Invisible. Unknown. Never by yourself, but feeling completely alone. These are just some of the ways moms describe loneliness. It’s more than a lack of friends (although that can be part of it). Loneliness is deeper, affecting people in varied ways. While some moms feel they lack close, intimate connections that come with being known and loved, others struggle with broader, relational loneliness or collective loneliness. Whatever the struggle looks like, long-term loneliness can be harmful to your health.
Parents — mothers, specifically — are navigating the challenges of parenting paired with a worldwide pandemic. Add to that fewer authentic relationships, less satisfaction in the workplace and the double-edged sword that is social media. Moms are feeling separate, isolated and alone despite the abundance of groups and connections available on social media.
While the specific reasons vary widely, many of them can be whittled down to these key struggles. And we need more than a bubble bath to see change. Here are some of the core reasons why moms are lonely and some suggestions on how to help.
The mental load
Moms are tired and it's more than a late-night with the baby kind of tired. Moms are carrying all the ordinary things like raising healthy, well-adjusted humans, work, home and all that goes with it. Plus, they are carrying life within a pandemic. Life with social upheaval and safety concerns. It feels heavy. Moms don’t have one single ounce of energy to reach out and connect, even if it is what they need the most.
Solution: We need to build our villages, even if we have to do it one brick at a time. Parenting in isolation is impossible. Moms need to know other people are in the same place, working toward the same goals, and most importantly, available to help ease the burden.
Real connections are hard to come by
How can moms be lonely when they know everything their friends are doing and they can reply with a thumbs up? Social media and technology have tricked us into thinking we’re connected. It is often superficial and doesn't give people the space to be seen, known and loved.
Solution: Use technology for good. What are ways to connect with technology? FaceTime or video chats. Text messages. Or even an old-fashioned phone call. Those are real ways to connect with a person. And if it leads to real-life connection, even better.
Moms have to deal with a lot of unique situations
Some are single parenting or juggling multiple jobs. Other moms are raising kids with disabilities or handling frequent moves to new places. It’s understandable why these unique situations lead to loneliness.
Solution: While it’s understandable to want a village as mentioned above, these unique situations require patience. Start with one person. Find one person to start connecting with and do that consistently.
Motherhood involves a lot of changes
Being a mom is an evolution of your identity and moms often struggle with this. It can be hard to know who you are through the seasons of motherhood and over time. This makes it especially hard to connect with others.
Solution: Foster a culture where moms are seen as people. Get to know yourself. Learn about other people. Ask about things beyond motherhood.
There is a lot of pressure on moms
Moms feel pressure. We can’t do it all. And sometimes the pressure is too much, even for seemingly good things like self-care or a night out. It can be overwhelming, leaving us frozen, stuck in a place of indecision because all we do every day is make decisions for the most important people in our lives.
Solution: Do one thing. That’s it. Start very small and do one thing to release some of the pressure. This will look different for every mom, and that’s okay.
Kendra Adachi talks about the idea of starting small: “Name something that stresses you out and make one decision to make it easier. One, not thirty-seven.”
You have permission to do one simple thing. To make one change. To reach out to one person and say how you feel. Over time, one small thing can lead to a second and a third. We can work together to shift from a culture of moms that feel lonely to moms that feel seen, known and cared for.
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