By: Danaé Overman
For the new stay-at-home-mom, who is feeling isolated and trying to figure out how to get in touch with the world again, this list is for you:
1. Find Your Mom Tribe
This may sound like the most eye-roll worthy suggestion because there are so many articles about how bad mom groups can be. Yet, for me, Thursday mornings with my moms group became life-giving. The group of ladies I connected with are from my local church, and every mom attending has children preschool age or younger. These women became more than just my friends—they became my sounding board and advice group when I had questions or needed advice. We are all going through the same things, and sometimes it’s easier to take advice from people who are right in the trenches with you.
2. Schedule Play Dates with Non-Mom Friends
I was one of the first in my group of friends to have a baby, so the majority of my friends didn’t have kids of their own. I went from having so much to offer in terms of conversation to feeling like I could only discuss things baby-related. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I should isolate myself from my non-mom friends to keep from boring them. But the greatest thing happened—my friends initiated hangouts with me! I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for those friends who understood that I wasn’t quite as free as I was before but I would still love to meet for coffee/tea, walks, or lunch but with a baby in tow. After a few friends broke the ice, I became more confident to ask friends to join my little trio on our days out. Some of my friends would come with me and the kids to do the pumpkin patch at Halloween, go to Disneyland, or even to the beach. I can’t praise these friends enough as they invested in my life during such a delicate time and have become like family to my kids. They helped me to realize that I do have things to talk about that doesn’t involve the kids. Non-Mom friends can help you remember the things you were interested in before having kids. If I could give any new moms advice it would be this: Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you should only hang out with mom friends. Great friends that loved you before your mommy hood days will love you through them and some will even become Aunties and Uncles to your kids, which I think is the best gift of all.
3. Get Outside
I’m lucky enough to live in Orange County in a downtown city where there is a lot of shopping, dining and a nearby university—all of which are within walking distance. While it was easier to stay inside my apartment because I have difficult flights of stairs to climb in order to get out (we live in a historical building so there is no elevator), it was imperative that I got out every day, even if it’s just for a walk around the downtown area. On the days when I was feeling lonely or isolated, just a simple walk to the university made me feel so much more included in the world. You see, for an extrovert, the presence of people alone can make a huge difference in our moods and energy levels. We seem to draw energy from others so the more isolated we stay, the lower our energy levels and mood will be. While walking around town, I would watch the people on various lunch breaks from work, shopping in the little boutiques, and many of them would wave at me or say hello. As I’d get to the University, just watching the students walking to and from classes made me feel energized. If you can’t find a friend to visit, I’d encourage you to make the effort to get out and around people because I truly believe it makes a huge difference.
4. Weekly Time Out
As with any job, you need a break. Being a stay at home mom can quickly become a 24/7 job, with no nights or weekends to relax and unwind. My husband and I have tried to make a weekly date night without kids a priority, in order to reconnect with each other. However, I believe it’s just as important to have weekly time to yourself. While an introverted mother might find her ideal relaxation in an hour-long bath alone or watching a movie, the extroverted mom will find the ideal relaxation to be getting out of the house and around people. Whether its meeting a friend for dessert or going to a hip coffee shop and people watching, getting around people where you can relax can revitalize any tired mom.
5. Schedule Phone Dates
Within the course of a few years, four of my close friends moved out of state. These are the friends that I always imagined would be at all of my kids’ school programs and birthday parties for the rest of their lives, so it was very hard on me to imagine such important people in my life being so far away. Since they left, we’ve made it a priority to have a weekly phone or Facetime date so that we can keep in touch with each other. I feel so grateful for the connection whenever I set aside 15 to 30 minutes a week just to reconnect with those that really know me. If you have a friend you’re missing, reach out—even if it’s only for 10 minutes—and I guarantee your heart will be more settled after that reconnection.
If you’re new to this stay-at-home-mom gig, I promise you are not alone. Speak up for what you need. And, if your soul is longing for connection outside of the house and kids, I believe you can find what you’re looking for by getting out with old friends and discovering some new friends along the way. I’m not constantly busy with activities like I was pre-children, but I feel content with the quality of friendships and connection I am able to have now.
Those old friends who have stuck around have become such treasured companions. New friends from my moms group are cherished comrades, and the people I pass on the street give me something to dream of—the day that I too am browsing boutique shops and leisurely waving at the new stay-at-home-mom as she pushes her toddler and new baby in her double stroller.
*Photo from Micki Morris @micki.morris