Parenting expert shares tips for beating the isolation blues
Parenting expert and coach Sue Atkins, with over 22 years of experience with parents and children, gives new mothers practical tips on how to beat the isolation blues.
Feeling isolated when you first have children is very common, as you’ve probably left a job where there was always people around to chat to, so plan ahead and talk to your friends and other parents about what they do to get out and about.
One simple way to combat loneliness is to get into a routine about getting up and getting dressed and having a few small things planned each day. Jot down the night before some simple things that you want to achieve the next day that will take you, and your children out – simple things like going to the Post Office, getting some milk and a paper and have 3 simple things in your diary each week that gets you out meeting people.
The most obvious way to break the cycle of isolation that often comes with being a new parent is to go to places where there are other mums in the same situation, so look out for:
- Story time at the library
- Toddler Groups at local churches
- Activities at sports centres – with ball pools, games, activities and informal get togethers
- Musical classes where you child can learn new things and you can meet new friends
- There are lots of free activities if you go to the library and look for them, or paid classes like Tumble Tots, Music Bugs and Talking Tots
- Look at the website www.whatson4.com and explore a wide range of activities and things for your baby, toddler, and school aged kids to do as well as lots of new places for you to explore too.
You will have something naturally in common with these mums straight away and can smile, strike up a conversation and if you attend regularly you build up a friendship over time – be patient, don’t be shy and just relax and you’ll find new friends.
It’s about getting into a routine too, and knowing that for example, every Thursday you go to Talking Tots and on Wednesdays you meet some mums for coffee …… create your own simple diary of activities to get you out and about meeting and chatting to others.
Don’t be afraid to ASK! It can be strange being at home and away from colleagues, and the buzz of conversations, so ask other mums in the same situation where they go and what they do and join in.
Here are some other ideas:-
- “Me” Time. It’s important to find a little “me” time every day to keep your confidence. Exhausted mums suffer from low self esteem trying to do it all, and being at home without the need to dress up or pop on makeup can, over time, erode your self esteem. Being with children is great but Mums also need adult company and to keep their own lives going as kids do eventually leave home one day! So go out to Bingo, or go to the films or have a drink with a friend once a week – it helps you recharge your batteries, keep your perspective and your sense of humour so you come back to the hectic job of raising kids refreshed and upbeat.
- Leaving the house for even a short while every day can help to prevent isolation in new mums and can really help to minimise the risk of depression. Even simple activities like taking a walk in the park or around the block can be an uplifting experience. Plus, the fresh air and exercise will help Mums stay fit and healthy.
- Taking up a new hobby is another excellent way for new mums to not feel isolated and alone. Join a painting class, learn how to speak French or take a salsa class as these activities will keep you motivated and help you explore other interests in your life outside of baby. But don’t join an aerobics class just to lose leftover baby weight as that can feel like a chore so do something you’re truly passionate about.
- Set up a babysitting network with your friends, neighbours and family; you can watch your sister’s baby when she takes photography class on Tuesdays while she can care for your newborn while you do the weekly shop or whatever frees up some time for you to have a relaxing, fun time.
- Think about your life before you had children. What made you happy before your days revolved around the kids? What was most important to you? What roles did you have in life? Make a list of the things that made you happiest before you became a Mum and try to bring those elements back into your life. Make time for things you used to enjoy.
- Join an online parenting group as these are a wonderful way to feel connected to other parents in the same boat.
- Let people help you – and give you time to rest or have a bath without worrying or feeling guilty! Let relatives or your partner look after the kids sometimes so you can have a rest or meet a friend to chat.
- Keep the glow with your partner by going out once a week or turning off the telly to have a 10 minute chat every evening at a regular time, can work wonders for feeling connected again after having kids.
It can be quite a daunting experience handling the transition from working to staying at home or juggling your work/life balance so make simple plans, find a new routine that suits your family and relax. Make a commitment to staying positive and deliberately mix with upbeat, like minded people to lift your spirits, and remember a smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight!
Article by Sue Atkins
Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert, Broadcaster, Speaker and Author of the Amazon best selling book "Raising Happy Children for Dummies" one in the famous black and yellow series and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She has also just launched her 1st Parenting Made Easy app for iPhones and iPads.
Her new book “Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy, Children” is available to pre-order now and is published by Random House.
Sue offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children from toddler to teen.
She regularly appears on ITV’s This Morning, BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and is the parenting expert for many BBC Radio Stations around the UK. She has a regular monthly parenting phone-in on BBC Radio Surrey & Sussex and her parenting articles are published all over the world.
To receive her free ebooks bursting with practical tips and helpful advice from toddler to teen log on to www.theSueAtkins.com and download them instantly today.