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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?

KellyElly Mon 08-Oct-12 10:19:16

I don't have a partner any more of family close to me. I do have a good circle of friends but everyone has their own little ones so not much babysitting help from them unfortunately and we tend to meet up in the day at the weekend, never the evenings because of the kids. I've been out once in 2012 smile At least you have your DH to keep you company x

ditzydrawers Mon 08-Oct-12 10:27:02

Totally agree OP. My family lives five hours away and DH's are scattered all over and we don't see them much. I have felt really isolated despite making nice mummy friends. Whenever my parents visit everything seems so much simpler. As soon as they leave I find my confidence dips again. It is tough. But lots are in this sitch so at least people understand. None of my mum friends have family nearby.

Treaclesmart Mon 08-Oct-12 10:45:03

I definitely agree OP. My family are only 2 hours away but I still missed them a lot when our kids were little. My sister lives in the same town as my parents and has it so much easier. I could probably count on 2 hands the number of nights out me and my husband have had together since our children arrived (8 years ago!!!).
I definitely think two is easier than one. And also that it opens up more opportunities. I didn't have that desperation about making mummy friends when my second came along so it happened more naturally. Also I think it is a big shock to the system having your first and you still miss your old lifestyle. It's different with another one as you're ina different groove by then..
I would also say ask for help. Get your work friends involved in the babysitting. They will want to. Most people love a) helping and b) gorgeous babies! Don't block them out. I did. There was a lady who lived near us who is lovely and her husband worked long hours at the time, her kids had just gone to uni and she was always offering to help. I used to think it would be taking advantage of her. Only now do I see that it would have been a benefit to her as well as us. Don't be proud. Think of the village raising a child saying...

catwomanlikesmeatballs Mon 08-Oct-12 11:03:18

I agree with you, I don't know how I would have coped without all the help and babysitting we get from family. There are times you just need a break to yourself, couple time or adult time with others.

CassandraApprentice Mon 08-Oct-12 11:06:25


We moved to new area with first but by time the wave of excitement at being a mum was waning I’d managed to surround myself with new supportive friends. It was one of the happiest times of my life.

Then we had to move. I’ve put years of effort into going out and trying to meet people and I know a lot of people to have quick chats to but not to offer support or to socialise outside of children’s stuff.

It's been a lot harder. When stuff happens and there is little or no support you get through but it takes longer to get over.

I still love the DC and enjoy them but I know if we’d stopped in first location it would have just been much more fun generally and bit easier.

All I can sugest is that you keep trying to meet people and keep the effort up and it will get easier as the DC get older.

Emsmaman Mon 08-Oct-12 11:48:43

OP YANBU. Our DD is 18mo, nearest family is in Europe. I understood the need to get paid help such as babysitters with no family nearby but my DH would not let other people look after her. I had my first night out on my own when DD was 16 mo, we have had 2 date nights since she was born. I recently had my first night away from DD for a work trip.

I enjoy my DD so much more now that we get time apart when I go to work 3 days a week. I would have felt far more "balanced" in the first year, even to have someone around to make me a cup of tea or hold the baby for five mins. I am scared of having a second DC as I don't want to go back to that all intensive state of newborn-ness with noone to help when DH is at work for long days.

kerala Mon 08-Oct-12 14:14:00

YANBU at all bless you. We moved to a new area when DD was 2 and I was pregnant. I didnt know anyone really the first few weeks here were awful - sitting in the park on my own (well with DD but 2 year olds not great company for the entire day). I went to parent and toddler group with the sole intention of making friends would spot women I thought looked my type with similar age kids and basically chat them up. Its abit like looking for a boyfriend in your twenties - chat to 4 maybe one will click. It takes a while - we moved here in 2008 now have a great gang of approx 7 local families with parents we genuinely like and DC who play brilliantly with our 2 we socialise after school and at weekends. I dont think people were designed to stay in little units with young children you need peer support. You do need to make it happen though and be robust enough for the knock backs but its worth it. Good luck x

lynniep Mon 08-Oct-12 14:31:52

I think life is always going to be easier with a support network, and that yes, that will affect parenthood as well. However as others say, I think having family around would bring in a whole other set of issues.

We moved to our current location when I was 5 months pregnant, knowing no-one, with family in the country but 3-4 hours away by car. Six years on, I have a large network of friends whom I've met in various situations (weightwatchers, swimming, just chatting in the park, nursery, work) as well as long-term friends who I don't see very often as they are too far away, but are always at the end of a phone. Ok thats a lie. I never phone them. I communicate through facebook and email. But theres still communication! We rarely go out together, because its too expensive to hire a babysitter, but I still try and make a life for myself outside work and home - I go to exercise classes (another place to meet folk) and to the pub with friends now and again. DH not so much but then he's always been less sociable.

We enjoy parenthood - to a point - the boys are great but bl**dy hard work but wouldnt change it. I enjoy it more because of the existence of a) nursery b) school as that is my break - when I go to work. On the odd occasion we get family visits its lovely, but I'm glad when they're gone

Everyone needs a break, of course they do. Can you afford a babysitter so at least you can get out with DH? or a couple of mornings at nursery (if not the free funding will kick in when she's 3. Book a manicure or something or just go for a coffee alone - sometimes just a break from constantly monitoring a small child or chatting to an adult lifts the spirits.

autumnlights12 Mon 08-Oct-12 14:43:36

and those of you saying that she is being unreasonable, and that life isn't harder with small children and no family support network... what rubbish.

marbleslost Mon 08-Oct-12 14:54:49

YANBU I often wonder the same. It is hard in the early years if you don't have a ready made support system. But you can build one up.

It takes time, a lot of time in my case, but five years later we have a few family friends with similar age dc in the area, whom we help out if they need a hand with something, and they help us.

There are special people in my dd's life - whether they be her childminder, her swimming teacher, a particular teacher at school who took a liking to her, parents of her friends. It does develop over time.

We don't have much of a social life, except with friends we knew before we had dc who visit for the weekend now and again. But it takes effort - you have to invite them and yes the difference it makes to our well being is huge.

Ephiny Mon 08-Oct-12 15:22:38

I think generally people with some social life and support network are happier than those without, regardless of whether they're parents or not.

It can depend on your individual personality type though, and what your family is actually like - for some people family involvement can feel like interference and loss of privacy/independence, or there can be conflict and unpleasantness that makes it all more trouble than it's worth.

I'm not sure you've much to gain by envying others and complaining about how difficult everything is for you (other people will have their problems too). Surely you knew before deciding to have a child that there would not be free babysitting available to you? If you won't use a paid babysitter, that again is your choice.

Emsmaman Mon 08-Oct-12 15:34:04

Ephiny can you genuinely say you knew how hard parenting would be before you had a child? I know I didn't, and many of my friends didn't either - although babies of course do vary in personality and difficulty. No-one could have predicted that my DH would refuse to let others look after DD. No-one could have predicted that my DD would refuse the bottle and breastfeed like a maniac so that for over six months I couldn't go out for more than an hour or she would be screaming the block of flats down. No-one could have predicted that at 18mo she would still not sleep through the night, making getting out in the evening difficult, particular using babysitters, and leaving us too shattered to do so after work even if we could.

marbleslost Mon 08-Oct-12 19:43:36

I would agree emsmaman. I just thought we'd get babysitters. Little realising that mine is so difficult to settle to sleep (now age 7) that I couldn't expect anybody to do it - paid or not. Neither could I have predicted that she'd spend two years waking up raring to go at 4am from age 2. Without any help or support it is extremely difficult.

LauraPashley Mon 08-Oct-12 20:11:57

Oh yes the non-settling non- sleeping baby, I own 2 of these and even with family nearby I can't get out at night! I have got to the point where i'm not even massively precious about leaving them to cry with dh, but I couldn't ask anyone else to do it, it wouldn't be fair.
Op YADNBU but it might not be as easy as just "get a babysitter". I would second all the advice re trying to make friends- the closest we've had to a night out has been where we get together with another family with kids, adults BBQ/get a takeaway or whatever, kids play till they collapse! You're talking approx 4-8pm but at least there is a modicum of alcohol and adult chat involved!

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