Danielle Aubin, LCSW
Why Motherhood Can Feel So Lonely And What To Do About It
1 + 1 = 3, right? So then why do you feel so lonely? It can come as a surprise for some of us how completely isolating motherhood can be. We expected Mom and Baby yoga and lattes with friends with our babies in cute strollers. We never expected that getting out of the house could feel so monumentally hard or that our friends without kids might drift away from us. Our partners might go back to work soon after the baby arrives and we are left with our days blurry and seemingly unfinished in some way. What exactly are we supposed to spend our time doing? It can feel like an existential crisis. Everyone looks like they have everything figured out and has places to be and here we are, wondering if leaving the house would be a good thing or if we should just stay home and try to cook a meal.
Perhaps part of the problem is that we are set up to fail with unrealistic expectations. Our baby shower was packed with people yet once the baby arrived, we didn't see anyone for weeks or months. Where did all those people go? We find ourselves sleep-deprived and bickering with our partners and have never felt more alone in our entire lives. If our partner is having their own struggles, we can feel like we have nowhere to turn.
Hormonal shifts and sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on our memory and ability to stay organized. "Was there storytime scheduled today?" "When did I last wash my hair?" "I feel so sticky." This can cause us to feel even more isolated since we can't keep our schedules straight and can miss opportunities to connect with others by returning their calls or remembering to reach out to them.
Despite the loneliness and disorganization of early motherhood, there is the possibility to form deeper, more meaningful connections than you had pre-baby. Finding a couple of like-minded moms can make a world of difference and create bonds that can last a lifetime. Imagine, if you are feeling this lonely, disconnected and out of it, there are probably hundreds, maybe even thousands, of moms near you who feel the same way. Each of you is sitting in your home, isolated, feeling like you are the only one who feels that way in the world.
How To Find Mom Friends Postpartum
Locate an activity that parents and babies go to. This could be library storytime, the park, music and me classes, mom and baby yoga, lactation support groups, baby sign language, new mom support groups, religious services, etc. Try something new.
Join a local mother's club. These clubs usually have playgroups organized by birthdate.
Introduce yourself to other moms in the class or playgroup. If other moms plan on getting coffee after the class/group, go! If no one has set a date for the next playgroup, set one and invite others. Invite moms to go to coffee with you or on a hike. Try to have at least one social outing with friends per week. It really, really helps.
The real trick to finding mom friends postpartum is to PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. One of the best mom friends I have ever made was from answering a Facebook post from another mom who was just looking for playmates for her kid. Talk to moms at the park. Your baby is the perfect ice breaker, you immediately have something in common with everyone else at the park. You are a caregiver of a child. And there are a million ways to start a conversation "Those baby shoes look comfortable, what brand are they?" "Oh, you cloth diaper too?" "Is the storytime good at the library in this town?" and on and on.