FREE SHIPPING + Gift with Purchase on orders $35+ | FREE Saline Drops with any Acetaminophen Purchase

FREE SHIPPING + Gift with Purchase on orders $35+ | 25% Off SITEWIDE with code MBMOTHERSDAY25

The Emotional Toll of Becoming a Stay-At-Home-Mom
Work-Life Wellbeing

The Emotional Toll of Becoming a Stay-At-Home-Mom

Stay-at-home-mom. It’s such a thing that it actually has its own acronym (SAHM). It’s a choice some new moms make - and luckily, it’s a good one. But it does come with a side of emotions and big decisions, even if it’s a temporary choice. What a wonderful & tough job to have landed…full-time focus and precious moments with your little one…with a big side of a household to run. Our Mommy’s Bliss 360 expert and Licensed Mental Health Counselor & Certified Perinatal Mental Health Pro, Kate McReynolds concurs. Read on for helpful tips while navigating the ups and downs of this all-so-important decision

Some days, being a stay-at-home-mom (“SAHM”) takes your breath away and you can’t believe how lucky you are. Other days, it seems like the walls are closing in and you want to escape. There’s a misconception about this role being all play and no work, all smiles and no tears. The truth is: becoming a SAHM means stepping into a very demanding role and it’s not uncommon to experience some distress as you navigate it.

The Domestic & Care Work of a SAHM

Part of understanding the emotional toll of being a stay-at-home-mom is understanding the domestic and care work that goes into raising children and maintaining a household. Many SAHMs are solely responsible (the reasons for which deserve their own discussion) for most of the following tasks:

  • Household chores (cleaning, tidying, laundry, dishes, etc.)
  • Meal planning and prepping
  • Restocking household items (diapers, shampoo, medicine, etc.)
  • Sorting outgrown clothes, toys, gear, etc.
  • Managing schedules and attending appointments
  • Researching childcare guidelines, milestones, parenting approaches, etc.
  • Relaying the above-mentioned information to partner/co-parent
  • Providing emotional and physical comfort to the family
  • Planning and facilitating developmentally appropriate activities
  • Maintaining baby’s sleeping and feeding routines
  • Arranging alternative childcare when needed
  • Tending to overnight childcare tasks (feeding, changing, soothing, etc.)

The physical aspect of these tasks alone can leave anyone feeling depleted, not to mention the mental and emotional components.
Domestic and care work is a highly demanding type of labor that can take a toll on those who provide it, regardless of how much they love doing it.

While the emotional toll of being a stay-at-home-mom is unique to each person, there are some common themes that tend to surface:

Feeling Lost, Trapped, or Useless

You might feel lonely, become socially isolated, or lose touch with yourself as things that once filled your cup start to seem like distant and fuzzy memories. Sometimes it’s not as magical as you expected (does anyone really enjoy being sleep-deprived or spit up on?) or you don’t feel as much joy as you thought you would, which can leave you wondering what’s “wrong” with you. The repetitiveness of your day-to-day tasks can start to weigh on you, and lead to a sense of feeling stuck and useless.

How to Cope: Make a point to leave your house (or just go outside) every day and do something for you (browse a bookstore, go for a walk, attend a support group, etc.). Recognize that feeling trapped has nothing to do with your love for your baby or your worth as a mother, and everything to do with the demanding role you’re in. Remind yourself that it’s perfectly normal to dislike parts of parenting and – despite the monotony of it all – the work you’re doing is extremely valuable and enriching.

Meeting Basic Needs

The constant “being on,” combined with societal pressure to put everyone else first, can make it difficult to meet your own basic needs. Maybe you don’t finish your shower because your baby woke up early, or you hold your bladder for so long while rocking them that you’re physically uncomfortable. You might feel selfish and think you’re somehow neglecting your baby if you choose to check off some of your own boxes first, or maybe you feel totally overwhelmed, like how on earth am I supposed to do all of this at once? (Hint: you’re not!)

How to Cope: View meeting your needs as a prerequisite for meeting your baby’s needs. This might mean letting your baby cry for a bit longer than you’d like while you brush your teeth or waiting to change their diaper until after you finish your meal, but it’s the classic airplane-oxygen-mask metaphor: You have to put yours on first.


Life as a SAHM comes with more input through the five senses than you’re used to, which can leave you feeling overstimulated. Water splashing during bath time, the scent of baby food, hugs and kisses, loud/flashy toys, laundry scattered everywhere… Seemingly small things can push you into a state of fight/flight/freeze as your brain struggles to process all the sensory input at once, which can lead to increased stress, irritability, anxiety, difficulty communicating clearly, difficulty being present in the moment, guilt about being on edge around your family, or regretting the way you handled something in the heat of the moment.

How to Cope: First, know that there is nothing wrong with you; there is just a lot going on around you. Find ways to reduce the sensory input throughout your day (wear noise-reducing ear buds, use subtitles/turn down the volume on devices, dim the lights/close the curtains, change your clothes/hair/shoes to be more comfortable, move scattered items into a catch-all bin, etc.). Afterwards, take a few minutes to do a mentally and physically grounding activity to help reset your nervous system (deep breathing exercises, meditation, walking, stretching, journaling, etc.).

Partner Resentment

You may start to notice a lack of “balance” or “fairness” between you and your partner’s lifestyles. You might feel jealous about their career – a sense of purpose outside of parenthood, a break from the daily grind of parenting, adult social interactions, etc. Maybe you get angry when they express feeling tired because you are also exhausted and desperate for some down time. You might wish the mental load was more balanced and feel bitter about continuing to be the primary caregiver even when they are home and available.

How to Cope: Notice if your feelings of resentment are about your partner or the situation. Let them know how you’re feeling and what you need more of, so they can understand and better support you. For example, if you’re overstimulated and irritable by the time they come home from work, maybe they take over all parenting while you decompress and take a break before the evening routine starts.

Career Pause & Financial Stress

For most families, SAHM-life means transitioning to a single household income. While some choose this and are eager to pause their career, some experience a great deal of distress and feel like they have no choice. Regardless of where you land here, pausing your career is bound to elicit a lot of complicated emotions, like a sense of inadequacy for no longer receiving an income, a sense of blame for your partner’s career stress, or guilt over hiring an occasional babysitter. You might feel like you’re not contributing enough and feel like a bad partner.

How to Cope: Recognize how you reduce the cost of professional childcare and provide the at-home childcare your partner’s employment is dependent on. Reframe how you view your financial contributions by focusing on the fact that the important domestic and care work you provide is an essential part of your partner’s ability to generate an income.

This site is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician or other health-care professional.

close cart
Something went wrong, please contact us!
close cart


close cart
Free Shipping on
orders of $35 or more!

You may also like