Take the 2-minute tour ×
Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My wife stays at home with our 4yo and I work full time. We moved to our current city a year ago and do not have many friends or family in the area. She feels isolated and depressed, and also guilty for not having the energy to give our son the amount of positive attention he deserves. I try to do everything I can to help. Basically, I take over all parenting responsibilities as soon I get home from work so that she can have at least a couple of hours alone to work on her writing career or just to relax. But she is getting more and more worn down as time goes on.

Our financial situation is such that additional daycare or paid activities are not really an option. What else can I do to help her?

share|improve this question
    
Are such questions allowed as it asks about helping wife than the kid? Or something related to the parenthood? I'm not sure though. –  Maulik V Apr 15 at 5:55
6  
@MaulikV I would suggest (not that I am an authority) that it is appropriate as it is about parenting... not all aspects of parenting are solely focused on the children, right? –  Jeremy Miller Apr 15 at 6:17
    
Maybe, as it's talking about studying/addressing the mother and not a woman. I was just curious about it so asked –  Maulik V Apr 15 at 6:19
1  
If she feels isolated and depressed, this may not be the right question to ask, Dan. She may be feeling these things because of reasons totally unrelated to parenting, but more about her ability to socialize. Perhaps external activities when you get home from work in a way that balances her parental duties, wifely joys with her husband, and need for external socialization would be useful. –  Jeremy Miller Apr 15 at 6:19
3  
As it's a problem essentially unique to parents, I'm inclined to allow it. –  Karl Bielefeldt Apr 15 at 12:35

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

As a stay at home mom (of an almost 4 year old) who left the workforce due to relocating for my husband's job I can relate to your wife's situation. Being around other women in a similar life situation can be encouraging. Her feelings of isolation and being worn down are quite common, especially when one has a weak social support network in their life. It is great that you realize she needs some support and are attempting to share some of the responsibilities to help out.

What else could you do?

Ask other parents at the office whether they have any suggestions about what there is to do in the area, and how she could get out and meet other moms and kids for her son to play with. Many of the best things she could be getting out to do to break the isolation bubble are specific to the area where you live and what opportunities are out there. Some areas the thing to do might be hang out at the library. Or maybe there's a museum or zoo with an affordable annual membership. Or a playground that other stay at home moms frequent. Maybe there's a moms club or church group or other support group that already exists in your area. Pass along any suggestions that may interest your wife.

It is unclear from your post whether or not your son is in preschool or part-time daycare. If he is not (or sometimes even if he is, if he has high social needs!), he may be really hurting for social opportunities himself, and acting out when his needs aren't getting met, which is very exhausting as a parent to deal with. Making sure your child is getting ample social opportunities, exercise, and time outdoors can do wonders for reducing exhausting behavior issues. This doesn't have to be expensive classes. Taking him to the playground counts. Even better would be enrolling him in a preschool if he is not eligible for public schools, or joining or starting a preschool co-op. A friend of mine does a preschool co-op with 5 other parents, and the expenses are minimal (they purchased a ready-made curriculum) since they meet at each other's houses.

If there are kids your son plays with well at the park, encourage your wife to talk to them and try to set up a playdate in the future. If she's shy or having trouble reaching out at the park, perhaps go to the park together with your child on the weekend, and help your wife break the ice in talking to other parents.

Throw a casual event, such as a potluck or bbq lunch. Invite coworkers with stay at home spouses to attend with their families. Ask your wife to invite some acquaintances she's met in the last year. They don't have to be close friends (yet!). The idea is to reach out to other people she'd like to get to know better and create opportunities to connect.

Suggest your wife join a professional group, such as a group for writers that meets in the evening once a month, or a book club, or bunko group, or some other group where she might have some grown up time out of the house. Be sure to support making attendance possible by taking over child-care duties that evening.

Encourage your wife to find a mom's group in your area. Personally I prefer the kind that have regularly scheduled weekly playgroups. Then you don't have to worry about "dead weeks" when you're too frazzled to set up playdates. And these are often held at parks or people's houses so they are not expensive. There are national organizations like Mom's international or MOPS that may have a branch in your area. Or there may be a local group. Or a meetup group that does the same purpose. Etc.

Pick up local publications for parents. Often these are distributed for free at places of interest to families, grocery stores, the lobby of gymnastics centers, etc. These local publications may have event calendars and ads that give you ideas for stuff to do.

And lastly, spend time talking to your wife. She may just need an ear to listen to. Encourage her to call an old friend who's not local--it may just revive her spirit and give her some fresh energy.

share|improve this answer

If you are in the US, you might suggest she check out your local public library. Most have many free programs for children. It's also a great way to connect with other mothers. Even if your wife doesn't go to the programs with your child, it's an outing to a safe place, educational for both her and your child. She will see friendly people, and she can check out books or magazines or DVDs. Some libraries have play areas for children. Most libraries are not the quiet places they used to be. And they are all free!

share|improve this answer

Have you found any colleagues at work with kids? Ask them for suggestions. While they might not have kids of the right age for playdates, they may know of other families through their daycare, church, neighbors, etc.

Also ask about free opportunities in the city for families.

share|improve this answer

How is your son's behaviour? And specifically, when he's just with your wife? Perhaps he is so demanding because of behavioural issues.

Is your wife fit? Starting an exercise program may make her feel much better. Running is free.

I suggest going to as many parent/child groups as she can. In the UK there are lots of these groups and they're cheap. Even if money is tight, I would make a couple of these a week a priority. I don't know about other countries though.

share|improve this answer
1  
Just a note: Running is not free. Running has a time cost associated with it, specifically because you can't do it with a 4 year old tagging along. If your wife is going to start an achievable exercise program, she'll need your support in terms of the time to go out. Given that this will normally be at the end of the day when she's at her lowest ebb, it's worth being aware of. If you can schedule around this though, it's a great idea. –  deworde Apr 15 at 13:48
1  
Many moms jog with jogging strollers, so in that sense, yes, she can do it with a four year old tagging along... –  Joe Apr 15 at 14:11

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.