As I talk about in this post, Jennifer Senior in All Joy and No Fun tells us that women’s contact with people in their networks shrinks in the early child-rearing years, and that a study in 2009 found that 80 percent of mothers surveyed believed they didn’t have enough friends and 58% felt lonely. Here’s a list of just a few simple steps you can take to make your time with a newborn less lonely:
Does running keep you sane? Find another parent who feels the same, bring the babies to the track or local trails and take turns running/staying with babies.
Do you want to be out and about with your baby but you’re nervous about breastfeeding in public? Find a friend and brave this initiation together. Or, plot a path that includes comfy dressing rooms to do so in private. Have you heard about Target’s posted breastfeeding policy!? http://www.scarymommy.com/articles/target-proves-educating-staff-about-breastfeeding-isnt-rocket-science?section=news&u=yVhJZIus5B
Do you just want someone to come and take care of you? Help you figure out how to best spend your days and balance your needs with the baby/babies’ needs? Think about hiring a postpartum doula. Many are flexible and can adjust their schedule based on what you can afford: www.doulamatch.net
Are you social and extroverted, but feeling lonely at home with the baby? What about hosting a potluck – have some friends over but everyone has to bring something. This can be for coffee/brunch or dinner, or drinks and appetizers.
Whatever you do, try to get comfortable asking for help. Go easy on yourself by remembering that you are in a culture where there are precious few supports and systems in place to usher you through the intensive and sometimes grueling first years of parenthood. That is backed up by research! Know that most people who offer to help mean it and actually appreciate when you take them up on it. Think of it as doing them a favor! (That’s only partially tongue in cheek: “When we help others and do kind acts, it causes our brain to release endorphins, the chemicals that give us feelings of fervor and high spirits – similar to a ‘runner’s high.’ Doing something nice for someone also gives the brain a serotonin boost, the chemical that gives us that feeling of satisfaction and well-being.” -from PsychologyToday.com) Maybe, by taking the help, you’re actually helping to change the culture to one where we remember to take care of each other.