I’ve realized something interesting about myself recently. I guess I already knew this on some level, but I never really defined it before. What I realized is that there’s a sort of “goldilocks zone” for my happiness, which I have named the B Spectrum.
On one end of the B Spectrum is Boredom. When I don’t have enough to keep me occupied—physically, mentally, and emotionally—I get bored. And when I’m bored, my anxiety is often triggered. This will lead me to try to make changes in my life to add some excitement, such as a new pet or a move or a new project or goal.
Being a stay-at-home mom keeps me busy in a lot of ways, but they’re not always the right ways. This job—and yes, it is a job—has the unique properties of being utterly exhausting while simultaneously being mind-numbingly dull. Keeping kids safe, fed, and otherwise well-cared-for requires the presence of a responsible, mature, and capable person—but it doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking, or interesting problem-solving, or any sort of mental stimulation, really. Yet it is still completely exhausting to deal with constant requests for menial labor, ridiculous bickering, emotional outbursts, and never-ending (and often disgusting) messes.
So, simply put, I get bored! And then I get antsy and anxious.
On the other end of the B Spectrum is Burnout. When I feel like I have too much on my plate, I get overwhelmed and stressed out. This usually triggers a depression. And then I might react by trying to simplify my life, such as by quitting a project or rehoming a pet. (This might sound terrible to some, but I always make sure that any pets I rehome go to a loving family that will take just as good care of them as I would, if not better. And for the record, I never set out to adopt a pet only to re-home them down the road, this is just a pattern that I’ve noticed, and I’m trying to break it.)
Again, being a stay-at-home mom is exhausting, and frequently does lead to burnout for me. What it comes down to is that I’m doing a job that is very demanding, despite being often unengaging.
Please understand, though—I love being a stay-at-home mom. Yes, it is hard. But I adore my children and it makes me very happy to know that I get to be the one home with them day in and day out during these early years of their lives. I feel very blessed to be able to do this, because I know that not everyone can.
Nevertheless, it honestly isn’t the best job for my mental health, because it triggers both sides of the B Spectrum simultaneously, which exacerbates my anxiety and depression. I can and will continue to find ways to cope with these challenges, because I believe it is worth it. But I also truthfully look forward to my kiddos being in school so that I can have other projects to work on that that challenge and excite me.
In the middle of the B Spectrum is Balance. When I can manage to find Balance between doing too much and not having enough to do, that’s when I feel the best. Right now, with the shifting dynamics happening in my family, I am finding more and more balance.
In some ways, I’m busier than ever. My life is essentially controlled chaos at the moment. I have schedules in place with Cory for who has the kids and when (on evenings and weekends). This means that I finally have regular time that isn’t with the kids, and so does Cory. Both of us are able to do things that we want to do as individuals, and that has been wonderful! That alone has gone a long way towards giving me some more balance between mom-ing and me-ing.
For the most part, boredom is not a problem lately. There’s still depression spells, probably from the stress, but keeping busy is helpful for keeping those at bay. The more pressing issue is making sure that I don’t get burned out, and so far, it feels like I’m staying in that golden zone of Balance for the most part.
I don’t know exactly what my life will look like in the coming months and years, but I feel like I’m moving toward something positive. Some days are better than others, but for right now at least, I’m feeling good. 🙂