Guest post by The Parenting Expert, Sue Atkins.
Sometimes becoming a mum can feel really lonely.
Sometimes, when you’re awake in the dead of night at 3 am nursing your baby, or gently rocking them back to sleep, with your partner snoring loudly in the next room, your dog sprawled on his back contently fast asleep in his bed in the corner of the room & the silence of the moonlight or the hum of traffic gently going about its business, can make you feel like you’re the only person in the whole world who’s not asleep.
Guilt about feeling blessed & grateful play against feeling lonely & isolated.
Sometimes, you look in the mirror and wonder where you’ve gone.
Feeling isolated when you first have children is very common, as you’ve probably left a job where there were always people around to chat to.
One simple way to combat loneliness is to get into a routine about getting up and getting dressed and having a few small things planned each day. Jot down the night before some simple things that you want to achieve the next day that will take you, and your baby out – simple things like going to the Post Office, getting some milk and a paper and have 3 simple things in your diary each week that gets you out meeting people.
The most obvious way to break the cycle of isolation that often comes with being a new parent is to go to places where there are other mums in the same situation, so look out for:
- Storytime at the library
- Toddler Groups at local churches
- Activities at sports centres – with ball pools, games, activities and informal get-togethers
- Musical classes where your child can learn new things and you can meet new friends
- There are lots of free activities if you go to the library and look for them, or paid classes like Tumble Tots, Music Bugs and Talking Tots
- Online groups where you can chat to and organise meet ups with mums near you
You will have something naturally in common with these mums straight away and can smile, strike up a conversation and if you attend regularly you build up a friendship over time – be patient, don’t be shy and just relax and you’ll find new friends.
It’s about getting into a routine too, and knowing that for example, every Thursday you go to a swimming group and on Wednesdays you meet some mums for coffee …… create your own simple diary of activities to get you out and about meeting and chatting to others.
Don’t be afraid to ASK! It can be strange being at home and away from colleagues, and the buzz of conversations, so ask other mums in the same situation where they go and what they do and join in.
That’s where joining in on Mummy Social can really help.
Here are some other ideas:
- “Me” Time. It’s important to find a little “me” time every day to keep your confidence. Exhausted mums suffer from low self-esteem trying to do it all, and being at home without the need to dress up or pop on makeup can, over time, erode your self-esteem.
Being with children is great but Mums also need adult company and to keep their own lives going as kids do eventually leave home one day! So, go out to Bingo, or go to the films or have a drink with a friend once a week – it helps you recharge your batteries, keep your perspective and your sense of humour so you come back to the hectic job of raising kids refreshed and upbeat.
- Leaving the house for even a short while every day can help to prevent isolation in new mums and can really help to minimise the risk of depression. Even simple activities like taking a walk in the park or around the block can be an uplifting experience. Plus, the fresh air and exercise will help you stay fit and healthy.
- Taking up a new hobby is another excellent way for new mums to not feel isolated and alone. Join a painting class, learn how to speak French or take a salsa class as these activities will keep you motivated and help you explore other interests in your life outside of your baby. But don’t join an aerobics class just to lose leftover baby weight as that can feel like a chore so do something, you’re truly passionate about or interested in.
- Set up a babysitting network with your friends, neighbours and family; you can look after your sister’s baby when she takes a Pilates class on Fridays while she can care for your newborn while you do the weekly shop or whatever frees up some time for you to have a relaxing, fun time.
- Think about your life before you had children. What made you happy before your days revolved around the kids? What was most important to you? What roles did you have in life? Make a list of the things that made you happiest before you became a Mum and try to bring those elements back into your life. Make time for things you used to enjoy.
- Join an online parenting group as these are a wonderful way to feel connected to other parents in the same boat.
- Let people help you – and give you time to rest or have a bath without worrying or feeling guilty! Let relatives or your partner look after the kids sometimes so you can have a rest or meet a friend to chat.
- Keep the glow with your partner by going out once a week or turning off the telly to have a 10 minute chat every evening at a regular time, as this can work wonders for feeling connected again after having kids.
It can be quite a daunting experience handling the transition from working to staying at home or juggling your work/life balance so make simple plans, find a new routine that suits your family and relax.
Make a commitment to staying positive and deliberately mix with upbeat, likeminded people to lift your spirits, and remember a smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight!
Sue’s parenting articles are published all over the world & to receive her free eBooks bursting with practical tips and helpful advice from toddler to teen log on to www.theSueAtkins.com and download them instantly today.