Home alone with a baby: 5 ways to stay connected
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Before childbirth, it used to be fine to spend the day - all day - at home, but now it’s really, really hard. There’s a backlog of chores, whole banks of laundry. It’s not that you necessarily want to lead a hectic baby social life, with baby groups and classes every single day. Actually, sometimes you just can’t face another tots group, introducing yourself to more strangers, and having superficial conversations, usually about lack of sleep and/or baby poo - possibly the only things you have in common. But some days you just feel really lonely and stuck. Have you been there?
We’re always talking about self-care at Gentle Days, and having a sense of belonging and connection with other adults is such a biggie. How do we do that, when we are plunged into this crazy new sleep deprived world, and the other parent has gone back to work? It can sometimes be a struggle just to put on clean clothes in the morning - and who knew having a shower could be such a challenge?
Here are 5 ways to help keep baby-isolation at bay:
Recognise the limits of social media and online connection.
Mumsnet, Facebook, whatever platform you use, can be a lifeline for finding like-minded parents, and a smartphone can be a welcome friend during long feeds in the small hours! But they’re designed to be addictive. If you find yourself attending to your screen during baby’s waking hours, that’s precious bonding time that is being taken away from you and your little one. Ask whether your online connection is leading to real connection. Try to use your communication technology to facilitate meeting people that you care about in real life.
Try this: connect with local parents, rather than people you’ll never meet. Look up your nearest Steiner parent & child group - my first Steiner group was in Norwich with Richard House. It changed everything!
You don’t have to sit and drink tea the whole time!
So you spend all your energy tidying up so you can have a friend round, and then you have a load of tea and cake and then they go and there’s a pile of washing up and toys everywhere and cake trodden into the carpet, and then it can feel like you don’t actually have the energy to make it tidy in the first place or have guests round at all…
One of my best experiences when my children were little was the time I spent and the friendship I developed with Jenny, another mum who became my best friend (- she’s now leading Treehouse Steiner group in Stickford). We’d go round to each other’s house and we’d just do chores together: each other’s washing up, or folding clothes; we trusted each other to deal with our toddlers’ squabbles, or rock the other’s baby so she could have a much needed flop on the sofa or a book with the older one.
Try this: Read The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff - that’s where I got this idea. Ridiculously it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise!
Get help from your partner
It can be difficult to imagine how hard it is being at home with a little one if you haven’t been there, and it helps to talk about your experiences and not assume that they realise what you’re going through. Don’t forget that they’re probably tired too. When you’re both tired, it’s easy to default to defensiveness, but try to be there for each other. Cut each other some slack. Ask nicely for what you need. Have a big hug. You’re in it together.
Develop a weekly rhythm
Sometimes it helps to have one small, predictable thing to do on each day. It’s not obligatory to stick to it rigidly, it doesn’t exclude spontaneity, and it can definitely include a home day or a PJ day once a week if you know that helps keep the pressure off. But it can help you stay sane if you and your child to have a gentle structure to your week - a kind of anchor when you feel all at sea and the baby days stretch endlessly before you. And it means you don’t wait till you’re stir crazy and desperate before you finally leave the house.
I don’t particularly recommend doing ALL the baby groups every single day unless you really love to - it’s quite expensive, and it may be better to develop a few relationships that you’re really able to nurture! I used to walk into town several days a week, baby in a sling, to meet my husband for a brief cup of coffee during his lunch break. A tiny moment together, but very achievable even on a difficult day and I cannot tell you what a lifeline that was!
Try this: choose a little something to do each day and stick it to the fridge. If you don’t know other people in your area, that’s when a bit of searching on mumsnet or Facebook can come in useful!
It wasn’t until I entered parenthood that I realised how precious and beloved my own parents are to me - and it turns out this is a pretty common experience! It’s not always possible, but if you can, I recommend taking the opportunity to enlarge and appreciate this relationship.
One of the things that drove me crazy when I first entered the world of parenthood was the feeling of being in a mother-and-baby silo, cut off from the rest of society. It doesn’t have to be this way. I have really enjoyed the relationships that I have developed with older friends and relatives - and appreciated the relationship that they have developed with my children. I have a feeling they like seeing us, too!
Try this: give your mum a call. Or call in on an elderly neighbour.
How do you find a sense of belonging and connection with other adults now you have a baby? Join the conversation in person if you can make it to one of our groups - Fridays for under 5s, and Mondays for babies (pregnancy-walking) details on our website. https://www.lincolnshirewaldorfgroup.co.uk/