How to beat loneliness after baby arrives and balancing crazy-busy schedules
"There are no classes to prepare a new mom for the loneliness that can follow having a baby. How do you fill the time, make friends and remember to get out of the house?"
- Chelley Martinka, Cranston, RI
Chelley, I appreciate this question more than you can imagine. Being a new mom is a wonderful yet isolating experience. And nothing prepares you for the lonely side of motherhood. Most women don’t admit these types of “side effects” to other women, so I commend you for your honesty. When my children were infants, there were days when I didn’t even have the energy to leave the driveway, let alone get together with friends. Whether you’re looking to just get out of the house or form friendships with other moms, here are some tips to help keep you sane:
- Phone time. Have only five minutes to spare? Make a special phone “date” with a good friend. Sometimes just a 10 minute phone conversation with a gal pal while changing or feeding your baby can do wonders for your sanity. Make sure you do this with a friend who allows you to be YOU, yoga pants and all.
- Take a shower. Make it a goal to take a shower every day. You will feel human again. Sneak one in before your husband leaves for the office or when your baby naps.
- Just one. If you are terribly lonely, make it a goal to leave your house with baby in tow for at least one hour every week. Try to do something that doesn’t involve grocery shopping. In the winter, take a mommy and baby yoga class or a trip to a museum. If these activities sound too daunting, head to a drive-thru coffee shop together. In the summer, stroll through the park. Do something that brings you and your baby joy outside of the house.
- Don’t overload. Being a new mom can be overwhelming. With piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and a tiny baby, daily life can get pretty stressful, causing you to never want to leave the house. A mom once gave me this piece of advice: When you’re overwhelmed, stick to one or two goals for the day. One load of laundry and grocery shopping, for example. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
- Stay social. Never underestimate the power of social media. Join a Facebook or Twitter mom group or an online mommy group. You’ll get to know other moms in your area and across the country. And you’ll be amazed at how much you have in common.
- Join. If you don’t have many new mom friends, research mommy groups or play groups in your area. There are many groups waiting to be discovered by you and baby. Some groups may meet a town or two away, but it’s worth it to make the drive to connect with other women. Side note: Women who are a part of these groups often welcome you with open arms. I joined a newcomer’s group when I first moved to my town and our little ones played together while the moms chit-chatted away. We met once a week, and it was a life-saver.
- Work it out. If you’re going back to work full-time or part-time after maternity leave, you may find it’s easy to get out of the house, but still challenging to maintain friendships. Use your time away from home to your advantage. Call a friend during your commute or lunch hour or try to sneak in a gal-pal lunch date once a month.
- Stay in touch with friends without kids. In order to maintain friendships with friends without kids, try to remember what it was like before you had kids. Keep the conversation balanced. Meet your friend during her lunch hour. Try meeting in a park or playground near her office. Talk about her life first and before you know it, she’ll be asking about you and your baby.
- Go where they go. The quickest way to make new mommy friends? Go where other moms go. Bring your baby to a neighborhood playground or park. Feed her on the bench and enjoy some fresh air. Within a month, you’ll start forming friendships.
“My kids have such busy schedules, I feel like we can never catch up. What can I do to stop the madness?”
- D. from Smithfield, RI
Dear D. - My advice to you? Simplify. I’m willing to bet that no one is keeping score except you. Being a kid shouldn’t be a contest. And neither should being a parent. Look for ways to make your family life a little easier. Here are some tips:
- Minimize activities. Extra-curricular activities for your kids are great, but too much of a good thing is not good either. How many activities are your children enrolled in? Maybe one (or five) too many? Does your son need to be in basketball, indoor soccer, the school play and hockey every winter? Can he wait to play soccer next spring? If he’s trying out for the play, you should re-think some other activities and post-pone them for next season.
- Simplify meals. Are you killing yourself to put a homemade meal on the table every night? On busy nights, try sticking to simple meals that don’t take a long time such as quesadillas or pasta and vegetables.
- When in doubt, take-out. If you’re running around like a mad woman every Wednesday for example, make Wednesday night take-out night. Nothing beats good Chinese, Thai or Italian!
- Homework comes first. Make sure homework is the first thing your kids do when they come home from school. If they have play practice right after school, make sure they do their homework as soon as they get home. The last thing you want it for your kids to stay up late every night.
- Take care of mom. Don’t forget to take care of you. Create a healthy routine for yourself and stick to it. Also, don’t stay up too late doing dishes or reading emails. Try to get plenty of rest.
Jackie is a local writer and pr professional who blogs about her take on motherhood at www.ventingsessions.com and writes about it in her book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker.