Married, partnered or single, moms are working hard in the home, outside of the home, and usually both! Often moms are so busy and stressed, that they may feel alone or isolated. Have you ever experienced thoughts like these or the feelings that go with them?
“I’m going stir crazy just home alone all day talking to a two year old!”
“All I do is schedule the kids and then drive them around from one activity to another!”
“Between my work and my kids, I have no energy and no me time!”
“My husband doesn’t come home ‘til after the kids are asleep, and he’s too tired to talk.”
These are a sampling of laments brought into my therapy office by tired mothers who have little time to recharge their batteries. However, body of evidence has emerged that validates the psychological and emotional benefits of social connection. It is now believed that friendships can reduce negative effects of stress, ward off depression, and even boost physical health.
Since motherhood, with its immense joy, may also produce immense stress, developing and maintaining connections may improve your parenting patience, open more emotional/mental space for quality time with your kids, and even improve your health! The challenge becomes locating and maintaining relationships when parenting takes so much energy. Yet, establishing and keeping friendships is worth it, and it is possible.
Following are some key tips for establishing and maintaining friendships.
First, and foremost, believe that you can thrive in connection, and that you deserve time with others– including your partner!
If you live in a familiar community, you may know moms from pre-mom days who may want to form play groups and/or parent support groups. Groups give both kids and parents an opportunity to connect. (kids need connection too!) Whether in a familiar or new social community, you can find chats or local “list serves” that introduce you to other moms. When my daughter had her first child, she used the online connections to meet other mothers. Her efforts resulted in connections that have become a stable core of her friendship network and her support system.
You might also consider forming or joining interest groups such as garden clubs or book clubs. Joining a faith community, a church or temple, can also be a way to begin to form friendships with like-minded others who are moms or non-moms. It is the connection that counts. As connection grows in safety and warmth, benefits increase.
While friendship on line is worthwhile, it does not fully replace the refreshing value of in-person give and take. As you meet and make friends, you might muster up the courage to arrange a girls’ night out. If you can afford it, a baby sitter can provide respite time. If family is nearby, you might ask for a little relief time. Some women trade off baby sitting time to allow the moms and dads to have some free time, or to vary couple’s time within a couples’ network.
As you discover the de-stressing and re-charging benefits of friendship, you might find your morale lifts, and you have more energy for the kids. And remember that old-fashioned method called the phone? Talking on the phone is still a tried and true way to share ideas, offer support, have a cry, have a laugh, give some advice, and keep the connections alive.
Friendships and connections are crucial for your health and happiness. You will be a more peaceful, less stressed person, and as a result–a better Mom.