Can you relate to this momma’s honest question?
Melanie and Heidi, have y’all ever struggled with loneliness, especially when you had young kids. I have a 6-year-old, 2.5-year-old twins and a 7-month-old and I feel stuck at home. I want to connect with other adults but am not finding ways to do it where it is lifegiving and not an added drain. I guess my question is, “How do you get your cup filled when you are continually pouring into everyone else’s cups?“
Such a great question! And one to which Heidi and I immediately said, “Yes! Yes we have!”
We know that God cares deeply for those suffering through a season of loneliness. Psalm 25:16-17 says, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.” God knows the condition of our souls and when we are walking through trying times, He is right there with us, calling us to Himself.
So, along with the companion podcast episode, Loneliness Part 1, we hope this post encourages you and empowers you to take some steps so that you don’t feel lonely anymore.
▼ Jump to Listen to Episode #24: How to Overcome Loneliness in Motherhood, Part 1 ▼
How’s Your Quiet Time?
If you’ve been around the Parenting to Impress Blog and Podcast for even a minute, you know that Heidi and I always go back to the basics with most issues. How is your relationship with God? Are you spending time with Him each day, reading His Word, praying and interacting with Him?
Here’s why it’s such a big deal. When you try to go at this life alone, without God’s help and direction, eventually you’re going to run out of steam. Plus, when you put God on the back burner, Satan will exploit that absence with lies about yourself and God. If you’re experiencing a season of loneliness, ask yourself what thoughts am I having that are simply not true? We bet there are several like, “I am the only mom who feels this way,” or “I just don’t have the time and energy to make friends right now,” and even, “God doesn’t care about how I’m feeling.” These lies from the Enemy need to be held captive and refuted with Truth. That only happens when you intentionally spend time with the Lord.
Identify Your Circumstances
Once you’ve taken some time to evaluate your Quiet Time, think through the facts about your season of life. I’m guessing some of those facts include: you’re a mom; you have younger children; you have certain tasks and responsibilities (naps, meals, laundry) that require your time. Maybe you work outside the home and so you’re particularly limited to evening hours and weekends.
Now it’s time to get real. These roles and tasks you have as a mom are simply a part of your life right now.
How can you work within those parameters to make connections with others? It could be that you decide 2 days a week, you’ll take the kids to the park where you know other moms go. Or, you join a preschool story hour at the local library. We serve a creative God so invite Him into this, by praying for His inspiration. You’d be surprised by what the Holy Spirit can nudge you to do!
Invite Your Husband into the Conversation
So often when we are feeling lonely, we overlook our biggest ally – our husbands. Husbands want to encourage and help their wives. They can’t do this if they don’t know what’s going on. Have a frank conversation with him and ask not only for him to pray alongside you but also to keep his ears and eyes open for opportunities. Just telling our husbands can bring immediate relief in the sense that once we’ve said “I’m lonely” out loud, we are sharing that burden instead of trying to carry it alone (Galatians 6:2).
Now that he knows what’s going on, you can sit down together and look at the calendar. Is there a night he’d be available to take care of the kids so that you could grab dinner with a friend? Maybe there’s a Saturday morning that he can be on breakfast duty so you catch up with someone over coffee. Most husbands want their wives to be happy and if there’s anything they can do to help, they will!
Check Your Expectations
We all have expectations of friendships whether we realize it or not. But when you’re walking through a season of loneliness, it’s best to check those expectations at the door. Really think about what you need to mitigate that loneliness. While your preference might be to get together with friends twice a week, would twice a month give you something to look forward to? Or how about phone calls or apps like Vox or Marco Polo? These avenues offer connection without having to be together physically.
We also need to think through the kind of friendship we’re expecting. When you invite your friend and her kids over to hang out, odds are you’re not going to have as much time for those deep conversations you used to have pre-kids. That’s ok! The point is that you are spending time with your friend, and this season too shall pass.
Now here’s the tough one. What are you bringing to the table? If you are in a particularly isolating season of loneliness, you might be showing up to things with great need for connection. The problem is, when we repeatedly bring only our needs and are neglecting to ask about another’s needs, we wear out our welcome quickly.
Friendship is a two-way street. Be mindful to ask others about themselves. Be curious about what’s happening in their lives. This way we are building relationships, not using people as a dumping ground for what’s wrong in our lives.
And this goes both ways. You might need to reevaluate a friendship that leaves you more tired than you already are. It can be difficult to establish boundaries with a friend like this, but if you’re already struggling in your own life, a friendship drain is not helpful.
A word to our mommas who are parenting kiddos with unique challenges. Therapies, doctor’s appointments, special needs, all the things – they take extra time and can be especially isolating. It might be true that you are the only mom you know who has a child with a specific diagnosis. But the truth is that you are still not alone!
Moms are the most compassionate people I know (but not all – more on this in a second). And outside of other moms in similar situations, there are people God places in our lives to walk our journey with us. Ask God to remove our blinders so that we can see those special people. Then reach out to them. Share how your feeling and ask if they’d like to come over for coffee (or tea, or water! You get the point).
It’s also helpful to let go of the idea that everyone will care about your situation. There will be moms in your Bible Studies, Sunday School, Book Clubs etc. that won’t make themselves available to encourage and walk alongside you. Again, that’s ok! We aren’t meant to be friends with every woman in our lives. Be vulnerable and share with a woman who does seem to ask questions about your life. While her life probably doesn’t match up exactly with yours, if she’s kind enough to be curious about you, she’s likely someone who’d make a great friend.
What do all of the ideas in this post have in common? They require you to be brave. Not on your own, but in the Lord’s strength. He loves you infinitely more than any friend can, and He wants you to be in community with others. Seek Him first and know that with the Lord of Creation by your side, you are never truly alone.
As I stated above, this is Part 1 of the Loneliness series. Click over to Part 2 as we dive deeper into this subject and look at loneliness in parenting teens.
I do feel lonely in this stage of motherhood. I have a 7 year old and a 4 year old. They go to public school and I dislike trying to interact with moms that are not interested in talking to me however our kids get along. I felt heartbroken when one of my 4 year old friends wouldn’t acknowledge her anymore and neither her mom (my daughter likes likes to be the leader and play). They would play at pick up but dynamics changed and now it’s is just akward.
Yami – Thank you for your honesty as I know it will bless other mommas. It is hard when you are an outgoing person desiring connection and other mommas aren’t. This happens in church, afterschool events…in all venues. And friendships are hard. But I pray that the podcast and blog encouraged you to invest in those that want to reciprocate and let go of those that don’t. Hugs! –heidi