Welcome to another round of top tips. This time I want to look at something that has affected me over the past year, isolation. When I left work a year ago I lost my main source of social interactions. It took me a while to realise what I was missing. While spending all day with just you and your child(ren) is a source of great joy. It can equally cause that feeling of cabin fever. During these times I found that my temper was more easily broken and I became increasingly irritable. However, I started trying to change that by using some of the following tips:
Get yourself into a group with other parents. It is a blessing that my church runs a toddler group called tiddlers which is fairly well attended. Turning up was the easy part, I am quite a shy person so starting conversation didn’t come straight away. Over time the group has grown and so has my confidence, there are now both mums and dads attending. Finding a group for parents can be a real help to avoid isolation. A lot of libraries offer free sessions for parents and kids, which can be a great way to meet up with other parents.
This can be a dangerous thing to get right. Used correctly it can be a great source of social interaction and encouragement. However, find yourself in the wrong groups or over indulging and it can spell danger. Now I will admit I am not the most savvy social media guru. Making sure that I don’t spend to much time on social media is often the first battle. Making sure that I strike a healthy balance between technology and the real world is my priority. Secondly, it is all to easy to switch on your technology and just consume. But, I would suggest finding a community where you can interact and offer your thoughts would be most useful. I’ve recently joined a few groups for parents and bloggers, which seem quite active and supportive.
I am fortunate that I am welcome to visit my previous place of work. For me it is a great source of encouragement and help. Over the course of the year I have returned to also help the centre, through freelance instructing and presenting morning messages. I’ve also tried to get out on kayaking trips with some of the team, but it always seems my kids like to throw up the night before! Hopefully I will get out on the river this year. Is there someone who you got on well with at work? Do you keep in contact with them? I feel this is a great way to keep yourself topped up with adult (not that kind) social interaction.
I enjoy playing cricket most of the time over the summer. Being a team sport means (yes you guessed it) you normally have to interact with others. During the winter I try to get myself out kayaking, which again is normally a group activity. I find both these activities provide me with not only a sense of personal achievement, but also a much deeper social interaction. Moving on, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sports club. You could join any club or activity that meets as a group.
Isolation is a real issue for stay-at-home parents. However, as you may have noticed from the above ideas, it is normally you who has to get yourself out there. If you take anything away from this post it should be that. I thought to begin with that I would be fine by myself, I’m sure there will be people who are. However, building yourself a support network really helps when you face those tough times. Having a group of people you can share your problems with and solve them together. That is what I missed for the first few months of being at home. Now, I have various friends in different areas of my life that I can approach with differing problems.
Thank you for reading this post and I hope it has been useful for you. If you know it would be useful for someone you know, why not share it? Is there any other tips or ideas that you want to share? Leave them in the comments below.
As always I leave with you with this Bible verse from Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT I hope it inspires and encourages you:
‘So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.’