Updated: Feb 10, 2018
A week after my first son was born, I got my first lesson in mom loneliness. My own mom had come to help for a week but then had to head back home, and about the same time she left, my husband went back to work full time. I wasn’t technically by myself…I had my newborn with me, but the lack of adult interaction combined with the difficulties of getting used to having a baby and taking care of him were a bit of a shock. I remember being by myself all day in our little apartment, crying probably as much as my infant at times and counting the hours til my husband would get home. Most days there was no real time with other people except for a hello and maybe a little small talk with neighbors when I took the baby outside for a walk.
The loneliness factor has ebbed and flowed in different ways throughout the years, but in my own experience and that of other moms I’ve talked with, it’s a common and not often discussed battle with mothering young children, particularly for a stay-at-home mom. It’s worth mentioning here that introverts and extroverts will likely have very different measures of loneliness in this season. Regardless of your personality though, it’s probable that you’ll struggle at some point, to some extent. Since I’m naturally an introvert, loneliness has been less of a difficulty once I got used to staying home with my little ones and found a good balance of social time. My sister, however, is naturally very social and has experienced quite a different side of the spectrum. Only a few weeks before her first baby was born, she and her husband moved across the country so he could start his residency program for medical school. With no friends at the start, a new baby to take care of, and a very busy husband often working at night, she’s been in a tough spot. Now that she’s a few years down the road, I asked her about her strategies for combating loneliness and having a healthy social life as a stay-at-home mom with little kiddos. Here’s what she shared:
Have a few people whom you talk to on the phone on a regular basis. Schedule these calls as a weekly occurrence, if needed, or just have a mental list of friends or family whom you know are likely to answer or call back pretty quickly.
Make a standing play-date with one or more other moms. Schedule this weekly, if possible, or however it needs to fit into your schedule, as long as it’s a regular occurrence that you can look forward to.
Meet regularly with a counselor or mentor. A church can be a good resource to find someone like this, and it can be extremely helpful to have someone you specifically meet with for purposeful conversation and help.
Be willing to approach other moms and strike up conversations. Bring your kids places other moms will congregate (the park, etc…) and be the one to approach them, talk, exchange phone numbers, schedule play dates, etc. Those moms are probably feeling the same way you are, and you may end up with some great friendships.
Get out in public. If you’re feeling particularly lonely or down, it can be really helpful just to get out in a public place. Maybe find a new recipe to try and go to the store for some ingredients. This gives you something to think about, something to look forward to when you get home, and a purposeful reason to go be around people, even if you don’t talk to them.
Have a daily, intended schedule even if you aren’t able to get out of the house that day. Having your day planned out helps set your expectations for the day and keeps you busy.
We all need regular, good conversation and interaction with other people, and somehow, repeating baby coos, refereeing toddlers, answering a million questions about what’s for lunch, and listening to an incredibly detailed description of a picture book you’ve seen a few dozen too many times don’t really fit the bill. By being proactive, this loneliness is very much combatable!