by Aimee Foster of Mum Amie
Having a baby changes your life in countless different ways. When I had my daughter almost five years ago, I was wholly unprepared for the raft of life changes I was about to experience. One of the changes that I had not expected was the change to my friendships.
The first of my friends to have a baby, I suddenly had lots of free time during the days. But my friends were all at work. And come the evening when they were available, I was shattered. Plus it became evident that my new baby conversations were at best confusing for my friends and at worst mind numbingly boring.
The first few months of my daughter’s life were incredibly lonely for me, mainly because I spent most of my time alone with her. I was craving some good conversation. It became clear to me that I needed to find some mum friends with similar schedules to me– for friendship, advice, support and fun.
At Mum Amie, we recently conducted a survey about Mum friendships and the results confirmed my own experiences – 66% of those surveyed had at times found motherhood to be a lonely experience. While 82% thought it was important to have mum friends, 44% said that they did not find it easy to actually meet other mums. We created Mum Amie to help mums connect with each other easily, because I know how important those resulting friendships are.
Almost five years on from the birth of my first child, I now have a wonderful network of mum friends. But it didn’t happen overnight. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
- Just Do It!You have to get out there and meet people, they won’t come to you. I know how much of an ordeal it is to leave the house with a new baby and believe me I spent many a day stuck inside because I couldn’t be bothered to get dressed, get the baby dressed and get together all of the baby paraphernalia I needed whilst making sure I timed the outing around her feeds. BUT, if you don’t leave your house that often you will find it incredibly difficult to make new friends (you can meet friends online but you will have to go out and meet them face-to-face eventually).
- Find Places To GoLocal parenting websites have wonderful resources detailing places you can go with your kids. Toddler groups, bumps and babies groups, children’s centres and libraries are all places frequented by mothers (and some fathers) who are looking to make new friends. We found that 78% of mums are always looking to meet other mums when they are out and about – so you’re in good company. You could also join a class such as baby music or baby massage. If you work full time, there normally groups on Saturday mornings run by other full time working mums plus plenty of weekend activities available for children. Visit Whats On4LittleOnes and Netmums for a comprehensive list of classes and things to do in your area.
- Once You’ve Found Somewhere With New Mums – Start the Conversation!I would describe myself as quite shy when surrounded by new people and it took me a while to realise that if I wanted to make new friends, I would need to speak up! Baby groups, toddler groups and classes can be daunting when you’re new to them, especially if it seems like everyone already knows each other.
Be smiley, say ‘hi’ to people and start up a conversation by saying something complimentary about their child e.g. ‘Wow I love your daughter’s shoes’. Once you break the ice by talking about little Olivia’s shoes you can move on to more interesting stuff!
Another thing to bear in mind is that if you go to a baby or toddler group and don’t find the other mums to be friendly; don’t give up on that particular group. If you go a second time, there will probably be different people there who you might strike up conversation with. And once you’ve been four or five times, you’re a regular and you can help other new people to integrate.
- Once You’ve Started A Conversation – Close the Deal!So you’ve been chatting away for a while. Make sure you don’t just walk away without following up (if you want to of course). Exchange phone numbers or arrange to meet next week at the same group or somewhere else.
- Go OnlineOnly 18% of mums we surveyed had made friends online but this is actually where I had most success. I posted a notice on a local parenting website and had many replies. Of the twenty or so people I met, four are now lifelong friends (two of them were bridesmaids at my wedding).
Whenever, I met a new mum from the internet we always joked about how similar the experience was to online dating (and so the idea for Mum Amie was born). I did have to meet quite a lot of people to find the mums that are now my close friends but it was more than worth it.
Meeting mums online is great, but it can be quite hit and miss. I met a lot of people that were nice but that I just didn’t gel with. Mum Amie can help you here as we match your profiles with the profiles of other mums based on what is important to you.
Whether you are a single mum looking to meet other single mums or you have a child with a disability and you are looking to meet other mums of children with a disability, we can help! So you have more chance of meeting a mum with similar interests and circumstances to you from the word go. And the best bit is, it’s totally free.
Throughout your quest to make new mum friends, keep in mind that it can take time. You won’t develop a network of mums straight away. But finding other women to share the experience of motherhood with is crucial for your wellbeing, so keep at it and you will get there eventually!
Aimee Foster is co-founder and co-director of Mum Amie and mum to 4 year old Susie and 4 week old Freddy.