The lonely mum? Let’s talk about this, shall we?
This Winter is draaaaaaaging like there’s no tomorrow.
Wouldn’t we all love warmer days to sit in the garden sipping wine and eating nachos while the birds sing and the sun beats down on our faces?
Eyes closed. The smell of freshly cut grass wafting in. Just imagine you’re there now.
Oh! Then along comes a tiny one, swiftly destroying that peace by plastering you in whatever mess they’ve got on their hands.
Recently we returned home after 4 months in my hubby’s home town in Poland.
I learned a bit more of the language (it’s hard), ate way too much sourdough bread, and wrote poetry every spare moment I had. (I also created this bad boy of a book while out there.)
Downtime was what I needed, thus downtime is what I DID. And while there, someone asked what was I missing from home?
Without a moment’s pause, I said I missed my friends.
As soon as I muttered those words, the loneliness crept in.
It got me thinking – am I the only lonely mum? Is this a normal feeling? I know I’m not, of course not!
A survey by Channel Mums published on the Huffington Post found that up to 90% of mums suffer from loneliness, also described as ‘friendless’ since giving birth.
This is just so sad 🙁
Loneliness among mums has increased since the pandemic too.
Baby and toddler groups all but closed during the height of the Corona waves (pleural), and being ordered to ‘stay home’ all but eliminated any sense of socialising.
So in other words, that 90% means pretty much all us mummies are lonely to some degree.
Isn’t that heartbreaking?
It’s so sad, at what’s intended to be an enjoyable period of life.
So let’s get to it! The question we want answered is – what do we do about this loneliness?
Acknowledge Your Feelings of Loneliness
As with everything, you have to first acknowledge it to change it. And it’s OK to have feelings!
If you pretend you’re OK or in denial, you’ll get nowhere.
There must be a moment of, “Ah, OK, I’m lonely, and I need to do something about it.”
Then move to step two below.
Connect To Yourself
The loneliness of motherhood is not about being alone per sey – it’s more about not having enough adult conversation in general.
All day, every day with your children, there are times when you don’t have another adult to talk with, say if your partner’s out working.
Add to this the now frequent way of communicating – being a WhatsApp message or IG/FB post, it’s no wonder we feel shy to phone somebody, or instigate a face-to-face cuppa.
And, let’s not forget that all-our-time is taken up by the wee ones.
There’s also another phenomenon happening too. That being the trend of self discovery and self realisation.
We’re bombarded from every angle to ‘Be ourselves’ and ‘Fulfil our own happiness’, and ‘We don’t need anyone to make us happy’.
And perhaps, (I’m just hypothesizing here) this has something to do with why modern mums are lonely?
There’s so much emphasis on this, on finding fulfilment, digging deep and being true to ‘yourself’ (believe me, I know!) that we’re losing the ability to connect with others.
What’s more, we’re losing the desire to connect with others.
This is worrying. What we must cling onto here is the reality that we’re wired for connection.
From birth, we crave connection with our mothers, and as adults, we need connection too. It’s a fundamental necessity to connect and be with other humans.
Therefore, we must remind ourselves (y’know, I’m softly saying, take yourself by the scuff of the neck and give yourself a wake up shake up) that it’s expected to want to have company! It’s very, very normal!
OK, now the third step…
Be Vulnerable. Speak Up.
Now, it’s time to find your voice! I know, doesn’t that phrase ring a bell?
But it’s so true. No one ever knows how you’re feeling unless you tell them.
If you’ve got a good friend or family member to talk to, describe how you’re feeling to them. Tell them you’re feeling lonely from time to time but you’re keen to do something about. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to feel self conscious of either.
You’re one mum in a gazillion who feels a similar way.
And if anything, having a conversation (I mean a real face-to-face conversation) will relieve those lonely feelings in that moment.
Again, it’s coming back to connection and being in the company of others – something most mums are seriously depleted on.
In addition, contact local mums and tots groups in your area. They should be open again now after the last pandemic closures.
I go to my local tots group every week, and although it can be hard to ‘break the ice’, I guarantee every other mum is feeling exactly the same. Desperate to talk, but equally nervous!
You need to be courageous, face your fear and open a conversation. If you get the sense that the other mum doesn’t want to talk, that’s OK. Just re-focus on your child/ren and don’t take it personally.
Keep It Local
Another thing to consider is what’s going on in your local area?
Perhaps organising a local mums and dogs walk, or going to a coffee morning once a week if there is one? It doesn’t have to be the stereotypical ‘mums n tots’ meet ups if you don’t fancy that.
Everyone has felt lonely during this pandemic, so there’s bound to be local meet ups and coffee mornings somewhere.
You need to proactive in your approach and find these meet ups. Go to them. They won’t come to you. Or even better, create them! Be the one who initiates it, and enjoy a meet up designed in your way. Everyone will be so grateful you’ve organised it.
There’s also soft play centres and play-parks which are frequented by other mums with their children. Again, breakout of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation!
Escape Your Duties (For A While)
A different approach to conquer those lonely mum feelings is to get back in touch with what you loved before kids. What were your passions or interests?
There’s a myriad of online and offline groups specific to different topics where you can meet others and enjoy their company.
Why not join a fitness class or course? Or get back in touch with your uni or college mates?
We often get so locked in our heads that it’s hard to remember who or what we’ve lost touch with. (They don’t call it mummy brain for nothing.) Again, it’ll take a little courage and fear beating to instigate a connection with these people, but it’s so worth it.
Don’t Forget Your Partner (If Applicable)
A final idea from me is to talk to your partner. In all likelihood, they’ll have no clue about your loneliness, and only want to help you overcome it.
You’ll notice there’s a similar thread in all the ideas I bring in this post.
The key with any form of loneliness (and in anything else too) is to be proactive in beating it. Don’t stay lonely! There’s always people eager to meet, connect and share company with you.
It takes tremendous guts to start a new conversation with someone you don’t know. Even more so to re-connect with someone you’ve lost contact with.
But every time you do this, you’ll grow more confident in yourself and be a stronger person for it. And this will boost your mental and emotional health, helping you feel great as a mum.
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