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Isolation in New Mums

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

With ever increasing living costs, it's not surprising that both parents in many families have to work to make ends meet. Many of these parents dream of being able to give up work and stay at home to care for their children, however the reality isn't always as idyllic as it sounds.

It can be a major adjustment to go from a busy workplace to staying at home full time, and for those who don't have the support of family or friends nearby the transition can be difficult.

After the excitement of the Christmas period, it's back to reality for many stay at home mums as their partners return to work. After having their families and friends around them, it can be even harder to get used to the isolation of being a stay at home parent.

Grainne Ryan

Presenter of Baby on Board Series 2. Grainne is a public health nurse and midwife and mother of three children. Areas of interest child development, parenting issues, adolescent development and post natal depression and works as a public health nurse in Ennis Co. Clare.

Isolation and parenting
Having a baby is a life-changing experience - but sometimes that experience can be far from idyllic.
In fact, The survey, by Mother & Baby magazine and Tesco, found that 53% of new mums feel 'lonely and isolated' where they live, 87% miss their pre-baby social life and 62% miss their work colleagues.

This, coupled with the fact that many live far away from their parents and don't know their neighbours, means that overall, the average new mum spends only 90 minutes a day with other people - apart from when their partner returns - and 34% of new mums usually spend all day alone.

The first few weeks in particular can be very lonely indeed, but becoming a parent can be an experience that makes you feel happier than you've ever felt.

There's an enormous amount of fulfillment, but it's really important to have someone to share that with, and other mums will understand you.

It's as isolating a time as you make it, and many of the mums who feel isolated feel like that because they think they're not good enough mothers. They don't like to be around other mums because they think those mothers are better than them, so they cut themselves off.

The transition into parenthood can be difficult. It takes us out of the comfort zones about who we are, who our friends are. All these things are redesigned after you have a baby.

Who can experience loneliness/isolation
. Any parent can experience loneliness/isolation in their role as a parent
. A new mum /dad
. A single parent (but you could be in a relationship and feel lonely or isolated)
. A teenage parent
. An older parent
. A parent of a child with a disability/ behavioral difficulties
. A parent of children very close in age - some struggle in parenting two children
. New stay at home mum/dad
. All children started school/college
. A recent bereavement

Ante Natal
Try and get to know people in your area before your baby is born at antenatal classes, talk to your Public Health Nurse

Parent and toddler/baby group
Join a parent and baby group; contact your public Health Nurse for list of groups in your area.
If your child is older join a parent and toddler group, mother and baby yoga, Kindermusic or Gymboree.

Get some fresh air
Getting some fresh air is a great way to clear you head and get a change of scenery. Put the baby in the stroller and take a walk around your neighbourhood or local park. Chances are you will see other moms/dads doing the same thing and strike up a conversation with someone who could end up being a great friend. Make a conscious effort to get out everyday - wrap up and get out

Start your own playgroup
Start your own playgroup. Gather a group a mums to form a playgroup that meets up once a week, rotate houses. The moms will enjoy some bonding time with friends while the kids play together and develop their own friendships.

Join the gym.
Not only will you get into shape and feel better about yourself, the gym is a great place to meet other stay-at-home moms who are also looking for companionship. Also they often have child minding facilities.

Keep in touch
Stay in touch with family and friends, this will do wonders for your well-being. Try to get out of the house when its possible to meet with some friends over coffee, lunch or dinner. Connect with other parents through blog sites ie to ask and give parenting advice.
Take care of you
Take care of yourself. Don't forget to nurture the part of you that existed before kids. Get dressed. Get moving. Do something that you love. Don't forget to take a deep breath now and then. And always, always, look at the positive things in your life .
Take care of your relationship
Mind each other
Rule out postnatal depression
(pattern continuous low mood )