She made an effort. She got the kids dressed and fed. She even dressed herself which was no small feat, considering the walls felt like they were closing in on her this morning. If she had been able to she would have stayed in bed. But the kids were lively and restless, she knew they needed to get out even if she didn’t feel like it, they needed company even if she didn’t want it. So she made an effort.
She thought she would try that toddler group around the corner. She pushed open the door and tentatively peeked inside. Playgroup was in full swing, kids screaming with delight tearing around the room, toys flying left to right, parents and carers deep in conversation, sat on a line of chairs encircling this chaos.
Her son took off straight away loudly tearing around the room with a headless doll in one hand and a plastic saw in the other. She flinched as she saw a group of mums look at her child, she could almost hear them thinking “Who is this loud crazy child?” The mums and carers looked at her briefly then looked away and carried on talking.
She swallowed hard as she looked desperately for an empty chair, while dragging her second child along the floor who was wrapped around her leg, stuck to her like a limpet. She glanced up and felt a few more stares. She felt a little bit like those strangers in the old western movies who walk into a bar, she almost expected a mum to come up to her with a western drawl and say “Yer not from around these parts are ye?” but at least that would mean someone would actually be talking to her. She turned her attention to her daughter/limpet and tried to encourage her to pick up some nearby dolls. She glanced up again and then she saw it, a lady was looking at her and smiled! In the midst of backs of head or quick glances a smile is like a lighthouse shining in the dark, standing out like a beacon. “How old is she?” the lady kindly asked. She replied and entered into a very short polite dialogue but a dialogue nevertheless. Between that and the snacks/songs and home time there were a couple more smiles and the owner of the playgroup who had been previously talking to someone else came over to introduce herself. All these things made a huge difference between her feeling even more alone than when she was at home, and feeling like this was somewhere she could come again.
You may not have experienced the example above. Maybe you have. I can certainly say you have been in the same room as someone who has experienced the above at some point. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word. It doesn’t have to be much. We can all think of a time when a kind smile lifted us but may not always be aware when we need to be the one aware of who needs a smile from us today.
Amazingly it is absolutely possible to feel alone in a crowd. To feel isolated in a lively buzzing building filled with noise chatting and laughter. Connection is more than just being in the same room as other mums and children. Sometimes you can arrive and leave feeling just the same as if you had never left your sofa.
Other times loneliness comes from not hearing from other mums in the week. Feeling like if you never made the effort to contact people you would never hear from them. Surprisingly though very many people feel like this, it’s not just you, and the people you never hear from they often feel the same way. More often than not you are the one required to take that first step hard as it may be. How refreshing it is when someone takes that first step for you, and that can be as simple as a smile.
We have many things in place to help you if you are feeling like this. To provide a safe space to socialise, where those in charge are trained to be observant and discerning and signpost you to different organisations if you need help. There are also groups that are set up for PND counselling and countless others. Wherever you live as you read this article please do search for similar organisations local to you. Many also have found support within a church that they are comfortable in.
Nurturing birth and beyond and local NCT groups are active and passionate about empowering mothers and being a friend and providing invaluable information, networking and support. Pregnancy yoga classes and mother and baby yoga are built on the foundations of peer support in mind, passionately making sure mums don’t feel left out.
Home Start provides a proactive home visiting programme for families under stress to offer practical support, help and friendship. This in turn will reduce the family isolation and encourage the building of social networks and many more. Home Start also run playgroups. Dragonflies meets every Tuesday and Thursday morning. There is also a dads group, story time and lots more. Please see their website or Facebook page for updates and more information.
Bright Beginnings at the edge of Delancey Park and The Kindred Centre at Les Genats offer a welcoming Community Centre where there are varied activities during the week. Their highly trained staff are on hand to help or offer support or signpost you to other helpful organisations. Please see Facebook pages or websites for more information.
Breaking free is a course run by Health and Social Services Department for mums suffering with post natal depression. This eight week course gives support and coping strategies as well as sessions where you can explore relaxation techniques too. Please ask your Health Visitor or Doctor if you would like a referral.
The incredible years programme aims to prevent and reduce behavioural and emotional problems in young children whilst supporting and educating parents. You can contact your Health Visitor or Doctor for more information.
The above support and more are available locally. Don’t be afraid to ask.
We all suffer loneliness at times. Being a mum can be very isolating it can also be very rewarding. Let us be aware of those around us who may be needing support, even just a smile is something we can all do.
If you are feeling lonely to the point of feeling regularly low please do take steps to attend one of these friendly playgroups who are geared up to helping mums in this situation. Do ask your Doctor or Health Visitor for a referral where you can learn coping strategies for day to day life, and benefit from the care and support you will also receive
Read more from Jo at https://freshbreadandfaith.wordpress.com/