Making friends with other mums - sometimes it can be tough but it's so worth it!

Becoming a new mum can be a lonely and isolating time if you don’t have the support of family and friends you on your doorstep. A new 'mum friend' can really help.

Making friends with other mums - sometimes it can be tough but it's so worth it!
It can take a village to raise a child (that’s an old saying) but it is true that if you don't have the support of family and friends around you then often adjusting to being a new mam can be tough.
In today’s world it’s common that many of us to live far away from our own parents and siblings and becoming a new mum can be a lonely and isolating time if you don’t have those that you love and who can support you on your doorstep.
It’s good to open to the idea of making a new circle of new 'mum-friends'. We know, we know, doing so is not always that easy. It sounds like a daunting task and you could be forgiven for expecting it to be something of a nightmare. Why? Because there's no shortage of examples or articles about why certain 'types' of mums are best avoided. Before you've even tried striking up a conversation with another mum you're likely to be prepared for the worst; expecting it to be like a bad speed dating experience only without the drinks to numb the pain.
So let’s look at why it’s sometimes not that simple to build a new support network of 'mum-friends', however what you can do to make it a little easier.
It's true that there's an inevitable awkwardness to making mum friends at first. There's bound to be, because the entire basis on which you're forming a potential friendship is the mere fact that you're both mums. That's like assuming you'll get on great with a new colleague at work simply because you're both married or you’re both women (just examples). It's absurd in theory, right?
As with any friendship, making it work is about what you put into the relationship as much as what you get from it. To make great mum friends you have to let your guard down and leave any assumptions you have at the door.
Daytime and a mum - a whole experience
Before having a baby it’s possible that you worked and/or were busy in the working day. You had a social life with friends in the evenings and or at the weekends, correct? Suddenly you’ve now been catapulted into a world of ‘daytime’. A potentially lonely daytime where your partner, your friends and even your family are at work/busy with their normal routine. Your day begins in what seems like the middle of the night with baby’s first feed. You head out into the big wide world with your baby and all of a sudden life is a little unfamiliar.
There are OAP’s off to the shops, people who work shift work fitting in trips at odd hours and, of course, loads of other parents out and about too. From what was normal before to you, this seems all a little weird and subliminal.  Where are the ‘other mums’ going? How do they all look so content and so sorted? You smile at them as you pass them in the street. You even find yourself standing or sitting close to one or two and silently trying to convey a 'please stop and smile and be my friend' vibe.
Mum and Baby Groups
After a few weeks, it’s a good idea to research where your local mum and baby group is on. Suddenly your day may have a new additional purpose. You'll have already spent a few weeks/months adjusting to being a mum. You've cracked all the baby basics (nappy changing, feeding, and leaving the house with a bag the size of a small suitcase of essentials!). It’s time to go out there and embrace the new daytime world and be part of it. Strongly consider a trip to the nearest mum and baby group and see how you like it.
It is good to get out of the house and chances are your baby will enjoy all the new experiences too. You’ll likely meet so many new people on your first visit that you won't even remember their names. You may remember them as Tom’s mam, or Emma’s mum!
It takes time…
With friends who have known you for a while you can relax and be yourself. With brand new friends whom you don't know very well yet it’s understandable if you feel a little more vulnerable. It's always hard to make new friends in any situation, whatever your age. Throw in a week of sleepless nights and it is tougher still. It's a bit like when you started at a new school or a new job. You find it hard to relax and be yourself at first. Part of you wishes you could fast forward a month to a time when you feel surer of yourself and more like you belong. Take your time. This is a marathon, not a sprint and try to enjoy meeting new people.
Exhaustion doesn’t help
Sleep deprivation can make you feel inhuman! Couple that with some post baby hormones too and it's no surprise if you don’t feel like yourself. This new friend’s lark is not easy. As mentioned above it takes time and although you’re tired you've still got to summon the energy to smile and chat to try to make new friends. All you might want to do is cuddle up and sleep. Also, spending time with new folk is tiring. It takes concentration. Trying to find conversation also takes up energy. It's hard sometimes to show your 'best side' if you're knackered and you're baby is cranky and you're feeling a bit unsure of yourself. It is also all too easy to believe that every other mum in the world is happy and perfect and sorted. But we’re going to let you in on a little secret – you are not alone!
Don’t give up too easily
Staying indoors can get you into a rut. Quickly you can find yourself going days without speaking to another adult until evening time comes. I found myself talking endlessly to the milkman when he came collect his money or the postwoman just to ensure I had an adult conversation. I blush now at some of the odd conversations.
Try to make yourself get out of the house and meet loads and loads of new mums - all potential new friends. The final stage to official friendship unfolds over a many a few get togethers. Please enjoy them! You may have to persevere and keep on going and be braver that you anticipated. It really is a little like internet dating - where you meet lots and lots of prospects but you need to be brave enough to ask for a first date. It can be scary. If you meet a mum that you like – ask her to meet for coffee at a time the suits you both- it could be the start of something wonderful.
They may save your sanity
It’s likely that the 'other mums' are feeling just as anxious and insecure as you and are doing this for the same reasons as you. Pretty soon the more you arrange to go places where you meet other mums, you will find some who you start to feel comfortable with and can start to relax with and drop your guard. So it is worth getting out there and persevering.
Keep going, keep chatting. It only takes one good mum friend to make the difference - and what a difference that can be!
Good luck and enjoy your new found friendships x

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