Building your support network as a new mum
It’s never been more important to have support now you’re a mum, here’s how to build a support network
For most new mums the first, go-to person to help them out and be there for them is usually their partner. But what if you’ve split up, or your partner has to be away for work or is looking after a family member with illness or in crisis? And even if they are there for you, is it always enough?
The reality is that we all need some extra help and that’s where you may be needing to get your crew about you. Help can come in various ways. Sometimes you need to work out what you particularly need support with, to be able to realise who could help best. Someone who might not be able to fulfil your need on one issue could be prefect for another.
You may need:
Practical help. A fellow parent or someone who has been there, done that and got the T-Shirt may be best for that. A friend who has children, or someone you’ve met through antenatal classes, or your or your partner’s parents would be best. And don’t reject the idea of an ex partner’s parents. You may be over with them, but your ex partner’s parents are your child’s grandparents, and for their sake you need to keep that bond intact. Aunts and uncles – anyone you know who is going through the same stage as you, or has been through it, would be ideal in sharing notes, helping you figure out what to do and giving you confidence.
Emotional support. All of the above could help but what if you have important, dear and close friends who don’t have kids? They can be just what you need for a baby-free break – a coffee date, a drink or even a day or weekend away. You may really need to be reminded you’re an individual as well as a parent and while your partner is just what you want for a date, a friend is what you need for a “Me-time” mate’s experience. It could be the reality check you need to be with someone who doesn’t share your childcare involvement.
Friends and family some distance away. You might have friends of all sorts, ages and connections who happen to be some distance away. But don’t dismiss them as being off the map. Sometimes a chat online, or a series of messages, can give you the pick-up you need and can support you with some outside perspective.
Social media. We tend to hear a lot of negativity about social media. And it’s true that there is a lot of misinformation, bullying and trolling going on out there – not what you need as a new mum right? However, we tend to hear less about celebrating the times you go on to receive really helpful information, encouragement and backing. Put your partner and friends and family who are with you in the real world first, but don’t forget that you can get a lot of help from people you can link with at any time through the internet. Just be aware of how much face to face contact your nearest and dearest need from you, and me mindful of how screen time can be a problem if done too much and to their exclusion.
What about the ex? If you are separated from your child’s other parent, don’t dismiss them as a source of support. Who else cares about your child as much as you do, and would want to help you with their issues, or indeed cheer with you when there’s something to celebrate? You and your ex may no longer be partners but you’ll always be co-parents. Your child needs you to continue to work together in their best interest and support each other.
Bounty “Sex & Relationship” articles are written by expert Suzie Hayman. Suzie is agony aunt for Woman magazine, a Relate trained counsellor, and an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator. She makes frequent appearances on TV and radio and as well as writing 31 books, Suzie writes features on parenting, relationships, sex and couples counselling, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers