Why mums feel so lonely – and nine tips to combat it | The Sun
YES, motherhood is a joyful and rewarding experience, but it can also be a difficult one.
A misconception is that mums are so busy that they don’t have the time to feel lonely, but a recent UK study found that 90% of mums have felt lonely since having children.
Plus, 54% said they felt “friendless” after giving birth, 80% said they want more “mummy friends” and three in five admitted to hiding their feelings.*
All in all, this can make a mum feel isolated – even when she’s surrounded by others.
“It’s important to realise that loneliness and being alone are two very different things,” says Anna Mathur, psychotherapist, mum of three and author of Raising A Happier Mother.
“You can be surrounded by other people, sitting next to a family member or partner, but not feel truly supported.
READ MORE ON PARENTING
I’m a child sleep expert – how to ensure you get a lie-in when the clocks change
I hate being a mum but trolls say I shouldn’t be able to express how I feel
"In reality, the chattiest and busiest person in the room may be acutely lonely.”
WHY DO MUMS GET LONELY?
Mothers can feel lonely at all stages of the parenting journey.
When you become a parent for the first time, you may find that it’s a world away from the picture-perfect life you thought it would be.
As you go through parenthood, you’ve got a never-ending to-do list and burnout chronically on the horizon.
Most read in News Health
Tell the difference between a rash & little-known sign of killer skin cancer
HAIR ME OUT
What your eyebrows reveal about your health – and when you really need to worry
Breast cancer death rates HALVED since 80s thanks to ‘immense’ breakthroughs
TAKING THE PEE
Always up at night to pee? It could be a little-known sign of silent killer
Then the kids move out and you’re left with an empty house.
In any scenario, loneliness always has the same roots. “Loneliness is disconnection,” says Anna.
“To feel connected we must feel seen, acknowledged and valued.
The ‘I’ve got this!’ mentality is a common symptom of the motherhood fantasy, and finds us scraping together resources we don’t have to spare, turning down offers of support, or putting on a brave face when what we need is a hug.”
Being a mum can also change friendships and romantic relationships.
“It often challenges identity, finding you reassessing who you are and how you want to spend the time that you do have,” Anna says.
So, how do you beat the loneliness?
The first and most important antidote to loneliness is to bring the walls down.
“When someone asks how you are, go beyond: ‘I’m OK’ when you can,” Anna says.
“We don’t need to make ourselves emotionally vulnerable with everyone – choose two or three people who have historically been kind and supportive, and be honest, so if you hit bumpy times, those connections are there.”
TUNE INTO A PODCAST
It’s surprising how listening to a stranger’s voice can help battle loneliness.
A study by the University of Queensland found that podcasts can satisfy some of our basic psychological needs, including social connection.
There are lots of parenting podcasts that are relatable, funny and come with a community of listeners to engage with.
Try Rob Beckett And Josh Widdicombe’s Parenting Hell, The Motherkind Podcast and Happy Mum, Happy Baby.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but avoid accepting every social invitation.
If you carefully select events you want to attend, you can feel energised and ready to socialise.
Maybe you need more time for yourself, but avoid withdrawing.
“Ask yourself if you’re seeking solitude to refuel and reset, or because you fear burdening someone or being misunderstood,” Anna suggests.
ATTEND WEEKLY CLASSES
By going to the same class every week, such as mum-and-baby swimming, you’ll see the same parents, who are likely to have kids of a similar age.
It’s easy to make conversation when you already have something in common.
That one commitment in your diary every week is something to look forward to, as well as guaranteed social connection.
Fitness apps offer a social aspect, too.
Results With Lucy – former TOWIE star Lucy Mecklenburgh’s app – has a social media feed within it, plus the Results With Baby section has a “mums near me” feature and live 24/7 chat.
Sometimes you have mums to meet up with, but you’re too overwhelmed by the idea of leaving the house.
Perhaps you don’t have a car or your children are on different nap schedules.
Be the mum who invites others to your house.
Whether it’s coffee and cake or putting on an at-home workout video, you’ll get free socialising with minimal hassle – and no mum will judge a messy home!
HIT THE FLICKS
Everyman Cinemas’ Toddler Club offers screenings of the latest blockbusters for parents and kids aged one to five years.
A hot drink and a slice of cake are included in the price of your ticket, too!
PICK UP A RIBBON
We’ve all been there – you see another mum in a cafe, you clock eyes and smile, but you know she’s waiting for her tribe to arrive.
Here’s where Anna’s The Mum Ribbon Movement comes in.
“A ribbon tied to your bag signals to other mums that they can ask you for a spare nappy, a hug or a chat if they feel lonely,” Anna says.
The movement has gone viral and some cafes and shops have introduced boxes of ribbons for mums to take.
But you can use any material you have.
START DOING WHAT YOU ONCE LOVED
Suddenly got more time because the kids are in school or have flown the nest?
For so long, you’ve been fulfilling their needs, but now it’s time to think about what you used to do before becoming a parent.
From horse riding to reading, mums forget what brings them joy.
Restart a hobby you used to love to see how it benefits you.
CREATE A GO-OUTSIDE ROUTINE
Loneliness can leave you feeling like you have no reason to leave the house. “The routines of motherhood can make socialising feel restrictive, and low energy levels can mean you’re more likely to opt for the sofa,” says Anna.
But by staying at home, the loneliness cycle continues.
Create a routine of getting up and dressed and leaving the house every day.
It could be to the local coffee shop or a simple walk around the park.
Read More on The Sun
I love my new Turkey teeth but trolls say they're the worstthey've ever seen
Exotic island yet to become popular with Brits – with amazing weather & flamingos
You’ll be surprised at how much perspective just being outside gives you, and a simple smile from others can go a long way.
- Illustration: Getty Images Source: *Channel Mum Raising A Happier Mother by Anna Mathur (£16.99, Penguin Life) is out now
Source: Read Full Article