I’ve often heard it said that things often occur in threes for some reason. This week a very strange threesome occurred with me. After 8 or 9 months off at home due to pregnancy and maternity leave my wife finally went back to work on Monday.

 

This would be another shift in out weekly routine and will see me alone caring for all three by myself for different times during the day and Orla would no longer be at home to talk with over lunch or help out when the youngest was being fed and his brother decides that that would be an opportune moment to either go and raid out bedroom or I strip off his clothes and go for a run outside in the nip.

 

As gig to prepare me for this impending challenge and other unknown challenges I’ve been fortunate to been prep’d through a TED talk and two articles in last Sundays Independent and Monday’s Irish Times.

 

Last Thursday the TED talks app on my phone put up an alert on a new talk added about the unconditional love that a parent has for their child. The next similar speech was from the founders of Babble.com an honest parenting site. Rufus and Alisa talk (http://tinyurl.com/rufus-alias) was on the 4 taboos about parenting. All of which are very true, but one of the most relevant points for me was in relation to the loneliness felt by parents especially those at home with the kids.

 

In this weeks Sunday Independent, as part of their “Mind YOURSELF” week , Emily Hourican produced an extract/introduction to her new book launched this week “How to (Really) be a Mother” ( http://tinyurl.com/howtoreallybeamother ). She too writes about this feeling of loneliness that new mothers (and fathers) feel;

 

 The loneliness is as much a psychological state as well as a physical one. Yes you are isolated and don’t see anyone much except the lady in the chemists… But you are also mentally lonely, cut off from the old you. I think this is because, in order to step fully into the new world that contains your baby, and function in it, you need to distance yourself from your old world.”

 

And the  New Economics Foundation published their “Five ways to well being” ( www.tinyurl.com/5waystowellbeing ) to co-inside with World Mental Health Day which was on the 10 October.

 

The first of these ways is to “connect”. It’s important to make contact and stay in touch with the people around you on a daily basis to maintain a healthy mental state.

 

All of these served to remind me that now more than ever I needed to continue with the plan I set in place when I first made the decision to become a stay-at-home-dad.

 

The first few years of parenthood can make this very difficult. Often it is the case that friendships from this “parenting” stage in your life only form when the child has actually gone to school and you stop to chat with other parents at the school gate or as they are dropped off for parties and play dates.

 

But this need not be the case, some might feel them a little contrived or not for them, but Parent and Toddler groups I’ve found can help off-set this loneliness. When I made the decision that I was going to stay at home with the kids, I also knew that there was a high risk that once the kids had gone to school that I would come home, turn on the TV and then do nothing all day, descending gradually into my own little world. I know I’ve been there before, and I’ve seen others make that journey.

 

So I also made the conscious decision that I was going to make sure I made time to go to 2 of the parent and toddler groups near me in Drogheda, there are 3 weekly groups, and one monthly one. But I decided to devote Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings to going to meet other parents (mothers and fathers) at these groups, to have a bit of adult (not usually risqué) conversations and to get some support for being at home all day. It is also great for the kids I found, they love meeting other children, learning to share, play and take turns with people who are not their siblings and making their own friendships. Several times I’ve had to convince Aidan that he did actually have to come home with me or that other children could not hide in my boot in order to come and play in our house after the group finished.

 

So if by some very odd chance that you are reading this, have a young child at home who is filling your day with little or no outside contact, Google them, check some local parenting websites  or chat-rooms to find where your local P&T Group is. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of like minded parents, always willing to lend an ear and ask how you are and to share with you the experience of being a parent of young children. Even if your child is only a few weeks old and you don’t think that they would benefit or that you have the time, make the time for your own sake. You’ll discover that the “mistakes” you make are made by everyone, and everyone has their own rough stories to tell about sleep deprivation, child’s sickness and other problems or how their other half has no comprehension of what you are having to go through to keep the show on the road. YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this rollercoaster, and there are plenty of other parents already on the ride, you just need to look around to find them.

 

 

 

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