Beating The Isolation Blues In Lockdown: New Mums
Posted by: Sue Atkins
We’ve gone back into Lockdown & it’s challenging us all to the core, but none more so than new mums.
The joy of pregnancy has been tinged & maybe even tainted by not having your partner at your scans or by your bedside when you’ve given birth or able to share your joy with family & friends due to the restrictions.
It’s a roller coaster ride for us all but add in the hormones of a new Mum, the tiredness & the anxieties as well as the ‘new normal’ & it’s easy to see that new mothers need our support in anyway we can give it.
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.
In the past I used to suggest jotting 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.
In the past I used to suggest 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.
But things have changed yet there still are some things you can do to nurture your spirit & take care of your soul.
One very simple but easily overlooked piece of advice is to get out in the fresh air – it releases endorphins, is good for your mental health to be out in natural light & lifts both you & your little ones mood.
It’s also good exercise so it will help you sleep better too.
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 online to connect with other mums in the same boat as 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 online, 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 feel you have to 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.
In time after the lockdown:
- 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!
Do remember you have a lifetime of getting back out into the real world. Enjoy this special time but look after your own mental health as that is the best gift you can give your baby at this unusual time