Motherhood is absolutely wonderful and incredibly fulfilling, but it can also be a bit lonely sometimes. Now, you might be wondering how a mother could possibly be lonely when the only solitude she gets is when she locks herself in the bathroom for five minutes to collect her thoughts without interruption–even then, there’s a good chance that tiny hands are rattling the doorknob and calling for Mommy. No, I don’t mean lonely in the sense of actually being physically alone, I mean lonely in a much larger sense. You’re never alone, but you feel alone, lost in the ups and downs of motherhood, without anyone who understands what you are going through. Even the very best partners can’t fathom the struggles of breastfeeding, sympathize with your zombie-like state-of-mind after three days with no sleep, or understand why you want to run screaming for the hills when the Barney song plays for the five thousandth time in one day… What you need is a support group of people who have been there and done that, and those who are currently mucking their way through it just like you. One thing is for sure–you are definitely not alone. There are loads of overwhelmed moms out there who have found themselves socially isolated and are struggling with very deep feelings of loneliness, which can eventually lead to physical and mental health issues. So right now is the time to put aside your fears of meeting new people (it won’t be like trying to fit into a high school clique, I promise) and recognize what you need in your life–you need a Mom Village. A wonderful group of supportive, loving mothers who will share their triumphs, setbacks, and tips about motherhood. Keep reading to find out how to build your Mom Village.
Start with social media. If the prospect of walking up to strangers and introducing yourself makes you break out in a cold sweat (or if it reminds you of the awkward stages of a blind date), start with something a bit easier. Facebook is chock full of support groups. Many towns have their own local “Mom’s Group”–this is a fantastic place to meet other moms that live near you. The benefit of a local group is that it keeps you in the loop about what’s happening in your town, like events, special activities, and information about schools. Local groups are often closed, so you will have to submit a request to the admin of the group–this is a good thing, as it provides a safer space to meet people you may eventually want to meet in person. You don’t have to stick with just your local group, however–there are many groups dedicated to a specific subject (breastfeeding, parenting styles, tweens, children’s toys/clothes, etc…) that are also beneficial when you need advice about questions and concerns. You might also find some old friends that you’ve lost touch with over the years–friends who now have children of their own and have a lot in common with you. Start looking around Facebook and you’ll be surprised what you might find.
Check out online communities. Much like social media, there are many online communities that you might find through parenting apps and places such as WebMD. These online communities often have message boards dedicated to specific topics such as early education, family wellness, family fun, behavior, or discipline, among many others. The benefit of an online community is the amount of feedback you’ll receive from parents from a plethora of different backgrounds. You might learn some interesting things or get some new ideas you wouldn’t have discovered without their help!
Meet some real people. The first two options are great ways to connect with others from the comfort of your own home. Those groups will offer great support and are a lot of fun. However, it is always good to have some friends you actually see in person. Someone you can meet up with for play dates with your kids and supportive conversation for yourself. It may seem tricky to find other moms with similar interests, but it’s really not all that difficult. It requires a small amount of bravery on your part, though! Keep up with opportunities in your town that will allow you to meet other moms–story time at the library, a breastfeeding group at the hospital, PTA at your child’s elementary school, the Facebook local moms group–no matter what your child’s age, there is always an opportunity to meet new people. Of course, you won’t click with everyone, but that’s ok. Maybe you are at story time and you see a mom wearing a Harry Potter t-shirt (behold, a fellow wizarding world aficionado!) or a mom pushing the very same jogging stroller that you’ve been thinking about purchasing–these are your ice breakers! Walk up and say hello, complimenting her shirt or asking her how she likes that stroller… You can also try meeting new moms in your own neighborhood–create a family friendly flier suggesting an evening walking group or a monthly block party and mail it to your neighbors. There could be a mom just two doors down from you who is dying to meet new people. You just never know when you’ll make a friend for life.
A Mom Village is an invaluable asset. Every mom should be a part of a caring, nurturing group where they can share their concerns, daily struggles, and even funny stories (after all, laughter is the best medicine, right?). You’d be amazed at how even the tiniest bit of support can make a huge difference in the life of a mom who is feeling incredibly lonely. Encouragement from other moms is a huge boost for self-esteem, and the better you feel about yourself, the happier you’ll be. Please feel free to contact me to learn more about socializing with other moms and meeting new people.