Making new mum friends is like collecting lego. Does this one fit? How can I find that…
Like many I waved the white flag on fun and decamped from London (or A.N.other city) to the ‘burbs when I was 6 months pregnant. We were lucky enough to rent next door to a super friendly couple whose 1st baby was due within 5 days of ours. But in those early days of pre-baby mat leave, you need more than just one very smiley face. 1 week post baby, you need friendly, semi-familiar faces who are going through the same thing at the same time.
NCT is a god send. A group of women who live a buggy push away that are happy to talk about sleepless nights, remedies for ouchy bits, nursery room temperatures, cracked nips, brand of nappies, shape of bottle teat etc. In fact they will happily spend an hour packing their nappy bag (and re-packing) to come round to yours to listen to you talk about your concerns about bubs’ shade of poo. Or to trade colic remedies. You may become close enough to some that you’ll lob out your boob “do you think that looks dodgy? Is the red patch shaped like a pizza slice?”
Those 4-6 women are one heck of a safety-net for your sanity and you’ll go through a lot of your firsts with them: first feed out, first melt-down in a café (you), first poonami (baby). But as you become more mobile, usually around 2-3 months you will probably venture into the jungle of baby classes: Jumping Jacks, Baby Sensory, Monkey Music, Rhyme Time. These and the park/playground are your next chance to make new mummy friends. It can take a while and a little bit of confidence to ‘make the 1st move’. But if you get chatting and have enough in common, you may agree to meet in the park or go for coffee and then boom, you’ve got one more mum friend to call on.
The next big steps tend to be nursery/playgroup/child-minder/nanny. Depending on whether you walk or drive, work or stay home, you slowly start to become familiar with those on the same day and routine as you. It pays to proactively mum-flirt and woo your targets here. These can be the mums or dads who can get you out of jam (they pick up your child if your train is running late) or have your little one while you go for an ‘awkward’ doctor’s appointment. You need to work at these relationships and reciprocate. Try to be proactive and in credit not debit on the favour-o-meter.
The big one. All other encounters have simply been the warm up act, prepping you for your big release into the dating pit of … The School Gates. It’s a nervy, jostling, fun, daunting and ultimately hugely rewarding friendship-finding mission. My main piece of advice: throw yourself in and go to everything in the first term, if you can. Coffee morning’s, parent social’s in the pub, volunteer on a stand at the school fair and initiate playdates. Even if being a social butterfly is not your bag, your efforts will benefit both you and your tiny child in giant school clothes. You are both starting school; they for the first time and you are going back. But this time, you will be more open-minded, courageous and selfless. It’s a balancing act – finding a fam where you like the parent and your kid tolerates their kid. Your ventures into the land of playdates may be fraught with awkwardness and social niceties http://www.gumdropsandthebear.com/2016/01/24/play-date-etiquette/ but in the words of Billy Joel, when you find the one who loves you ‘just the way you are’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJWM5FmZyqU it’s like slipping into your comfiest pair of slippers and eating Nutella out of the jar. Ah acceptance and friendship, who needs a husband when you find ‘the one’. The one who is ok if your child spills OJ on their rug, the one who lends your princess new princess pants when she poo’s in hers, the one who gives you a hug/glass of wine when you inappropriately over-share or re-live your birth story over a fish-finger lunch. Now that is the ultimate. When you have found one or two of these you can officially retire. Unless you have another child…then you have to start all over!
<Small but vital addendum: to back you up in all of these stages, there is the wonderful www.meetothermums.com and no, I’m not being nudged to say that!>