Mum friends. We need these people – but wow, it’s HARD. And I mean, trying to find the time to shower with a newborn hard.
Think about it, friends are something that we’ve acquired through various social opportunities from very early on: our caretakers took us along to socialise with other children from an early age, then we’ve had schooling, sporting clubs or any other extracurricular activities we’ve participated in and of course there’s our work lives. In all these situations we are placed alongside others for a big chunk of our time, day in and day out, and of course naturally, friendships evolve.
But becoming a mum, well, that’s a whole other story. Not only does it shift your life in ways you never knew possible, it puts you in a situation you most likely haven’t been faced with: and that is making a new friend outside of institutions of schooling or work etc.
And in case you didn’t know this, but having friends when you’re a mum is SO important. For our mental state as well as our emotional wellbeing. Author and acclaimed child expert, Maggie Dent, regularly addresses how much women need friends in all stages of their lives. We operate differently to that of our male counterparts: we need interactions, connections, closeness and to feel a part of something. Men on the other hand don’t crave this the way we do.
When we have a child, our previous life slowly disappears. Sure, we like to think things won’t change but ultimately they do whether this is big or small changes. I mean, when you have a new human to look after, things change.
And with that can come something you don’t expect: loneliness. If your friends don’t have children then it becomes hard to talk about the new things going on in your life (like the contents of your baby’s nappy, because who knew how much focus we’d put on how many times another little person has a bowel movement pre-baby days, right?); and if your friends do have children but they aren’t the same age then that’s also difficult because you have to fit around each other’s schedules. And children’s schedules become this whole other beast you knew nothing about pre-baby days! Not to mention the mums who have moved away from family and friends and have limited support around.
So what do we do? Well, we get out of our comfort zone and put ourselves out there: we do things like ask that nice mum you met at the park for her number or we join a playgroup. I know when you have a baby the mere thought of even making yourself looks ‘presentable’ feels overwhelming, but trust me, it is worth it.
“HONESTLY, PLAYGROUP KEPT ME GOING IN TIMES I WAS STRUGGLING WITH PARENTING.
ESPECIALLY WHEN I HAD A TODDLER AND A NEW BORN.
I KNEW IF I TURNED UP SOMEONE WOULD OFFER TO HOLD MY BABY AND MY TODDLER WOULD HAPPILY PLAY WITH THE OTHER KIDS.”
Besides all the benefits of playgroup, it is also a place for us all to have the opportunity to leave the house, be able to have a coffee and be an adult for a few hours – I know for me, that is enough motivation!
Finding new mum friends is pretty much like dating; we are not always going to click instantly with the first mum we meet so be patient and know that this is something that grows over time. And having someone else who is also going through what you’re going through (hello sleep deprivation and dealing with a teething bubs!!) somehow makes it a tiny bit easier to deal with. I know for me it certainly did.
Remember, playgroups come in all shapes and sizes. So if you need to, try a few to find the one that suits your style and your kid, it’s such a personal experience. You don’t want to feel stressed about meeting new people, on the contrary, you want to feel supported and welcomed and in many instances, make friends for life!
We’d love to hear about any positive experiences you had at your local playgroup!
Lisa is a mum to two spirited young boys who encourage her to beat the record of how many times someone can say “please don’t climb that” in one day. She loves getting together with friends, converses mainly in TV and movie quotes and feels she will never have achieved it all until every single sock in her house is paired.