THE BLOG

Beating Parent Isolation

24/07/2017 14:22 BST | Updated 24/07/2017 14:22 BST
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Life sometimes has a way of taking over and getting in the way of all your plans, those friendships you thought would last a lifetime sometimes fall by the wayside, especially when a friend's life dramatically becomes overwhelmed with the arrival of children.

Any change in life can be challenging, like moving to a new house or a bereavement, it's no surprise then that the impact of becoming a parent can bring on feelings of loneliness.

In fact, research by COMRES found that 3 in 10 British adults report to feeling lonely some of the time and this is especially true for new mums and dads who may feel they are missing out on the social interaction for their pre-baby social life.

This is troubling to hear, as this emotional and practical support could make all difference to a parent feeling isolated. With two thirds of adults believing they should do more to help family, friends and neighbours who are lonely, it's clear many of us would like to support a parent feeling isolated. Here's what you can do if you think loved one is suffering from loneliness.

Reach Out - The Three Cs

Coffee, cake and a chat and simply the act of making contact can have a huge impact on the emotions and self-worth of a new parent. Picking up the phone sending a message or just inviting a new parent out for coffee, cake and chat are simple ways of reaching out. The important thing here is just persistence. And don't drop them from the invites for nights out - it shows they are welcome and the door is always open even if it's completely impractical while the children are young.

Find activities that suit all the family

Many mums and dads often feel isolated because they get invited to activities that not suitable for the kids, so help them feel more included by inviting them out to an event that all the family can enjoy. By presenting activities that you all can do as one, will really help them feel less alone.

How about going along with them to a mums and toddler group or rhyme time. Think back to the last time they were your wingman and take the plunge.

Offer to take care of the kids

If you are confident enough, you can handle it offer to take care of the children, even a few hours are enough for the parents to recharge. If babysitting in the terms of staying at their house while the kids are in bed is daunting, just going to the beach or funfair and taking the kids for a look around can be enough for the parents to recharge their batteries.

Ask them what they need

Having an honest and frank discussion about mental health is quite rare and the results can be surprising so it's important to try it. Just ask how they are coping with the changes, are they feeling lonely? It might sometimes take two or three tries but start by planting the seed to start the conversation. Your friend might not have thought in-depth about how they are feeling, their needs or vocalised their loneliness.

Look after yours

Being concerned about friends and others that are lonely and reaching out to help is just the right and great thing to do. Pace yourself and only offer what you can emotionally give and the time that you can afford. Overcoming problems and supporting each other are a key component of great resilient friendships. Finding the way together with a mix of practical and emotional support you should look back on one day with fond memories.

By Annie Drewry founder of The Big Red Bus Club, Greenwich London - a group for parents and under fives funded through The Health Lottery.

With money raised through The Health Lottery, People's Health Trust has awarded 52 million to projects including addressing social isolation across Great Britain.

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Photo by Live Consultancy.

For more information on The Big Red Bus Club please see our video here.

Video by Live Consultancy.