Here are my experiences of making “mum friends”:
In 2013 I had my first son, B.
Throughout the pregnancy I had visions of making lots of mum friends, endless dates at coffee shops, texting each other daily, sharing every minute detail of motherhood, a sisterhood bond, nights out and our children being the bestest of friends, forever. (Delusional much?)
The reality however, was so far from this idea. I did all that I could to try and make that happen, I ventured to every soft play in the local area, I endured countless hours of trying to shove my massive post pregnancy bum through those tiny, tiny holes. I researched and tried most of the baby/toddler classes in the area, taking my tiny baby who couldn’t find his finger let alone sign the word “cat” to baby signing classes and dunking him under the water at the local swim class to encourage him to blow bubbles. I know you all understand this having probably done the same yourself.
Each time, I plastered a huge smile on my face and tried to look welcoming to any mother who so much as looked in my direction. (Here’s to realising why I never made any friends!) And the product of all this hard work? Was one friend, her name was Linda and she was a grandma, twenty-five years plus my age. Very lovely lady but the dreams of chatting in my living room on a Friday night, with a glass of Prosecco started to disappear.
After I had my second son, M, in 2015, I was determined to make some friends, purely for the company when shoving my still very large bum down the slides at soft play and to cry with about having two children under the age of three and the difficulties it brought day to day.
When M was around five months old, two ladies on Netmums, who had moved to local area, expressed interest in meeting up and so I rejoined Facebook and made a group. I invited these ladies to the group and then messaged everyone who had posted on Netmums in my area recently to join as well.
Seven of us started in the group and I met all but one on the first week, four of us met at a sensory room in a local children’s centre and the other two came to meet me at a local soft play at the weekend as they both worked full time.
The group now has over four hundred members on there, from all backgrounds and the amount of mums on the group who have personally thanked me for starting it, is unbelievable. What started as a selfish need for friends for me and my children has blossomed into many mums making friends, having company, getting themselves out of the house and getting through those dark lonely days as a mum.
I have met over fifty mums, who were once strangers and I now have a group of people who I would call friends.
Here are my tips for making “mum” friends:
· There are many ways to actively find likeminded mums – websites such as Netmums, Mummysocial, Mush, Babycentre, Mumsnet, Facebook pages/group, bloggers (these are great for the socially anxious of us, you can chat, chat, chat, before you go to meet someone)
· Join local classes, try local soft play areas (early mornings are busiest before the nap time hits.) You do not have to spend a fortune, children’s centres (if you can find one still open!) put on free groups, not everyone can afford NCT and the likes!
· Why don’t you start your own? It worked for me! I have seen one mum recently write on a local buy and sell group on Facebook, asking for likeminded people.
· Put yourself in the right places – Yes, we all know that playgroups can be cliquey, go and ask the organiser to introduce you to people, if the organiser cannot introduce you to one person, then they are failing at their job as an organiser, so move on to the next group!
· If you see your child playing near someone, try, and speak to them. They are not going to ignore you, unless they are strange! Go and seek the mum sat on her own, maybe she is doing so for the same reason you are.
Tips for meeting up:
· If you have joined a website or an app, you are in a great position to get to know someone before physically meeting. By the time you meet, you should already have some ice breakers, whether it is the name of their children, which soaps they like, a favourite band or just a general distain for men! You will already have conversation starters!!
· When planning to meet, take into consideration, the venue (don’t meet in a coffee shop if you have a lively toddler who will not sit still) plan a time where nap time is not looming and school pick up is not close. Think sensory rooms, playgroups, parks, mum fitness classes (we have a local wheelyfit, walking with prams) places where your children, can be children and you can have a chat.
· The best advice I can give is to CHILL OUT. Personality wise, I am not a centre of attention, social butterfly, kind of person. I prefer conversations where I get to know someone, rather than “are you going on holiday this year? What did you think of Eastenders last night?” (I do like Eastenders by the way) I don’t make noise for the sake of it and much prefer to listen when in a group, than talk to be heard. It is just who I am, but even being that person, I have pushed myself to meet strangers. And when I say pushed, I mean pushed both physically and mentally.
· Do not think for one minute that the other person will be feeling completely fine and confident about meeting you, they won’t. After all, they are meeting a stranger too.
· It is ok to be nervous and anxious and want to back out, there may well be awkward silences (I once misheard a woman say she had a six-week-old, thought she said six-month-old and started asking her about weaning, cringe.) You may not have much in common personally, or even think this person is your type of friend. However, it is an hour of your time, you have gotten out of the house and have company. You do not have to see this person again!
· Meeting another mum, you will always have something in common, you both have children. We can all talk about dirty nappies, tantrums, lack of sleep, funny anecdotes from the cherub’s mouths, can’t we? So, if all else fails, just talk about the children.
· Last question, how do you expect to make mum friends if you don’t put yourself out there to do so? Unfortunately, making friends takes time and you need to put yourself out there to get to know others and allow then to get to know you. Be open to making friends, stop the judgement of others, and be prepared to have some differences along the way.
Louise blogs over at https://mummymummysite.wordpress.com/