Switching from career-driven employee to stay-at-home-parent (SAHP) is a colossal move. Parents must weigh the pros and cons of leaving their jobs and determine if it’s financially possible. Often it involves a lifestyle change, perhaps cutting expenses or relinquishing pumps for sneakers. Sometimes it means a career change for the other parent.
Yet many parents find that the most overwhelming shock involves leaving behind the companionship of other adults. Although SAHPs are never alone, the company of their children is just not the same. And when regular adult conversation becomes a distant memory, SAHPs often find themselves lonely, even in a house chock full of children. Add in extra challenges, like being housebound with a newborn in wintertime or suffering from postpartum depression, and the isolation can become almost unbearable.
Adult companionship can be a lifesaver, but many parents don’t know how to find it outside the workforce, especially when they don’t have many local friends. The task is not as daunting as it seems, but you may have to do some legwork. Following are ways you can avoid the SAHP blues.
Try to visit local communities that are likely to have peers, especially other parents. Local churches and synagogues often have mommy and me type programs, and even if they don’t, they’re a great venue for meeting people with similar interests. Call your local library and ask about story-time events, where other parents are sure to congregate.
Attend a local play and or music class, such as Gymboree, My Gym, Music Together or other such group. This is a great way to meet parents whose children are a similar age as yours. Often these classes are the starting point for beloved playgroups, which benefit parents as much as their children.
Pack up the kids and go to your local park or playground if the weather is suitable. You’re sure to spot oodles of parents looking not only to get their children outside to play, but to be in the company of other adults.
Find a local playgroup online at a website such as moms.meetup.com or similar venue.
Go to the gym. Many gyms offer childcare while you work out. Even if you don’t form lasting friendships there (who can chat while huffing and puffing on a treadmill?), at least you’ll be in the company of adults.
Join an online parenting community. You may be fortunate enough to meet other local parents there. Even if you don’t find anyone in your neighborhood, at least you’ll be able to chat with other parents who understand and support you.
Wherever you go, don’t be shy. Many a parent enjoys the company of other adults at their child’s play and music class but never actually meets any of the other parents outside of the class. Take the initiative. Make an announcement that you’d like to form a playgroup with anyone who is interested. If you’re at the park and see a group of parents chatting, you may feel like an outsider. Don’t be intimidated. Go up and introduce yourself. You may be surprised at how open they are to making new friends. It’s a goal most SAHPs share in common.