Cleveland's stay-at-home moms suffer more stress, depression than working mothers

LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - Fifty years ago, nearly half of all women stayed home to raise their kids.

That number dipped to 23 percent in 1999 as two-income families became the norm.

There is a trend in parenthood that is sweeping the country: mothers are once again staying home, but it's not as easy as it looks.

Krista Afumbom, of Lakewood, can attest.

"I thought it was going to be a lot of momma snuggles, I thought it was going to be a lot of crafting, and holding hands, skipping through the zoo" she said with a laugh.

She was wrong.

Talking amid the cacophony of a playgroup hosted at her house, Krista says that having all those kids, and all that noise, is actually a reprieve from the daily chaos.

She says it allows her to bond with other moms and avoid the type of isolation that robs new moms of their sense of self.

"They lose who they are, they feel almost trapped in this stay-at-home mom thing and lose their identity as a woman."

Research backs her observations.

A Gallup poll found stay-at-home moms have higher rates of worry, sadness, stress and depression than working moms.

"It's really exhausting. You get touched out. You always have a child needing you, touching you, laying on you, being on you" she says.

Experts say it's important to carve out alone time to maintain a personal agenda and interests.

Planning date nights with spouses—and friends---is also important to keep social.

Krista started a Facebook group for other moms in the area.

Through it she keeps connected, and others connected to each other.

Some moms also note staying at home doesn't need to be full time, even just a few hours a week at a part-time job can make a huge difference to a person's psyche.

"It's a break where you can reconnect with your own brain, and your own adult self among other adults," says Angela Yeager.

She works eight to ten hours a week.

While she has family to watch her kids, she says a friend who doesn't still benefits from the time away from home.

"Her salary is completely negated by her child care cost, and she still does it because it's her mental health break and it's also her way of keeping her foot in her profession, so when she is ready to go back to full time work, she has that opportunity."

These women say the key to being a happy, healthy stay-at-home mom is about finding balance.

"My advice would be to plan for all situations, because you don't know how you're going to feel until you meet that baby" says Yeager.

"Have a reason to get out of your pajamas. Get involved. Talk to people when you go to the park," says Krista. "There's nothing more valuable to me than my kids. There's nothing more valuable to me than my family, and having a resilient family and a strong family. There's no price you can put on that for me."

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