Becoming a parent is a life changing experience — no two ways about it. So much so it’s often a time when people start to question where their career is headed, and whether it’s providing the work-life balance they’d like. There are literally thousands of people who decide that they’d rather go freelance or set up their own business after having kids in order to achieve more control and flexibility in their lives.

Some women find that when they take maternity leave, this naturally causes them to step away from their career and the organisation they’ve been working for. If they decide not to return and start their own business instead, they suddenly realise that they’ve lost the safety net of a team and a boss to guide them.

Personally, it took me several years to really get in to the groove of working on my own. Even though I loved it, I did miss the team element and having people to bounce ideas around with. But I made a concerted effort to put myself out there and create a support network of other parents who were all doing the same thing.

If you’re just starting out on your own, it’s a great idea to get some strategies in place early on, so that the loneliness doesn’t creep up on you. Here’s what worked for me, hopefully these might work for you too!

Get out to networking events

It’s so important to incorporate a bit of networking into your month. Not only is meeting people a great way to spread the word about your business, it’s also incredibly good for the soul to connect with other humans! There are loads of networking groups out there, so you might need to try a few before you find your tribe. Some may charge, but you should see this as a business expense. And if you don’t have a good networking group in your area? Be the change. Start one!

Connect online

When I started working for myself 9 years ago, Facebook was just an infant — we didn’t have all these amazing entrepreneurial groups like we do today. Make sure you keep active in fantastic groups like the DIFTK and don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re struggling or having a bad day. It can be so comforting just to know you’re not alone.

Mix it up

Working at home can get really lonely, so why not mix it up? I love working in coffee shops and have a few to choose from. I’m there so often I’ve got to know the staff — it’s lovely to walk into a friendly welcome! You could also try a co-working space for a day or two a week. If you can work on a laptop, you can work from anywhere — try to make the most of that.

Find an accountability buddy

Your buddy doesn’t have to be someone doing the same kind of work as you, in fact it’s great if they don’t because they may see things from a different angle. Perhaps you’ve met someone in a Facebook group that you enjoy chatting to, someone at one of those networking events — why not ask them if they would be up for a weekly or monthly Skype call to set goals with each other?

Get out in to nature

If you’re feeling low and stuck inside on your own, put your laptop down and get. outside. Research has proved that being in nature is so good for your wellbeing, and you may even have your best lightbulb moments in the fresh air! Take a walk in a local park, along a canal, down the beach, through the woods — wherever is accessible for you. If you feel guilty about taking time away from work, take a notepad or listen to a podcast. I guarantee you’ll feel better and less isolated after connecting with the great outdoors.

I meet and chat to so many parents that start businesses and loneliness is a big factor. Remember that are lots of other people in the same boat so reach out and connect with them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the warm welcome and support that others are willing to give when you put yourself out there.

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