Do you find parenting a lonely journey? Ironically, you are not alone in this thought. Many parents find themselves disconnected from the adult world when their little one arrives.
At first it is exciting to learn all about your new little bundle of joy. You learn their signals, you set your routines and you establish your new life as a parent. But when your spouse returns to work, and the family visits become less frequent, you realise that a day is a very long time to go without an adult conversation.
That loneliness can transform into other things very quickly, especially as the days and months pass and you add in the other trying aspects of parenthood. The sleep deprivation, the stresses of potentially returning to work and the pressure to juggle the many aspects of your new life. Getting some help can really save your mental help. Luckily, help can come in many forms.
There is a reason they say it takes a 'Village' to raise a child. The child gets many benefits from this concept - the wisdom of the elders, the multiple loving influences and no shortage of cuddles. But the parents get massive benefits from having their extended family around too. They also benefit from the wisdom of their elders,the security of being surrounded by those you love and trust, and the company.
These days, a lot of us are distanced from our 'Villages'. We live far away from our close and extended families, so it becomes a challenge to see them on a regular basis. Also, the expected age of retirement is growing higher and higher. That means that grandparents are working to an older age. Because they are working, they are not able to care for their grandchildren like they would have in years gone by.
The trouble is, the loss of the 'Village' mentality brings the loss of a great support network for parents. A lot of us are flying blind without the guidance of our parents and grandparents. These is also no one to watch the kids while we take a break, or have a nap. This increases the risk of loneliness, sleep deprivation and anxiety.
We all know that sleep is vital, and that we sholud be having at least 8 hours of sleep every night. But whoever wrote those rules didn't have a newborn or toddler with sleep regression!
Sleep deprivation is a very real thing. Just because it has become expected for parents of young children to have sleepless nights, does not make it any less dangerous for your health. Without the correct amount of sleep, your body struggles to function properly. You have less energy, and an increased chance of anxiety, stress and illness.
Sleep deprivation has many characteristics of Post Natal Depression. The two can often be confused. It is important to try and correct the issue of sleep deprivation so that it does not evolve into Post Natal Depression. This is of course easier said than done,as the best cure for sleep deprivation is sleep. Such a simple answer, but it can be so difficult to put into practice.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
If you have constant feelings of overwhelm, find you are crying a lot of the time, and think you can't cope anymore, don't soldier on. Now is the time to tell someone. Tell a spouse, a friend, or a family member how you are feeling. Actually telling someone can be the pathway to a solution. No one can help if they don't know how you are feeling.
After you have told someone, don't be too proud to accept their help. You do not have to be superwoman. If they volunteer to take the kids for an afternoon, grab that opportunity with both hands. Take the time to have a nap, have a relaxing bath or have time for you.
When You Need More
Sometimes telling someone is not quite enough. While it may help in the short term, it doesn't solve the root of the problem - your child's sleep habits.
If you are beyond the crazy haze of the newborn phase, and you have concerns with your child's sleeping, then it could be time to seek the help of a sleep consultant. Annette from Serene Sleep specialises in offering a tailored consultation service that gets to the route cause of the problem. By taking your lifestyle and parenting techniques into account, Annette is able to devise a plan that will get your child's sleeping back on track with the added bonus of having 4 weeks of follow up support along the way.
Regular quality sleep will do wonders to your mental health. You will have more energy to tackle the day, less stress and anxiety and less feelings of overwhelm. More importantly, you will really be able to enjoy this crazy journey of parenthood when you don't feel like you are going to fall asleep standing up.