Whether you have a newborn, toddler or a school age child, it’s never too late to make more friends!
Six things to consider when making new mum friends:
1. Look in the mirror
Massive generalisation that can sometimes be true: The first thing you might notice about other new mums is that they’re a bit, you know, how do I put this….Scatterbrain? Daggy? All over the shop?
I hate to put this to you but have you looked in the mirror lately?
One of my closest, baby-less friends gave me the following advice the day before my first new parents group:
“Keep an open mind. Now is not the time to judge. You’re not yourself at the moment Stacey. You’re tired. You’re overwhelmed. You struggle to string a sentence together. The other mums are probably exactly the same, so cut them some slack and get to know them before you judge.”
I listened to her and so should you. Give everyone a chance.
2. Say it like it is
You may absolutely love motherhood, your baby may sleep all night and you might wonder what all the hoo-ha about the challenges of motherhood is all about.
If like the rest of us this isn’t you, then say it like it is.
I remember the second session of my new parents group. My 10 week old was crying hysterically. I had no idea how to console him and felt completely embarrassed and out of my depth. I wanted to hide. The health nurse offered to take him and I willingly handed him over and off they went in to the other room. With the screaming baby and the facilitator out of the room the rest of us sat awkwardly until she returned with placid baby in tow. “So, where were we? How is everyone?”
I started sobbing: “I’m struggling. I haven’t slept in weeks…months. When he cries sometimes I don’t know how to get him to stop. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Those words were a relief and a release. Not just for me but for the others in the room.
We all opened up and told our stories and it put us in good stead moving forward. Since that moment that group knew we could turn to each other for support whether we were to become friends or not.
3. Be a bit shameless
Put yourself out there. You’re not looking for your life partner. There’s no “She’s just not that in to you” about it.
I created my own mums group.
I met a few local mums here and there, I got everyone’s email address and I wrote a group email saying “Hi, we all live locally and our babies are a similar age. Do you want to all catch up next Tuesday?” Every mum that I emailed came along.
One year later and we’re all good mates and we enjoy not only play dates but also dinners out and family barbeques.
What is the worst that can happen?
4. Just add wine
Remember? It’s easy to forget but I bet most of your best friendships have been forged and framed over a glass….or bottle…or three of wine.
One of my favourite nights of last year was a night out with my ‘mum friends.’
Up until this point our conversation always revolved around our babies.
At that point in time our babies were the centre of our Universe, so that was okay and acceptable.
But this dinner was the first time we’d met away from our little ones so it no longer felt necessary.
The turning point that took that dinner from good to great was this:
Eight women sitting around chit chatting about whether or not any of us were getting crafty for Christmas. I think I may have even started this conversation even though I’m not crafty, but because it seemed like the thing mums would talk about, right?
One mum interrupts pretty much mid sentence and pipes up with “Let’s talk about ex-boyfriends!”
From there the conversation flowed, as did the wine and we walked away from that dinner friends, not just mum-friends. Which leads me to my next point.
5. You are people
You’re not just mums. Once upon a time, not so long ago, you didn’t spend every Saturday night at home. You had a career that you spent half of your life working towards. Some Sunday mornings you would spend half the day in bed and when you finally got up you’d spend the rest of the day at brunch.
You’re a mum but you’re most likely also a wife or a partner or a friend and a daughter, maybe a sister, maybe an aunty, maybe a niece. You have an opinion on matters outside of breastfeeding and dummies. And so do all the other mums you meet.
So ask about them as a person, not just as a mum.
This is the key to making real friends and not just company for playdates.
6. Look online
When I was pregnant I stumbled across a Facebook group for mums with babies due at the same time as mine.
It took some time to warm to the group of over 100 mums, a diverse collection of women of all ages, from all over Australia. Diversity is a marvelous thing as when you overcome the fear of it you’re given the gift of a variety of opinions and perspectives.
And where else but online will you find a group of friends you can chat to online on your smart phone in the middle of the night when breastfeeding?
We’ve seen the success of online dating. Remember the early days when online dating was embarrassing and only for desperados. Now all the best couples you know met online. Times are a changing.
Meeting other parents online allows you to meet people who don’t just live close by, but likeminded people who you have things in common with.
Two years later that Facebook group holds some of my closest friends.
Those women know more about me than some of my closest ‘real life’ friends.
And it’s because of that group that I was inspired to start a parenting group online.
Have you met any great friends from mother’s groups? Share your experiences in the comments below.