February 8, 2018

Loneliness In Motherhood

Anxiety & Depression

Loneliness With Partner 

Loneliness is a difficult and common experience in motherhood. Many mothers experience some distance from their partner in the transition to motherhood. There are many aspects of parenthood that only the mother experiences so it can feel difficult for partners to relate to one another. The mom will likely stay home for at least the first several weeks while most husbands do not get more than a few weeks to be home after the baby arrives. The day-to-day life of a mother changes so much as she transitions from working or school full-time, to being home with the baby around the clock. The baby can also take up most of each partner’s time and energy, leaving little room to connect as spouses. It becomes difficult to maintain the rhythms that kept you close when it was just the two of you.

Loneliness With Friends

Some mothers also experience disconnection from friends in different life stages. Your day-to-day routine changes drastically when you have a baby and it limits your discretionary time. Navigating the changes taking place in your home and life naturally take up a lot of your time and attention. This makes it harder to connect with friends as often as you’d like. You might also experience frustration when friends in different life stages don’t seem to understand what you’re going through. This might lead you to pull back from the relationships.

Loneliness From Other Moms

Some mothers experience loneliness in relation to other moms. This might seem surprising but it is not uncommon. This type of loneliness can be caused by comparison. You look at another mom, see that she’s doing things differently or seems to have it all together, and come to the conclusion that there’s no potential for a friendship. You might also experience fear of judgment from another mom for the choices you’ve made for your family. You might be experiencing some challenges, thoughts, or feelings that you’re not sure anyone else can relate to. All of these might lead you to keep to yourself and not reach out to other moms. Loneliness from other mothers can also be a result of the fullness and busyness of each mother’s life. It can feel daunting and overwhelming to coordinate hangouts when you have to factor in such things as naptime.  

What To Do About Loneliness 

It’s important to first acknowledge that you are feeling lonely so that you can begin to address it. It might feel especially difficult to acknowledge feeling lonely in your relationship with your partner, but know that you are not the first person to feel that way. It might also be hard for you to acknowledge the loneliness if you pride yourself on being independent and not needing others. Needing support from others does not make you weak; it makes you human. We were created for connection and loneliness is painful.

Next consider what messages you are telling yourself about others. Do you tell yourself that no one will understand or that they’ll judge you if they knew how you felt? Are you telling yourself that if others really wanted to spend time with you then they would reach out first? Do you tell yourself that your partner should know how you’re feeling and what you need? There are many messages like this that can keep you stuck in loneliness and prevent you from getting the support you need. As hard as it may seem, make time for just you and your partner. This can be a weekly date-night in or walks with the baby in the stroller so you can talk while baby takes in the surroundings. It’s good to keep in touch with friends in different life stages. Don’t assume that they don’t want to spend time with you and your kids. You might also enjoy time away from home; suggest a girl’s night and have your partner watch the baby. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others first. It can feel risky but it can be very rewarding. Allow yourself to be open to moms with different interests and backgrounds. You don’t have to agree on everything to enjoy each other’s company and provide a supportive listening ear.

Don’t Do Parenthood Alone

Motherhood is a long journey and it’s not meant to be walked alone. Feeling lonely during this big transition can make the other challenges of motherhood even more difficult to face.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by loneliness and want to talk about how to build the support that you need in your life, call me today!

Written by therapist Ndunge Marquardt

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