It’s tough being a mum isn’t it? It’s one emotion after another all thrown in with a cocktail of sleepless nights, endless colds and constant worry. I don’t think it’s much easier for the dad’s either to be fair. Let’s face it, entering the world of parenthood is a whole new ball game; new players, new places, new rules. I know from my own experience that there are just a handful of things that have gotten me through some of the most trying times; chocolate, caffeine, my family and, most importantly at times, my mum friends. I wanted to share with you my experiences of mum friends with a little help from some of my blogging mum friends along the way.
“It’s so important to have a support group when you’re a parent, I’m definitely thankful for mine.”
Nicki, Play and Learn Everyday
Prior to having children, I had a fairly small number of friends. I was never part of a large group and over the years, those friendship circles had gotten increasingly smaller. We were always busy at work, spent our weekends racing around renovating our home, seeing family, taking trips that over time, both me and my husband found we were reliant on just a couple of friends each. It was only when I went off on maternity leave that I realised quite how isolated my life was about to become. Gone was the day to day interaction with my colleagues; the dare-I-say-it ‘banter’ of a male-dominated office and in its place was an empty house, daytime TV and the dog.
“It can feel like a lonely existence being a parent but there are so many of us out there going through the same emotions so I think it vitally important to reach out whether that’s on social media, parent groups or making small talk with another parent at the park. We’re all in this together.”
Claire, The Happy Weaner
We didn’t have NCT classes near us, our antenatal group had consisted of three short sessions a couple of weeks before our baby was born. They were functional rather than friendly. They weren’t the BFF breeding ground I’d been led to believe they’d be. I’d heard so many things about the life-long friendships that were formed at antenatal classes. How we’d be sitting around pub tables for years to come; firstly with buggies, then corralling a herd of toddlers, pre-schoolers, pre-teens and then teens. Children who would grow up to be as close as we’d be, friendships formed over breathing techniques and labour stories. Instead, we got a ten minute talk on breastfeeding before ‘expressing’ a knitted boob one at a time in a circle. I felt cheated.
“My greatest parenting regret is that I didn’t do NCT classes. All the other new Mums seemed to have this ready made group of Mum friends they’d met there. It wasn’t until I started attending, and eventually running, a toddler group (ironically, an NCT one) that I really made my Mum friends.”
Josie, Business For Mums
After we had our little boy, that isolation got worse even though I didn’t realise it at the time. My husband took his paternity leave and the day before he was due to return, my son was admitted into hospital for a week. After leaving hospital for the second time, life started to return to normal. The flurry of visitors we’d had in the first fortnight had long gone. My husband returned to work. Life, for everyone else, had moved on leaving me in a new place, alone.
“I found it incredibly lonely, as I was the first one of my friends to have children. I think I’ve got to an age/point where I’m quite happy with that now so it doesn’t make me feel the way it did a few years ago.”
Rachel, Coffee, Cake, Kids
That’s not to say I didn’t have friends. I had non-parent friends; people who meant well but failed to understand why I was terrified to have brunch with a small baby in tow. I had friends who were on their first baby too but weren’t physically close to us. I had friends who were on their second child; a similar but different prospect. The truth was I needed mum friends. New mums. First timers like me. I just had no idea where to find them. I hated the idea of baby groups, sitting with a roomful of people that I’d never met, talking about our babies. I’m not confident at meeting new people and the thought of putting my postpartum, delicate self out there was terrifying. What if they hated me? What if they judged me? What if they just plain ignored me?
“I didn’t get any parent friends until Luca started school really. Found it too competitive and too many judgey mums at baby groups. So I didn’t make any there and I was fine with that, never saw myself as a mum with lots of other mum friends anyway. But now I have some I couldn’t live without them. They are my lifesavers and keep my sanity in tact.”
Franki, Wonderful Chaos
I forced myself out of the house to a baby group I’d heard a lot about. It took everything I had to leave the house that morning. It took even more to make it through the door. I stood in the entrance way, looking down at my son in the baby carrier and gave him a pep talk on being brave. I didn’t need one, obviously, it was his nerves that were holding us back. Not mine. I spent six terrifying weeks going, each time making a little more conversation until, after the last class, we agreed to go for lunch. Suddenly things became easier. We exchanged numbers, started chatting and comparing parenting notes, wins and fails at all hours of the day. Finally, it felt a little bit more like we were making progress.
“I wish I had gone to antenatal classes and made friends in the early days. I started baby classes at 6 months and the girls I have made friends are amazing and I don’t know what I would do without them! I just wish I had met them earlier!”
Louise, Mummy Miller
I found myself nervous of seeing our non-parent friends and yet I needn’t have been. Over New Year we took a trip away with a group of close friends. The only ones with a baby in tow, I was terrified about the whole experience. I found it hard to relate to people whose lives were so different to mine now, I was nervous that they wouldn’t accept the limitations that came with having a baby; the need for nap times, the need for space, the need for baby friendly food. Yet I shouldn’t have been. Every one of our friends embraced our child, playing with him for hours at a time. Yes, there are still times when they don’t understand but they’re trying to. One day, their lives will change like ours have and, like us, they’ll realise.
“I don’t have any parenting friends outside of blogging friends, really. I got pregnant at 19, in the middle of uni, so all my friends are my age, have no intention of having babies any time soon and, as great as they are, I can’t vent to them about parenting things.”
Maddy, The Speed Bump
I also threw myself into the world of social media. I needed to learn more about it for my job and, to someone who’s alone and up at all hours of the night, Twitter is a lifeline. Any hour of the day, there were people there. Women who, like me, were going through the exact same things. I could sit propped up in the bed at 3am, nursing my son for the fourth time that evening, the whole world asleep and yet… I wasn’t alone. As the days, weeks and months passed I became closer to some of those ladies, women who shared my ideas and humour, women who were struggling with the same things. They became, and still are, some of my closest mum friends even though we’d never met. With that comes it’s own benefits and drawbacks. They’re there for me but they’re not physically there.
“I joined a couple of baby groups when Bear was younger but I always felt really awkward and not part of the “cliques”. I started talking to some amazing ladies online through blogging/twitter etc and have even met up with them a couple a few times! It can still be pretty lonely in the “offline” world though.”
Claire, Dear Mummy Bear
Sometimes you just physically need someone. You need to have a face to face chat. You need someone to hold your hand, make you a cup of tea, take the baby. Sometimes you need to see a friendly face. Over the past ten months, I’ve realised just how important it is to have that mix. Those friends that I made pre baby, the ones from our baby group, the ones online – a network of supportive, funny, strong, caring women that help me to get through the day. It’s easy to forget, when you have that network, how isolating life without it can be. It’s easy to take it for granted when you’re not alone. They say that raising a child takes a village and part of our role, as villagers and as mums, is to support one another, however best we can.
“I’ve made new mama friends both offline and online and realised support and encouragement on this amazing journey that is motherhood doesn’t always come from where you expect it to!”
Sophia, Tattooed Tea Lady
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