July 27

Answers and Solutions for Depressed Housewives

Depressed housewives. Bored housewife. Lonely housewife. Page_1
These are some of the top search matches for women who find my page and the things I am asked about most often. They are also the reason so many women feel helpless and hopeless when faced with the back-to-work or stay-at-home decision. For most, neither option presents as palatable, but it need not be this way. There are answers and solutions for depressed housewives, and for most of us, the solutions are closer than we think.

“Do you ever just feel like there is no point?” one reader recently asked.

“How do you deal with the monotony?” another wanted to know.”I can’t stand it.”

“I just feel like I’m treading water and not going anywhere.”

“I know I should be happy. I’m lucky to be able to stay home with the kids. Not everybody can do that. But I’m not happy. I can barely get off the couch these days. It all just feels so pointless.”

These feelings of dissatisfaction and hopelessness are rampant today, and that’s not surprising when you look at the societal atmosphere that we are living in. The glorification has been misplaced and now goes to those who have achieved much success and accumulated great amounts of money and on those who have managed to capture youthfulness (by any means necessary.) But would it surprise you to learn that the emotional challenges facing you, dear depressed housewife, are exactly the same as those facing most highly successful Hollywood movie stars? You don’t believe me? Take a moment right now and try to think of one person who you know who isn’t unhappy in some way. Go ahead. Think about it.

Right. None. At the very core, you and they are the same.  We are all the same.

The only difference is that for most housewives, the answers and solutions are more readily available. That is, once you understand the real issue at the heart of the matter, which is that we, as a modern society, are lead to believe that we ought to be always happy. We are told that we have a right to be happy and that we should not settle for less than being deliriously happy.  We are taught that if we are not happy then there must be something wrong with our circumstance or with our mind.  Medication is typically prescribed.  But it’s a quick fix that seldom fixes anything.  Why?

Because nobody teaches us where to find true happiness, and certainly nobody mentions that in order to find it, you must first endure suffering. We all must. Suffering is part of life–everyone’s life. Nobody mentions that. And why would they? It goes against the grain. It clashes with the constant barrage of inspirational messages we are inundated with daily. It’s not popular. And, sadly, most believe it’s not true. But it is.

Instead we need to start teaching and learning that into every life there will be unpleasantries and suffering, but it is through this very suffering that we are here to learn meaning and find true, deep satisfaction within our lives.

Do not fret. I am not here to tell you that you must endure many more years of unhappiness. The suffering that you must endure needs only to last as long as it takes you to change your mind about how you think about the challenges at hand. And that is what we are going to do today.

Let’s begin with a little historical review. Think back to what you know of pre-historic times. Imagine life back then. The Middle Ages? What do your recall about that timeframe? And how about more recently. Let’s say the early 1900s? What was life like? What was happening in the world? What was daily life like for each of these stages in history? Now let me ask you this. Think about the life of a pauper. And now of a prince. A Hollywood actress? A corporate executive? Your dentist? What do all these things have in common? I can tell you without hesitation that no matter what time frame, no matter what era, and no matter what station in life, everyone experiences difficulties and sadness. Everyone. Some will have difficulties and sadness to a larger degree than others, but everyone suffers.

I can also say with absolute confidence that it will not matter whether you are a stay-at-home mom or the president of a large corporation. You will not escape your feelings of unhappiness. So stop feeling guilty about being unhappy. It’s pointless.

Life, however, is not pointless. Realizing this truth–that we are all subject to boredom, tedium, sadness and unhappiness, is the first step toward climbing out of the abyss of misery.   Once you realize that some pain is going to occur, you may proceed to the next step, which is figuring out if our pain is avoidable or unavoidable.

If avoidable the answer is simple. Remove all sources of suffering that are indeed avoidable.  For example, you don’t rip candy out of a child’s hand just to hear them scream. You don’t spoil a child and then have to bear their tantrums.  And you don’t stick your hand in boiling water.  Only masochists do things to purposely create suffering in their lives just to experience the pain.  Most of us are not masochists.

If you are experiencing discomfort that you do not see as avoidable, after all someone must clean the house and cook day after day, someone must care for the babies, then you must take the next step, which is to begin to look into that suffering to find purpose.

Let me ask you this.  If you were to project your life forward to your deathbed and imagine that you had never married and had children and were now looking back on your life, what do you think you would see?   Perhaps you had a wonderful career.  Perhaps you traveled the world.   But did your life have meaning?  Did you matter to the world?  Did you matter to anyone in particular at all?  Who is with you beside your deathbed?  For most, this picture creates a feeling of loneliness and separation.

Now go back to that same deathbed and look back on your existing family.  What about then?  When you look back at your family, did your life have meaning and purpose?  Did you matter?  Are they there with you?  Are you surrounded by your children and their children?  Do they adore you?

It is easy to see the meaningfulness of a life when looked at as a whole.  It is very difficult to see the contribution that our day-to-day cooking and cleaning and diaper changing has because we are only seeing those things as individual pieces of the whole.  We experience them as individual moments.  They are perceived as difficulties in your day, but I want to remind you that we do not find meaning in things that are easy.  We find meaning to life in those things that challenge us and in those things for which we make sacrifices.

So how can you turn your experiences around into ones that are meaningful and satisfying?   By changing the goals associated with them.  You know, for example, that you are going to clean house to some degree every day for the rest of your life.  You can look upon those daily tasks as monotonous drudgery, or you can think about them as a cumulative achievement: A goal of keeping your environment sanitary for your family throughout their lives.  It’s bigger than just washing that dish.  It’s about the big picture.

Did you know that according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman and many other leading authorities, the food you feed your toddler can have an effect on his health thirty years from now?  You control your family’s future by your planning and preparing of healthy meals.  You and you alone can direct that.  Your child has no say in the matter.  This is a huge responsibility that only you can bear.  You can look at it as fixing dinner, or you can see it as building strong and healthy bodies for life.

You can look at the daily challenges of dealing with crying toddlers, rebellious pre-schoolers, independence-seeking teens and at times irresponsible young adults as painful, boring, tedious experiences as a mother.  Or you can look at the big picture and remind yourself that you are teaching these young ones how to be responsible citizens for a lifetime.  Your efforts more than any other person’s are going to have the biggest impact on how they live out their entire lives.  You are molding their character every day.  You, Mom, are their greatest teacher.

You can sit on the couch and watch t.v. all day feeling sorry for yourself or you can declare yourself the matriarch of your family in charge of the care and feeding of all of your descendants and living ancestors.  You alone bear that purpose.  And guess what?  You are in the unique position that you and only you CAN bear that purpose.  Nobody else can be you.  Nobody else can be your child’s mom. Nobody else can have such a profound effect on him.

And likewise, nobody else is your husband’s helpmeet.   Did you know that in Genesis 2:20 the word used to describe Eve as Adam’s helper is the Hebrew word ezer.  Traditionally people have taken that word to mean Adam’s wife and mother to his babies.  But what you may not realize is that the word ezer is used 21 times throughout the Old Testament.  Only twice is it used to describe a woman.  The other times it is used to describe military assistance, but mostly it is used to describe God’s assistance to Israel–God as Israel’s helper.  God as ezer is described as a shield and as a defense, watching over his people.  So what can we draw from that?  God didn’t put you here just to be your husband’s housewife.  He put you here to be his partner in the battlefield of life.  You watch his back.  He watches yours.  You are important to him.  You are his shield and sometimes his sword.  You are a team.  You have things you can be doing to live up to that role.  What are they?  Find out and do them.

Your life has great meaning.  You are not useless.   You are not purposeless.

Victor E. Frankl said “… a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to be happy … ”

The truth is that you can not be coerced into being happy.   You can’t be forced to be happy.  You can not be commanded to be happy.  In fact, you can’t even seek happiness because the very act of making happiness the goal of any endeavor makes it much harder to achieve.  (Think about an event you look forward to because it’s going to be “so much fun!” and then it’s not as amazing as you expected.  Now compare that to an event you expected to dread but ended up having a wonderful time.)  Pleasure has to occur spontaneously for it to be truly pleasurable.

You must change your mindset from one of seeking the end of boredom and of one constantly seeking elusive happiness to one where you are seeking to fulfill your purpose.  Only then can pleasure spontaneously occur.

Isn’t it true that you can not enjoy eating your home made cake until you have gathered the ingredients, mixed them, and baked them.  Only then can you eat cake.   But the true enjoyment comes from the process of preparing it and then sharing it  with those you love.

Dear Lady, life is short. Let us eat cake!

June 20

From Bored Housewife to Tranquil Domestic Goddess in 3 Easy Steps

Agonizing, bone-aching boredom.  Stay-at-home moms often report intense boredom being their number one challenge.  As a result, many become depressed.  Some get themselves into trouble.  Neither of those options is good, so let’s discuss ways to go from bored housewife to tranquil domestic goddess in 3 easy steps.
How is it possible to have so much to do and yet be so bored?  It’s simple.  The boredom does not come from having too much free time. Oh how we wish!  It comes from the repetitive nature of what we have to do every day.   The cycle of cook–feed–wash dishes is never ending, and the pile of laundry never shrinks.  It is easy to become overwhelmed with monotony and discouraged with hopelessness.   So how do we combat this tendency?     First by changing our mindset. Then by changing how we approach housework, and lastly by having goals that extend outside of the confines of our homes.   Sounds simple, right?  Well, it really is.  If you approach it one step at a time.  Let’s start with the mindset change.

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Why are you home in the first place?   I am not talking about the “because I can’t afford daycare” reason.  There is something bigger or you would have found a way to get an outside job.  Why have you decided to stay at home while your spouse goes off to work every day?  Grab a notebook and write down all the reasons.  Don’t over think it.  Just keep writing until you hit the one that gives you an “ah ha” feeling.  Write until you get goosebumps or feel giddy or maybe even get teary-eyed.  You’ll know when you’ve hit upon “the one.”    I am purposely not going to give suggestions here because it’s important that this be entirely of your own creation.   You have to find and know and believe that one reason to the level of conviction.  It has to be the one that resonates with your soul.  So go do that now, and then come back here when you finish.    Got one?  Good!

Once you have “the one,” write it on its own paper and post it on the refrigerator where you can see it and be reminded of what it is that you are really doing every day.   And it’s not about making beds or doing laundry.  It’s about that core value or conviction that you’ve uncovered.  That is what is going to carry you through those tough days.   When you are having a down moment, go over to your refrigerator and instead of opening it and looking in for something to eat to quell the boredom (for the twentieth time today), just read your paper.  Close your eyes.  Breathe.  Now you’ve changed your mindset.   Now we are ready to move on to the day-to-day things you can do to manage the rest.

So let’s talk domestic goddess.  What is that anyway?  Well I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not a woman who is perfect at everything to do with keeping house or caring for a family.   There are no perfect women.  (Just look what happened to Martha.)   A domestic goddess is a woman who has a pretty good handle on keeping her house and caring for her family AND has maintained herself and her own identity in the process.  That’s the woman that makes your husband’s heart melt.  And that’s the goal here.   Maintain your home, your family, your marriage and your self.

Let’s start with home.   Household chores become mundane when two things happen.  (1) We forget to be present in the moment, and; (2) We don’t do the chore with the intent to do it the best that we possibly can.   Typically when we are washing dishes, folding laundry, or vacuuming the floors, we are rushing to get it done and thinking.  We are either thinking about something that already happened in the past, or we are thinking about what we will do once we finish, or we are thinking about some other event coming up in the future.  We are almost never thinking about what we are doing right then.  That’s called not being present.  Much of life’s joy is robbed from us by not being present in this moment.

As often as you can, begin to be present in what you are doing.   While washing the dishes, take note of the temperature of the water on your hands.  Look at the way the light reflects off the bubbles.   Note how the soapy water scents the air.  Suddenly you will find little moments of joy in the process.  You will be shocked at how peaceful and content this simple act can make you feel.   Do it with everything.  Sorting laundry, unpacking groceries, scrubbing the toilet.   Be in the moment.

Part 2, do the chore with the intention of doing the very best job of it that you can.   If you are going to clean that toilet, intend to do it until it sparkles.   If you are going to make that bed, do it so that any Army sergeant would be proud.   You will come out of your cleaning with a sense of accomplishment and pride and not a feeling of drudgery.

Part 3, develop a system for daily cleaning.  Have a “to do” checklist for what you will do daily and for what and when you will do your weekly, monthly, and seasonal chores. Having and following checklists also helps to maintain a feeling of accomplishment.  You can see all that you have completed, but more importantly, you can share your list with your spouse so that he can see all you have done as well.  This extra step helps combat the feelings of “thanklessness” by which some women report feeling plagued.

We’ll talk more about cleaning specifics and checklists as well as how to use them next week.  There’s more to a checklist than you think!  I’ll even include some printable lists for you to use.  Watch for them, but for now let’s move on to maintaining yourself.  (And your sanity).

The last step in combating boredom is to take steps to maintain your identity, your goals, and your self.  That means making time for yourself and your own interests.   That means that mom is just as important as dad and just as important as the kids.   You must schedule time for you and work the kids activities around yours.  You must.  It’s just like when the oxygen mask drops on an airplane and they instruct you to put yours on first.  You have to take care of you so that you are well enough to take care of the children.   If you do not, and your marriage and house and family falls apart, what good have you done?

Get that notebook out again and write down all the things that interest you.  If it’s been a long time since you thought about it, think about what used to interest you.  What hobbies do you have or did you have?  What things do you feel passionate about?   If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?   Start getting back in touch with who you were before you were wife and mom.   Here’s the thing.  That person who you used to be is the person that your husband fell in love with.  When he married you he hoped you’d never change.  He is just as interested in you maintaining her as you should be.   Make finding her again a priority.

The biggest challenge with pursuing your interests is going to be finding time.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  You can find snippets of time to delve into your hobbies and dreams, but to make it easier, this is where having a friend in the same situation comes in handy.   A babysitting exchange is incredibly therapeutic for all.   Work in an exchange of 3-4 hours of babysitting once every week.   During her time with the kids, do the things that used to make you feel alive.  Do NOT use the time to run errands, clean, or sleep.  If you feel that you need a block of free time for those things, schedule two babysitting exchanges each week–one for “work” and one for “pleasure.”

This is important too.  During your time to babysit, have a plan of an activity to do with the kids.   Make that time during babysitting a true quality time for the children.   Be sure that your friend does the same.   Here’s why.   You will not feel guilty about leaving the kids with someone else if you know they are having a fun time.  You will be free to enjoy pursuing your interests.    You will also not have guilt about your friend babysitting your children because you will know that you will be doing the same for her and her children later in the week.   It’s a win. win. win.

We’ve begun to scratch the surface of how to combat homemaker drudgery, and during the upcoming weeks we are going to delve further into these topics.  Feel free to leave a comment on your progress and your challenges.   I look forward to reading them!

p.s.  The photo attached was built upon one of my creations.  To combat my boredom, I write and I paint.  This one is called Waiting.  I chose him for this article because he looks bored.  🙂  I hope you enjoy it!  Oh, and also, don’t forget to Like our Facebook page.  You can just click on the “like” button over there in the sidebar ——>  or visit us on Facebook at Modern Day 50s Housewife.