Most mums rarely see their closest friends, according to a new poll. How can you carve out more time to get the support you need?
The majority of working mums only see their closest friends every few months or less than once a year, according to a poll which highlights the social isolation of many parents.
Forty per cent of mums said they saw their closest friends once every few months. Twenty two per cent only saw them once a year or less. Thirty one per cent saw their closest friends every two to four weeks, while just 7% saw them once a week or more.
There are many reasons for not seeing close friends, including not living nearby, but the poll shows how few women have someone outside the family who they can talk to about the maelstrom of pressures facing them after they have children.
With high levels of stress identified among women – workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey shows 30% of working mums have taken time off work for mental health issues since having children and figures out this week show women aged 35 to 44 are the most likely to take time off work for work-related stress.
According to Amber May from MumsMeetUp, the lack of a strong support network is an important factor.
She says: “Mums can feel completely cut off from the daytime community of mums in their own local area when they return to work after having a baby. Even if they have already befriended other mums prior to returning to work, it can be difficult to maintain contact with them. Their working day may be extended by extra hours spent ferrying children to and from childminders, day nurseries, after school clubs etc. This will likely leave them feeling exhausted and with little to no time left to socialise. They will also miss out on interaction with mums at the school gate if their working hours prevent them from taking their children to and from school.”
She adds: “Mums who do not work typically socialise with other mums during the daytime on weekdays as their weekends may be set aside for spending time with their families and other close friends. Not only can working mums feel isolated, but their partners and children may feel it too. However, they are not alone as there are so many other families out there feeling exactly the same.”
MumsMeetUp was set up in large part due to the difficulties that working mums face with having little to no spare time to go out and make friends. It provides a friendship service via a web-based app at mumsmeetup.com which helps to combat loneliness by connecting mums locally and across the UK. Mums can search by age of children, area and circumstances, for instance, for other working mums. Amber says: “The working mums who use our service will typically befriend other working mums and arrange to meet up with them and their families outside working hours and at weekends.“