1. Other than your own websites, what are your favorite online resources for new parents?
Fortunately, depending on what kind of information new parents are looking for, there are thousands of parenting blogs and websites out there to peruse. For solid, straight-up info about pregnancy and parenting children of all ages, from newborn on up, you can’t beat BabyCenter.com. For personal parenting essays, entertaining blog posts, and fun diversions about things like celebrity pregnancies and family cooking, the online magazine Babble.com is my favorite. Mamapedia.com is good for advice from other moms. Of course, if you’re looking for mommy- or parent-blogs simply to read for pleasure and/or feel a sense of connection with other new parents, the choices are legion. Some of my favorite mommy-blogs over my years as a parent have been “not that you asked…,” “Notes From the Trenches,” Ben and Birdy,” and I’ve just discovered “Nat the Fat Rat” and “Momastery,” both of which are now on my favorites list.
2. Do you think it would be helpful for every mom to keep a journal or online blog?
I think writing is just one of many ways to relieve stress, cope with challenges, preserve memories, and enjoy a hobby. It won’t be the right thing for every mom. But I do think it is crucial for every mom to find the activity or activities that provide these things for her. Perhaps it’s doing yoga or going on long walks or gardening or scrapbooking or reading or baking or involving herself in a church community.
3. How has your knowledge in clinical psychology helped in adjusting to motherhood?
Although it’s always easier to apply one’s professional expertise to others than to one’s own self, I do take my psychology expertise seriously in my own mothering life. For instance, I take solo time to run, I connect with nature on a regular basis, I make sure to get plenty of sleep, I maintain a solid support network of fun, loyal, and compassionate friends around me, and because I believe strongly that emotional health is connected to physical health, I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and omega-3-rich foods.
4. In your private practice, have you helped many moms struggling with the adjustment to parenthood?
Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, the majority of my work involved helping teens, young adults, and families, so adjustment to parenthood was not part of the equation. However, now that I have two young children and my career has shifted to focus on parenting, health, and wellness, I am developing a private coaching practice that will specialize in self-care for moms—not just brand-new postpartum moms, but moms of kids of any age, who happen to be struggling to find a balance between taking care of children and taking care of themselves.
5. What is the most difficult challenge in switching from a working woman to stay-at-home mom?
I think that depends on whether a woman is becoming a stay-at-home mom immediately after having her first baby, or whether she’s shifting to stay-at-home motherhood after being a working mom for awhile.
In my experience, the biggest change and the hardest thing to get used to for women who become SAHMs as soon as they become mothers is the fact that the job is literally a 24-7, 365-day-a-year endeavor. You’re not done at five. You’re not done on Friday afternoon. You don’t get a lunch break (and often can’t even use the bathroom in solitude!). There is no vacation from the “job” of being a mom. And while every mom knows that motherhood is far more than just a job, and is worth all the challenges, it’s still beyond anything you can imagine before it happens to you.
For women who have been working moms and have decided to quit paid work to stay home, isolation is the biggest challenge. Stay-at-home motherhood can be extremely lonely—sometimes you’re in your house all day long with literally no adult interaction for 8 or 10 hours. That’s why it’s so crucial to make connections with other stay-at-home moms and find out where everyone else is going for fun now and then.
~Shannon Hyland-Tassava, Ph.D.
Thank you Dr. Shannon for the great information! If you have enjoyed this “Session with the Psychologist” then you should check out The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual, her newly published book. Also, don’t forget to enter in the book giveaway; you may be the lucky winner!