The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but being alone can throw up additional challenges. Read our tips on getting support if you’re on your own with your baby.
The restrictions on our lives over the last few months have unfortunately amplified the new parent issues of isolation and fatigue. If you’re on your own for any reason, this can be especially hard.
You may not have someone on hand to talk through worries, or who can look after your baby to give you a break. This can lead to feelings of increased loneliness and anxiety.
Social connection is important for everyone’s mental wellbeing, so aim to have some human connection every day. This could be a phone call, a meet up via Zoom, or better still, seeing someone outside. If you are a single parent, you can form a support bubble with another household (see below).
Our Walk and Talks (check your local NCT Facebook page or look here to see if there is one happening in your area) are a great reason to get out of the house, and meet and chat with other parents who live nearby. Just being able to talk about things with someone who is going through the same as you can make a big difference.
Support groups and bubbles
It’s also worth knowing that under new government guidelines in England, if you are a single parent you can expand your household to include another household of any size. The charity Gingerbread has more information.
On Wednesday 2 December, the government expanded the eligibility of support bubbles to help families with very young children. This means that households can form a support bubble with another household, if at least one of them has a child under one, or under five with a disability, or has a single adult carer. Find out more here.
If you are widowed, you might find support from widowed groups such as WAY. If you are parenting without your own mother, look for groups such as ‘Motherless mothers’ on Facebook.
Check social media
Your nearest NCT branch will have a Facebook page or group, and either be sharing events that they are running, or signposting to other groups. You can see if there are any online NCT activities, like Walk and Talks and coffee mornings, happening near you by looking on your local NCT Facebook branch page. Or you can enter your post code in the search field on our local activities and meet ups page.
Many of our local NCT branches and breastfeeding counsellors are running online Baby Cafes, breastfeeding drop-ins or groups. Search on our local activities and meet-ups page or message your nearest branch to see what is happening in your area. Our NCT support line is open every day from 8am to midnight, including bank holidays. Call 0300 330 0700.
Other parent groups and individual support are still running via Zoom, so it is worth having a look at local social media. Other contacts include your Midwife or Health Visitor, and the local Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) page.
It’s important to keep doing things you enjoy (where this is still possible). Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to find moments of happiness. Try these tips to boost your mood.
- So-called ‘awe walks’ are good for helping us see ourselves in perspective. Go for a walk in nature with your baby, whether that’s in the park or the countryside. Try and deliberately notice the things around you, like a bird singing or light coming through the trees.
- Make a happiness audit by noting down how many times you laughed a day. Seek out laughter, no matter if that’s a funny programme, a meme on the internet or your baby burping!
- Feeling connected has been shown to boost our mood. Help a neighbour or someone close by, even if it’s just by getting them a pint of milk. They’ll be really touched that you thought of them and you’ll feel better, too.
- If you’re not in the early days of parenthood, volunteering can combat depression, make you feel happier and increase your self-confidence. So it’s a win-win all around. You might like to consider volunteering for NCT.
- Other support groups, such as religious or special interest groups, might still be running online. Not only will you feel connected, it might feel like you’re doing something for yourself and not just your baby.
- Feeling tired can make things feel more overwhelming, so if you need it, prioritise rest when your baby sleeps during the day. It might seem like the evening is the only time you have to yourself, but allowing yourself an early night could make the next day feel much better.
- Writing down your feelings has been shown to help reduce feelings of depression and enhance well-being. Some, but not all, parents find that being creative in another way, like drawing or writing expressively, can also be therapeutic and help them relax.
- See our articles on how you might be feeling as a parent.
Accept help when it is offered
Don’t be afraid to accept an offer of help. You might not want to feel like a burden, but the person offering help almost certainly won’t see it that way.
It gives everyone a boost to help other people. By letting others support you by shopping for something you need or making your life easier some other way, you’ll make them feel better, too.
Don’t beat yourself up
You can be reassured that your baby will not suffer from a lack of social contact, as they only need you at this stage. However, it is good for your mental wellbeing to connect with others, so for your own sake, try and meet others if you can.
If you’re not a single parent, but are just finding the current restrictions and limited opportunities to meet other people difficult, try to look at the positives. You are having an undisturbed time with your baby, which can be difficult to achieve under normal circumstances. Remember this too will pass, and with the fullness of time we will be able to meet others again.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and is open every day from 8am to midnight, including bank holidays: 0300 330 0700 (option 1).
Local NCT branches run lots of activities for parents in their area, including our popular Walk and Talks. Check your local NCT Facebook page for details or look at our local activities and meet ups page.
Gingerbread is a charity providing expert advice, practical support and campaigning for single parents.
Single Parents is a website for single parents offering information and advice through separation, divorce and rebuilding lives.