Being a parent can be as exciting as it is challenging, but for some people it is also an isolating experience. A staggering 1 in 4 parents say they are always or often lonely, according to Action for Children.
Here are some practical ways to stay connected to your friends and family:
- Banish those guilty thoughts
This is especially important if you’re a single parent. Remind yourself that it’s not selfish to want to have some time with your friends. You may enjoy spending time with your children but it’s healthy for you – and them – to spend time with other people too.
- Return messages
You’re tired and run off your feet, but try to put aside 5 or 10 minutes to reply to texts or messages from your friends. Even just a quick message back will help to keep a link with those you’re close to – they’ll understand you don’t have much time.
- Plan ahead
Brainstorm affordable things that you can do with your friends, family, partner and child/children. This could be a picnic in the park, a movie night around your house or a trip to the zoo. Schedule in a few events each month to help keep regular contact with those you’re close to.
- Try to have some time off
If you’re lucky enough to live near family members who can babysit or you can afford childcare try to have at least one night off each month. This could be a night out with friends or a date with your partner. You don’t even have to leave the house – just having some mates over and spending time as yourself rather than a parent can help your mental wellbeing.
- Aim to limit talk about children
When you go to meet up with friends or have time out with your partner, try to limit the amount of time you spend talking about your kid/s. This is important for maintaining common interests with friends or a romantic connection with your partner.
- Pick up the phone
Have a friend you’ve not spoken to in a while? Try putting aside some time to give them a call. If you’re not sure what to say, jot down a few questions to ask them and two or three interesting things to tell them. If they don’t have time to chat, book in another time to have a conversation.
- Meet new people
Making friends with other parents can help to bolster your social life, as well as provide a source of support or advice. You could try:
- Striking up a conversation with people whilst waiting to pick up your kids from school or nursery
- Chatting to other parents at kids’ birthday parties – you could even suggest getting a group together to head out for a coffee or snack while the children are occupied
- Joining a Meetup Group aimed at helping parents and families to expand their social lives
- Taking part in a local club or class to meet likeminded people
- Joining an online community such as Netmums or The Dad Network
If you’re feeling lonely, then we’re here to help. You can ring our free and confidential helpline – open Mon-Friday, 8am-8pm – on 08081 311 333 or use our online chat.