Sometimes I wish I could walk around with this sticker on me.
Put all of my cards on the table and cut through the uncertainty to find other mamas who are also looking for friends. Why? Because…
Lack of connection is the worst. thing. ever.
Mama life can feel so scary if you feel like you’re all alone. Especially if you’re new to your area or if you live far from where you grew up. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one in the world who doesn’t have this huge network of people who live close by who are totally ready to be your cheerleader or listen to you word vomit over a cuppa.
I found this the hardest part of going back after maternity leave. I felt like my support systems were cut off cold turkey and longed for them. There weren’t any others at my job who were in the same situation as me or had recently been on maternity leave. Everyone was so busy at work on their own little metaphorical treadmill. Plus, they wanted to talk about other things other than my kid (understandable), but sometimes I needed to be able to relate and talk about him and felt like I couldn’t.
Why is this so much scarier as an adult?
We’re worried about feeling judged by others. We are programmed psychologically to seek things and situations that make us feel safe. I don’t know about you, but my anxiety can go haywire when you attempt to do anything different at times, even if you know that ultimately it’s for your own good. I’ve read that all humans psychologically are this way, but sometimes you feel like you’re the only one with this affliction!
As a society, we’re connected on social media, but in real life, where it counts, we are so physically and emotionally disconnected from one another. Most of us don’t have the close knit communities that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had eons ago.
If you’ve gone back to work, you’re busy trying to make ends meet and adjust to this new life of working and parenting as well. You are stretched so thin that having yet another thing on your plate.
Ultimately, I think that we don’t want to waste our very precious time and effort just to have someone make us feel like we’re not wanted.
Making it easier to connect
Prenatal exercise classes
This is something I didn’t do when pregnant, but I will definitely do this next time should we be lucky enough to have a next time! I considered it when I was pregnant with my son, but a friend said that our local prenatal yoga class wasn’t really much of a workout, so I didn’t even give it a try. I figured that based on what she said that it wouldn’t be worth the money. It may require funds at a time that you’re worried how you’re going to cope with paltry maternity pay, but with hindsight, I reckon it would be so worth it. You’re paying for more than just accelerated heart rate in that respect.
I knew no other pregnant women while I was pregnant, so it would have been lovely to connect with others and share our gripes. I was already doing this on my Babycentre Birth Club message boards, but there’s something unique about conversing with humans in real life!
Baby and toddler groups
I hadn’t really thought about this in the newborn haze until it was mentioned by my Health Visitor at my 3 week visit that I should start getting out more and meeting other mums. It was a massively daunting concept trying to get out of the house with a new baby, but I was so thankful that her words gave me the push to put myself out there. I met many mums in those first few weeks that I felt very connected to and instantly became a very familiar face at our local children’s centre. We also have done Moo Music and Tiny Talk (baby signing) in the past as well and have met some great mums and children through there!
Adult education classes
If your kiddo is at the age where you can get away in the evening, then take that opportunity with both hands! I have met some great people in my local adult education center’s sewing class. Many times these are run out of high schools or 6th forms that are trying to earn extra income at night. They are reasonably priced and if you can find one close to you, you’ll find lots of interesting local people. Plus, if you’re shy or have anxiety about speaking to new people, having a guaranteed set amount of weeks with the same people gives you time to gradually come out of your shell and eventually come out of your comfort zone in a very safe way.
Local Facebook groups
Facebook is a total time sink at times, but I’ve equally found it to be an excellent resource to find events that are going on locally based on your interests. Search for your local area, either your town or county and see what comes up! I’m in a local parenting group and a babywearing one (although we don’t use the carrier hardly at all anymore these days) and they’re full of fantastic women. You can also hear a lot about local free events to boot! There are some brilliant second hand baby and child gear sales that I’ve only heard about because it was on Facebook.
I heard about this at my Tiny Talk class on a flyer last year and downloaded it immediately. There didn’t used to be very many people on there, but it is definitely growing in size. It’s neat to see how many other mums out there want to connect with someone. There are lots of great features like seeing how close they are, ages of their kids, when they’re available, whether they work and if so, how often. I’ve chatted with some lovely mums on there and even connecting with one whose son is at the same nursery (and in the same room) as the munchkin!
Much as it pains me to say it, these still exist into adulthood. Personally, if I feel like a situation is too cliquey, it turns me right off and I’m unlikely to find myself in that same place again.
Even as a young girl, I despised cliques and avoid them like the plague. It’s totally not worth it and they just zap your energy if you try to fit in or impress them. Do your own thing and don’t feel like you need to integrate with people who you can’t interact with authentically.
My experience — the best way to find mama friends
Take it slow. Make one comment in a group. Send one message on Mush. Contribute one thing on Facebook. Build up your confidence so that you don’t feel the intensity of anxiousness or the scary “not good enough” feelings. Taking active steps towards integrating yourself more will build your confidence slowly over time. I know it’s easier said than done and terrifying to put yourself out there at times, but building up your own community is so worthwhile.
I’m not perfect, so I”m trying to take my own advice
This is totally something I’m working on and I’ve been striving to improve.
I was fairly good at connecting with new women while on maternity leave, but admittedly, I didn’t get vulnerable enough to take the leap and exchange contact details or invite any of these mamas out for a cuppa. So, in short, I didn’t convert any of those acquaintances into actual friendships, which has been so disheartening for me. It felt like such a wasted opportunity, but I felt like I had so much more time to do that than I actually had. I kept putting it off. Honestly? I was waiting for someone else to make the move so I didn’t have to. That didn’t work out so well for me though, so I’m essentially starting over from scratch.
How have you found meeting mom/mum/mama friends?