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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?

Alligatorpie Mon 08-Oct-12 06:38:30

It is much harder without family around. When dd1 was small, we were a six hour dive from my family, so saw them once every month or so, and a nine hour flight from dh's, so we saw them 2-3 times per year.
I have huge guilt that we now live overseas and are a five hour flight from dh's family and 21 hours from my family. Dd2 is not getting to know anyone, and that is really hard.
We never used baby sitters either. We just never went out.
When we go home at Xmas and in the summer, I am amazed at how I can go to the grocery store by myself, or get a haircut or just have someone take dd to the park or swimming and I get a break. I never had that and often tell my parents or inlaws how amazing it must be to have this all the time. We choose to live way from family, but I still feel sad about it. But one of the main reasons we had a second child was to give dd1 sibling. If we are going to stay overseas, we thought she needed someone to grow up with and be able to share memories with when they are older.

OP, do you think the problem is that you are trading off childcare / work. Maybe if you had your son in daycare once or twice a week and went to work, you would have more family time and be able to do something together as a family. I met a lot of friends in baby group with dd1, but also swimming classes, library drop ins, ballet.... Once you have the consistency of a class, then you can go to the park afterwards, play dates, and start making friends that way.

Good luck, I hope things get better for you.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 08-Oct-12 06:42:43

It depends, OP: if you are a total, antisocial, rude twit, you will probably not mind having no family and friends (which is fortunate, because, you know ...).

OTOH if you're not, of course meeting someone for a coffee will give you a big lift! You're normal.

I hope things get better for you too.

CaseyShraeger Mon 08-Oct-12 06:51:37

What are you doing for childcare? We made most of our local friends through the DCs' nursery (and that didn't really kick in until the children were around 2.5 and we'd all spent enough time standing around together at various functions). Then more friends through school.

janey68 Mon 08-Oct-12 06:55:57

I see where you're coming from op, but at the same time, thousands of us have no family nearby and get by ok.

What strikes me from your post is that you and your dh are doing an admirable job but you're trying to do everything alone: you go out to work, and then box and cox your childcare between you. That means you're not going to get those social interactions you get from the nursery/ child minder drop off. When you are new parents with no family around I think the one thing you have to do for your own sanity is find some local babysitters you can rely on so that your social life doesn't grind to a halt. You could also join an evening class/ book group- anything to get you out.

It sounds like its all getting a bit isolating for you. I don't really agree that the lack of family nearby is an issue though.

In fact I would almost say the opposite: having loads of family about may make things easier on a practical level for you but it could also prevent you from making your own friends and life. When we lived in a village, there was a stark contrast between the 'natives' who had lived in the village for generations and all had extended family around, and us 'incomers' . It was the incomers who got involved in initiatives, set up a book group, baby sitting circle etc and were generally proactive

I'm sure if you take on board some of the good advice here you'll feel less alone

Grumpla Mon 08-Oct-12 06:59:37

I agree completely OP.

We were the first out of our friendship group to have kids and it was a huge shock to me how many of my "friends" just melted away into the ether once I was no longer available to come to the pub three or four nights a week! I was very, very lonely.

It took a long time but I did make one very good friend in my NCT class. We then moved and I have been slowly building up a network of acquaintances here too. But by far the biggest difference with DS2 has been that my PILS have now moved much closer to us.

Having someone round the corner has made everything so much easier. Returning to work - I have someone who could be there to pick up a sick child in ten minutes. If my husband is away (travels a lot) my lovely MIL will often pop over for an hour or two to give me a hand getting them both fed bathed and into bed. If we have no plans for the weekend we can arrange to meet up at the last minute. I would honestly say that having that level of support on hand has really transformed the whole experience of having a baby. First time round I really struggled. This time round I am also coping with some other quite serious family issues and yet it still seems so much easier to ask for help!

However it has also made me realise that I was not very good at asking for help at all the first time round. My old friends from home - many of them, I now realise, would happily have jumped in the car and come to see me if I'd let slip to them how miserable I was! Similarly I wish I had been more open with my own family about how much I needed them. Once I had DS2 I felt more as though I was asking for help for DS1 IYSWIM and I was so touched by how many of my friends and family were happy to help me and would travel a long way to do so! But none of them were mind readers! I had to stop putting on six a front first smile

janey68 Mon 08-Oct-12 07:00:08

Ps- I have just re read and realised you and your dh have never got a babysitter and been out together since your ds was born 16 months ago!!

I too would have been climbing the walls in isolation and boredom if I'd done that! Get to know a reliable local older teenager who would welcome some extra income. Get out with your dh. I would also seriously consider other childcare at least some of the time... My childrens childminder has become a firm family friend and I've also got to know other parents through her other mindees

NapaCab Mon 08-Oct-12 07:10:03

We live abroad and have no family support and it is more tiring. You just never get that break to get refreshed. My in-laws are visiting at the moment and I have to say that it is so much easier to have another two people around who love DS as much as we do, who can play with him and teach him things that we wouldn't think of. It's lovely to see and it does make me feel guilty that DS doesn't have that interaction more regularly.

On the other hand, friends who do have family nearby seem to still struggle with parenting so family support isn't everything.

If we did live back home and had family nearby, the help would be there but it would probably come with strings attached. Friends who do have family nearby often complain that mothers / MILs are interfering or have a negative influence at times.

It is tough though - I am really burnt out now after 1 year of being DS's nearly sole carer as DH works long hours and travels a lot. I have stopped bothering with play groups recently because I'm fed up with competitive mothers and their milestone obsessions(!) but I am going to try and make an effort again soon as it does make life easier when you get out and talk to adults.

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 08-Oct-12 07:14:33

OP, you ANBU!

When we only had one child we moved somewhere we knew no one to be closer to family. but, although they were able to help a huge amount with regular, weekday childcare, they weren't close enough to provide a social life. We found it really lonely and isolating (it's really really hard to make friends when you aren't there for 4-5 days in the day time during the week and that's when all the child focused stuff happens). In fact, it had such a negative impact on our relationship it was theonly time in 12 years that we considered counselling etc to help us through it.

We moved and now have great friends in our road. BUT we only got to know them when our children became classmates in the same school. You might not like all of the school gate mums, but it seems so much easier to make friends with them than toddler mums. And as children get older and start doing regular, organised things, eg rugby, football, cricket, there are always opportunities for parents to help out and make acquaintances, if not friends, that way.

I know what you mean, too, about guilt about not providing a sibling, and completely agree with the poster up thread who said that two can be easier than one - that's definitely the case here.

hope things get better for you soon

Ragwort Mon 08-Oct-12 07:25:58

I really agree with what janey68 (I wonder if we used to live in the same village grin) - DH and I moved just before our DS was born and we knew no one - we just had to make the effort to make friends, join clubs, go to Church, volunteer - yes, it does take time but you have to make an effort in life. I've now moved three more times, always to completely new places so I am quite assertive used to getting involved in new communities, in fact my neighbour (who has lived here all her life) recently told me I knew more people than she did grin. 'Local' people don't always make the effort to find out what is going on.

3duracellbunnies Mon 08-Oct-12 07:28:57

Life would be easier with a supportive nearby family, ours live over 2hrs away and are elderly and not able to babysit. We have left them with my parents, but only when the dc are asleep.

Having said that we have made lots of friends through toddler groups etc, we had no friends here before as always off commuting. We often swop babysitting with our friends, so it is free and the children know the person, and the person has children of the same age. We would love to go away for the night together, but that doesn't seem likely yet, but we live in hope!

It is hard work making friends, but it does really make life easier. Agree too that although a second baby can be hard work, the major transition is the one you have already had from 1 to 2, and now mine are older (7,5 and 3), they will play together both at home and on holiday and give us a bit of a break.

redwhiteandblueeyedsusan Mon 08-Oct-12 07:45:17

sorry you are feeling so grim, but it is more about personality than circumstances.

it takes time to adjust to the different situation

catgirl1976 Mon 08-Oct-12 07:56:22

I am very lucky to have excellent support with my family, although I don't have any "mummy" friends.

I don't know how I would cope without my family so YANBU. I hope the situation gets better for you and you find a support network

SOme good ideas on here on how to start building one

frenchfancy Mon 08-Oct-12 08:21:28

YANBU. It is much much harder if friends and family aren't around.

We probably get out without the kids about once a year (if that). It is getting easier as the DCs get older.

I am no longer lonely, but have taken a long time to build up a new support network. Like you say when others have their family neaby it is difficult for them to find time for you.

My advice would be for you to get a hobby, don't wait for DS to be old enough to get his own. Find an exercise class, join a music group do something for you.

I started riding (never done it before in my life) 3 years ago. I go to a class at 9am on Sunday morning while DH stays with the kids. It is time out for me, and gradually the group have become friends. We get invited to birthdays and have picnics together. It has made the world of difference.

Valdeeves Mon 08-Oct-12 08:29:54

Where do you live? I totally understand and could have written having just relocated x

Chrysanthemum5 Mon 08-Oct-12 08:48:33

I think it is much easier if you have family and friends around. DH's parents have just moved to the same town, and what an amazing difference it's made. For the children just being able to see granny and grandad after school for 10 minutes is great.

I think it does get better once they are at school because they really start to get their own friends, and your social network builds up then as well.

Sorry you're felling down about it. I'd agree with the others that it's easier with more than one child as well as you are so busy!

CailinDana Mon 08-Oct-12 08:52:06

I've moved around a lot, the last time being when DS was about 9 months old (he's now 21 months). When you move, making friends and building a social life takes effort - effort that a lot of people don't seem willing to put in. For the first 6 months or so it's very tough going, putting yourself out there, chatting constantly to new people, meeting a few duds and being let down a few times. But the fact is, in any place in the world there will be people you genuinely like. You just have to find them and that takes time, and a fair bit of looking. You absolutely have to put yourself out there.

Having lived here a year I now have a group of about 5 good friends who I could call on in an emergency. I'm not super close to all of them - two of them are becoming close friends (this takes time) and the others will stay good friends I think. I made these friends by going to toddler groups, meetups, work dos with DH (one of my close friends is the husband of his work colleague who is a SAHD), and talking to people. I am now on the committee of the fantastic local toddler group, which I was incredibly lucky to find, it's a lifeline, and my main job is as "meeter and greeter" - to get new people talking. Boy is it a hard bloody job. I assume the vast majority of parents go to toddler groups to meet people but you wouldn't know it by the demeanour of a good few of them. I am friendly and nice (this is why I've been chosen to meet and greet) but getting some people to talk and participate is like drawing blood from a stone. I do get there eventually - I'm persistent! - but I don't see how people think they're going to make any friends if they don't make an ounce of effort. I know people are shy but at some point you have to try to overcome that, especially when others are doing their best to help you, and just start talking.

CailinDana Mon 08-Oct-12 08:54:16

To add, I don't find life with DS a chore at all, in fact it's very social and busy. I go to toddler group twice a week, meet with my SAHD friend once a week, take a trip into the village for coffee with other mums once a week and spend the other day doing all the work I was supposed to be doing when I was gadding about smile DH and I don't get much opportunity to go out together, which is a shame, but we make an effort to socialise at home by having nice dinners together and downloading films to watch together.

5dcsinneedofacleaner Mon 08-Oct-12 08:58:19

YANBU but it depends on the type of family. We used to live near my family who were unhelpful,uninterested and critical. I only have one sister and few other relatives so a small family. We then moved across the country to be near DHs family, dh has 5 brothers and sisters and they all have children plus many aunts,uncles etc etc. Its fab, so many people around big get togethers and help when we need it.

Startailoforangeandgold Mon 08-Oct-12 09:01:52

My NCT friends were lovely to meet during the day and share experiences with.
However, I have no near by family or friends to easily baby sit.

I'm envy of those people who have family or Mummy friends at the same school who can do tea or evenings.

The freedom a friend gets from having mum round the corner from school is do helpful.

She doesn't have to be back at 3pm, she doesn't have to drag siblings to after school clubs, she and her DH have even had the odd meal out and night away.

Boomerwang Mon 08-Oct-12 09:06:55

I agree with you, OP. My partner and I live in the middle of nowhere and he works all week. Sometimes I feel I am going insane with nobody to talk to, just to pass the time of day. I recently visited my family in another country and it was fantastic to see them, much more so that they helped out with my baby.

MidnightinMoscow Mon 08-Oct-12 09:17:58


However, I think you need to think about what childcare you could use in order for you and DH to have some time together, that you trust and feel comfortable with.

Do any of the staff at the nursery offer babysitting? I understand that you have anxieties about leaving DS, but that quality time as a couple is what is missing here and makes such a difference to your relationship.

UsingAPsuedonym Mon 08-Oct-12 09:27:08

Not read whole thread yet but yes I agree. My husband works away so I can't go out. I am so envious of all those around me who can nip to shops while dc are with granny or who plan afternoons with a group of friends. I would love a warm extended family and good friends. I would love to adopt a granny for my dc!

Mintyy Mon 08-Oct-12 09:31:51

Yadnbu. Going out to tea group with my NCT crowd was the highlight of my week for a couple of years. I would shower with my "best" shower gel on those days and put makeup on, like it was a special occasion! I am so grateful to have lived in a busy place with lots of people around me and lots of things to do, but it was tough never having a break from the children.

Hateful reply from Lisaro!

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 08-Oct-12 09:38:31

You haven't adjusted, that's all.

You're looking at all the things you can't do any more, instead of all the new opportunities.

You also sound like you could be suffering with a bit of depression, as depression is often linked to feeling disempowered, but you're not. You really aren't.

avivabeaver Mon 08-Oct-12 09:40:41

op- why don't you ask some of the staff at nursery if they do babysitting? most do- especially the younger ones who are glad of the extra money.

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