Motherhood is not easy. It involves constant learning and change as we daily experience so many challenges and emotions. One of the best things we can do is to make sure that we have people we can share the experience with.
Family can be great at this time. Many mums feel a bond with their own mothers once they have had children. The shared experience brings a deeper connection and understanding.
However there is something very special that we get from being able to share with other mums. They help us by…
- Staving off loneliness
- Giving structure to a week (particularly with our first baby)
- Not feeling alone in facing motherhood
- Being able to talk to another person who actually enjoys hearing about the minutia of dealing with breast-feeding/sterilising/weaning/potty training and so on
- Hearing about their experiences
- Forming other connections and friendships
- Seeing our children form friendships with other children
- Laughing with them
- Crying with them
- Venting our frustrations to them
- Being understood by them
- Sharing time together
We are social creatures and no matter how much going it alone is valued in our society, motherhood is not meant to be done in isolation. It is meant to be done in communities. That idea of communities is dramatically changing but no matter what form your community takes, we get great benefit from that support.
Some mothers find themselves in a situation where they have easy access to other mums, whilst others have to actively seek these connections out.
Of course how we make friends is very individual and will depend on each person. The traditional way is through Mother and Baby groups but there are also Health visitor lead meetings that have a social aspect, interactive baby groups like baby yoga and now connections through social media.
It can be tough turning up alone at a new group on very little sleep particularly when friendships don’t happen instantly. However it is worth doing to help ourselves in the long run.
One point to make is that not all groups are supportive. Social interaction is important but not worth it if it is detrimental our own wellbeing. All of the women I interviewed found mum friends invaluable but some experienced groups that were either less than friendly or very competitive. They made a sharp exit and found somewhere else more accepting.
My ‘making Mum friends’ story
When I had my first son, I found myself at home with baby alone for long hours because my husband, family and friends all worked full time. For the majority of the day it was just me and my son and I became lonely pretty quickly.
I looked up local mother and baby groups only to find that they were closing for the summer holidays. In desperation I found a baby yoga class, that carried on despite the schools being out, in the next town to me. It seemed a long way to travel particularly on such a small amount of sleep and I was nervous about joining this new world of mother and baby groups. But I needn’t have worried, it was the best thing I could have done.
Once a week I got out and met up with other mums. It wasn’t an immediate success. It took time to make friends. At first I was unsure of myself as a mum in public, feeling somewhat inadequate, but through talking I realised that we were all in the same boat (with slightly varying challenges).
After that I was off. I had broken myself in to socialising with a baby and when the local groups opened I was there, a much more confident and comfortable mum.