Inside: Practical ways to help you make new mum friends.
Being a new mum is overwhelming at the best of times. You have no idea what you are doing and life has changed beyond all recognition.
It creeps in slowly. At first, all of your old friends come round to see the baby and make a big fuss. The newborn haze that surrounds you makes you oblivious to the outside world.
But one day, you realise that your old life is moving on without you. Work colleagues aren’t interested in the fact that your baby smiled or that you had no sleep. They have their own lives going on.
It’s quite a hard pill to swallow. You’re in a whole new world and have nobody to share it with.
Sure, there will be people who get pregnant at the same time as their friends or will have siblings with their own kids living nearby that they can turn to.
But for the rest of us, it is a case of starting all over again.
As a mum of 3, I can tell you it really does get better. There really is a way to find likeminded women like you. I’ve been there and come out the other side. Is it easy? No. But it CAN be done.
Why we need mum friends
It has been estimated that 1 in 10 new mums develop a mental illness in the first year, so having friendships that provide you with a support network is vital for your mental health.
Being able to tell people how you feel is sometimes all you need but you can also ask for advice knowing you won’t be judged. Also, you choosing to open up will often mean other mums open up too and so their mental health is improved.
It’s amazing when you realise it’s not just you that feels a certain way.
Making friends with mums to be
Motherhood doesn’t start when the baby is born. It starts long before that and so having a network of women around you that can guide and support you through the longest 9 months of your life is a blessing.
With social media being ingrained in our lives, there is no better way to get connected.
Of course, there is the traditional route too. You will be offered antenatal classes from the hospital where you’ll meet other mothers at a similar stage of pregnancy to you.
You can also join private antenatal groups within your area to form bonds with other women.
How to get started
I’d definitely recommend covering all bases and taking all opportunities that come your way. Sign up to the free classes at the hospital and if you can afford to join a class like NCT then go for that too.
You never know when you might find someone you click with.
With regards to online connections, there are many different ways to find people.
How many weeks pregnant are you? Take a look in forums such as BabyCentre and seek out the due date threads relating to you. Pop in an introduction and where you come from and take it from there.
Similarly, there are always Facebook groups for mums that you can create threads to try and meet mums due at the same time as you. Just search for something like ‘Mummies over 30‘ or ‘Mums in nameoftown‘ to find different groups.
I’m shy, how can I make friends?
The great thing about social media is that you don’t have to meet in person. You can use the space to talk about how you feel and any worries you have and take advantage of the support that most definitely will be offered to you.
When I was pregnant with my middle child, I found a ‘due in December‘ group on the Babycentre site and the ladies I ‘met‘ in that group were such a support to me.
We went through the majority of our pregnancies chatting (in what later became a private Facebook group) and we were able to talk through all sorts of things.
They were just what I needed when I would have otherwise been completely alone.
I already have a baby, how do I make friends?
So perhaps you didn’t connect with anyone during your pregnancy. It is very common because so many people are working and go about their normal lives until the baby is born.
Meeting local mums
Whenever you ask anyone how to make new mum friends I can absolutely guarantee that they will suggest baby groups.
Baby groups have a bad reputation as being somewhere full of cliques and unfriendly women. And while this may be true of some groups, it isn’t true of them all.
Something to note:
While groups may seem cliquey, what I have come to realise is that they are actually full of women who cling on to the known. They aren’t ignoring you to be unfriendly, they are just using the time to stick like glue to women that they recognise.
The more you turn up, the warmer they will become towards you – a familiar face.
TOP TIP – If you have a local FB group for your town. Ask for recommendations on friendly mum & baby groups. Fellow mums will be more than happy to suggest the one they go to.
This will give you the opportunity to say “Great, thank you! My name is X and I have an 8-month-old baby etc… I’ll be the lady with curly hair looking nervous on Tuesday”.
People love to help people, so more than likely someone will say they’ll keep an eye out and take you under their wing.
I will admit, I didn’t feel comfortable at all going to baby groups. I am extremely shy and couldn’t make small talk. So, I decided to reach out to mums using the Netmums Meet A Mum service. A little like placing a classified ad in the newspaper.
You write a couple of lines telling them who you are and the age of your kids and if someone likes the sound of you they send you a message. Some of these messages resulted in actual meetups and some were nice chats that didn’t amount to much more.
Again, in these situations, the more you put yourself out there the more chance you’ll have of meeting someone you truly click with. And you know what?
Even if you don’t meet a new best friend, you’ll have reason to get out of the house and you’ll have fun trying.
Make connections online
In the absence of real-life connections, utilise the power of the online world. There are lots of apps you can try, or you can keep it casual with social media.
Are you awake in the middle of the night feeding the baby? At any given moment there will be thousands and thousands of mums doing the same. Each feeling lonely, each craving human connection.
Twitter isn’t just for political chat, it is a place to start or join in with conversations about all sorts of things.
Search #nighfeeds or #wideawakeclub and you’ll find others wide awake at the same time as you. In the early days, I made so many connections via Twitter and those meaningless chats at 3am really helped my mental health.
Hashtags are also great for searching for likeminded people on Instagram. It may not result in chats at 3am in real time but you can watch Stories, scroll your feed and find people to connect with during daytime hours.
Friendships aren’t always about meeting up in person, sometimes all you need is a listening ear and someone to nod along and say ‘yeah, me too“.
My kids are older, how do I make friends?
It is sometimes the case that you just don’t click with people when your little ones are small. Just because you have a child the same age as someone else doesn’t mean you will get on.
It is never too late though and as your child gets older, there will be new opportunities to meet people.
School. The people I am friends with now have all been made on the playground. The friendships from the early days of baby groups have drifted away – a natural result of having nothing more in common than having a baby.
Clubs. Do your kids go to ballet? Or football? Do you see the same mum every week while you wait at the side of class? Reach out – they may be in need of a friend too.
Interest groups – You are more than a mother. Remember that. Join a gym, start taking dance lessons, join a book club. Find likeminded people through your own interests.
What can I talk about?
Ok, so you’ve built up the courage to meet someone, to go along to a group or a class. But what can you chat about when the moment finally arrives?
The kids. I love talking about my kids, so if you wander up to me and start talking about how cute my kid is then I will instantly think you have great taste. Ha! Talk about how your kid loves cars too, or how you love their little girl’s dress. Doesn’t matter, just focus on their child and you’ll have an in.
Motherhood. You know what else mums like to talk about? How bloody hard this motherhood malarky is! If you see a mum sitting on her own, wander over, sit down and say something like “It’s nice to have a bit of a break while they are busy playing, isn’t it?”
She will agree, obviously and then you can take it from there.
Compliments. I mean who doesn’t like to be complimented? Ask where she got her coat from or her pram. She’ll be more than happy to receive such kind words.
Fact based Qs. Have you been coming here long? Do you live around here? Do you have any other children? Do you know any good classes in the area?
Ask advice. If you see their child is the same age as yours, ask their advice on something (even if you don’t actually need the answer). As I said, people love to help others and impart wisdom and it will get the conversation flowing.
Give it time
I know this is the last thing you might want to hear, but friendships don’t happen overnight. Even if you click with someone the very first time you talk to them, it won’t make you the best of friends.
So, be persistent, keep going to groups, keep chatting online and know that there will be someone out there who wants to be your friend.
You also have to accept that certain friendships aren’t meant to be anything more than two people who keep each other company during a season of their lives. Not all friendships have to be deep and meaningful and last forever.
I’ve had lots of different friends since becoming a mum, some that have lasted until I’ve moved to a new town, some that have lasted until my children started school and some that have grown into something beyond a mum friendship.
There is someone out there for everyone, you just have to keep putting yourself out there until something clicks.