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To think that parents with family and friends enjoy parenthood more?

(64 Posts)
Novillagehere Mon 08-Oct-12 02:50:22

Dh and I have one ds who is 16 months.

We both work part time and juggle most of the child care between each other (we are lucky to be able to do this but it has meant a cut in income).

Dh and i are pretty equal in sharing household chores as well. I still do more of the childcare though, as ds still wakes at night and is an early riser (dh struggles more when sleep deprived so this my domain).

I originally thought I would stay at home for a couple of years and try to have a second baby straight after the first, but I found life with a new baby unimaginably hard and lonely and was desperate to get back to work so I could have a break from it all. So when I went back (4 days a week) dh cut his work down to part time too so he could help out more, as he was working really long hours before.

We have virtually no support network where we live. No family at all. We have a few work related friends and that is it. I tried to make some baby group friends while on maternity leave and I did get to know a handful of nice women but they are so busy with work and family, it is hard to catch up with them and develop more of a friendship. That is one thing I didn't have in common with them, a busy life with family and friends nearby and grandparents to help with the baby.

We are pretty lonely and when we do get a chance to socialise we notice what a difference it makes to our lives and can't help but imagine what it must be like for others to have family and friends around when raising children.

Last week I managed to have a coffee with an old work friend, and the difference it made to all of us was amazing! How sad is that? But just getting a break away from dh and ds and work and housework made a huge difference to how I felt about everything. It also improved the way we felt about each other. It just lifted the relentlessness of it all.

We both love Ds but find the whole situation depressingly difficult. I feel guilty that he isn't surrounded by an extended family that love him as well. The guilt is also there about not giving him a brother or sister, but I found it so difficult with one baby, how would I cope with a baby and a toddler as well?

So I suspect people with family and friends around for socialising and even to help out with babysitting (dh and I have not been out without ds ever) have a very different view of parenthood. Aibu?

lisaro Mon 08-Oct-12 02:57:37

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

lisaro Mon 08-Oct-12 02:58:20

Sorry - I had no family nearby, I meant to say.

redandyellowbits Mon 08-Oct-12 03:04:32

How far do your family live? Can you go visit them occasionally?

I don't have any family near by, and whilst it would be lovely if I did, it's not the end if the world for me. Maternity leave with my eldest DD was a lonely time but I persevered with making friends and it paid off. I went to every (and I mean every baby group I couldn and made a huge effort to talk to people and invite them for coffee etc. I also arrange meet ups via netmums. It took a good year or so but I have some fantastic friends now.

As for babysitting, I pay a babysitter. Look up Childcare websites, interview a few people and find someone. We don't go out often together because of the cost of this bit it is an option. Otherwise take it in turns to go out, even if its to a fitness class or local book club.

HolyAutumnGoldBatman Mon 08-Oct-12 03:05:33

lisaro, maybe the OP feels differently to how you felt there is no need to be aggressive.

OP I think it's actually easier in terms of making friends when you have 2 DC, because you have two pools of people (the baby group mums and the pre-school/school mums) in which to find friends. Maybe try some different groups/classes or join a babysitting circle or something to meet new people.

redandyellowbits Mon 08-Oct-12 03:06:56

Ps. It is a difficult time with just one. Fwiw, I enjoyed having two much more. I was busier, and love watching them play and grow up together. The eldest two are 5 and 3 and I still love seeing how close they are. Two is doable even without family and friends to support you.

Softlysoftly Mon 08-Oct-12 03:12:14

I personally think you are right, I have DHs family here and some "mummy" friends and they are invaluable.

With DS1 I had/used less of the support system in the early days and found it much harder. It's good for my toddler to have friends around and for me to get that break/see her interact. I am miles away from my family and her many cousins and I miss that. But then I am used to a large extended family.

And yes although baby + toddler is flipping hard for us (not for everyone but we got a high needs baby) I think the first year of work will pay huge recompense when they can play together. I want number 3 so they can have lots of siblings like I did, DH not so keen.

I realise though a lot of people don't/won't agree as they prefer smaller family/friend units. It's each to their own. You sound like you need something though, could you do more groups/classes? Or join him to a hobby which is constant and increases your circle like horse riding or a team sport?

Softlysoftly Mon 08-Oct-12 03:17:48

Just read his age sorry, maybe hold off on the riding grin

It's absolutely the time as pp said to do every group and invite people you seem to get on with to yours to play. You would be surprised that there are a lot of other mums out there desperate to have their lo distracted too!

I started off talking to a few mums at a church play group my HV recommended, after a few weeks I suggested that a couple come to play at mine and I'd make lunch, it went from there. When they returned to work it did drop off a little but by the extended group I met others with the same days off as me and now we all meet up. Persevere.

Novillagehere Mon 08-Oct-12 03:17:51

The closest family lives more than 2000km away, so no there isnt really any possibilties for many visits.

I guess what I am saying is that we never considered that parenthood would make us become more isolated and lonely.

We liked living here before we were parents, we both have rewarding jobs so we were fulfilled by that I guess. Also we were very busy spending time together, going to the cinema, out for dinner, travelling etc, things that we still do now but not so easily with a little one.

Becoming parents has just opened up this hole in our lives that we didnt really notice before.

We hope to relocate a bit closer to some family members in the future but this is quite a long term plan and isnt easily done.

We are not comfortable leaving DS with a (stranger) babysitter at the moment, nursery is one thing, but leaving him alone with just the one person is another. We have a few trust issues with regard to that (history of child abuse etc), even putting DS in nursery was a huge step for us.

flow4 Mon 08-Oct-12 03:20:17

NVH, it is hard having small children, and it can be very lonely. I was on my own with DS1 from him being 6 months to about 3:6. I had no partner and no family nearby. I didn't know many people with children. I worked part-time to keep myself sane (and because I always have) and juggled child-care. For me, what was absolutely vital was going to a toddlers group with DS and meeting other parents. I literally arranged my working week around the times that the toddlers group met, because it was so important to me. The 'play-dates' that followed were at least as important for me as they were for him! Nothing complicated - just going round to someone's house, or having them to yours, or meeting at a play-gym, and having a cup of coffee and a chat while the kids played... smile A few real friendships grew out of these meetings, but even the casual acquaintanceships were incredibly important at the time. It also meant that I came to know other parents who could recommend babysitters... smile

You are right it makes a massive difference to have a bit of friendly, adult company. So much so that I wonder whether, if you and DH do not get it, you might be (or become) a bit depressed... Then of course socialising becomes even more difficult, and a vicious circle can begin. I think you'll find that if you can build some regular social contact into your lives, you'll feel much more positive about parenthood very soon smile

MollyMurphy Mon 08-Oct-12 03:23:11

I totally agree (and don't understand why that must be bullocks?). having family around to babysit and pitch in if your sick or if you have to work and kiddos sick....that can really make a big, big difference. Not everyone gets on with their family, but if you do - thank heavens for them.

Softlysoftly Mon 08-Oct-12 03:25:22

Is he walking yet? Once they are possibilities and activities open up! Maybe you need to readjust find things you can enjoy as a family?

Toddlers are transportable and more robust than you think, travelling needn't be curtailed, dinners out should be back on the menu albeit to nandos rather than fine dine! And with a bag full of crayons and an iPhone of apps. Walking, beach visits, zoos, exploring, everything is possible. Sometimes we can restrict our mindset that things are not possible with a child but actually everything is!

TroublesomeEx Mon 08-Oct-12 03:34:23

OP I completely agree with you.

calypso2008 Mon 08-Oct-12 03:39:16

novillage I feel exactly the same as you. I live in Spain and everyone I know, without exception, has family to help out or to meet up with. We have nobody here. I is so isolating. The few friends I have made I can't see at weekends because they are... with their extended family!

I also feel so guilty about DD being an only child, but the likelihood of having another is non-existent.

Just be strong, it will get easier when your baby is bigger and you will meet more people when your child goes to school but I totally understand where you are coming from.

So, no YANBU.

novillagehere Mon 08-Oct-12 03:53:06

Yes Calyso that is what Ive found too. It seems everyone I meet are too busy to meet up, yes they are busy with their family and friends!

Going back to work 4 days a week has curtailed my chance to do many baby group activities, but I do manage one playgroup. DH also does 2 groups on his days off as well, so we will keep trying.

It is good to hear holy and softly that 2 children are easier in some ways, I will just have to figure out if I can handle another few months off from work on maternity leave again.

ripsishere Mon 08-Oct-12 04:02:06

IMO, it will change a lot once your DC starts school. I had our DD abroad and we've stayed pretty much overseas, apart from a year when she and I we're in the UK.
It is lonely sometimes, but as I said, once yours starts school, you'll meet lots of other mums. Some you'll like, others you won't.

Longdistance Mon 08-Oct-12 04:33:04

I know exactly how you feel novillagehere.
I live in Oz, and would love my family and friends around me. I went home to the uk a few weeks back, and never felt so happy and calm that there were people around to help take our dd's off my hands for a few hours whilst I or things done, went out with friends and so on.
I have no outlet here for help with the dc, and my friends in the uk, have their parents and so on, to help, and are always out.
We were invited to a posh do for next week, but we can't go as have no one to take the girls from us. So, we're complete social outcasts. Although, dh does have friends at work.
I have joined every group going, and not met anyone, even though I've been here a year. I have two as well.
I'm a sahm, and my dh works long hours, so I'm quite lonely too sad

EugenesAxe Mon 08-Oct-12 04:49:08

Yes I agree (nice to see it getting personal/aggressive at the off hmm).

Agree, find a group and try to get chummy with other Mums, so you can hook up at external venues or at each others' houses. Just having someone there to talk to and a friend for your DC to mix with is great. I have one with whom I feel we are each others mutual crutches. I wouldn't be too afraid of two although it is tough; FWIW I'm just getting to the end of year one with two DCs and it has flown in comparison to DC1.

My MIL does and would do anything for DH/DSIL and even she told me how she'd need to get out of the house sometimes and abandon them with DFIL, for her sanity. She had a cleaner and DM who'd take the children for her for half a day every week, too. The cleaner I mention from POV that she had evenings/weekends that wouldn't be taken up with that.

SomersetONeil Mon 08-Oct-12 04:54:45

Oh my goodness, your thread has really struck a chord with me. YANBU - at all.

DH and I totally feel like this and talk about it a lot. How much nicer and easier life was for us when we had friends and family close by.

We recently emigrated back to my home country after 13 years of me being away. We originally moved to a city where we knew no-one for DH's job. We lasted a year there before fleeing in desperation - to the city we'd originally planned to come to where my best friend lives. Her DD is the same age as our DS. We also have a DD, 18 months younger. Most of my other old school and uni friends are dispersed around the country and the world.

It is markedly better here. But so far, not better enough. sad The worst part is we left a lovely life in London inundated with friends - DH went to school there and has a huge circle of old friends who are - without exception - lovely. Loads of them with kids, but all kindred spirits that we had such great craic with, and who just made living life fun.

While it's so lovely to have my old, best friend, her DH and DD close by - we can't depend solely on them. Catching up with them is always a highlight - but we had no idea how important all our other friendships were until they were 'gone'. Obviously not gone-gone, but out of reach on the other side of the world. We Skype them all all the time - either us or them taking turns to be on the wine or the brew due to the time difference.

It's now got to the point where we've decided to give ourselves another 18 months (which will be nearly two years of being in this city - the amount of time they say it takes to settle into a new place) before deciding if we stay or if we go.

We had no idea we'd miss our friends this much. Totally under estimated it. No idea how much sharing life with people important to you is just good for the soul. As much as here is an amazing place for kids to grow up and have their childhood, we also have to think about our own passing of life and happiness, and there's no reason they won't be equally as happy back there. Plus, going to school in London means they could end up have a life-long circle of friends like DH does!

So yeah. You are so not being unreasonable. But I think if you're a certain type of person who's gregarious, enjoys company, like to socialise, etc, then you will definitely feel this more. People who are a bit more insular, who are home-bodies probably won't really get what you're saying.

The hardest part is that making friends as adults - actual meaningful friendships with like-minded people who you genuinely enjoy spending time with, and don't just have children the same age as - is really, really tough. It's a very slow process. It takes ages to break into people's weekend lives, so to speak. There is no quick fix.

Which is sort of what makes it hard for us - we had all of that wrapped up and handed to us on a platter in our old life. It is so tempting to just give up now and return - but before we do that, if we ever do that - we want to be able to say we gave this our very best shot and did all we could to make it work.

Sorry for the essay!

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 05:32:10

We relocated and I had no idea how hard it would be to make friends round here. Granted I have been ill and working from home. We're in a rural area, and I wasn't prepared for how unfriendly the locals are.

My parents live abroad, DP's parents live on the other side of the country, so do my other relatives. DP is not DS's dad, and DS's dad is a bell-end and we never see him anyway.

It's a beautiful place, but sometimes I want to move back to where we came from, and go through phases of really hating it here. DS is 13, but he is going through a phase where he doesn't want to stay over at anyone's house.

Even with a teenager it's difficult. We have made a couple of good friends, so we're lucky really. But, I really miss living in a place where I grew up and new loads of people and had loads of mates and an active social life.

tittytittyhanghang Mon 08-Oct-12 06:07:07

YANBU. I appluad the fact that you are coping without any family/friends because i know for a fact I would really struggle. I have family and friends and even then sometimes i struggle a little, without their help, i cant imagine. It seems common sense to me, so i dont understand why anyone would say YABU.

cairnterrier Mon 08-Oct-12 06:17:15

Are you at all religious of any faith? Could you visit your local place of worship - particularly if there's something on for children? The last 2 times that I've bbee I've ended up with invites for playmates and it's another way to meet people outside work.

xxxresixxx Mon 08-Oct-12 06:21:37

Its def hard. We have no family close by and our DS had some health problems meaning we couldn't really ask friends to baby sit. However our childminder has been invaluable in providing baby sitting services. Have you considered asking the girls at nursery (LO's key worker etc) if they would looker to earn extra babysitting? Often they are keen to earn extra cash and it would be someone your child knows and who you presumably trust?

I think its also important to get out and do fun things as a family and try and meet with other mums on your days off. When we didn't want to leave DS we invited friends round for food and wine/catch up.hope things get easier for you..

Groovee Mon 08-Oct-12 06:22:44

We have close family and friends but when I had my second child I felt so lonely. He was quite a poorly baby with eczema and various allergies. Yet with dd I loved motherhood but nothing could have prepared me for a different and challenging child.

Now both children are older I feel differently.

xxxresixxx Mon 08-Oct-12 06:27:19

Also just to say, my friends who have family nearby experience a whole other set of problems- over bearing grandparents, comments about their parenting, guilt trips about visiting/not visiting or baby sitting/not babysitting, and dealing with flakypromises of childcare. Its not all positive!

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