I was young and in love. The thought of leaving the place where I had grown up, gone to school, made everlasting friendships, met the love of my life, and started our new life together had been pushed out of my mind, over and over again. He told me he wanted to be a doctor. He had told me that this would require a lot of sacrifice. He told me that this would require us to leave everything we knew that was normal and comfortable to us. That we could start our life in a new place, make great friends, new memories, and begin his career where he could pursue his dreams. I laughed and agreed and told him I would do anything to be with him. Then pushed the inevitable away, so I wouldn’t have to face it…just yet.
Flash forward a couple years. I remember sitting at that card table in my empty living room with a small suitcase, my laptop, and feeling completely alone. I stared at the blow up air mattress that my husband and I had been sleeping on for two months in our new empty house. An air mattress. For TWO MONTHS! Our moving truck had been delayed 8 miserable weeks. I had a job lined up, but my dental hygiene license would not be valid for a few months. Therefore, I could not work. I had no friends. I didn’t know a soul. My husband was busier than ever in his new medical training with long hours, six days a week. I was, in my mind, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing, not even my own clothes. No furniture, no pots and pans, no friends…absolutely nothing. All I could do is sit, and wait, for that moving truck to arrive.
Loneliness is something that almost all of us have or will have to deal with in some way, shape or form, regardless of marital status, age, occupation, or family situation. But I think it can be particularly worse for those of us with small children who stay at home. Double that when you are part of a profession that requires you to move around a lot and be far from extended family and close friends. And I have realized that loneliness in it’s largest part is from feeling isolated. I wasted one year of my life trying to fight that lonely bug. But I didn’t know how to make it go away. I wanted to leave that new house and go back home to where everything comfortable was- my family, my sisters, my best friends, the stores I loved shopping at, the restaurants that I craved, and the mountains that I woke up to every morning. But I found that adding a few things to my life changed the way I lived mine. So here are some ideas that helped me beat that lonely bug over these last six years…
Establish a routine: Having a somewhat scheduled day or even week can be a game changer. My days vary but our nighttime routine is always the same- dinner, play time with Daddy if he is home, a dessert, teeth brushing, books, then bed. My kids are better at night because of this too.
Set some traditions: Something my little boy and I have started as a tradition is (brace yourself) going to Costco once a week on my husbands on-call days for lunch or dinner. I look forward to this every week because I know that Boston is excited for it, and, I know that I have set plans. We also like to try and have one day a week be a day where we go to the Children’s Museum. Knowing that we have certain activites on certain days keeps me busy and keeps my mind off of what might be going on “back at home.”
Exercise: An obvious but essential one! The more active you are, the happier, and healthier you are. We have all heard it a million times, there are studies that have shown those who exercise have more energy and are happier in general. No, you don’t have to go to the gym for hours at a time. I like to do 20 minutes of yoga during nap time to get refreshed, or even just a walk with the stroller around the block once or twice will boost your spirits.
Call your Hubby: Be in touch with your husband if you can throughout the day. My hubby and I like to email because he gets so busy with patients and phone calls. It really helps me get a little boost if I know that he is thinking about me, and hey, I’m sure he likes to hear how things are going at home too.
Call a friend or family member: This one can be tricky because it can get you thinking about “home” or what’s going on with your family. But sometimes a good laugh with your best friend is all you need to put a smile on your face!
Surround yourself with people: Whether it’s going to the library, the ped-mall, the museum, or wherever, it’s always good to surround yourself with people. Sitting in your house with screaming kids isn’t good for anyone.
Volunteer or find ways to keep busy locally: Ask around for ways to volunteer! There’s no better way to stop feeling sorry for yourself than to serve others. Volunteer at a 5k, or help out at the Ronald McDonald house for an afternoon. Being involved keeps you busy, and when you are busy, it’s hard to make time for loneliness! Get your kids involved with recreational activities. I have loved watching my son play soccer and it gets us up and out of the house!
Buy a pet: If this is an option for you, do it! We ended up buying a dog our first year in North Carolina and it helped me so much. Just having another “thing” in my house really helped me feel like I wasn’t completely alone. Even a fish will do the trick.
Social Media: A blessing and a curse but mostly a blessing for me. Post pictures of what you and your family are up to. Check in with yours. I feel connected with old friends and my family because I can see what they are up to.
These are just a few on my list to beat the lonely blues…what do you like to do to beat the lonely bug?