Three of us who work at Global Baby are mums and we often talk about Lonely Mum Syndrome, a phrase that one of us coined to describe the way we all feel. We often laugh about our symptoms; like Saturday night with a glass of wine, the couch, and instagram, and looking forward to coming to work waaaaay too much, just for the adult conversation (OK, the conversation isn't that adult most of the time), and counting down the minutes until our partners get home from work, only to fly off the handle if they're late. I remember when I was on maternity leave I used to have long, in-depth conversations in my head, with my ex-colleagues.
This week we came across an article in the Huffington Post and it got us thinking about how we're not the only ones with Lonely Mum Syndrome (ironic, right?) We put our heads together and wrote a list of our top 8 ways to ease the loneliness.
1. Put your walking shoes on
Go for a walk with the pram, and a destination in mind, like the local cafe or the beach. If you've got a destination in mind you'll be les less inclined to aimlessly wander, and it'll help kill a couple of hours.
2. Find a local activity
There are loads of events happening during the day for children and babies all over the cities and towns of NZ. If you keep the event local it can be easier to work between your child's schedule, and you'll have more chance of meeting mums who live locally. Mum friends who live within walking distance are the best.
The thing about local events and groups is that they aren't always that well advertised, so you need to keep your ear to the ground, ask around, check out community noticeboards at the supermarket and the library, and generally act like a detective. Some of our faves are: Kangatraining, SPACE, Wriggle and Rhyme , Swimming lessons, Mainly Music, Sports for Tots, Baby Sensory, and Plunket Play Groups.
3. Start a conversation
This is just as hard as it sounds, but other people are shy and lonely too, so if you just try to start a conversation with them most of the time they'll talk back. You could try complimenting them on their clothes, baby, nappy bag, or shoes, or saying something open ended, like 'your baby is gorgeous, how old is he?' or 'I love your baby's hat, did someone knit that for you?' , you could try talking about the location, 'it's great that we've got this park on our neighbourhood isn't it?' or you could comment on the way that the children are interacting with each other, 'can't believe how easy it is to make friends at that age', my daughter loves the swing and I often find myself chatting to the other parents 'we drove halfway across town to come to this amazing playground , and all she wants to do is go on the swing...'
The more conversations you start, the easier it gets. I had to get Michelle to help me write this because she's really good and she'll talk to anyone, I still have a bit of work to do!
4. Get social (media)
OK it can be really great, but social media can sometimes make you feel even lonelier! Just remember that you're comparing your out-takes with someone else's highlights reel, their lives probably aren't as fabulous as they seem. If their lives are totally fabulous, like a girl you went to highschool with now lives in New York, has an amazing job, AND hot boyfriend, just unfollow or unfriend her if it'll make you feel better. We won't tell :-)
On the flipside, there's a whole community of mums on Instagram and Facebook, I know I feel like I've found my people on instagram, sometimes I wonder if they get me more than my real life friends!
How to find your people on Instagram: Find and follow other mums, like and comment on their photos, join in the conversation, and upload photos yourself even if they're just of your morning coffee. One of the good things about instagram is it makes you a better photographer, so keep at it! Our next tip is semi-weird, I know my husband would think I'm weird for suggesting it, but it's what I do... search by location or hashtags for your favourite places; if there is a playground that you go to regularly, look at the other photos at that playground (using the location, and/or hashtag) then like, comment, and follow people who post using that location / hashtag, if you like what they're about. Same goes for cafes and restaurants that you frequent (ha, that one's half a joke, who goes to restaurants anymore!?!) One of us (not saying who) saw a mum at a cafe taking photos, then after the mum left, went onto instagram and searched through the photos that people had tagged at the cafe, found the mums photos, liked it, and followed her. Not weird right?
How to find your people on Facebook: Join groups that are talking about things that you're interested in, whether it's parenting styles, babywearing, home decor, shopping, gardening, gluten-free cooking, whatever really! Try not to just be a lurker, try to comment and join in the conversation too. If you feel like there is too much drama in the group for you, simple, un-join!!
5. Reach out
When you've got a bit of spare time, like when you're breastfeeding or your baby is sleeping, send out a few texts to people you know; colleagues, friends, acquaintances, mums that you've met out and about. When you have a new baby people can feel like they don't want to bother you and text or call you first, I know that I have a friend with a new baby that I have been meaning to text but I haven't because I think she's busy. It's silly, I really should text her.
6. Facebook groups
Search Facebook for local Facebook pages and join them, again don't be a lurker, try to join in the conversation. In Auckland there are Facebook pages for East Auckland, West Auckland, some suburbs… You get what we mean. You could even put a post on the page saying 'hey guys does anyone else have a baby aged around a year old and keen to meet at …. Playground on Tuesday morning?' Be specific about what you're looking for maybe there is someone out there who have Tuesday morning free as well. If someone else is looking for a similar thing, don't be afraid to join in.
7. Talk to your partner
This one can be hard especially if you haven't done much all day, your partner might not be so interested in what happened on Location Location Location this morning. Everyone says that it's important to keep the communication up with your partner, but it can be hard when you're tired and when they get home all you want to do is hand the child to them and go and sit in your room. Just try to chat a bit, OK?
For those mamas doing it alone, we massively salute you!
Follow some mummy blogs, check out our blog post about our fave mummy bloggers here. We love that these bloggers are going through the same daily shit that we are, they're just really good at articulating it. It's nice to read about their lives and what's going on, products they're into, funny stories, and sometimes stories that'll make you cry. Make sure that you follow their Facebook pages to be updated when they do a new post, then be sure to like or comment on the Facebook updates so that Facebook knows that you are interested in that blogger and shows you more from them (that's the algorithm babes).
Facebook live video is a new addition, and lots of bloggers are doing live streams there, some of them are even doing it on a Friday and Saturday night, it's just like having a social life again! Some our fave live videos come from: With the Whittakers Rocky and Ruby Happy Mum Happy Child
More than just lonely mum syndrome?
The three of us mums who work at Global Baby wrote this article together, like we said earlier, we all suffer from Lonely Mum Syndrome. If you think that you might be a little more than just lonely, there is plenty of help out there for you. Maria from Happy Mum Happy Child wrote a brilliant article about Post Natal Depression and where parents can find support.