New Parent

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Becoming a new parent is an exciting (and of course tiring) time in your life, however it can also be a time of feeling isolated.

I remember after my first child, once the frenzy of well-wishers had come to visit the baby, there was a lull in adult company. I knew people were respecting the fact that I needed to rest when the baby slept and that it was hard for them to know when that would be, but all the same I remember feeling very alone. I was also overwhelmed by the changes in my life – the responsibility for caring for a child 24 hours a day, a lack of sleep and the changes in hormones as my body adjusted from being pregnant into being a full-time milk bar.

Having moved house a few weeks prior to having the baby, I didn’t have any friends nearby and my old friends were not at the same stage in life, so they were busy with work commitments. I remember when my husband went back to work that I felt a bit lost. I could go all day without any adult conversation. Of course, I was besotted with our new baby, but I also felt that I had little purpose beyond caring for our daughter.

Being a first time parent, I was keen to ensure my baby was in a routine and so my life revolved around a strict regime that I inflicted upon myself. I also lacked the confidence to know that my baby would be okay unattended in her cot while I got on with chores – I would even take her into the bathroom with me when I showered, so I could keep an eye on her.

With experience came confidence to start going out and when I joined a mother’s group, I found a supportive network of new friends who were experiencing the same issues with their babies as I was with mine.

I laugh at the contrast of my first time parenting experience with that of my fourth child. My youngest child’s routine was to sleep in the car as I ferried his older sisters to and from school. He adapted to the family routine and I no longer feared leaving my baby unattended in the cot for a small amount of time to do chores. Furthermore, I no longer isolated myself at home, instead I continued with the social commitments for my other kids and to be frank I didn’t have time to feel lonely when surrounded by friends and our combined hoard of kids.

What did you find the hardest adjustment to being a new parent?

(Image courtesy of Danillo Razzuti, freedigitalphotos.net)

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MY TRIBE

Today I want to discuss the value of joining a mother’s group*. The proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is a wonderful sentiment, however in modern society, we don’t all have a tribe to call upon to help guide us through our journey of parenthood.

I joined a mother’s group when my eldest daughter was born, and when I met the other Mums for the first time I felt I had nothing in common with these girls except that we all had newborn babies. Almost sixteen years on, we still meet regularly and those strangers have become life long friends. You see the relationship you have with women in a mother’s group is different to that from your existing friends. These ladies become your mentors, counselors and friends. Only someone with a baby the same age is interested in discussing the baby’s bowel habits, sleeping patterns, motor skill developments and eating behaviours. They understand the sleep deprivation you are enduring because they too are living through it. They provide support, advice and a chance for adult company, whilst your child gets to work on their socialisation skills.

As your child grows, the dynamics of the group evolve. My mother’s group started meeting in people’s houses, then as the kids became more mobile (and destructive) we met in parks and play centres. Now that the kids are all school aged we meet in bars and restaurants (without the kids of course, although in a blink of the eye they will be old enough to join us). We still talk about our children’s sleeping habits; however now with teenagers it is how to get them up in the mornings. We still worry about them getting hurt, but now it’s not about falling off a swing but hopping into a car with an inexperienced driver. The girls in my mother’s group have become the ‘tribe’ that I otherwise wouldn’t have had to call upon.

The other great thing with joining a mother’s group is that not only will you make life long friends, so will your kids. None of the children in my mother’s group attend the same school, but they still stay in regular contact through social media and still count these kids amongst their closest friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I think all friendships are special and that we have people come in and out of lives that help fulfill our emotional needs, but the bond with someone whose child is (and always will be) at the same stage as your child is worth it’s weight in gold.

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(picture courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)

 

Have you got a wonderful mother’s group you would like to discuss or any other support group that has been your ‘Tribe’? Leave a comment to let me know.

 

* A group of mothers with babies the same age.