems like a more regrettable use of time in the long run to me). I admire people who stay with their kids 24-7 because I think that would be very, very difficult for me. I'll bet they feel bored, though, too, and I imagine you will also hear from them. My additional advice is: if you think you might want to work full time, you should try it ! Then, the boredom will probably be less frequent and easier to accept. As a bit of an aside, but still relevant here: several of my friends worked full time until their kids were 6- to 8-years- oldish. THEN they quit their jobs to stay home with them full time. I used to be confused about this sequence of events (it seemed backwards to me), but I think I understand now that my son is starting to talk: kids who can fully interact with you, including talking and all its nuances, are just more fun than babies for some of us. And at that age, I think it does begin to really sink in about how little time there is (and maybe these women finally got some sleep, too !). Also, I think the kids become more attached to you, not less, as time goes by (even though babies are needy, they are pretty flexible, too; I'm beginning to see that this may actually be less true with 5 to 8 year olds). So, yes, your little one will go to kindergarten before you know it, but maybe that is the time that you will want to be working only part time and you'd be happier full time now if you can get really good and educational care. Note also that your son may now be at an age (13 or so months) at which really good daycare/pre-preschool will be a lot of fun for him, too; my son absolutely adores ''school''. Oh yes, one last aside: my mother went back to work full time when I had just turned 2 years old -- although on the one hand I was supposed to have been a very happy, easy-going child, I was driving her nuts running non-stop around the house and dumping everything out of drawers, etc. This worked out well for both of us !
bored sometimes too
I'm sure a lot of people feel like you do, at least some of the time, but people just don't admit it. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned at the end of your post that you need a change in perspective. My view is that there are so many wonderful things to do in life, there's no time to be bored. I recently switched to a p/t schedule and I love it. I'm so blessed to have the extra time. The nights before my days off, I adore thinking about what fun thing I'm going to do with my daughter the next day. Instead of thinking about what you can't do with your child (you mentioned that your son can't do crafts yet), just start to think about all the things you can do together. And think about what YOU like to do, too. Then do it. For example, I love to be outside, by the water, or on top of a mountain--anywhere I can get a good View. So I've taken my girl to places like Sausalito and the Ferry Building in S.F. and we watch the boats on the Bay. And there's so many places to discover in the East Bay Regional Parks. We are SO lucky to live here. (We're also so lucky to have grown up with catalogs...but I digress. Rent ''Best in Show'' if you haven't seen it.) You mentioned the ''endless mundane task of managing a household.'' I can relate. But ''life is an ongoing project'' just like the Ace Hardware ad says. Serving as Chief Operating Officer of the household is just one thing that we do. And since it's a position without monetary compensation, we as moms have got to place it in its proper perspective and not overwhelm ourselves with the cleaning. I look at it this way: families with kids and super-clean houses either have housekeepers or, they do it themselves and they don't have as much fun as my family does as we blow off chores to go have fun ;) Yesterday, I had to go the grocery store. I didn't feel like going, but we had to go. But it was a glorious, sunny day here in Oakland. So we drove down to Alameda, and walked along the beach by South Shore Center. It was great watching my daughter clomping around in the sand, chasing seagulls, and walking right up to the waves, peering at them rolling in and out. We looked at the sunlight as it glistened on the bay. I told my daughter as I held her that I never wanted to forget these moments with her. [Now I'm getting weepy :)] And then (anti-climax)-- we went to the Trader Joe's across the street. Errands are a lot more bearable when you get to go to the beach, too!
Good luck on your journey
Here are some things that work for me. I am an art director and feel a strong need to be creating and doing things, even when I am not at work:
1. I knit when my child is playing or napping
2. We go and paint pottery together, or go to the moca and I pay extra so I can paint and glue beads on sticks, too.
3. We draw on the sidewalk with chalk
4. Photography is one of my hobbies and I have many cameras and luckily my daughter is my favorite subject to photograph. It gets expensive, but I never tire of it. I dress her up in different outfits, or just let her play and everyone loves the photos (I give the ''rejects'' to my parents and in-laws)
4. I make videos of her (she loves to dress up for me, and I turn the viewer around so she can see herself). I am in the process of learning how to make my own DVDs with titles.
5. She plays in the sandbox while I garden, or she helps me water the plants.
6. I paint her nails, then I paint mine
7. I purchased a mini-disc recorder and I record us talking, or her singing or talking to herself and I make CDs. (Its very easy, and most of the software is free shareware) Its fun to do at a playdate, too and the other moms really like it when I give them a copy.
8. When she is playing quietly I read a book
9. We drive around and look at beautiful houses and gardens while she naps in the backseat, or take turns going into shops/places that we are interested in checking out on the weekends.
BTW my house is filthy.
I thought I was the only mom with a bad attitude in the universe.
I think you've given voice (and very eloquently) to the dark side of mothering that none of the baby books or play groups talk about--boredom and it's evil twin lonliness, leading to resentment, and then it's a slippery slope to becoming a raving lunatic (I think that's where I'm headed).
I have 2 kids and I've spent the last 6 months nursing them through colds, viruses, infections, and asthma attacks so I'm all tapped out.
Hopefully, I will look back on these years some day with fondness--kind of like a group of army buddies who were in the same prison camp that get together and swap war stories.
I'm also bored at home with my nine month old. I called the Volunteer Center of Alameda County and they hooked me up with a mom and baby playgroup that takes place at a nursing home. I'm not that into playgroups, but frankly, this is very easy and I feel very good about it. The seniors are all in wheelchairs and just watch the moms and babies play. One bit of advice, I usually pick a chore or two each day that I will NOT do - I will not unload the dishwasher or do laundry or cook dinner. It gives me some sense (however false) that my life is not about cleaning and babies. I'm also fortunate to have a best friend that I can call when I start fantasizing about running away to Canada and getting a new identity, leaving my children and husband behind forever.
I think that you got some great responses to your question, but many of them focused on things related to childhood. By all means do those things (playgroups, classes, etc), but also, I would suggest that you think of this as an opportunity to develop your own interests, something that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life (how many of us know retirees struggling do figure out what to do with their free time?) With work, and all of the other demands of life, we often let our own interests and hobbies fall by the wayside.
Decide what you want to do: read more, go to museums, learn about birds, train for a marathon, go back to school, learn to quilt, join a sports team, whatever. Then set goals for yourself: to read all of Shakespeare's plays or the ''New Yorker'' every week or the NY Times best-seller of the week, or to visit every museum between Sacramento and Monterey. It is possible to take your child with you to some of these activities (I frequently take my very active toddler to museums with me); for others find time in your schedule (before your child gets up, on the weekends - my husband gives me one afternoon a weekend to myself, etc.) But, be sure to set a goal for yourself -- we all need that little push.
The second thing that has helped me is to set a schedule for each week. Whether is is knowing that Tuesday morning is for errands and the afternoon is for playgroup, or that Wednesday is for cleaning the house and a trip to a museum, I like to feel that I have a real schedule. My daughter naps just once a day, and I devote two of the naps per week to household chores, and three to things that I want to do. It sounds absurd to be so organized, but it really does help me feel in control of the many tasks associated with running a household, as well as sure that I am developing all aspects of myself.
As you have probably gathered, many moms feel bored by staying at home with their baby. Though I had these feelings occasionally, I was luckier than most in that I was able to relish that first two years with my son. (In fact, now that he is two and doesn't need me quite as much... this is when I am having my crisis of identity and purpose...) Anyway, here are a few tactics that I used to help me enjoy time with my baby:
- Read The Baby Book by Dr. Sears and/or Our Babies Ourselves by Merideth Small. These books, particularly the latter, make a convincing case for attachment parenting. And, if you believe in these theories, then it is easy to feel like staying home with the baby is the best possible thing for the baby and family. These books helped me to understand the importance of what I was doing.
- Enjoy nursing and/or nap times by watching TV or reading a book
- Consider starting a new mom book club. I had about 12 moms meeting twice a month to discuss books mostly literature totally unrelated to being a mom. The club fell apart when the kids turned about 1.5. But, it was GREAT while it lasted.
- Regarding keeping the house clean, I am amazed what I can accomplish in the half hour before my husband gets home. The place can look spotless and is pretty clean with a few real scrubbings during the week. Otherwise, I don't worry about it.
- As your baby gets older, engage them in the housecleaning. My son loved splashing in the water while I did the dishes, pushing around a roller thing while I vacuumed, etc... And, as he gets older we play make believe games about house chores. (The bad news is that housework takes longer this way. The good news is that it is more fun and the child learns great lessons.)
- Unless your child can not take their eyes off the set, consider watching TV while they are awake. Though probably not ideal, you CAN read a book to your child and listen to the news.
- Try small funny projects with your baby (some of these are eye-rollable, but whatever gets you through! Besides giving my day shape, these activities were great stimulation for my child's developing brain:
- Dress your child up in their best clothes and take pictures... send prints to the people who sent them the outfits.
- Pose your child with his or her stuffed animals, dressed in dad's tie, or some other fanciful idea... pretend your are Anne Geddes or some other photographer.
- Try giving your baby a massage. Bert's Bee's Apricot Oils smells so yummy!
- Audition stuffed animals to be your child's special friend.
- Go through your CD collection and note which songs or styles appeal most to your baby.
- Try sketching your child -- the results might be hilarious or poignant, the point is that you engage with your child in a way that stretches your own mind.
- If sketching your child does not work, try laying her down on a large piece of paper and tracing her outline. Do this at various stages.
- Spend some time dancing with your baby. Try ballet, swing, modern dance.... Great exercise, baby likes it when you are goofy and no one else is around to see.
- When babies are small, they don't care what you are reading, they just like to hear your voice. My husband would read our son the business page and I really enjoyed pulling out poetry books and reading epic poems out loud.
-- Teach your child sign language. Something else to do and it speeds their ability to communicate with you! (I recommend a book by somebody Garcia.)
-- Get out, get out, get out. Having somewhere to go everyday gave my life shape. It really saved my life. Museums, parks, playgroups, lunch, library, bookstores, zoo, hiking, etc... You might not think that the baby is going to get anything out of it, but they probably are. And, what is most important is that you are getting some stimulus.
-- Always always always try to put yourself in your child's shoes.. Doing this gets your out of the misery of your boredom and helps you to relate to and therefore enjoy your child.
-- Try projecting yourself to 10, 20, 40 years from now, do you think you will regret being there when your child first smiled, sat up, crawled, said dog, etc... Or, do you think you will regret the progress made in your career? Asking myself this question always justified my boredom I knew I couldn't stand not having spent this time with my son it is simply an irreplaceable opportunity. This was my litmus test. Perhaps it will help you choose which direction is best for you.
I really empathize with you. It sounds like you're doing everything right, balancing work and being with your son, getting out and doing things in the neighborhood, etc. It sounds to me like maybe you're a little depressed? I've been through a lot of that, and the lack of pleasure in daily life, and the feeling of being overwhelmed, sound really familiar. Good luck!
I just wanted to write and thank all the people who responded to this post. I got choked up reading the advice and realizing that I am not a freakishly evil person for not loving every minute of time with my daughter. I have felt guilty about the fact that my part-time work basically only pays for my childcare, but I'd never want to give up my job. I also hate all the pressure to have a blissful experience of motherhood. People say you are supposed to treasure the early years, and while at some point I may look back on this time with fondness, I am mostly just relieved to have survived the first two years and have no desire to ever do it again.
Things have gotten much better now that my child is talking and interacting, but I still have my moments of dread and clock-watching. One thing that has helped on our days together, in addition to all the wonderful suggestions about mom's groups, varied outing, etc., is for me to divide my day into one or two child activities, and one or two me activities. This means that I plan a trip to the park, or babygym, and also a trip shopping or hiking or something that I want to do. Having something for both of us helps me not feel like I'm dragging my kid around for things that aren't so fun for her, since she has her own time as well. Another thing that my partner and I have just instituted is a Saturday swap, meaning that he has our child for four hours in the morning, and I get to do whatever I want (no housework or chores allowed) and then I take the little one for four hours in the afternoon. Sundays we have family time, and take care of the baby equally, usually doing some fun activities together. Good luck, and hold on, it does get better!
relieved to be employed
I find working less than full time, 4 days a week is a great solution for me. I really look forward to the week day with my toddler as our special time, because it isn't the routine. And weekends when all three of us are home are fun in another way. For me it works because I work onsite (not at home), with other people I enjoy, at pretty much set times: my work is structured, so the unstructured time is a great contrast.
My attitude is, if I were paying a babysitter to care for my toddler on that day, I wouldn't expect her (him) to do chores, errands, etc. So I *try* not to expect myself to do those things on our day together, although there is usually some of that. This philosophy means chores are crammed into weekends/evenings, if they get done at all, but at least my ''day off'' is a treat.
Never saw your first post, but the issues were clear from responses and i've been there, too. My two cents:
Books - having a good book going keeps my mind busy. Gives me something to look forward to at night, after my kid goes to bed.
Part-time work: has been wonderful. I earn very little more than I pay my sitter, but I don't care. I like my work.
Music - having music on when it's just the two of us at home can make me feel less lonely.
Cleaning - I have a housecleaner just once a month. Means I don't spend a lot of $$ on cleaning, but neither do I ever have to scrub a shower or a floor. Just a little vacuuming, wipe down a sink, between cleanings. And even if I do nothing, I know it will eventually get cleaned. A good balance for me. Lots of group activities has helped -- moms group,kindergym, storytime at libraries, park outings. Places where my child is entertained and I can strike up conversations with adults. And having a lot of these optional activities on my weekly schedule helps a lot. More and more i've been finding activities that are not specifically geared to children that we can both enjoy. (watching dance performances, music) the first year was the worst for me, i think the boredom gets less as 1) they get more interactive and you can do more with them and 2) you create more of a structured parenting life, and get used to the pace.
good luck to all.
My husband and I have joked around that I would ''take'' the early childhood years (3-7 years of age) and he would ''take'' the teen years (12-16 years), because these are the stages of youth that we are most comfortable with or perhaps can still relate to. Unfortunately, this leaves a few stages uncovered, i.e. infant/ toddler and pre-teen years. Maybe people aren't naturally or automatically prepared to deal with children at every stage of their lives, even when they're your own bambinos. Just a thought. We've definitely had days like yours. Carving out our own time and doing things that are rewarding to us as adults has helped enormously, although we are often tempted to let things slide and put our child first. My advice: Don't let it slide. And learn to do it without worry or GUILT! (Our daughter is over 2 and we continue to improve.)