I was inspired to write this after reading a post on fourthtrimag.com by Jennifer Riddall of themotherboardblog.com (well, a few different articles popped up in various places on the same subject really, but this is the one that stuck with me). In it she talks about a few non-creepy ways that she made mum friends, which might be helpful reading for someone who is struggling. They include dressing to impress (slogan tees and mum merch. has never been trendier!), sharing snacks (particularly kid-friendly ones), lending a hand and offering practical support to someone who is literally juggling forty-three things (i.e. hold the lift, offer a spare nappy), catching or offering rides to classes or baby groups, and making friends with someone who knows other parents in the area – they may just introduce you to your new bestie!
As someone who is naturally quite reserved, making friends doesn’t come particularly easy to me; and for those of you who aren’t familiar with my/our back story, the fact that we moved to England (where we knew no-one!) about three months before Poppy was conceived made finding or developing a supportive network pretty high on the priority list. Many people who aren’t intimately familiar with motherhood can be surprised to find out that it can actually be a really lonely and isolating experience. Outwardly it can look like it’s all coffee and playdates, but the first year is a major adjustment period and mum’s needs are, more often than not, put on the back burner. Let’s also not forget about the impact of social media and the misconceptions perpetuated by it – no one has it all together, despite what their feed looks like!
It has taken me five-plus years but I have curated a small but strong group of friendships with like-minded women. This was actually one of the most significant hurdles that I faced, to be honest; being able to step back and ask myself if I was truly interested in a relationship with someone because I found her interesting and genuinely enjoyed her company, or if we were simply hanging out because our children were of a similar age and seemed to get along (most of the time). That isn’t to say that these experiences can be omitted completely from your life, as kids get older and choose their own friends you’ll find yourself with less control. However it was something that I was (am) being mindful of during the period when my girls are young enough that it’s still, for the most part, my choice whom we spend our time with.
What I’ve noticed throughout my five years of motherhood and two (soon to be three!) babies, is that it has become much easier to make friendships as time progresses. You become less anxious about the little things – including other’s perceptions of you! – and so are much less awkward. I’ve found that when you engage with activities which you genuinely enjoy (for me it was pregnancy and then baby yoga) these friendships tend to happen naturally. It’s also really quite nice to know that everyone is in the same boat. Well, maybe not everyone. There are a few who seem to wind up with built-in mum friends, maybe they are the last to become pregnant or they have siblings in similar life stages who are nearby and emotionally close? Whatever the reason is, I’ve found that these women tend to be the aberration and the exception to the rule.
Do you have any suggestions for alternative ways that someone who is shy or struggling can meet mum friends – or advice or anecdotes about your experiences?
*Image by @beingoodcompany