It dawned on my the other day that I haven’t written this post even though this is the advice I give every one who is about to embark on parenthood! So here it goes…
I’ll 100% honest–being a new parent, especially a stay at home parent, is lonely and hard. Some are fortunate enough to have other parent friends close by or family to help fill that void, and others are embarking on this journey alone. For those doing the journey alone or almost alone it doesn’t have to be so. It’s going to take some time, some longer than others. It will also feel like dating. But in the end it works out and you’ll adjust. Give it time!!! But here are my tips that helped me overcome the loneliness of being a stay at home parent in a brand new city with an infant!
1. Pay to do something outside of the house once a week!!!
If you are like me, once you make a financial commitment you feel bad not using it and wasting all that money. That’s why I suggest you do something that forces you to pay up front to do it because you feel obligated to get out of the house and not list the many excuses to stay at home. At first, Oliver and I did Baby Boot Camp together. I bought a 12 class pass up front that would expire in like 2 months. It forced me to leave the house and get exercise. If I didn’t use a class pass cause of whatever excuse I felt so bad cause it was throwing away $15!!! This program was also great because once a month they did a Mom’s Night Out. So I was able to meet some cool moms this way, both in workout clothes and without.
If exercising, or boot camps, aren’t your thing there a ton of other things you can do with your new baby. If you want to try low impact exercising, try looking into post-natal yoga classes. Many gyms offer babysitting services if that is more your thing. My only problem with that is it’s harder to meet parent friends this way.
You can also look into classes for your baby. Yes, your little 6 weeker (sometimes younger) can participate in so many things!!! We’ve done music class, Gymboree, swimming, art class, etc. There are many Gymboree type places out there, probably closer to home too. Try looking up Little Gym or My Gym. They usually do a free trial class to see if it’s a good fit for you and your child. If those places are a bit pricey, your local parks and rec should offer baby classes, including infant swim classes! The point is, pay for something and go so you can meet people.
2. Join a parenting list serv or group.
You might have to do some sleuthing on Google or you can ask the few parents you know in your neighborhood/city/town. But if one exists, join it (while baby is in utero preferably). Not only can you score cheap or free gently used baby gear, you can connect with other parents with similar age babies. Once a month I get an e-mail to the neighborhood list serv from a new mom trying to connect with other mom’s in the neighborhood with newborns. And depending on how organized your list serv or group is, there may be monthly Mom’s Night Out to a local restaurant. It’s such a great way to feel more connected to your neighbors and find parent friends.
3. Go to Meetup.com.
As I have mentioned before, finding new parent friends is like dating. It’s awkward and strange as you investigate whether or not this parent will be cool and match your parenting style. Well, think of Meetup as your dating website (kind of like eHarmony, but for a lot of different interests, not exclusive to parents). You can easily see if there are baby/parent groups based on a certain mile radius of your zip code. You can even go so far as to find baby/parent groups around certain themes, like exercise or home schooling or attachment parenting or Spanish speaking (I’ve seen Mandarin). It’s a great way to meet other parents, usually in public places. If you can’t find one that is a good fit for you or there isn’t one close to you, you can always start a Meetup group yourself (for a small fee).
4. Join a new parent support group.
More and more of these are popping up, either offered through the hospital you delivered or through an organization in your neighborhood. Some are free and some aren’t. But the point is, it is a great way to meet new parents with similar aged babies. They are usually facilitated by hospital staff or a therapist. You discuss topics regarding being a new parent and connect, share, and most importantly vent about this crazy journey. Most support groups are set for a certain number of weeks (between 6-8 weeks, meeting once a week), but many of these groups soon become your closest parent friends who continue to meet weekly for play dates. You may think it’s dumb, especially if you aren’t into therapy-type things for whatever reason, but trust me you will enjoy the support group.
Just keep putting yourself, and your baby, out there. It really is exactly like dating, but I think so much harder. It will depress you, but you’ll also have times where you get excited about meeting a parent you like (trust me, my husband has looked at me weirdly when I tell him about a cool mom I’ve met). It took me about a year to finally find a circle of parent friends I truly like. It just takes time, so just be patient. After all, you were patient about finding your partner right? It’s hard, but it will work out. It may not seem like it, especially in the throws of a crying infant. But it will, and you’ll find some cool parents you can start calling your friends.