You know that feeling you get after the kids go to bed? Of being the lonely mom?
The feeling where you’re just sitting in your house, trying to get yourself together after a hard day with the kids, and all you want is some company?
Someone to talk to?
Someone who doesn’t need you to wipe their butt or make them dinner.
Someone who didn’t spend nine months attached to your insides before you pushed them out of your she-hole.
Yeah. That feeling. That lonely mom feeling.
That cold, suffocating, achy feeling that can seem impossible to shake, even on the best of days.
Living the lonely mom life can make it challenging for moms to make friends.
Especially moms who are busy taking care of their children, maintaining an intimate relationship with their partner, and doing the 10 million other things on their never-ending to-do list.
This blog post will explore:
- why moms feel lonely,
- how common loneliness is,
- and eight steps you can take to overcome your lonelienss and feel happy and fulfilled.
The Really Lonely Mom
I heard a story once about a mom who would stare at herself every day in the mirror and wince.
And with every wince, she would think:
- When was the last time I showered? Or shaved? Or cared about how I look?
- Why is it so hard for me to have a normal conversation with adults?
- When was the last time I left the house? Alone? Sans kids and without a grocery list in hand?
I imagine that she can be a bit hard to deal with.
You see, she’s probably chock-full of contradictions.
She may be the kind of mom who:
- craves deep friendships, but lacks the energy to make friends.
- looks forward to playdates with other moms, but a day or even an hour before, she cancels them with a pre-saved “something came up” or “my kids are acting crazy” text on her phone
- binge-watches Gilmore Girls at midnight and finds herself aching for intimate conversations and warm hugs but isn’t ready (or doesn’t know how) to bridge the gap between polite acquaintances and BFFs.
She’s probably the kind of mom who wants/needs/prays for a mom friend.
And if she could be so lucky as to have a band of close-knit mom friends in her corner?
Maybe the face staring back at her through the mirror wouldn’t be so lonely anymore.
Aaaaannd if my super detailed and thought-out inner monologue didn’t make it obvious yet, this lonely mom is me.
Also, it could be you.
And probably maybe (but most definitely yes) someone you know.
The Loneliness Pandemic
The world has become increasingly mobile-friendly over the last two decades.
The ability for people to reach out and communicate with each other via social networks, messaging apps, and video calls has risen astronomically.
By all accounts, this should mean that, in general, people can maintain social relationships better, right?
And that people would feel less lonely?
If we lived in an ideal world, sure. However, that’s not the case.
In May 2018, a survey of over 20,000 adults found that nearly 50% of Americans felt lonely sometimes or always, with adults ages 18-22 feeling the loneliest.
A year later, that number rose to 61%.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s only gotten worse.
Recent research indicates that two-thirds of U.S. adults are experiencing social isolation, while more than 7 out of 10 adults are finding it more difficult to connect with their friends during the pandemic.
Even more, nearly a third of adults report that they have gone 1-3 months without interacting with people outside their home or the workplace.
With approximately 209 million adults 18 years and older in the United States, that means that nearly 14 million people feel that they have few friends and that they lack social connections.
The Number of Lonely Moms
Unfortunately, these numbers aren’t looking any better for moms.
According to research conducted by the British Red Cross and Co-op in 2018:
However, it’s not just women under 30 who are feeling the brunt of this loneliness.
New moms, stay-at-home moms, and single moms are especially at risk of feeling lonely, too.
Why New Moms Feel Lonely
Although life changes, in general, are known to cause feelings of loneliness and disconnection, becoming a first-time mother takes the cake.
For instance, pregnancy and childbirth take a hard toll on a woman’s body.
With postpartum recovery lasting anywhere between 6 weeks and 18+ months, new mothers may find it very difficult to go out and see their friends.
Even more, the arrival of a new baby can cause moms to experience postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum rage (to name a few).
In a survey of over 2,000 moms in the U.K.:
Why Stay-at-Home Moms Feel Lonely
Many stay-at-home moms are also struggling with deep feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Without the social connection that working provides, stay-at-home moms may find themselves going days (or even weeks) without talking to someone outside of their immediate family.
According to a 2012 Gallup analysis of over 60,000 women:
During the interview process, stay-at-home moms reported feeling more worried, sad, stressed, angry, and depressed than working moms.
When asked about their daily positive emotions, stay-at-home moms also reported feeling less likely to smile, laugh, experience joy, or learn something new.
Why Single Moms Feel Lonely
Likewise, single moms (and dads) are also more at risk of feeling lonely.
Being a parent and sharing the responsibility of raising your kids with your partner is hard enough, but doing it alone?
Or managing a co-parenting situation?
Hands-down, that would be a heck of a lot more difficult.
For instance, a single parent not only has to raise their kids by themselves (or with the help of family or a co-parent), but they have to manage the grief and loneliness that comes from having a relationship with a partner end.
In a survey conducted by the Frolo app:
Additionally, single parents from another study reported higher levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and stress than households with more than one parent.
What can we do about it?
Taken together, these statistics provide ample evidence that the majority of moms experience feelings of loneliness and isolation at least some of the time.
As a really lonely mom myself, I do find these numbers somewhat reassuring.
I mean, it’s always a little nice, knowing that you’re not the only person who feels this sense of loneliness about being a mom.
However, how much help can that reassurance really give you?
For instance, knowing that other moms feel the same way doesn’t take away from your loneliness.
Although you may feel a little more understood, that achy, empty feeling in your gut is still churning and making it hard to breathe.
You see, “The irony of loneliness is we all feel it at the same time, togther.”Rupi Kaur
But knowing that isn’t enough to make the feelings go away.
Loneliness is such a subjective experience that although everyone feels it, no one knows how the person next to them experiences it.
That in and of itself makes loneliness one of the most suffocating and isolating aspects of life.
But despite all of that, we do not have to live lonely lives.
We can feel happy.
We can be happy.
We can thrive.
How to combat loneliness in your life: 8 Steps
It’s possible to overcome feeling lonely.
It takes time, effort, and courage, but it’s possible.
Through trial and error, I have found these eight steps to be the most effective way to help me break the cycle of loneliness and begin feeling happy again.
In a nutshell, from start to finish:
- Acknowledge your feelings.
- Understand you are not alone.
- Begin reconnecting with yourself.
- Begin taking care of yourself.
- Share happy moments with friends and family.
- Build a circle of support (your mom tribe).
- Learn how to use social media the right way.
- Talk to your doctor.
I mean, if I can do it (as an introverted person with a tendency to live a hermit life), I’m fairly certain that you can too.
Step 1: Acknowledge your feelings
It may seem unnecessary or silly, but acknowledging your loneliness is the first step to combatting it.
For instance, when I experience bouts of loneliness (which happens way more often than I would like), the first thing I do is acknowledge that my feelings exist.
I don’t fight those feelings or try to push them away because….well, been there, done that.
I’ve learned time and time again that sweeping my feelings under the rug only causes my negative feelings to escalate even further.
Instead, I give myself space to feel lonely.
I open the door, let the loneliness seep in, and allow it to dwell for a little bit. Then, I offer that lonely feeling a seat, give it a glass of water, and spend some time getting to know why the feeling exists in the first place.
By doing this, I’ve come to learn a lot about why loneliness tends to hang around me.
And it’s not until I’ve learned WHY I’m feeling lonely that I can figure out how to end the cycle.
Step 2: Understand you are not alone
The next crucial step is understanding that you are not alone in your feelings.
If you’re feeling lonely right now, give yourself grace.
Understand that there’s nothing wrong with feeling lonely.
It’s a natural, healthy, human emotion. And although it’s a “negative” emotion, it has no bearing on your self-worth as a person or your ability to love and be loved.
Everyone feels alone from time to time.
Every person has felt that cold ache loneliness leaves in its wake.
And every single person still has value and still deserves happiness.
You are not alone in your loneliness.
Loneliness just tends to make you feel that way.
Step 3: Begin reconnecting with yourself
Now that you’ve allowed yourself to feel the loneliness, acknowledge it, and understand how common your feelings are, it’s time to start reconnecting with who YOU were before motherhood.
Because that woman? That girl?
She still matters.
And I know, I know. You’re a mom now, and that’s very important.
But that’s not the only important thing.
Because somewhere along the way, as your kids grew up (or even before), you started to lose touch with yourself.
All the time and energy you used to put into your hobbies and interests were now divided among your partner, friends, and children.
And that’s okay. That’s normal. That’s not a bad thing.
But when you begin to lose your sense of self?
When you no longer know what YOUR hobbies and interests are?
When the face staring back at you through the mirror makes you wince and look away?
That’s when you know it’s no longer okay.
And that’s when you know that it’s time to begin reconnecting with the YOU that existed before you had children.
Step 4: Begin taking care of yourself
This is probably one of the more challenging steps (at least, it was for me). Because once you get here, you need to let yourself be a little selfish.
At least, it will feel a little selfish at first.
This is when you need to start taking care of yourself and prioritizing your needs above all the rest.
Does that mean you stop feeding your kids and you let them fend for themselves?
No. Of course not. Save that for when they’re 18. 😉
But that does mean that you can say no to baking three dozen cookies for the next bake sale or watching your brother’s kids for the 5th weekend in a row.
That does mean that you can take yourself out on a date (sans kids) and watch a movie, hike a trail, or take a nap in a meadow full of wildflowers and unicorns.
And that definitely means that you can (and should) take all the time you need to learn how to love yourself again.
I would suggest that you start small.
Change takes little steps, not big.
Make a list of easy and simple things you can do now to reconnect with yourself, then things you can do later, and finally, things that are harder and will take the most time.
Schedule time to cross every item off of your list and keep that list growing.
And try to treat yourself to one thing each week (like coffee on Monday mornings), no matter what.
Because you need it, and because YOU are important.
And it’s about dang time you realize that you belong to YOURSELF, not just your family, friends, and community.
Step 5: Share happy moments with friends and family
While on your journey to reconnect with yourself, it’s also important to remember that there are plenty of people in the world who care about your well-being.
No matter how lonely you feel, the world is a better place when it’s shared.
For instance, remember that time you and your bestie went to the art museum, then out for lunch afterward?
Or how about that weekend when your parents came for a surprise visit and spoiled your kids like crazy?
Those are wonderful memories.
And those moments of happiness belong as much to you as they belong to the people you shared them with.
It’s essential to not only make time for yourself but to make time for the people around you who love and care about you.
Because when you share happy moments with friends and family, it reminds you that you’re not alone.
Step 6: Build a circle of support (your mom tribe)
I’m going to say it again because this is very important: reach out when you feel lonely and isolated.
There’s a difference between feeling alone in your struggles (which can bring on feelings of hopelessness) and surrounding yourself with a group of people who understand what you’re going through and want nothing more than to help.
We are social creatures, and we tend to feel happier and more fulfilled when surrounded by other people who have our best interests at heart.
That’s why it’s so important that you invest some time building a solid support system of friends and family.
Because mama, finding your mom tribe is one of the best ways to overcome loneliness in your life.
Everyone needs those friends they can fart in front of or call at 3 am because Ross and Rachel broke up again.
Every person needs a group that will accept them as they are and embrace the person they want to become.
Every mama needs a band of close-knit mom friends that get it without you having to explain.
I know it can be overwhelming and even scary at first, but if you put yourself out there just a little bit, you’ll realize that everyone else is just looking for their own tribe, too.
And it becomes a lot less scary (and a lot easier to reach out) once you realize that.
Step 7: Learn how to use social media the right way
It’s also important to learn how to use social media in a positive, encouraging way.
As someone who spends a lot of time on social media, I understand how overwhelming it can feel to be on your phone all the time.
It’s like a constant bombardment of ads, TikTok videos, and breaking news stories that make you feel awful about yourself and the world around you.
But despite all the negativity, we live in an age where technology is everywhere and information spreads across networks at lightning speeds. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat are incredible tools for staying connected with friends and family.
And although social media is notorious for causing people to feel more disconnected from the world around them, learning to use social media in a more interactive way can help you feel more connected with others instead of less.
So rather than scrolling through your newsfeed on autopilot, try actively participating in online activities such as group forums, video calls with distant friends and family, or various group charities.
Also, there’s a lot to be said about changing your perspective on how you should use social media.
Instead of posting about “how super awesome” your food looks or “the massive amounts of fun” you had the other day, think about the value you are putting out into the world.
What makes YOU feel better? Happier? More connected?
Would you rather scroll through dozens of posts about how much fun someone else’s life is?
Or would you instead engage in posts that focus on sharing advice, support, and empathy with others?
If you start focusing on the valuable things you can share on social media to lift others up, you might find that your level of happiness and connectedness on social media increases.
By doing this, social media can become a safe place where you can feel less lonely and more fulfilled with your life.
Step 8: Talk to your doctor
And finally, if you feel like this is a problem that goes beyond the average feelings of loneliness, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
You don’t have to wait until you’ve finished these steps. Just trust your gut.
If you feel like something’s wrong, it probably is.
If your partner, friends, or family feel like something might be wrong, it’s important that you address their feelings and look into them.
And if you’re worried about being diagnosed with postpartum depression, anxiety, rage, etc., please don’t be.
I’ve been diagnosed with it, too. And so have 1 out of 7 women around the world.
The most important thing is that you get the help you need to feel happier and more able to live your life.
If you have any worries, please talk to a doctor. They can help you get on medication or connect you with a therapist, two options that are 100% okay.
The lonely mom life is a reality for many moms, but there is always hope.
Moms need time for themselves but also space to reach out and connect with other moms, friends, and family in their lives.
I hope you found this blog post helpful and can put these tips into practice in your own life. For the moms who might be struggling right now, I want you to know that as a mom myself, I’m here for you.
You’re not alone; there is a way out of loneliness if you ask for help.