Being a new Mum can often be a lonely place. To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 we asked Mums at Catholic Care Stay & Play Groups if anyone would like to share their stories of their own emotional wellbeing. Please read below Sarah’s story:
Stay & Play Groups : A Mum’s Perspective
I became a first time Mum at the age of twenty nine, which to me that was old as most of my friends had children a lot younger. I have never had a vast amount of friends but just enough I thought until I had my son.
When my son was around four months old I began to feel isolated, the new born phase had gone, he was growing and I seemed to see friends and family less and less. I understood they all had their lives and work. I just felt lonely. This is when I discovered Stay & Play Groups. I was too scared to attend alone so I went with a friend who had a two year old. It was okay when I was with them, but I once attended alone it was the loneliest place I’d ever been yet the busiest, it was very clique and everyone had a group and I swore I would never go back. True to my word I didn’t return. Why did I want to return to a place where I felt judged when I was learning about becoming a Mum and getting to grips with the adjustments that parenthood brings?
When my son was almost one I discovered a new group was opening at Keighley Catholic Centre. Once again I roped my friend into going along with me and we attended for its second week. Initially it was a small group. I felt comfortable and relaxed. I felt that I’d found my place, as I made friends with the staff and volunteers and felt that I could be myself. My little boy loved it and we all became a kind of family, sharing the ups and downs of parenting in a fun lively environment with a hot drink and snack table that kept everyone happy.
Stay and Play is the one place we never fail to get to every week. I can’t praise it enough. I now volunteer there myself I have a great bunch of friends and so does my son. I always make an effort to make newcomers feel welcome as I know how hard it can be. Parenting can be a very rewarding experience, but at times it can be the most daunting and lonely journey. This group is so important to me, my friends and our children. It definitely keeps me sane. When it’s school holidays and it isn’t on we all dread what we’re going to do.
We even have Mums/Carers nights out which are fantastic. We have called these outings ‘Time for Me’, reflecting that we all need time to ourselves away from our roles as parents/grandmas/wives/partners. Some of the group choose not to come but at our last gathering before Easter, which was a meal out, there were seventeen of us which was brilliant. This means mums are getting out and socialising even it’s only for an hour. A lot of Mums haven’t returned to work but having this group is like having work friends, we all have so much fun together and someone to turn to if necessary.
Last year another Stay and Play group formed at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School which we also attend. The two groups are linked but both have a variety of different families attending and again we’re like a little family, sharing the highs and lows of parenting in a place where our children can play and develop.
The Catholic Care Stay & Plays really are the friendliest and most caring places to be and I for one am thankful I discovered them.