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Especially as a stay-at-home mommy, it can often feel like you’re living on an island by yourself (maybe with a crazy native or two running around speaking gibberish, otherwise known as “toddlerese”).
When I worked outside the home, I could have adult conversations daily and go for walks (or at least grocery shopping without a toddler in tow) on my lunch. Looking back, it was heavenly.
While I’m happy that I’m able to spend more time with my kids and laugh at their jokes and silly antics, I miss that connected feeling that I had when I was working outside the home. I’ve since had to find new ways to stay connected and surround myself with people who enrich me.
Join an Online Forum
While there’s nothing like having face-to-face contact with tangible people, sometimes an online forum can be the next best thing. Some groups, such as some of the food allergy groups that I’ve joined on Facebook, create a real sense of community. Parents swap success stories, share their latest food scares, and post articles that benefit the other members. I’ve laughed out loud at my new “friends’” stories, cried with them, and felt like one of the team!
Take a Class
When I was pregnant with my son, I took a sewing class through our local community education program. I met people from all stages of life – teenagers wanting to learn something new, grandmothers wanting to create something for their grandchildren. We all bonded over our sewing machines as we started, tore apart, and started again to create something beautiful.
Join a Challenge
With my “set yourself up for success” attitude, I’ve joined several online challenges. It’s nice to hear tips and commiserate with other participants. I also feel less alone as I tackle my home organization projects or set my alarm for a ridiculous hour of the morning.
Create a Mommy Group
One of my favorite ways to stay connected with others since coming home is spending time with my Mommy Group. Different from a playgroup, we focus on ourselves as much as the kids. We swap “best practice” ideas about getting our babies to sleep, but we also talk about things that matter to us as women.
Take Up a Hobby
Do you have a hobby that you’ve been neglecting since you started your family? Even something you used to enjoy, like reading a good book, may have been pushed to the back burner when you had a family.
Don’t forget to make time for yourself each day. It’s surprising, but just reading a good book for 15 minutes can make you feel energized and connected to something outside of your home.
If you want to try something new, get a group of friends together and sign up for a Craftsy course. Craftsy offers everything from cake decorating to sewing to painting. So far, I’ve taken a cooking course, a photography course, and a cookie decorating course, and I’ve loved them all!
Attend Local Events
The State of Michigan funds a program called the “Great Start Collaborative,” which offers many free programs for young children. My husband and I have taken the kids on tours of our local post office, made donuts at a local Tim Horton’s, and attended an air show. The program also supports children’s reading challenges, monthly parenting networking events, and CPR training, among other activities. It’s a fantastic resource, both to meet other parents and have fun with your family.
Contact your local library, intermediate school district, or preschool to find out if your state or county has a similar program.
Start a Blog
Writing has created a great opportunity for me to connect with others. I’m an introvert, so I’m much more comfortable writing my thoughts than actually speaking about them. Through writing, I’ve been able to connect with so many people, including other writers. It’s opened the doors to a world that I never knew existed.
Plan a Getaway
When was the last time that you took a vacation? Did you actually feel refreshed afterward, or did you return feeling worse than you did when you left? Every now and then, I just need a break from reality. Whether I plan an annual girls’ overnight trip to Chicago, attend a blogging conference, or fly across the country to taste wine in Napa with my husband, it’s nice to get away and recharge.
Family is so important, but it can be hard to break the daily monotony to actually plan a day or weekend to visit family. I live relatively close to family, but with kids, even a 45-minute car ride can seem like an eternity. We pack up my son’s Leap Pad (the greatest invention ever, I might add), my daughter’s pacifier, and off we go!
The only problem with visiting family when you have kids is the germ factor. Kids are little germ factories, and if you have elderly relatives that shouldn’t be exposed to germs, it can put a monkey wrench in your plans. I can’t tell you how many family events we’ve had to cancel because my daughter had an ear infection or my son had a runny nose. Sometimes we have to fall back on making do with phone calls or FaceTime visits instead, but it’s the thought that counts.
Join a Gym
Last January, I joined my local YMCA. It has free childcare for members, so I can take the kids with me. I drop them off with “Grandma Pat,” their favorite babysitter, and they have a blast while I attend an hour-long fitness class. It’s a win-win situation, because I get to socialize (and “get healthy”) with other adults while the kids enjoy tumbling classes, swim lessons, or snuggles with “Grandma Pat.”
Attend Mommy and Me Classes
Our local library offers free classes, storytimes, and play dates for kids and parents. Mommies get to bond with their children while interacting with other adults, and the children get to do something that they wouldn’t normally do at home. I especially love taking my kids to special craft activities or sensory play dates at our library. I’m not that artistic, and I don’t really want a mess of hot glue and paint in my living room. The fall classes are starting soon, and we’re all looking forward to a change of pace (and other activities besides tracing letters and coloring, which is about as far as my creativity extends).
Parenting is hard work, and it helps to surround yourself with people who can relate. It’s easy to feel alone as you struggle through the day-to-day activities. By surrounding yourself with people who can relate, you’ll feel much better (and saner).