Recently, MPs launched a new campaign to tackle loneliness, after research showed that over 9 million people in the UK say they feel lonely, and the effects of “chronic loneliness” can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

When we think of loneliness we often think of older people or those with no family. But in reality, you could be surrounded by loved ones and still feel lonely.

One time in your life when loneliness can strike is when you have a baby. You might have a house full of visitors in those first few weeks, and you spend every waking moment (and there are a lot of waking moments) with a mini version of yourself who needs constant attention. So how could you possibly feel alone when your life is really quite hectic?

When you have a child all of a sudden your priorities change. Your mind is taken up with baby related stuff and your whole world stands still while you get your head round it all. But around you, the rest of the world keeps moving. Your partner goes back to work, the visitors become less frequent, and while your child free friends are downing jaeger bombs at 1am you are sat in the dark, nursing a baby. Alone.

When your child doesn’t sleep, or won’t eat, or isn’t developing how you think they should, you can feel like you are the only person in the world going through that situation at that time. When you feel like all you do is change nappies and feed and clean up sick, you may find yourself staring at the endless pile of laundry and feeling like you are stuck in groundhog day.

Getting out of the house and spending time with other people can stop all the days just rolling into one another. One of the best things I did very early on in my days as a new mum was to drag my post pregnancy backside out of the house and go to my first ever mum and baby group.

It was awful. I felt sick. I was shaking. I nearly walked back out.

What was I doing? It’s so hard to make friends as an adult; why was I torturing myself? But I sucked it up and went in anyway.

And it made all the difference. Most of us need other mum friends in our lives. Someone who knows the pains of trying to get a baby to sleep through the night. Someone who can share tips on weaning. Someone who doesn’t judge you for turning up to a play date late, smelling of baby sick with 3 day old hair. Here are some of the reasons why you should definitely check out your local mum and baby groups.

1.Babies are fantastic ice breakers. Everyone likes to talk about their babies, especially when they are all shiny and new. Everyone at the group has at least one thing in common – and that one thing is the biggest thing that is going on in their lives right now. So don’t worry that you won’t have anything to talk about.

2. You might have a very supportive other half, and a wide network of friends and family, but chances are most of them will have jobs or other commitments. The days can seem long when you are counting down the minutes until you can have some sort of adult interaction. You need to get out of the house before you become so desperate for conversation that you start telling the postman your life story.

3. It can be hard to reach out and make that first move. But, while I would never have gone up to someone I don’t know and asked them if they fancied grabbing a coffee in my pre-baby life, at mum and baby groups its not that weird. In fact, there are lots of mums who would welcome meeting someone who is going through the same things as them.

4. There is something about having a baby that causes you to lose the filter. Topics that would have been completely out of bounds pre-motherhood suddenly become conversation starters. Within 20 minutes you will be comparing how many stitches you had and laughing about how your bladder now has less self control than Mummy in a cocktail bar.

5. Just like any social situation, you won’t get on with everyone. But, after a couple of weeks of essentially speed-dating other mums, as you do the rounds swapping your children’s vitals (name, age, traumatic birth story) you will very likely find some mums that you could actually be friends with. The kind of mums that you wouldn’t just meet down the play park, but you could happily share a bottle of wine with. Not at the play park, that’s very much frowned upon.

6. It’s good to get other perspectives. Okay, so I think this is what puts some people off going to baby groups. They don’t want to get caught up in a “Mummy-off” with some holier than thou Mother who will tell anyone who listens that her daughter sleeps 12 hours a night thanks to a diet of purely organic food grown in their own garden, was potty trained at 10 weeks old and will never even know what a television is until they are at least 8. But while you might roll your eyes, being around people who do things differently to you isn’t always a bad thing – you might just learn something you didn’t know. You just need to keep an open mind and realise that there is more than one way to do something; it doesn’t mean that either of you are right or wrong, you are just doing what works for you and your family.

7. If anyone can offer you advice on how to get your little one to eat, or sleep, or settle in at nursery, its a room full of parents who between them have probably been through every possible situation. Not all suggestions will work for your child, of course, but you might just get some new ideas to try.

8. Sometimes, we just need to vent. About how little sleep we have had, about how we never have any time, about how we don’t want to go back to work – even if there are no words of advice to be given, its just nice sometimes to have a bit of a moan with people who know where we are coming from.

9. It’s not all about the children – you suddenly have a whole new group of people to socialise with. Sure its nice to go out with your child-free friends when you get the chance, but you can’t party like you used to (sad, but true). Mum friends don’t bat an eyelid when you ask at the bar for a sensible spacer, or head home at 10pm because you have had a grand total of 6 hours sleep… in the last week.

10. While your 2 month old might not be that interested in making friends right now, when they are they will never have a shortage of play dates. I met one of my friends at our antenatal class, and we started to get to know each other when our babies were born two weeks apart. Six years later, we have both had second children and all four are such good friends – as are we. Now I have a great group of mum friends on hand to offer support, meet up at the soft play and visit the spa with – when we just need a day off.

If you want to find out what is going on in your local area for parents, speak to your health visitor, check local Facebook groups, children’s centres and libraries.

These might be the best days of your life; don’t let loneliness take the magic of parenthood away from you.

Linkies

If you enjoyed this post, please share. 🙂

59 comments on “Loneliness, Motherhood and Making Mum Friends”

  1. I still haven’t embraced this, nearly 3 years on and 2 kids in! I know I should, and it would totally give me something else to focus on other than nappies and sick… I think I was just put off after the fist couple of tries because I found people really unwelcoming 🙁

    • That’s a shame that people were unwelcoming. Maybe try a few different groups, as you might find one that you feel more comfortable at. Good luck.

    • Groups vary. The first ones I tried were grim – and the leaders made no effort to introduce newcomers to others and help them find their feet. After giving up for a bit, I tried a few others and they were so different. The leaders were lovely, the other attendees were friendly so we kept going to those.

      Rev T now runs the toddlers group at our church and he’s learnt a lot from those days. We try and make sure newcomers are welcomed, introduced round etc and the coffee is decent with nice biscuits 🙂 Dads too.

      • Its great that you can use your own experiences to help others feel welcome. Quite a few of the groups that we have been to are held at local churches and they are usually very welcoming.

  2. When my son was born we were miles away from any playgroups, and over the last 3 years I’ve barely made it to any. I understand the crippling loneliness, especially now we’re moved away from my family, and the few mummy friends I did have. Starting again with a 3 year old seems harder – everyone already has their established friends, so it’s more difficult to find someone to talk to. I’m sure I’ll get there eventually, but it is harder than I ever thought it would be.

    • There might be some toddler/preschool groups that you could go along to, but I appreciate it can be harder when everyone else seems to know each other. I know it might be a bit daunting but if there are any local mum and baby facebook groups for your local area you could suggest a meet up? You could just explain you are new to the area – you might find there are other people in the same situation. Good luck 🙂

  3. Some great advice here. I remember the days when I was alone at home with my first baby, having worked right up until maternity leave and then being stuck at home with this little person solely depending on me. It’s really hard and lonely and making other mum’s friends is so important. #TuesdayTreasures

    • Thank you. Definitely, going from working to not can have such a big impact too, not only are you getting used to being a mum, its a completely different lifestyle you have to adjust to, and you go from seeing colleagues everyday to sometimes seeing no one other than your child and other half.

  4. I can relate to this so much, and after recently being diagnosed with anxiety and PND getting out of the house is the hardest thing I could ever do. But I am determined to do it! #TuesdayTreasures

    • Getting out of the house isn’t easy, it can be tempting to just close the door and ignore the outside world. I really hope you do it though, it could make all the difference. Good luck.

  5. I found motherhood incredibly lonely with both my children and sometimes I could be in the room with loads of other mums and feel so awfully alone. I’ve made some good friends since my son started school which helped so much. You’ve written this piece so well and thank you for including some advice for parents too I’m sure it’ll be useful #tuesdaytreasures

    • Thank you so much. It’s something that people might not even realise is happening – its hard to put your finger on it sometimes that you might be feeling lonely when you are surrounded by other people, but you just know that something doesn’t feel right.

  6. You’vr given some really helpful advice. As a single parent to twins I know all too well what it’s like to feel lonely even though I have so much family and friends that support me, I always feel no-one quite understands what I go through. I do think I need to make more of an effort with my mummy friends 🙂 #TwinklyTuesdays

    • Thank you. Its great that you have support from friends and family, but it must be quite isolating in that situation. There might be online support that you could access, to meet other mums in a similar situation?

    • Thank you so much. It really is a game changer, I don’t know how I would have coped if I hadn’t met other mums in those early days.

  7. I can definitely relate to a lot of the points you have made. We don’t have a close family so I felt even more so alone. I faked confidence and starting going to baby groups and it helped so much. Thanks for linking up with #TuesdayTreasures

    • Thank you for reading. I’m lucky that I have family close by, but baby groups really helped – I had to fake the confidence too at first.

  8. Such important advice. Before I had a baby I had no idea at all (why would you) that so many groups and sessions existed for new parents. And that they are either free or very cheap. I think I lived in a particularly good area for it but even so.
    Getting out is so so important, just one adult conversation and a bit of fresh air can change your day completely. #UKBloggerClub

  9. Oh I’m so glad you’ve written this! So many of the posts I read about baby groups say how dreadful they are and how everyone is really cliquey. I’m sure that’s true in lots of groups, but if you’re willing to go and put yourself “out there”, they can be great places. I run our local baby & toddler group and my priority, above everything else, is to make it a friendly group and to make sure I talk to as many of the mums that come as possible #BrillBlogPosts

    • Thank you. I think there’s an expectation that it will be really cliquey so that puts people off. I have been to some groups where I’ve felt more comfortable than others, but I’ve never felt unwelcome at any of them.

  10. 100% agree!! When my little boy was born 4 years ago I couldn’t wait to get out and meet some mum friends – yes it was a little scary putting myself out there but I am so glad I did. At my local under ones group I made a fantastic circle of friends and we are all so close now – we’ve all gone onto have our second babies so our group is getting bigger and bigger, we always joke we could start our own baby club! I can’t imagine now having this ladies in my life, just having someone I can have a moan to or ask advice or drink lots of wine with. If I ever need anything, I know they have my back 🙂

    • Same here, now I’m on to my second child some of my ‘original’ mum friends are too – and I’ve made other new mum friends with kids the same age as my youngest. There’s a really good group of us now and we often make plans to go to the soft play together or have a trip out for the day

  11. I’ve been through the mummy making friends twice, once when I adopted my kids and then again when I moved to Paris. It’s tough! No one really tells you how isolating being a stay at home mum is. So glad you wrote about this. #bloggerclubuk

    • Thank you. Wow I would imagine that was challenging, moving to a new place. I hope you’ve got some nice supportive mummy friends now!

  12. This really hits the nail on the had! After almost 20 years of working full time and my career being my life, staying home every day with a baby was a real culture shock. I couldn’t have got through it without my mummy friends!! I’m sure I have made life long friends too

    • That’s great to hear. It really is a shock, your whole lifestyle changes and its nice to have other people in your life who understand that.

  13. This is such a fantastic post! I felt so lonely after having Aspen. I was the first of all my friends to start a family and they were all working and busy. Yes they loved me and my abby, but they couldn’t be there when I needed them. Steve was back at work and Aspen would only sleep in my arms. I used to go to coffee shops just to be out of the house. My mothers group was great, I still have friends from there 12 years on! It is so important to try and connect with other mums, or atlas have really supportive friends to share your thoughts and time with. #mg

    • It’s great you are still friends, I was so nervous, and even now I still get nervous going to any new groups if I won’t know anyone there!

  14. You’re so right Kiri. Loneliness is something that I’m sure lots of mamas experience. It’s really hard. Sometimes I just miss seeing my friends lots! Meeting new people is lovely and agree it’s nice to see other perspectives. It’s also about surrounding yourself with positive people. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Definitely, having positive people around is so important – even if you don’t feel positive yourself their positivity can be infectious.

  15. I found it really hard to make mum friends and snap out of loneliness when I had my daughter. To be honest, I’m quite scared about not having much company this time around too. Thankfully, at least there’ll be the blogging community to keep me company this time around.
    You’ve given some really useful tips, I like what you said about it not being odd to ask a fellow mum out for a coffee. Someone did that to me at a Sure Start centre and it was so appreciated!

    • It’s great to have the support of the blogging community, especially in the early hours of the morning there is always someone else up on twitter! Hopefully though you will meet some new people this time round, maybe you could be the one making someone else’s day by asking them out for a coffee!

  16. I struggled loads with loneliness after the birth of my first daughter. I found an app called Mush which matches local mums with other local mums; can’t recommend it enough because without it, I would have the great friends I do now. Great article; very true!

  17. I was very lonely when I had my son, we were new to the area and I knew no one. I wish I had had more courage to talk to more people at baby groups etc then.
    #forthelovofBLOG

    • Exactly, there are tons of mothers out there yet we can feel like we are the only people in the world sometimes. I’m pleased you found some brilliant friends.

  18. I actually feel more lonely with a toddler than I did with a baby. I went to baby gourds and chatted and made friends, went back to work, lost touch and now occasionally see them and I feel like an outsider again. Hoping it’ll be better if we have another and I meet some more mums! #TwinklyTuesday

    • It’s hard when you go back to work – either your mum friends work too and its impossible to find times when you are both free, or they don’t work but you can never make the play dates as you are working!

  19. Some great advice here and there have been lots of times I found motherhood very lonely, especially when I had my first at 22 and everyone else I knew was out drinking every weekend or just starting their careers and I was stuck home changing nappies and feeding all day.xx #twinklyTuesday

    • Being the first of my main group of friends to have a baby meant I very much felt that too – all of a sudden my life took a very different route and I felt a bit left out. Obviously I wouldn’t change things for the world, but its hard to adjust at first.

  20. Great tips. Initially, being a stay at home dad was really lonely too – partly because there are hardly any dads at baby classes and partly because it’s difficult to get into conversations with new mums, as you feel like a bit of a fraud (having not gone through the whole pregnancy thing). That said, the more classes I go to the more I realise how everyone is pretty much going through the same things (weaning, looking for nurseries, sleepless nights, teething hell, nappy nightmares etc.) so there is really no reason for conversation to be awkward at all.

    • Thank you. I hope I didn’t offend by focusing on mums – I was just going from my own experience! There are rarely any dads at the baby and toddler groups I go to, but you are absolutely right, as parents we are all going through similar things.

  21. This is a fantastic post. While I’d don’t go to groups much anymore now I’m back at work, I did meet my close group of friends there and wouldn’t have known any of them without those groups to introduce us. Really in a way a life changing thing, even though it may seem quite small. Best support network ever xx #fortheloveofblog

    • Thank you. Yes I don’t get to go to as many groups either now I’m at work but it’s nice to have friends with kids the same age who can meet outside of the baby groups.

  22. I love this, and some amazing tips. I found groups a life saver in the early days with three babies two and under, I’m not sure we would have left the house at all had it not been for them! #sharingthebloglove

  23. I completely relate to the loneliness. Our NCT group sadly didn’t really click, and although I’m in touch with a few of them and we met up while on maternity leave, we’ve not really kept in touch since. I also found baby groups a really daunting place, but making that first step and forcing yourself to do it is such good advice. I think every mum needs a support network, or just someone you can vent to when you’ve had a bad day! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *