Probably a slight exaggeration but for most of my adult life, whether it be at uni, work, playing sport, having dinner, meeting friends for coffee or drinks or dancing into the early hours, I spent it out. The place where I rented was less a home than somewhere to sleep and get ready to go somewhere. I would often pack something in every evening and often have back to back engagements. After we bought a home, in my first pregnancy, except when the first trimester simply wiped me out and I often found myself fallen asleep on the sofa at 8pm, I was still going out regularly.
Then my life changed. Forever. No longer could I stay out all day and night. No longer the spontaneity. No longer the freedom. From the moment my eldest was born I was confined to my house for a month. Except for medical appointments I did not leave my house. My mum tried to restrict me to the confines of my room in the first week after birth but I did wander around the house albeit slowly. It was the middle of winter, cold, dreary and dark by 4pm and I actually welcomed the ‘excuse’ to stay in with my baby. I was not looking forward to go out for the first time for my little boy’s one month birthday celebration. The drizzly rain didn’t help. I did it but was glad to get back indoors.
After my month’s confinement I took the baby out and about during the day, we slowly built up a social life with other mummies and babies but the evenings I was always at home or at my parents’. Partly because my other half works ridiculously long and unsociable hours, my friends with kids also stayed at home, and my friends without kids didn’t want to do baby friendly things in the evenings - taking a baby to the bar is probably not high up on the ‘great parenting list’. Pumping was a nightmare so it didn’t really encourage me to express. We tried taking little one out for dinner a few times but he was so unsettled that it made dinner out more of a chore than staying in. So except on a handful of times I stopped going out in the evenings unless it was a special occasion.
Of course there were times when I would have loved to catch up with my friends baby free but on the whole I didn’t really pine to go out. I didn’t envy my friends who could spontaneously pop to Paris for a weekend. I had time to sit down - on my own. I could wash up undisturbed. I could have a shower in peace!. I could sleep. I was so tired that I slept shortly after the baby slept in the evenings. I can imagine if you’re one of the first in your circle of friends to have children how left out it could feel. No one else understands that you can’t meet up like you used to and the main way to keep in touch is through whatsapp. I was lucky enough that most of my friends had babies within a year of each other so we were all in the same boat. We kept each other entertained with our baby stories, we vented to each other and we supported each other. I was lucky to have a great support network so I didn’t feel too lonely in the evenings when hubby was at work.
For mums who don’t have friends with kids there are so many groups that you can join to meet local mums. I found it so much easier to chat to someone with a child just because you immediately have something in common. The eye contact. The acknowledge of ‘I know what you’re going through’. All it takes is ‘how old is your baby’ and there you go. You can start a friendship.