Blog of the Week: Loneliness as a new mum – My story

Blog_of_the_week_badgeWith the results of a new survey showing just how many new mothers feel cut off and lonely after the birth of their baby, Clare from Grubby Little Faces shares her own personal experience.

Does this experience sound familiar?

How was it for you?

I stared at the clock. 9.10am. I stared back at the moses basket. 9.10am? It had only been an hour since my husband had kissed us both goodbye and gone to work. I was cheery then. Full of positivity and a can-do attitude. I had a mission to go to the library. Me and our daughter were going to do baby rhymetime. I was going to get us ready, feed her, change her, put her in the pram, check my changing bag and waltz out the door. New mum and her much wanted, totally loved, two month old baby. A picture of motherhood.


Image: Grubby Little Faces

But my confidence was ebbing away. After keeping us up most the night our baby had decided that now would be a good time to take a nap. I had no idea what to do. Do I wake her? Do I try to feed her? Do I leave her to sleep. If I do wake her will she cry all the way to the library? If I left her to sleep I would miss my only real chance to talk to other new Mums. Because, try as I might to put on a positive face, I needed to meet new Mums. I was lonely. Desperately and deeply lonely.

It never occurred to me just how lonely motherhood might be. To be honest there were a lot of things that hadn’t occurred to me about motherhood, however loneliness was one of the biggest shocks. After all, I reasoned, I was used to being on my own. Like many people we do not live near our parents or close family.  It’s about a two hour drive to get to either of our families. Around 16 years ago my husband (my boyfriend then) found a job in the South West and we decided to move there and try living together. We were complete strangers to the area and knew a total of two people. But it was an exciting time. In love, new life, new jobs, new home. We were on a romantic adventure and we were in it together. I naively presumed having our own family would be exactly the same. An adventure. Where two would become three and we’d tackle the world together.

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

I mean, how could I possibly be lonely? I had a loving husband, a healthy baby, our loving parents would visit as much as they could at weekends, I knew a few people who would drop in occasionally, and a handful of people I had met through a local NCT group that I saw from time-to-time. But there was no denying it I was lonely. I found looking after my baby, Monday to Friday, from 8am to 7.30pm very, very lonely. I also felt very guilty admitting my loneliness as I had so desperately wanted a baby. I felt I should be some sort of Supermum, I should be grateful, with no right to complain as I was very lucky to have her. But I knew I desperately needed the company of other new Mums who were going through exactly the same things as me.

So here I was trying to fathom out how to get us to the library. I finally decided upon gently, easing her out of the moses basket into the pram. She woke and cried. I picked her up and realised she needed changing. After changing her I decided that I wanted to try feeding her before we went out. I was breastfeeding and still felt clumsy and self-conscious about it so preferred to do it at home. This was a big reason for a lot of my loneliness. Although breastfeeding was going well for us I was so lost as to how to do it gracefully in public.  I was pretty shy about it and I was worried I didn’t have the confidence to defend myself against anyone who might have a problem with me breastfeeding outside the privacy of my house or baby changing toilet.

By the time we eventually left the house we were late. A 30 minute walk and we made it just as they started singing the last song….

‘goodbye all the boys,

goodbye all the girls,

goodbye everyone,

it’s time to say goodbye.’

Defeated, I slunk into a corner and felt truly and utterly miserable.  Gone was my chance to smile at another Mum. Gone was my chance to be comforted by watching other Mums doing the same as me; wiping baby sick off their jumper or juggling the baby into the pram. Gone was my possibility to say ‘Hi. Do you fancy a coffee after?’.  I was gutted.

Image - Netmums

Image – Netmums

7 years on I remember that day at the library vividly.  I had also written about it in a notebook I kept during this time.  It’s full of my worries, thoughts, ideas and baby schedules.  Looking at it now I can see that I was really confused during that time and I was struggling to work out who I was.  I seem to be struggling to find some form of control/understanding over my new life.

I can also see that when I started to make new friends, and my confidence as a new Mum grew, things did get better. I got more confident about breastfeeding in public so I didn’t have to time my outings quite so rigidly.  I worked out how to get us ready in the morning. I found friendly playgroups which were run by people who made you coffee and introduced you to other new Mums.  I had the confidence to stop going to playgroups that I didn’t feel happy at.  I started inviting other Mums to my house  (I didn’t have a car so this was often easier and less stressful).  And most importantly I started telling people I was struggling and lonely.  Because only then, when I showed my vulnerability, my imperfections, did I make some very, very good friends. Friends that I still lean on, talk to and support now. Three kids in.

Over a quarter of mums lonelyI wanted to share this story on my blog because a few week ago the results of AXA PPA and Netmum’s survey  revealed over a quarter of new mums are lonely.  This survey was brought to my attention when a blogging friend, Amy Ransom, went on This Morning and BBC News to talk about it.  It was exciting and emotional to watch. She and another Mum eloquently explained that being a new Mum or even a third time around Mum, can be lonely.  Their honesty made me reflect on my time and inspired me to share my story too.  I hope it helps.

Perhaps you are another Mum who is feeling lonely, perhaps you are going to be a Mum and are worried about loneliness or perhaps you know a new Mum who you could meet for a coffee.  I just want people to know it’s perfectly normal. There are a lot of Mums who feel this way. It does hurt but it can and will get better. Try to reach out and talk about it. You are welcome to comment here to share your thoughts.

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Blog of the Week: Dirty Linen

Blog_of_the_week_badgeDo you love or loath laundry? Our Blog of the Week this week comes from Middle Aged Matron, who admits that she will never be a domestic goddess. Here she talks about how she gets through the laundry pile on a weekly basis (or not as the case may be…).

So – does it work like this in your house?



I am not the most vigilant of housewives. I can’t boil the kettle without setting fire to the tea towel. I didn’t realise that my new dressing gown has a polar bear hood with ears until a parishioner pointed it out in Co-op and I was startled when the hard lump that had distorted the marital duvet cover all week revealed itself to be my son’s missing school uniform.

However, there is one domestic chore over which I am painstaking. Laundry seems to fill otherwise stalwart souls with dread. It needn’t. Over many years of domestic management I have perfected a routine that eliminates the most onerous aspects – like ironing, for instance, and the ordeal of Folding Away. For your sakes, I’m prepared to air my dirty linen in public so that you too can keep on top of the family smalls without heartache.

Usually the vicarage line basket looks like this:

Occasionally it looks like this, but that’s usually when I’ve tipped everything out to hunt down my mobile phone:

Transferring one drum-loads worth to the washing machine once the lid no longer shuts has a reassuring visible effect and that’s all you need do to keep up appearances for the next week or so. For when the wash programme has finished I leave the contents to marinade for a few days by which time the funny smell justifies another short cycle and defers the Evil Moment of Hanging It All Up.

Next comes the exciting part – sorting through the treasures that miraculously emerge from a hot wash. A bit like a high street ATM is our Bosch – you insert a sheaf of Y-fronts and out comes hard cash (and innumerable bonus extras). Money laundering is big business in the vicarage – but I have to say that Cadbury’s Flakes taste better unwashed.

The Evil Moment of Hanging It All Up is made more evil by the blight of socks. It’s a curious fact that however many washes you do none of them ever matches up, even when they’re all black or striped.

Embrace this as a good thing, though. It means you can put the singletons into a transit camp under the bed which saves you sorting them into their drawers. When the Vicar finally notices that he’s run out of black socks he just buys new ones.

Once you have ornamented your airer with underwear, you can take it easy for a couple of days until you find that the lid of the linen basket won’t shut again. Then, of course, you have to clear the rack to make way for the next tranche. To do this, fling the relevant items outside the relevant bedroom door and leave them there. This is not indolence, this is teaching your children independence.

Within the week they will have tired of stepping over them to get to their iPods and will gather them up and thrust them back in the linen basket to save themselves the trouble of putting them away. Whereupon you repeat the drum-filling, marinading, rewashing, hanging process and thereby also avoid having to wrestle clothes hangers and half-hinged wardrobe doors.

I can’t lie. There will come a point when the landing is inaccessible because of the linen mounds, the laws of gravity forbid any additions to the linen basket, the drying rack is still sagging with last month’s washing and the family has run out of underpants. At this stage you do have to bite the bullet and find homes for the backlog. This process need never, though, under any circumstance involve an ironing board. Sheets slept in for a night will only crease up and wrinkles miraculously smooth from clothing after a few hours of wearing.

Nor need you bother about folding. They’ll inevitably be hurled to the floor when family members are seeking their missing chewing gum/haemorrhoid cream/dog collars. Simply employ your child’s recorder to batten them down so that the drawer/door shuts and, while your neighbours are toiling over their ironing piles, go get a life in front of The Home Show.

The vicarage linen cupboard

Have you any labour-saving tips to share? Or any spare black socks in search of a life partner? 

Posted in Blog of the Week, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Blog of the Week: What makes a good mum?


‘Am I a good mum?’ It’s a question most of us regularly ask ourselves.

Jocelyn at The Reading Residence is no exception – but she has come up with a great new way to deal with it.

Read our Blog of the Week to find out more.


It’s something that I often wonder. I cannot believe I’m the only one plagued with never-ending mum guilt and worries that I’m getting it wrong. I think I’m doing OK one moment, and then something happens and I’m back to questioning myself again. Am I too strict, am I too easy on them? Am I giving them enough of my attention, am I giving them enough time to themselves to feel confident without having me hovering? Am I exposing them to enough experiences and activities, am I tiring them out, not concentrating enough on one thing at a time?

And probably most importantly, do they feel loved, safe and secure. I think this one’s a biggie, as I really believe it sets them up for a happy childhood and to be self assured little people. So instead of wondering any more, I asked. I asked my 5 year old daughter if she thinks I’m a good mum (she said yes, but there may be bias there), and so I asked her to write down five things about me that makes me a good mummy…

what makes a good mum

A translation for you:

1. Kisses
2. Hugs
3. Write me letters
4. She loves me
5. You take me to the playground

So there you have it. The guide to being a good mum, from the best judge of all.

I will try not to agonise over the big parenting decisions, and concentrate on giving out more hugs and kisses. I feel so happy that she knows she is loved and I do like that she picked out my little notes and cards to her as special, and I always knew the way to her heart was a trip to the playground!

So if you’re ever doubting yourself, just ask your children how you’re doing. I suspect you’re doing better than you think.

Posted in Blog of the Week, motherhood, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog of the Week: A Parenting Quiz – What type are you?

Blog_of_the_week_badgeWe all love a quiz, right? Well Big Trouble in Little Nappies has come up with a wonderful one to test what type of parent you are.

Eight questions. One result. So? Which are you?!



So everybody knows that you shouldn’t rely on your own judgment, intuition and kids’ wellbeing to decide if you’re doing okay in the parenting department. These factors make unreliable measuring tools and are not to be trusted – if the quality of your offspring’s care matters to you at all.

Instead, taking this highly sophisticated and insightful parenting quiz will tell you – for sure – whether you’re a hit or a hazard in the world of child rearing. What’s more, you can find out in just five of your earth minutes!

Parenting Quiz – Questions!

1. How clean and tidy is your house?


Image: Netmums

A) Immaculate of course, with not a stitch out of place. With a little organisation and a few hours’ work per day, it is easy to keep on top of everything – and the satisfaction is so worth the effort.

B) Well, it’s comfortable. But otherwise it depends on the day and my frame of mind. If you’re not afraid of the odd sticky surface and the giant pile of laundry (or four) then you’ll be fine. Just try not to break your ankle tripping on all the plastic toy tat.

C) A bit smelly if I’m honest, and very muddy. And there are wee stains. But I like it.

2. What do you feed your children?

family healthy food

Image: Netmums

A) Fresh, organic food cooked three times per day. I don’t allow for fussy or faddy eating, and my children delightedly tuck into everything from tofu to smoked salmon, alongside a generous helping of leafy greens (home grown – naturally).

B)What I can persuade them to eat and what I have the time and inclination to cook. Therefore sometimes it’s beef casserole, sometimes it’s fish fingers. They are possibly better acquainted with beans and biscuits than they need to be.

C) I give them whatever slop is lying around, once I’ve had my share of course. For puddings, I sometimes have a rummage in the bin, but only if they’ve been very good.

3. How do you relax in the evening?


Image: Netmums

A) Once I have completed all essential household chores like ironing bed sheets and thoroughly cleaning the oven, I use my remaining bags of energy to indulge in a light hobby such as learning Mandarin or baking perfect soufflés.

B) It varies depending on whether the little gremlins stay asleep or not but often: food, TV, and slouching silently on the sofa. The beautiful, snooze-inviting sofa.

C) I usually relax by having a sleep myself. That way I don’t hear them if they wake, and some other sucker can deal with it.

4. How do your children sleep?

go to bed

Image: Netmums

A) Very well of course. Sleep is instrumental for development, and implementing the correct routine is all that is required. Anyone whose baby doesn’t sleep well only has their own bad habits and inconsistent behaviour to blame.

B) However they blinking well feel like it, little blighters. We have tried a variety of things (including begging), but now mostly accept that there will be good nights and there will be bad nights. Thankfully, there will ALWAYS be coffee.

C) Tucked up safe in my bosom, snoring softly. Or alone on the floor whilst I roam around outside for an hour or two.

5. Are your children meeting their milestones?

starting school line up

Image: Netmums

A) Of course! And if there were to be any issues (which there aren’t), I would make immediate contact with their Health Visitor or Teacher to create a plan of action to fully address my concerns.

B) They might be they might not. They tend to act like humans rather than a tick sheet so I’m trying not to focus on stuff like that and just let them be small. Also, I can’t find my red book and the development book is a bit of a snooze-fest…

C) What’s a Health Visitor? What’s a teacher?

6. Do your children watch TV?

superhero one

Image: Netmums

A) Not until the age of 5 and then only pre-approved programmes or DVDs, twice a week maximum. Television kills you know. Possibly.

B) Err, do babies drink milk? Of course they watch some TV, do you? How does any parent, anywhere, get anything done without the dusty, shiny screen in the corner?

C) Sometimes, but they seem to prefer staring at walls. Or flies.

children watching tv

7. What stimulating and educational activities do you provide for your child?

Children playing with musical toys. Isolated on white background

Image: Netmums

A) Toys are divided into educational categories and activities planned and scheduled to ensure the maximum age-appropriate impact on development. It’s lots of fun!

B) Well, they squabble in dusty church halls over toy cars, and roll around at soft play in other children’s germs fairly regularly. At home we are expert at tickles and singing badly. Sometimes the children join in and sometimes they run around me screaming ‘make it stop, Mummy.’

C) We play ‘sniff the lamppost’ and also have hours of fun with a ball. Or a mud-covered stick.

8. How do you deal with your children having tantrums?

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

A) Swiftly and promptly, so it rarely happens. I don’t wish to preach but it’s no wonder so many children act out when their parents aren’t providing adequate boundaries.

B) It depends on a few things: how much sleep I’ve had, how much tea I’ve drank and how many times so far today they have displayed this behaviour. But sometimes, I cry right along with them.

C) I clout them across the ear or sniff their bum – which they find soothing.

Parenting Quiz – Results

Mostly A’s

Well done – you are officially perfect – and also a robot. Enjoy your fake pretend children and compulsive lying.

P.S. If you are telling the truth then I apologise. But please: put down the soufflé and relax.

Mostly B’s

So, you’re not perfect. But you are teaching your children important values such as being fallible and the many joys of baked beans. Like all parents, you have good days and not so good days, and are doing just fine – in my (very inexpert) opinion.

Mostly C’s

Um, I don’t like to judge but you’re not really on top of your game here are you? You act less like a human and more like a filthy beast.

You are a beast?

A dog?

Aha, okay. Phew! Um, well you’re probably doing alright then, although I’m not really qualified to say. But… fetch?!

Be honest – was anyone else mostly C’s?

Posted in Blog of the Week, bloggers, Humour | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Your dancing can change the world

Netmums are delighted to be hosting a guest post from Penny Alexander today. Here she talks about her Comic Relief experience in Kenya and how you can get involved by dancing for Red Nose Day.


When was the last time you danced? I mean really danced, allowed yourself to get lost in music and moving and letting the world slip away?

Mine was two weeks ago at a project for street children in Kenya. Hovic is a centre funded by Comic Relief, which I visited as a volunteer blogger for Comic Relief. it gives street children food, shelter and a chance to be children in safety. They might have had unimaginably tough lives, but they have so much life and ambition and they weren’t going to take no for an answer.

I loved my time with these children and will never forget dancing with them. They made me realise how much I miss dancing. The best bit is, there is a way to keep helping Comic Relief support the UK and the world’s most vulnerable people, and it involves dancing.


The Red Nose Day Danceathon takes place at Wembley on Sunday 8th March, 12-6pm . It will be live streamed too, so you can participate at Wembley or at home. Why not get a group of friends together for an afternoon of dancing in London, or in your living room, leisure centre, church hall dance school, pub?

The dance style and teacher will be changing every 30 minutes. 50’s jive, 60’s swing, 70’s disco, 80’s anthems, Street dance, Latin, Hip-hop, Bollywood and West End Musicals. Shimmying stars will take to the stage to keep fundraisers’ spirits high, dance feet moving and pounds pouring in for Red Nose Day.

Team Honk have 500 places at the Red Nose Day danceathon, we are a team made up mainly of Mums who all met online, through social media, blogging and tweeting. We would love to invite Netmums’ readers to join Team Honk to raise money for Red Nose Day.

We even have a couple of stragglers, who you may recognise, on Team Honk, they have even invented a special move for us!

There is a Twitter party Friday 6th February at 1pm. Just follow the hashtag #teamhonkdanceathon. We will be answering any questions and signing up new recruits. 

You can book a place at Wembley, join Team Honk’s giving page or find out how to #honkfromhome, here You can contact us here

When did you last dance? When did you last get a chance to change the world by dancing?

Penny blogs at She has volunteered for the last three years for Comic Relief, sharing updates of the #lastingchange your donations to Red Nose Day make, raising awareness and funds. To date have raised £40,000.

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Blog of the Week: Spot the Teenager – 13 signs of impending doom

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur Blog of the Week this week takes us through some of the things you may begin to notice as your darling son or daughter starts turning into a real life Teenager.

A Quirky Kook is currently deep in the experience. So, does all this sound familiar to anyone else..?



Unlike Harry Enfield’s Kevin, real life teenagers don’t just turn into inarticulate zombies overnight. They have to work at it.

They begin with their baby steps and work up to becoming fully fledged teenagers. They have to spend time perfecting the slack-jawed stare of scorn, practicing temperamental flouncing and mastering a grunt that can only be understood by their peers. Obviously.

This is a cut out and keep* guide to the early symptoms signs of impending doom teenager-ness giving you a heads up so you won’t be shaken to your very foundations when IT finally happens to your own little darling.

And when I say: ‘Shaken to your foundations,’ I mean house foundations, and I mean it literally because if there is one thing teenagers really, really excel at it is slamming doors hard enough to make the earth shatter and window-rattling, stair-bending stomping ….

1: Your daughter suddenly looks like she’s grown an extra three inches taller overnight but still appears to be the same height. She will have rolled her school skirt waistband over.

2: She will claim this is an accident. She will be lying.

3: You continually have to tell your son to pull his trousers up.

4: The grubby child you know and love doesn’t need nagging to take a shower, they need nagging to get out of the damn thing.

5: You start to forget what the inside of the bathroom looks like….

6: But it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s unrecognisable and full of products that make promises they aren’t keeping if what eventually emerges from the bathroom is any indication.

7: Your daughter’s eyebrows look like they’ve undergone some kind of trauma or. worse still, fallen off. Her face becomes a startlingly different colour from her neck.

8: They say: ‘Everyone else is/ can/ has/ does….’  as if it really matters what other people do.

9: But you’re just grateful that they’ve spoken to you at all.

10: They won’t wear anything unless it has a hood.

11: Unless it’s a coat, and they won’t wear that at all.

12: You begin to worry you’re invisible…

13: But you’re strangely comforted that they roll their eyes …



Time. speak. So you keep on speaking, but they call it nagging and roll their eyes still, and some more.  So you don’t stop speaking and they roll their eyes… So you speak again and…

Repeat for the next five years.

Posted in Blog of the Week, Humour, Teenagers | 2 Comments

Blog of the Week: To the one who stole my childhood

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur Blog of the Week takes a serious turn this week as one very brave blogger puts pen to paper to write a heart wrenching letter to the one who stole her childhood. 

My thoughts on a page tells us her story.



Last year I did a series of posts where others sent me letters they wanted to write. I received letters of regret, love, confession and thanks. They were beautifully written and many were poignant. I never shared my own letter, but I did write one.
So tonight I am ready to share mine.

I met you when I was only a child, and was drawn to you. You were well known and greatly respected in your chosen field. I was delighted to be “liked” by you, and enjoyed the extra support and encouragement you gave me.
You were my coach, my mentor. In time you became more important to me than my parents, family or friends.
I was happy to be around you, to babysit for you, to have extra training with you.

You were using me. Creating a friendship built on a lie. After one year you made your move. Within weeks you had enveloped me in a giant net, from which I could not escape. I was twelve years old.

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

Too young to understand. I did not have the courage to ask for help. My friends didn’t understand, and most deserted me. My reaction to my distress, shame and hurt at what was happening, caused me to become withdrawn at home. My parents could not reach me. Even surrounded by brothers and sisters and loving parents, I was alone.
You had succeeded in your mission.

As I grew up, you tightened the noose. You stalked me. Trying to control every moment of my day from a distance.
However you made one miscalculation. I was not as weak as you thought. A combination of my mothers steely nature and my fathers quiet strength, allowed me to break free.

I met a wonderful man, who along with some incredible friends picked up the pieces.
They made me whole once more. Yes I was battered and scarred, but no longer broken.

And then I came looking for you.

I discovered many more who were also looking. You ran, escaping to a faraway country. The news broke. My family struggled. Unwelcome notoriety came knocking on our door. Others took up the call and went looking for you.
A legal loophole stopped us. You would not be sent back.
We would never have our day in court.

Some may say we never got justice.

I say that I am well and happy. You took my childhood but that is only a few short years, I have reclaimed my life.
I am glad I will never again see you.
I will never forget what you took from me, nor will I ever forgive you. But you no longer control my life.
You cannot say that about your own life. You have to be ever watchful. Because wherever you go we find you.
Journalists and police keep an eye on you.
You are scorned in your own neighbourhood.

As I hug my husband and hold my children close, I smile as I think of you.
Abandoned by your family, watched by the authorities, suffering from ever increasing financial difficulties. You are living the life you deserve.

I am writing this letter to let you know,
I too am living the life I deserve!

If you would like to read the other letters in this series you can find them here.



Posted in Blog of the Week | Tagged , | 4 Comments