Today's the loneliest day of the year for parents - here's how to combat it
Today, Tuesday 17 November, is the loneliest day of the year for parents.
A miserable mix of dark nights, bad weather, struggling to budget for Christmas and waiting for pay day means UK parents feel more isolated today than at any other point in the year.
The announcement comes from research released by parenting site ChannelMum.com, which round that almost three quarters of mums pinpointed 27 November as the toughest date in the calendar, with 67% of those polled admitting they have felt lonelier since becoming a parent.
Finances are also playing a part in how lonely mums are feeling with half of parents claiming to no longer being able to afford to attend festive bashes after having children.
A further 51% turned down invitations to meet other people as they struggled to stretch out their maternity pay.
Worryingly, more than half of mums admitted they are lonely as they no longer feel ‘body confident’ to dress up and attend Christmas get-togethers.
Mums with newborn babies face extra pressures, with nine in ten describing themselves as ‘very lonely’ at this time of year.
Seven in ten feel ‘isolated’ at home with a baby, while 42% confessed to feeling ‘abandoned’, as friends and family show less interest as their tot grows up.
And 93 per cent of mums are put off meeting up with friends and family by dank November weather.
Social media is also impacting the way mums feel with half of the 1,372 parents polled said they were left feeling lonelier after looking at friends celebrating the run up to Christmas Day on Instagram and Facebook, with a quarter claiming it negatively impacted their mental health.
Worryingly, 92% confessed they try to hide how they feel, refusing to tell anyone they are lonely.
In response, four in five mums want to find more friends and for parents to be more honest with each other about how they feel.
Commenting on the findings ChannelMum.com psychologist Emma Kenny said: “It’s common to feel a little low at this time of the year – but today really does bring together all the worst factors.
“Looking after children can be very isolating, and on this date it’s compounded by money worries, dark nights, terrible weather and feeling disconnected as you can no longer socialise as you use to, leaving tens of thousands of mums feeling very alone.
“With nine in 10 mums saying they hide how they feel, it’s vital we’re all more open and honest. We can only end loneliness by reconnecting with each other, so why not turn today into an opportunity to do just that and make new friends?”
In an attempt to combat some of today’s loneliness ChannelMum.com will be sharing the #BlueMumDay hashtag on social media to encourage mums to come together and feel less lonely.
Cathy Ranson, editor of ChannelMum said: “Nine in 10 mums admit to feeling lonely and not only can this sense of isolation impact your mental health leading to anxiety and depression, it can even manifest as physical ailments too.
“Mums are one of the loneliest groups as society has lost the ‘village feel’. High housing costs means most mums no longer live near their extended family so they don’t have the help and wisdom of older generations. Long hours at work and poorly paid jobs means mums may not get much support from their partner and caring for a child alone can be relentless and very tough.
“Think back to the last two weeks, how many times did you connect with other mum friends in real life? It’s not fun admitting that you’re “billy-no-mates” but the sooner you take action the sooner you could make a new mum friend. If you’ve realised that in the last two weeks it’s only family members and your partner that you’re talking to on a daily basis it’s time to put yourself out there and go and make some mum friends. Although it can seem daunting, there are ways to cover come it – so be brave, be bold and turn today from the loneliest into the loveliest day.”
Tips to combat parental loneliness
Admit how you feel
“There is no shame in feeling alone. Nine in ten other mums feel the same too,” explains Cathy.
Reach out for help
Cathy suggests going online to explain to others how you feel. “You will be amazed at the response,” she says. “Honesty is the best policy and you’ll find the floodgates open once you have the courage to share your feelings.”
Stop comparing yourself to others
Mums are often the worst culprits for this! “The desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ is not a new one, however the rise of social media has only exacerbated the problem by giving individuals the chance to constantly compare themselves to others,” explains Eugene Farrell, Head of Trauma Support Services at AXA PPP healthcare.
“If you’re already feeling lonely, the idea that everyone else’s life is more idyllic than yours can make you feel even more isolated and alone. This can lead us to ‘compare and despair’ – which further exacerbates our negative experiences.”
Eugene suggests reminding yourself that people only share what they want others to see about their lives. “Don’t form unrealistic expectations about life and friendship based on what you see online,” he adds.
Break the loneliness habit
Go out today and smile and say hello to another mum you don’t know. “It’s a small step but it may make her day – and yours,” Cathy says.
Make the first move
Making mum friends is a little like dating, and sometimes you’ll need to make the first move. “Be the one to spot another mum who’s on her own and go and say hello,” suggests Cathy.
“Don’t be afraid to ask to swap numbers if your children are getting on well and you seem like you might get along too,” she adds.
Switch up your activities
Not all baby groups are equal. “If you’ve not found a baby and toddler group that suits you yet, keep trying out new ones until you find the perfect one,” Cathy says. “This is a brilliant way to make some new mum friends.”
Be more open
“If you feel that you have plenty of connections but don’t feel close to any of them, the underlying issue may be that you need to open up to them more to deepen your connection,” explains Eugene. He suggests letting a friend or acquaintance in on a vulnerability felt or your honest opinion about an issue.
“Leave the house every day or at the weekends if you’re working,” Cathy advises. “It’s tempting to stay indoors but get out there, explore your local parks, woods and playgrounds as this is where you’ll find other mums.”
You don’t need to spend money on expensive clubs and classes to meet other mums, check out your local library and toy library and ask them about other free activities in the local area whilst you’re there.
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