Have you ever had one of those days where you bring your kid outside, hoping to see a friendly neighbor or the mail carrier, just so you’ll have an adult to talk to?
Or a cold winter day when you feel trapped in the house? You’ve read Madeliene 20 times and sung Itsy Freakin’ Spider a dozen, and feel your intellect melting away.
New mom isolation is real.
It can happen quickly. Even Kate Middleton admits to motherhood loneliness!
It doesn’t mean you don’t love your child. We know you do.
Like anyone, it just means that you want to talk to another adult. You want to converse about something other than poopies and onesies.
During my child’s life, I’ve experienced almost every work and care arrangement: full-time at home, working full-time, working part-time, and working from home. So this advice applies to anyone! That said, while parental isolation can happen to everyone, it seems most likely to impact full-time stay-at-home parents, which statistically are mostly women (though the number of SAHDs is rising!).
When Do You Get Lonely?
While there is a lot of focus on “NEW mom isolation” – yes, those first few months with a newborn can be harrowing – it can happen at any time throughout a child’s life.
My local friends have children older or younger than mine. So when the toddler turbulence started, my best friend (in another state) suggested that I needed people who are going through it, too. Smart advice.
No matter what stage you’re in, it helps to have someone who’s in the same trenches.
5 Ways to Feel Like a Human Again
Last week’s post was pretty heavy. Today’s topic can be serious too, but we’ll add a dose of humor for y’all to lighten things up.
Put Yourself on the Market
A few months ago, I told my sister that “I wasn’t in the market for new friends.” With a job, a child, a husband, a house, great family, and a yoga mat that stares longingly at me, it didn’t seem like there was time for much else. Then I realized I had zero friends in my town with preschool aged children and it seemed time to put myself back on the market.
Suddenly you find yourself chatting on Facebook with strangers, meeting up on “blind dates” and sizing the other one up to figure out if you want to hang out again. Sound familiar? “Playdating” is the closest I’ve come to dating since I got married exactly 10 years ago!
Consider joining a local parents’ group. Whether you love or hate Facebook, it makes these connections so much easier. For a low fee, I joined a moms’ group that has a book club, meetups with kids on both weekdays and weekends, family outings, kid stuff to buy and sell, play groups, and charity events.
I know, I know… you’re a little antisocial, or have a hard time building on small talk. But that’s exactly why a structured group is a great fit. The hard part is done for you.
You can also find parents’ groups that cater more toward specific needs and interests, whether you’re an autism parent, a homeschooler, or a political junkie. Take your pick, friends.
Explore Free Resources in Your Town
There’s a community waiting out there that doesn’t cost a penny.
Remember when Rory Gilmore deeply inhaled the library book smell?
That’s me, too. Public libraries not only have great-smelling books, but children’s programs, too. They’re perfect for a rainy day. Or when you want to just need to get out of the house.
Sure, you might be forced into a Wheels on the Bus sing-a-long, but at least you can commiserate with the mom to your left about your toddler refusing diaper changes. (Anyone? Anyone?)
Get Out of the House…Alone.
Yeah, yeah, everyone tells you to try to get out with the baby at least once a day. And when your child gets older, YOU’RE the one who wants to get the kid out of the house to run around and release energy. Am I right?
But it’s sooooo important to get out alone.
Even a solo trip to the grocery store, a haircut, a walk, or a ride in the car to belt out your favorite tunes. In new parenthood, there’s so much freedom lost. Let’s acknowledge and mourn that freedom.
There’s nothing that says freedom like walking out of the house with just your wallet and phone, carrying NOBODY.
If you don’t have a spouse, child care or family close by, commit to finding a babysitter. It’s worth the 15 bucks, even once a week if you can swing it, to feel normal again.
Try to Separate Your Phone From Kid Time
Social media can be a wonderful thing. It lets you connect with anybody, anywhere.
When Betty Draper wanted to complain, she had to invite a neighbor over for cigarettes and shove the kids in the backyard while she prepared a jello mold.
She didn’t have the luxury of posting a rant on Facebook like you and I.
Listen, I’m not gonna get all high and mighty and pretend I don’t sneak glances of Instagram when my kid is snacking on apple slices. Or graham crackers off the floor.
But constantly trying to do both at the same time splits your attention. You end up feeling split all the time. And a little frazzled. When I put the phone off to the side and really focus on play time, I feel more “in the moment.”
And your kid can tell. When they see you squeezing in a quick email, they whine more, right? So…’nuff said.
Take a Break From Feeling #Blessed
There’s a lot of pressure out there to be grateful. Just look at how many hits #blessed has on Instagram.
We’re grateful for sunshine, for family, and more and more, for coffee with a heart drawn in foam. And that’s wonderful.
But you don’t have to feel hashtag blessed for every booger, every temper tantrum, every marker drawn on the wood floor. It’s just not natural.
As someone who experienced pregnancy loss and didn’t get pregnant with the snap of a finger, I promised I’d never ever complain if I were lucky enough to have child. And then real life sets in.
We’re all so scared of looking ungrateful that we forget to admit our true feelings. And someone always has it worse. But just let it out. Vent.
And if all else fails…. just hide from your kids.
*Thanks to my friend Michelle for her subsconcious inspiration