Louise; The Mummy Mummy Site- Making Mum friends

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/

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To my girls

Girls,

First of all I want you to know that you have been the making of me. You’ve given my life meaning, purpose and you have given me a strength like no other.
If you become Mama’s yourselves one day you will understand that strength.

In my posts I make no secret of the fact that I find it hard, parenting… parenting you two. I use the terminology that is common today- I lose my shit… I have parenting fails… I swear.
But this is never a reflection of who you two are. This is a reflection of our lack of support and the lack of help that I receive. It is also a completely natural feeling for parents.

You two are so hard to parent because you have such strong personalities. You fight against every boundary I set. You question me and challenge the things I say. You explore your surroundings, you’re inquisitive and you’re minds are like sponges soaking up information. You know your own minds and rarely conform.
And whilst I often say you wear me out, that I’m tired and drained, that you take all my energy, I never complain about who you are.
This is because you are everything I ever hoped you would be and whilst you are extremely hard to parent now, whilst you’re small, you are going to be amazingly strong, smart women.
Whilst you are incredibly hard to parent now, I NEVER want to change who you are and your personalities because you are everything I ever hoped you would be.

I shout, I lose my shit and sometimes I just want you to go to bed because I’m trying so hard to show you the way, to fight you so I can set those boundaries that you have to learn whilst supporting your strength and your individuality. I’m trying my hardest to answer all your questions whilst juggling everything else and remembering everything I have to do.

I want you to always know that whilst I post about the hardships of my parenting journey, those hardships are only because of the way I’M raising you. They are only because I am encouraging you to challenge the world and to not conform. To not be led by others but to lead the way yourself.
They are also because I am your main role model. And I try to be all of those things too, but you both outshine me on every level and that is exactly what I’m proud of.

Parenting you two will never be easy, but it will always be a million times over worth it.

girls.jpg

Back to School Top Tips

September marks the start of the school year so after lots of questions from first timers, I jotted down some notes for any mums who are newbies to school. After reading through however, I think they can still be applied to the start of the new school year for those of us that are no longer newbies at the school gates!

Keep the first few weeks low key.
There’s a whole lot of change going on and new routines to get used to. There will be lots of new feelings to navigate and lots of emotions running high. Not only for your child, but possibly for you as well.
Your child will no doubt be tired, possibly overwhelmed, unsure and quite possibly excited.
With all of these feelings present, expect a rollercoaster of emotions. Kids are resilient but usually not sure what these different feelings are and how to manage them- gosh, some adults don’t even know how to do this so we can’t expect kids to!!
By keeping out of school hours for the first couple of weeks generally chilled out, you’re giving them no extra pressures and time to relax and navigate all these new feelings.

Don’t bombard them with questions
You’re probably not going to get them answered anyway! Just think, if you were bombarded with questions about your day the minute you walked out from work you would get pretty annoyed too.
Give them some space to unwind from their day, during or after a snack usually works really well, and the chances are they will open up themselves. If they do need some prompting, open ended questions are more likely to draw information out of them than questions such as ‘have you had a good day?’.

Have snacks to hand
Maybe it’s just my daughter, but she is always starving when she comes out of school. And with hunger, comes a very short temper. Having just a little snack to hand cures the after school munchies and stops any hanger!!

Toilet Stops
I remember a mum telling me about this before my daughter started school- like the snacks, she always needs the toilet as soon as we’ve walked out of the school gate, no matter how many times I ask her as soon as she comes out of school. I regularly remind her at the start of the day to go before she leaves school but of course she rarely remembers!!
So if you’re walking home or not heading straight home, don’t forget to double check if they’ve been before home time and know where the nearest toilet is!

Be prepared
I know, I know… I can’t really say much about this BUT it is so much easier and less stressful if we’re organised in the mornings. These are things like prepping water bottles the night before, having uniform/shoes/coat/bag all together and ready to go, getting up on time and so on- you know, all the things you have the best intentions to do and then it all goes to pot at the last minute…!!

Encourage Independence 
Your child is taking one of their first steps alone when they start school, even if they’ve been to nursery it’s still quite a big change. They will be going from around a 1:8 adult:children ratio to a class with anything from 20-30 children.
The more independent they are, the less daunting it’s likely to be. Things such as using the toilet alone, getting dressed and changed, putting shoes and coats on, cutting their food up etc. Whilst they are not compulsory they are recommended for your child’s benefit.

Talk about feelings and emotions
If you’re not sure what that feeling is or don’t know that it’s normal it can be quite scary! So things like feeling excited and happy are fairly easy to navigate and understand whereas nerves and anxiousness are often brushed off or dismissed. It’s still important to acknowledge these feelings and what they mean, the reasons behind them and how to help ease them.

 

Starting School; Dear Teacher

Dear Teacher,

This is our first time at school. I say our because it’s my milestone too.
I have spent the past 4 years trying to teach all the right things to that baby that I grew inside of me.
I don’t know if I’ve done it ‘right’, I don’t know if they know ‘enough’ and most of all I’m scared. What if I’ve not done it ‘right’ or taught them ‘enough’? What if they need me when I’m not there? What if they’re scared or don’t make any friends? What if they struggle or don’t settle in?

I know them. They’re my child. I know them inside out- they don’t even have to tell me what they’re thinking because I just know.
But I wont be there to know, at school. You will. Will you know? Will you have time to know? With all the other children?

What if they don’t eat their dinner and they’re hungry? What if they fall and cut their knee? Who will comfort them?

I’m excited for this next big step- this huge milestone that is about to re-shape our lives with a routine we’re not quite used to BUT I’m not sure I’m ready. I’m not sure I’m ready to hand over to someone else just yet.
I look at my not so little one and at the mixture of excitement and uncertainty on their face. The determination that they are indeed grown up now.

I don’t want them to be grown up.

Will other parents cry at the first drop off or is it just me that feels like this? Is everyone else ready to let go?
Have I bought the right uniform- have I bought enough? Have I labelled it ‘right’?
Will you shout?

The uniform try on was brutal- how can you feel pure pride but heart break at the same time?

When I’m at work, how will I organise all these holidays? When I’m off what will I do with my time? Will I miss them? What if we’re late? Will they miss me?
It always seems so far away, starting school. Then bam it’s here and I’m not quite sure I’m ready.

You do this every year, but this is our first time. Please don’t think I’m overbearing or ‘one of them mums’. Maybe I am ‘one of them mums’ but I don’t mean to be a nuisance- It’s just because I care.

I grew them… I’ve always been the one to wipe their tears, hold their hand, hug them tight. This is the next big milestone- the first step in letting go.
Will they tug on your leg like they do mine? Will they slip their little hand in yours like they do mine? Will they come to you for reassurance like they do me?

I’ve done my best- I hope it’s enough. I hope they behave and remember their manners. I hope they try hard and are kind to their peers.

I know you know what you’re doing… but I don’t.
Please look after them for me…

First Time School Mum.

schooley

 

A small gesture

Sometimes all it takes is a small gesture to make someone smile.

I gave out my first ‘catch me card’ today- my secret project I’ve been working on since last year.

We went to a cafe for lunch, and for once I wasn’t on my own with the girls. BUT as my mum is recovering from an op, trying to manage my feral children and a trike was still abit of a challenge.
I’d got Bunny the runaway on my hip whilst waiting to ask a staff member if they had a highchair when another Mum just went and got me one and helped me set it up at the table.
Simple right? Such a small gesture that made a massive impact.
A friendly face- someone that totally had my back without even knowing me. I could of bloody kissed her!!

And that is when Parenthood is totally f’in amazing. It binds us all together and when we work as a team we can uplift each other, make each other smile (even on dark days) and rock the shit out of being parents.
So Mum from the cafe, you were a total ledge today and you well and truly deserved that catch me card- Thank you!

Sometimes all it takes is a small gesture to uplift a fellow parent and remind them that we’re all in this together and that they’re not alone… you don’t always know when someone’s having a bad day… Catch them before they fall!

Bunny

Dear First Time Mummy to be

Dear First time Mummy to be,

You think you’re ready for your new arrival. You just want it to be ‘time’.
The truth is you can never be ‘ready’. You can never fully prepare yourself for what is parenthood.
I’m not trying to scare you, I’m trying to stop you from setting yourself up to fail- from blaming yourself when things don’t go ‘to plan’.
With babies there are no plan- they just simply do whatever THEY want.
And yours won’t be any different…!

But that doesn’t mean you haven’t got this. It doesn’t mean you won’t be a good parent.
It probably does mean you won’t have a clue what you’re doing OR if you’re doing it right BUT none of us do!!
6 years in I’m still winging this whole parenting gig 💪🏼

You’re baby might not actually sleep- 9 months in … 12 months in… 18 months in your baby still might not of gotten the sleeping through memo.
Everyone will ask you “are they sleeping through yet?” And you’ll want to shake them (the people not your baby) or stick your middle finger right in their face.
Some days you will feel like you want to kill everyone and you want answers as to why your baby won’t sleep but no-one can answer it. People make suggestions and you try EVERYTHING and they STILL don’t sleep and you think you’re going to die from sleep deprivation.

Your baby might sleep, then as you’re thinking how cushty this is, boom they decide to not. And you will wonder how you are ever going to get through this.
But surprisingly you do. You always get through. You might have days where you look like shit, where you want to run away, where you wonder what the f you’ve done BUT YOU DO GET THROUGH IT. You might be broken for weeks at a time, months. But you will always get through.

Babies don’t follow the plan.

You’ll get judged on your parenting decisions and you’ll need to rant and cry and feel like you’re a shit parent.
Trust your instinct and remember you are the parent, you are not shit and you MUST do what’s best for you and baby.
What works for one baby doesn’t always work for another so when it comes to advice, get lots of different opinions, find out what works for you and adapt it to fit if you need to.
People have this thing where they think if you ask for advice, YOU HAVE to take theirs. You don’t.
Be confident in your choices, know you’re doing your best and let any Judgement wash over you… ain’t none of us Mama’s got time for that 💪🏼

You’ll have days where your baby won’t settle and you don’t know what to do and you want to cry with them because it’s scary. Those are the days that there’s never anyone around to help. But always know there will be a million other mums out there feeling exactly the same too. And it is scary. Baby will pick up on your feeling so try and relax and take it one hour at a time!

You’ll have days where baby only wants you and you feel drained, and you need space and all you want is 10 minutes peace.
But then you’ll also have days where you leave your baby for that well needed ‘me’ time and you just want to run back to them and pick them up and cuddle them and never be parted from them ever again.

Some days or even weeks you will become a recluse because it’s just to hard to leave the house. Just as you think you’re winning, baby will be sick down your shoulder (muslin cloths are a necessity) or have a poo explosion and it’s back to square one. Plans will be made and cancelled and made and cancelled again and some friends will understand and some won’t. You will make new friends and they will become your back up and you will wonder what you ever did without them.

In the first few weeks people will descend on you and their only concern will be THEM meeting baby. It will slowly fizzle out and when YOU need people they’ll be doing their own thing.
This isn’t about anyone else, it’s about the parents and baby. Be firm with people and don’t stress yourself out trying to please others. It’s not their journey.

It will possibly be the toughest time you and your other half have been through, navigating a maze of feelings for each other and learning new roles. They won’t know what to say or do and you’ll be too tired or frustrated to tell them. Hormones will be all over the shop and you won’t have a clue how you really feel. You’ll argue, you’ll shout and some days you’ll hate each other. But hopefully your love for each other and baby will see you through and 12 months in, it will start to even out.
Try and make time for each other- even if it’s 5 minutes for a cuddle, remember that you’re a team and that communication is the key.

Dear First Time Mummy to be,
Parenting is a crazy assed journey that won’t ever be what you expect it to be and it will never go to plan.
Enjoy the good days and ride out the shit days, ask for help when you need it and speak out about your ‘mum feels’.
Trust your instincts and know who’s got your back.

It may be a crazy assed journey full of ups and downs but I can promise you it will be one that
YOU WILL NEVER REGRET.

ftm

How to survive the 6 week Summer hols

Parenting…

It’s tough, it’s exhausting but it’s absolutely the best thing ever without a doubt.
So as many of us start the 6 week summer holidays today we’re still feeling quite positive, blissfully planning activities to take on with our offspring.
Many of us will know however, that this blissful, positive feeling will diminish over the course of each day and we will turn to despair.
We will call in back up of whichever form.

So how do we survive the 6 weeks Summer hols? 

  • Make a Plan. A POA. 
    Whether it’s by choosing one simple ‘activity’ to do per day or one place out to go each week, make a plan of things to help prevent everyone from getting bored and stressful situations occurring.
    This also helps to break the time up and help you feel like you have accomplished something each day/week.
  • Factor in your routine and use it in your plan.
    So, for example, for us Bunny sleeps of an afternoon. I can use this hour or 2 to do something with the Wildcat that we wouldn’t be able to do whilst she was up. Even if it’s just quality time colouring a picture together or baking some biscuits. I can then plan an activity that they can both do in a morning.
  • Recognise the signs.
    If your child is starting to get whingy, niggly or act up/misbehave there might be a reason why; Hunger, tiredness (we all let them have later nights in school holidays don’t we!) or one of the main ones- Boredom.
    Try and recognise these signs and nip them in the bud before they result in an explosion of some sort- from your child or you!!
    TOP TIP: For boredom have some quick fix activities pinned up on your kitchen notice board! 
  • Take each day one day at a time! 
    Don’t let a bad morning ruin your day or a bad day ruin your week! Just take each day one step at a time and remember it’s going to be hard for the kids as well as you- it’s a massive change to their routine too.
    You will need your witts about you to keep everything running smoothly. 
  • Have Fun! 
    This is a perfect opportunity for you and your kids to spend some quality time together- a welcome break from structured learning and a chance for their brains to chill the F out.
    Make things fun- a really great suggestion on our live feed (see below) was to turn mealtimes in to a café or restaurant. So simple, no prep beforehand needed and the kids love it- mine usually look at me to start with like I’m barmy but straight away get involved and play along.
  • Meet up with friends.
    They are your back up. Get your adult convo fix, even when it’s interrupted repeatedly, and just see another human, adult face! Hopefully they’ll also have kids so they can all play nicely together and give you a better chance to chat.
  • Get Outside.
    This is a brilliant one for helping with stressful situations and proves a brilliant distraction from boredom or tiredness.
    Get out in the fresh air and whether its a trip to the nearest park, a run round in the garden or a walk with a scavenger hunt it really doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to have a plan to get outside, it could be 15 minutes before teatime to blow the cobwebs away.
    TOP TIP: Keep a pile of scavenger hunts somewhere easy to grab on your way out of the door or on your phone to use whilst you’re out and about! 
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff!
    Stuff like a tidy house and cleaning is probably mostly going to go by the board. Same as high tempers and impatience are going to be a common occurrence.
    Try not to let the ‘little things’ get to you.
    TOP TIP: Use our Facebook group ‘The Stress Dump’ to offload any stress before it gets too much! https://www.facebook.com/groups/608948225969813/
  • Use Pinterest for quick fix activity ideas! 
    Pinterest, if you haven’t used it already, is a fantastic resource and a minefield of so many different activities. If you’re getting stuck for ideas have a search around on there and create a ‘board’ so finding an activity is simple!
  • Music. 
    Put some music on and have a dance around together. Instant mood booster and lots of fun.
    TOP TIP: Bend and Stretch with the Sticky Kids is an excellent cd full of activity songs and rhymes. http://www.stickykidscatalogue.co.uk/bend&stretch.html
  • Try something new.
    Whether it’s a trip to a new play park or visiting somewhere you haven’t been before, trying something fun is great for instilling some excitement and fun into your kid’s 6 week hols.
  • Take extra time out for you.
    Even if it’s just an extra 10 minutes to sip from your gin filled hip flask (only joking…) make sure your take a little extra time for you. The summer holidays can be very full on and if you don’t look after yourself, you wont be at the top of your game to look after the kids!

So that’s it, my survival strategy for the Summer.
All that’s left for me to say is… GOOD LUCK! I’ll see you on the other side…!


Keep a look out for TNPPC very own Summer bucket list 

FACEBOOK LIVE FEED: HOW TO SURVIVE THE 6 WEEKS HOLS