The initial whirlwind has eased, your partner may have gone back to work, and now it’s just you and baby. But despite having an adorable bundle of joy to keep you company 24/7 (literally) maternity leave can leave you feeling lonelier than ever. As Alanis Morrisette sang…isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?
Whether you’re a seasoned pro at this parenting game, or it’s your first time, being a mum to a newborn can feel very isolating and lonely (especially when you throw a global pandemic into the mix).
When your maternity leave first starts, you think about how you’ll spend your time – get fit and be active, redecorate the house, start a blog – it can feel like you have something to prove in order to make the most of your time. Yet, when you have a little one, just getting dressed and combing your hair can be the greatest thing you accomplish in a day.
As mums, it can be a little defeating to admit that we feel lonely. After all, we should be busy and content to spend all day with our bundles of joy, right? But wanting to have a little adult conversation and time away from all the things that being a mummy entails is normal. Don’t feel bad about it.
You’re not alone in feeling alone. It’s common for new mums to experience loneliness, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer.
Here are 5 ways to help you stop feeling lonely as a mum...
1. Go to the park
Remember when you were a kid, and you were told not to talk to strangers? Forget it. Take your little one to a park and get chatting to a fellow mum. Chances are it’ll be the only adult conversation she’s had that day and will welcome the chat. Steer clear of openers like “You look tired” or “Is it a boy or a girl?” And you should be fine. Us mums are a pretty friendly bunch. Plus, getting out the house for a bit of time each day can do wonders for your mood.
2. Join Peanut
Peanut is a free app that you can use to connect with fellow mums in your area. Think of it like Tinder for mums (yep, you actually swipe right on the ones you want to connect with!) You can chat, join groups and even take part in live podcasts.
3. Sign up to a baby group
Now the world is starting to open up again as COVID restrictions lift, there are lots of groups you can take your little one to. It’s not just great for baby to interact with fellow babies, it’s good for you to get out and meet other mums too. There are plenty of different groups to choose from – music classes, baby sensory, sing & sign, swimming lessons, baby yoga – take a look online to see what’s on near you and sign up!
I’m also a member of my local Blaze Trails – baby walks group, which inspires parents to get out walking with their babies. You can check their website to see if there’s a walking group in your region, and if there’s not, why not start one yourself? You’ll get great support from the Blaze community and meet other mums in your area. What’s more, you’ll get some fresh air and exercise at the same time. Winner!
4. Have some time to yourself
This may seem completely unachievable at first but a little me-time can really help you feel your old self. I’m not saying you should go on a week-long spa retreat (although that sounds very appealing). What I am saying is that you need to make the most of the precious time you have to yourself when baby naps (the cleaning and washing can wait).
It can be as simple as having a soak in the bath, chilling out and watching your favourite film or TV programme, or taking a nap (after all, they say you should sleep when baby sleeps). These are all possible while baby naps, but if you have parents nearby or if your partner is around, you could even leave baby with them and get out to the gym or get your nails done, take a book or magazine to a cafe, or go shopping.
5. Join a Facebook group for local mums
Facebook groups can be a great way to connect with like-minded people. I’m a member of my local ‘Supermums’ group and it has a real community feel. It’s a busy group with people asking all sorts – should I be worried about this rash? Where’s the best place to take an active 10-month-old on a rainy day? Does anyone want to meet for a coffee?
If you’re struggling to cope or are feeling particularly low, it’s important that you talk to your GP or health visitor. And remember…you’re never alone.