The internet was charmed in 2016 when news broke that four Italian policemen had cooked a pasta dinner for an elderly couple.
After neighbours reported hysterical crying coming from Michele and Jole’s apartment, the policemen quickly arrived at the property to find out what was wrong. It turned out that the elderly pair had just watched an upsetting news report on television . . . but that wasn’t the only reason they were crying. Rarely visited by others, they were struggling with feelings of loneliness.
Loneliness isn’t a unique problem. In fact, a survey conducted by organisation Lifeline discovered that more than 80 per cent of Australians believe our society is becoming a lonely place. But more than half of those people also said they lived with a spouse.
You can be with other people and still feel lonely. And mums, despite having the company of their children and partners, can feel like the loneliest people of all.
Parenthood changes your life. It often means stepping away from full-time jobs, friendships and leisure time. And exchanging all that for the demands of a tiny human—no matter how cute and loveable they are—can be a big adjustment.
So how do you deal with loneliness?
One of the most difficult things about becoming a first-time parent is that your single friends don’t understand your woes. After all, they can go wherever they want and do whatever they want all day (and all night) without stopping every few hours to feed. While you should absolutely cherish your friendships with your single friends, you need friends who know what you’re going through too. There may be a mother’s group in your area or perhaps you can start your own.
If you’re isolated physically as well as emotionally, there’s always online community. Join our Facebook group to meet other mums who can talk about the dilemmas of babies who won’t sleep through the night.
If you’re going to be alone with a crying child, the scenery’s nicer outside than at home! Go for a walk around your block, drive to the beach or even just sit on your porch. Being outside of your normal routine (i.e. sitting on the couch in your pyjamas!) will help boost your endorphins.
One day, your kids will move out of home. Your partner, hopefully, will not. Make sure you meet your kids’ needs—but also plan date nights when you can rekindle the romance.
Your single colleagues and friends may not understand what it’s like to have a baby, but chances are they want to cuddle it and spoil it! You may have less time to spend with them, but put an effort into keeping in touch—whether it’s a funny text or hanging out at your house. You never know, they may turn out to be the babysitters you need for your date nights!
Speak to a professional
Please note that loneliness can be a symptom of postnatal depression. If you’re not eating properly, lacking in energy and struggling to bond with your newborn, please consult your doctor immediately. Postnatal depression is more common than you think and nothing to be ashamed of.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact:
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