Overcoming Lonliness and Isolation

This is an extremely personal post that isn't easy for me to write about. But in order for me to stay true to myself and to the nature of this blog I feel like it's important for me to write about. As much as I try to write about uplifting and funny topics, the reality is parenthood (especially becoming a mother for the first time) isn't always an easy ride.

When baby A was around 2/3 months old his dad returned to work. By then we'd got the basics of parenting nailed (the feeds, the bum changes, the washes, etc). Although I'd taken to motherhood like a duck in water the idea of losing my main pillar of support was daunting but I dealt with it. I had to. Hindsight is a beautiful thing because I now know that the way I handled the situation was completely wrong. Let me explain. For me it wasn't as easy as the BD leaving in the morning to go to work and returning in the evening. If only things were that simple. You see, we both live on separate sides of London, he with his mother and me with my dad. His hours vary from day shifts and night shifts so there's no structure and situations arose which had prevented baby A and I from being at his house anymore. This meant that in order for the BD to see our son he had to travel to my side of the pond. And after 12hour shifts I imagine it wasn't easy. So I felt the need to make it as easy on him as possible.

I'd plan my week (my life even) around him in order for him to be able to see baby A as much as possible. And sure it worked at first. He'd send his monthly rota's to me and I'd plan family visits around his days off. But his hours would change and slowly but surely he stopped sending his rota altogether. From his point of view I was controlling his life, little did he know he was controlling mine too. By not knowing his rota I wasn't able to catch up with old friends (baby in tow) or even visit my relatives. I found myself saying "I'm not sure I can do that, I don't know when BD is down" daily. I barely left the house and threw myself into housework. For some reason my dad felt that being on maternity leave I didn't have anything to do (because newborns look after themselves apparently) so would leave piles of washing up and mess for me to deal with.

During this time I was at my lowest point. I felt alone, isolated and trapped. I wasn't going anywhere (literally or figuratively). And in all honesty I think I started to resent the fact that the BD still had a life. Yes, he was working 12 hour shifts day and night but he had the novelty of going home, kicking back and seeing his friends whenever he pleased (in all fairness to him when he wasn't working or sleeping he was driving to be with us). I on the other hand was spending my time lonely and in a state of isolation waiting for BD to tell me he was visiting. Most days the only face I'd see other than that of baby A was my dads.

I don't hate my son nor wish he wasn't born. Even at my lowest point I never regretted having him, even for a second. I couldn't imagine my life without him. Looking after baby A was never this issue. It was that I was becoming so wrapped up in trying to keep everyone else happy that I didn't take the time to make myself happy (although it made no difference to baby A it probably wasn't nice for him to be cooped up inside either. I wanted him to discover new things and meet new people). I was becoming so down and I didn't want it to develop into depression.

Christmas came and went and after a bout of the flu preventing my son and I from spending the festive season with the family I decided it was time for a change. Up until this point I was convinced that life would be like this forever. I had such a negative mindset (there goes that wonderful hindsight again. Looking back, I was the only one keeping myself in that situation). As cheesy as it is I guess you could say this was my New Years resolution. I knew it would take a lot more than just occasionally leaving my house. I needed to be able to divide my time and find a balance between  making sure BD had some time with us, maintaining a social life and more importantly making sure baby A was able to explore the world.

I ordered a planner online and decided that as soon as it arrived I'd make the most of my time and work towards my goals. I felt like The Happiness Planner was the right fit for me. Before making any entries in the planner you're encouraged to answer a series of questions about your life now and where you'd like to be, then set realistic tasks to reach achieve goals. Each week there's space for your work and personal goals, an inspirational quote and a reflection log to record your highs and lows where you can also rate the week out of 25 based on five categories. Since I purchased The Happiness Planner I feel more in control of my life and slowly but surely I'm working towards my goals. I take baby A out for activities at least once a week, make time for family and friends and have a few ideas up my sleeve in terms of working towards my work goals.

What can you do?
I don't claim to be a lifestyle guru (if you're following my journey will know my life is far from perfect), but for those of you who do find yourselves in similar situations try these simple steps:
  • Look at what you don't like about your current situation - make a list of what you don't like about your current situation and use this list as a starting point for step two.
  • Look at what your ideal situation looks like -  it's important to have realistic and achievable expectations. It's also good to have an idea of when you'd like to have achieved these goals by (e.g. A month, 5 months, a year). Also remember to give yourself a realistic amount of time to achieve them by. Rome wasn't built in a day!
  • Look at how you can get there - what steps do you need to take in order to get where you want to be? Be specific and set time frames to meet your overall goals. If it's going to take you multiple steps to achieve that goal then order them accordingly.
  • Look at how far you've come - set regular review dates to make sure you're still on track. Ask yourself "are you on track, if not why and how can you get back on track? There are many unpredictable factors that can interfere with your goals so don't worry too much if you haven't achieved them as fast as you'd hoped  - you'll get there eventually!

          And remember DON’T be the person standing in the way of your own goals!

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