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Back in London after being abroad, lonely and isolated - help!

(33 Posts)
dorisbonkers Tue 23-Jun-09 10:00:07

Hi, I've posted this in the local mumsnet section but also wanted some broader advice on how to go about finding friends and joining baby groups.

I've moved back to SE London after working in Singapore for a couple of years. I have an 8-month old daughter. Having been away I have few friends here (my best friends also live abroad) and am feeling increasingly isolated, down in the mouth and just plain lonely. I've never been much of an enthusiastic joiner (I joined a baby massage class in Singapore but it was awful, no sisterhood feelings there) but I really think I am cutting my nose off to spite my face and need to get involved in some local baby things. More to the point, my 8 month old is pining for company.

I'm not post-natally depressed, but DO feel depressed and down by the sudden wrench from living abroad and that I'm back -- not as myself previously, but now as a mum and that my world has shrunk.

I am trying out some local things. This morning I plan to go to the library for nursery rhymes and I might try a slingmeet (I wear her in a wrap but I'm not especially lentil weavy, are slingmeets like that?)

I used to be a journalist - I'm feeling pressure from work colleagues and my husband to go back part time when she's a year old, but in my heart I want to stay off work until she's older. I can only do this if I have some support network or else I will go mad.

Are there any other organisations who arrange mother and baby groups that I could try?

Thanks. Feeling teary and upset about this.

dorisbonkers Tue 23-Jun-09 10:02:39

the point about me being a journalist was to stress that I was a busy person speaking to/seeing/ up to 50 people a day. I felt connected to my world and ha a big circle of acquaintances and colleagues. The shift from that to now feels marked.

toomuchpicknmix Tue 23-Jun-09 10:06:31

Hi
am sorry you are having a lonely time. I have a four week old and am already realising that I'll have to do some groups quite soon even though like you am not much of a joiner.
I've also moved around a lot internationally so my friends are all over the place. I find too that I am missing work afer two months off - but am thinking that when over the shell-shock of the new arrival I will feel differently about that.
So am no more experienced than you about groups but just wanted to offer support - I think getting out there is the right thing to do. And if you go to a few and hate them (am sure I will!) I'd say keep trying as surely one will turn out to be enjoyable.
Good luck and don't despair.

dorisbonkers Tue 23-Jun-09 10:30:57

Thanks toomuchpicknmix

Had a bit of a cry.

I have no idea where to start, can you join NCT groups or are they for just before birth and beyond?

artifarti Tue 23-Jun-09 10:45:02

Hi Doris - sorry you're feeling sad. Groups drive me a bit bonkers too but now that DS is crawling I am making a big effort to find things to do. I don't know about NCT, but I am in SWish London and there are toddler groups at most local churches and libraries and at Integrated Children Centres, which I have found to be good. Also, depending on what you like you could try Buggyfit/Powerpramming, Monkey Music etc (although these can be a bit pricey after a while) What about baby swimming lessons? Or a local toy library? Leisure centres often do toddler groups too.

I also find I have to try and occasionally do some things for me, too, to stop going totally mad. If you like reading, some of us MNetters have just started a Book Group, meeting in Central London one evening a month. The first meeting was good - and a good way to meet London mums too. Let me know if you want the details.

Hope this helps. smile

krugerparkrules Tue 23-Jun-09 11:16:55

hi dorisbonkers ..... it will get better! I am from another country and when i had my dd i had to make friends or else i would have starved off company.
It will just take a little time. One of my best friends now is someone i met in our clinic and started chatting to. I met another lovely women having a coffee - one thing about having a baby is that you can strike up a conversation with someone who also has one ...
there are alot of like minded women out there ...
try and find out what is happening in your area ... there should be a toy library or something at your local park, just go along, and you will find that you will start to meet people..... after being in london for 5 years, i now feel that i belong more fully since having my dd as i know so many people - it has taken time, but i have made some good friends.
Perhaps give yourself some breathing space as well, you need some time to settle back into london, re-connect, feel your way around the city, find favourite coffee shops, places to go, and a rhythym will develop and you will feel a sense of belonging .... once this happens you can think about work, perhaps tell your dh that you first need some time to settle you and your dd into london life, and then you will think about work ....
good luck .... it is scary being "new" in a city, but i have found (and i am not british) that it has being quite easy to meet people and that there are many wonderful women out there, like me, who you can have fun with, coffee with, and disucss life's trials and tribulations with.

toomuchpicknmix Tue 23-Jun-09 11:23:31

I meant to ask where are you in SE London?

Sunshinemummy Tue 23-Jun-09 11:28:21

dorisbonkers your local Surestart should have details of the groups available in your area. One o'clock clubs and music groups are pretty good normally. I'd try and go regularly as people will start to recognise and talk to you.

You can join the NCT too. Although the ante-natal groups tend to stick together, they do have regular coffee mornings and, once you're a member, you'll get copies of the schedule.

Also, it's worth going regularly to your HV clinic. In my last area I met a big group of mums through getting chatting to just one of them here. Also your HV should be able to tell you about any groups of courses they run (my HV in Tower Hamlets ran a baby massage, baby yoga and first aid course which were all great for meeting people).

The other thing I'd suggest is, are you planning on sending your dd to nursery? I've made lots of friends in my area through this. Even part-time you'll get to see familiar faces and once the birthday parties kick off you do get to know other mums fairly quickly.

I have a friend in Nunhead. She works f-t but I can ask her what groups she went to when she was on leave if you're in that area?

Hope you're feeling better soon.

babyphat Tue 23-Jun-09 11:34:48

hey doris, i am in South London if you fancy a coffee? i have a ten month old.

am not a scary stalker but feel free to ignore if you don't fancy it

i found la leche a good place to meet people, although might be a bit too lentil weavery for you wink

the great thing i have found about slings is that you can get into town and do stuff that you find interesting and just cart the baby along with you - galleries, museums, cafes etc

i hate groups and singing and stuff so i don't bother with those - i just meet up with friends and work colleagues for lunch occasionally and bumble around with the baby most of the time, and have coffees with people. i am making the most of being lazy while i still can!

dorisbonkers Tue 23-Jun-09 12:26:41

Thank you, thank you so much. I went to the nursery rhymes thing (so many nursery rhymes I didn't know!) and met a chatty woman there, who recommended

Yes, it was a bit forced sitting there singing rhymes, but my daughter seemed to like seeing other faces, so I guess I'll keep going.

And I came back to find a note under my door from another woman I know who has a 5 year old asking how I was, so that's really geed me up.

Artifarti - I'm a Russian lit graduate so would be well up for your bookclub.

Babyphat - I am in London's glittering Peckham but I'm well up for a coffee whereever you are.

And LLL sounds ok actually. I may not be a complete yoghurt weaver but I am an enthusiastic breastfeeder and a bit of an attachment parenter so I may find I fit in more than I expect.

I hear you about the going into town. My friend has a show on at the Royal Academy so I must go to that.

I think I've been teetering on a depressive phase and this loneliness just feels so oppressive. I also had hoped that moving back to the UK would spur on my relationship with my mother and that she would want to be involved with her granddaughter, but sadly she doesn't. It's hurt me more than I can say. I feel poleaxed by it, it feels like a rejection of me.

Thanks again and do pass on your details, would love to meet up.

dorisbonkers Tue 23-Jun-09 12:28:05

meant to say the chatty lady recommended some other groups.

toomuchpicknmix Tue 23-Jun-09 12:40:58

there is probably a lot on in Peckham, try Peckahm library if not already.
I know for sure there is loads going on in East Dulwich- try to get hold of a copy of a local free mag thing called "SE22" they are all listed in there. You'll prob be able to get it in Dulwich Library (is where Barry Road meets Lordship Lane)
enjoy!

Ewe Tue 23-Jun-09 12:52:41

Oooh yes, come and join our book club! It's good fun and full of journalists Just what I was coming on here to suggest!

<waves at artifarti>

Also, have you joined your Mumsnet post natal club? This can be a good way of meeting people with similar aged babies.

artifarti Tue 23-Jun-09 13:00:05

Glad you're feeling better. It can take a while to get to know people but just getting out of the house as much as possible helps IME. This sunny weather will be a great help too - if you hit it off with someone, you could always suggest meeting in a local park or somesuch. No-one wants to be inside with a baby too much at this time of year.

Here is a link to the original Book Club thread, just so that you know I'm not a stalker/cult leader trying to lure you to your doom:

London Book Club thread

If you email me on artifarti at hotmail dot co dot uk I will introduce you to the others on email (there's about 11 or 12 of us now).

artifarti Tue 23-Jun-09 13:01:47

[waves back at Ewe as took ages to post and doesn't want to look rude wink]

babyphat Tue 23-Jun-09 13:10:38

doris, i am in brixton so not far at all.

in my experience so far, bfeeding on demand and not doing controlled crying is enough to make me a lentil weaver in most peoples' view. although i do admit to having crunchy tendencies blush

i have to go eat but will CAT you shortly (ie once dd takes a nap and i have unfettered internet access )

BelleWatling Tue 23-Jun-09 13:15:23

Hi Doris - I have seen you on some other threads. smile Agree with all the suggestions here - and would like to suggest going to a child-minder / nanny stay and play (most do welcome parents as well). I found these a bit easier to fit in as the core group tends to be solid as they attend for years and years and they are very welcoming to newcomers and very interested in kids generally as they aren't just focused on their own PFBs. You also get a good level of gossip and local knowledge. grin

MavisG Tue 23-Jun-09 13:27:06

Hi Doris,
I'm near Peckham and up for a coffee if you like - there's a cafe on Peckham Rye common if that's near you? Am off to glasto now but will check this thread end of next week - maybe we can arrange a time on here and anyone local who fancies it can come along for some cake?

Mavis

babyphat Tue 23-Jun-09 13:33:33

hi doris, it looks like you're not set up to receive messages, if you enable it on your profile i'll send you a message, or you can message me (click on the envelope next to my name)

angel1976 Tue 23-Jun-09 13:34:17

dorisbonker - I'm from Singapore and I can assure you that not all Singaporeans are that 'unsisterly'! grin The thing about Singapore is that it's a very close-knitted family type of place so people rely very much on family for their social needs as such and sometimes don't put too much emphasis on new friendships.

Anyway, I'm in SE London too and a proud mum of a 16-month-old boy. I found the initial stages of being a mother just terribly isolating. I don't think I suffered from PND but can certainly identify with the feelings you have spoken about. In the end, I went to as many toddler groups as I can and it went a long way in restoring my sanity. I'm back at work 4 days a week now and only go to one group on my day off that I love. I've also made some firm mummy friends that I see a lot in the area. If it's any comfort, it does get easier as your daughter gets older. I found things getting easier when my DS turned a year old and it keeps getting better! (So much so that we managed to conceive number 2 so I will be free in a couple of months to meet up everyday! Ha ha!)

Do you drive? Where I live is really residential and I drive short distances to go to the local pool etc. If you find a local leisure centre, there's usually baby gym sessions. Your daughter is probably just coming to the right age for that.

Anyway, if you are ever keen to meet up, let me know. There is a lovely massive play area in Greenwich Park. My DS loves the sandpit there so maybe we should organise a SE meetup!

P.S. Without giving away too much, I trained as a journalisy and now work for a large media organisation.

angel1976 Tue 23-Jun-09 13:35:23

As a trained journalist, I really should have spelt that word properly! hmm

dorisbonkers Tue 23-Jun-09 14:11:34

hahaha angel976

I'll sort out my profile.

babyphat Tue 23-Jun-09 19:31:20

i've sent you a CAT now

am a bit bit nervous!

LoveAndSqualor Tue 23-Jun-09 19:48:46

Hey Doris,

another London journo here, though I'm in the NE - my son is 15mo now, and I went back to work four days a week when he was about nine months. Can quite see why you'd rather not return until your dd is older, but - without knowing what area of journalism you work in - have you thought about trying to pick up some freelance work?

I felt just as you did when DS was little and I was on mat leave - isolated, apart from the world - verging on the depressed , I think (tho in my case this was exacerbated by the fact that DS's father and I were splitting up; not super-easy, though all fine now and DS and I are happily ensconced with my wonderful Dsis!). Found the mental stimulation of work made a huge, huge difference to my sense of self, and self-worth. And obviously if you could pick up some freelance bits and pieces you wouldn't have to leave your DD at all.

Not sure if this is helpful or not grin - just that, speaking from my own experience, managing to regain a sense of my pre-baby self made all the difference.

And if you ever find yourself in Tufnell Park on a wednesday, give me a shout! smile

angel1976 Tue 23-Jun-09 20:59:02

I agree with LoveAndSqualor. I had always planned to go back to work when DS was 9 months old but I just couldn't do it when we were coming up to that age so I put it off. By the time he was coming up to 11 months, I really felt he needed more stimulation than I could give him. We found a great nursery and my DS is really happy there and he has thrived! So dorisbonkers, don't discount it completely yet. I love going back to work even though it's tough juggling commuting, work and picking up DS! It's just so nice to speak to people again without DS demanding my attention and to be able to eat lunch without shoving it down... grin

LoveAndSqualor - Too bad you are in Tufnell Park as I have Wednesdays off too. Kinda makes me think there must be a lot of mothers out there in our shoes.

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