The Lonely Parent's Club: Rachael's Story
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Rachael and I am a self employed blogger and freelance writer. I'm 26 and have a very nearly 5 year old son and I'm due to give birth to my second son any day now!
What does being a parent mean to you?
It means unconditional love. It's madness, but even when my boy is sending me loopy, if anyone else comments about him or makes a snide remark, I feel instantly protective. He drives me round the bend sometimes but, at the end of the day, I would do just about anything for him.
What has your experience of loneliness been as a parent?
When I got pregnant with Luke, I was 20 and when I gave birth, I was 21. At the time, I had loads of friends and everyone was excited about there being a baby too coo over. However, that very quickly went down hill when the realisation that I couldn't do what they were doing kicked in. When Luke was born, his dad and I broke up and I suddenly found myself with a newborn baby, no friends whatsoever and very minimal support from anywhere else.
My relationship with Luke's dad was never a very healthy one and I developed social and general anxiety while I was with him, as well as depression. So when I found myself all on my own with a newborn baby, it was really difficult. I felt very alienated and too shy or anxious to go to baby groups. Most of my days were spent on my own with a baby; sometimes I wouldn't speak to another adult for days.
That's why I started my blog. I was doing all these crafty things with Luke and I had no one to talk to about it or share photos with. I decided to start a blog after seeing that most of the craft ideas I'd done had come from other mum blogs. Thus, Lukeosaurus And Me was born!
How did you improve or are you improving your situation when it comes to feeling isolated?
I think I made a lot of mistakes in order to try and relieve myself from feeling so alone. I dated people I shouldn't have dated and I became obsessed with hobbies as nothing else filled my time. When I started Lukeosaurus And Me, it was a welcome relief. I found myself in a community of other mums who may not have felt quite like I did, but I was able to talk to them and chat about every day motherhood topics; something I hadn't ever had the opportunity to do before.
Most of the bloggers I talked to were a lot more established than me and they gave me loads of pointers and praised my writing. It was a real confidence boost that I desperately needed and I began to feel better about myself and my abilities. That little boost was what I needed to get myself out there again a bit more and start meeting people and chatting to people I hadn't spoken to for years. It got me visiting more places outside of the home and exploring soft play and other child friendly places that I previously avoided like the plague.
How do you feel society as a whole could improve the lives of anyone struggling with isolation or loneliness?
I think as we all need to be far more open and understanding of what other people are going through. One day, I was working full time and had loads of friends, the next I was completely isolated and staying at home 24/7. No one ever stopped to think about the effect they had on me by just ditching me completely. It knocked me for six and it really did take years for me to get back on my feet. Even now I still feel like I need to strive for more, I still have days filled with anxiety and I still constantly feel like breaking through those barriers is a massive achievement. Luckily for me, I eventually found someone who loves me and understands my past and he helps me through the tough times I still sometimes face.
Basically, all it takes is for people not to be idiots. So many people in today's society are focused on themselves – how they look, what they're wearing, who they're hanging out with, what will other people think of them. We need to take a step back and look around a bit more. A smile in the street, a tiny compliment, and little chat between a cashier and a customer really could dramatically improve someone's day. I think we all just need to be kinder to each other.
What tips or wisdom would you share with others who might be experiencing loneliness and isolation as a parent?
It's really hard to cope with on your own, so don't. If you feel lonely and you're too shy to go to baby groups, there are loads of online support groups you can join where you can chat to other like minded parents. I'm In a few Facebook groups and everyone is lovely. There are also now apps that are like Tinder for parents! You can put your rough location in and other mums and dads using the app can chat to you and you can meet up for play dates etc. I'd also recommend trying to chat to the other parents at nursery or school. It's so daunting, but you don't need to start a full blown conversation with them. I don't have lots of mum friends, but I do try and talk briefly to some of Luke's friend's parents, even if it's just a "hello, how has your day been?". It might lead to you finding your parenting soul mate!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Feeling lonely and isolated can be crippling, especially as a parent. Please don't let that get into your head. You're still an amazing person, full of personality and character. You're still a great parent, doing what you can to make sure your little one is happy and fed. Remember that nothing lasts forever and one day you'll look back at those darker times and it will seem like a lifetime ago that you felt that way.
More About Rachael
Rachael is the owner and author of parenting lifestyle blog, Lukeosaurus And Me. She writes mainly about children's crafts and activities, days out, recipes, pregnancy and frugal living.
Find out more about Rachael and what she does here:-
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