During those first weeks or months of being a new mum there will be many things to keep you occupied: from gazing into your baby’s eyes, giggling with her to having numerous visitors wanting meet your new bundle of joy. However, many new mums find that the following weeks become very isolating, difficult, lonely and possibly even boring with the same routine every day. There is no need to feel guilty or worried if this happens to you as it is completely normal and most mums feel this way at some point.
It is sometimes difficult for a new mum to think about how to socialise and meet other mums in similar situations as there are days when it is hard or nearly impossible to leave the house at a certain time. If you were used to having an active social life before having a baby it may be a bit of a shock to the system, especially if you see friends continuing as if life is normal when you feel yours has been turned upside down. However, almost all new mums feel like this at some point and you will be pleased if you make the effort.
There are many ways of meeting other mums including:
- The internet
- Antenatal or postnatal classes
- Children’s centres
- Classes and groups
- Baby and toddler groups
- Out and about
If you find yourself stuck indoors with a sleeping or ill baby then you may find that the internet is a good way of making friends. You must always remember to keep personal details such as where you live private until you know that you can trust those online. Unfortunately some people who are online are not honest and are not always what they seem, however most mums on forums are genuine and very nice.
There are many forums and websites online where you can meet other mums.
Some forums may be organised with birth clubs so that you can talk to mums all around the country who have a baby the same age as yours. This can be useful as you can ask for specific advice and find people with the same problems and questions as you. However, although it is possible, it is unlikely that you live near to these other mums which means that although you will have a good network of friends who can support you, you will not have friends that you can meet up with and chat with while your children play.
Some forums are organised in area. For example Essex Mums is designed especially for parents who live in Essex. The advantage of this type of forum is that once you get to know the people online, you can begin to attend coffee mornings, lunches out and play dates at each other’s houses.
It is important to remember that while online friends can be very nice, comforting and special, if they remain as only online friends, you still need to find mums who you can interact with in person.
Antenatal or Postnatal classes
During your pregnancy you may have attended antenatal classes. Sometimes during an antenatal class you are encouraged to exchange contact details or a meeting is arranged for after the birth of all the babies. You should make use of the friends that you made on your antenatal class and you should attend the post-birth gathering if possible as this is an excellent way of meeting local mums who feel the same way as you do.
If you did not attend antenatal classes, you should ask your Health Visitor if there are any post-natal groups or classes that you can attend. Your Health Visitor may advise that you visit your local children’s centre.
If you are fortunate enough to live near to a children’s centre you should try and make use of the facilities that it offers. Each centre has different activities, classes, groups and sessions although they are all very helpful and friendly. You should visit your local centre and see what it has to offer, or look online for listings. Children’s centres are very good places to meet other mums and to gain advice and help. Sessions and classes are very reasonably priced and you should find that some are free. Activities at a children’s centre may include:
- Weigh Clinic
- Advice clinic from a Health Visitor
- Breastfeeding support groups
- Baby-led weaning classes
- Purees and first tastes sessions
- Music time sessions
- Baby sensory
- Baby yoga classes
- Baby massage programmes
- Stay and play sessions
- Messy craft sessions
- Keep fit sessions for mum and baby
- Back to work advice
- Dad’s clubs
- Speech development sessions
- Holiday activities
- Classes and Groups
There are many classes and groups available to mums and babies. You could try searching online, asking your health visitor or children’s centre for advice, or just post in the forum on this site to get some ideas. Some groups such as swimming, music, gymnastics based groups, sport based groups may need paying for in advance and work out quite costly. However, many mums attend groups like these and they are a good way of meeting new people and teaching you and your baby new skills.
A few popular groups and classes available include:
- Tumble Tots
- Jo Jingles
- Tatty Bumpkin yoga
- Caterpillar Music
- Sing and Sign Groups
- Baby Sensory
- Baby ballet
- Talking Tots
- Teeny Tunes
- Buggy walk groups
- Tiny Talk
However, this is just a handful of groups and there are many more localised groups in your area as well. You could try searching online or asking locally, if you are interested in fitness groups such as swimming, gymnastics and football, you could call your local sports centre or dance centre for ballet or dance lessons.
Local libraries often run regular groups including story based sessions and sometimes song and music type sessions too. Visit your local library to see if they run anything or can point you in the right direction.
Some cinemas also hold special parent and baby showings of films which can also be fun to try with your child and you may get to meet other parents too.
You can also visit your local children’s centre for information about local groups.
Baby and Toddler Groups
Baby and toddler groups are run all around the country and most are based in church or community halls. Groups like this are usually very reasonably priced and are often for babies and children up to school age. Although they often meet in church halls, most groups welcome people from all types of community or religion; it is best to visit and ask if you want to ensure that the group is non-religious.
Most groups will have a baby area with soft mats and age appropriate toys with chairs around and then a bigger play area for toddlers and young children to play with all kinds of toys including cars, bricks, books, imaginative toys and some may even have a ride-on toy section. Most have tea and coffee available to the parents and juice and biscuits or a snack available for the children.
Some baby and toddler groups can be very popular and may have a waiting list although you will need to visit or contact them to find out.
It can be quite overwhelming when you first visit a baby and toddler group and it may seem that everyone already knows each other and you can feel a little bit like an outsider. However, it is vital that you give the group a chance, make eye contact and smile at other parents and make conversations regarding the children such as, ‘how old is your little one?’ It is also important that you try and attend more than one session as this can also help you to fit in.
The best way to find out about baby and toddler groups is to walk around your local area past community or church halls and read their signs. You can also ask your health visitor for suggestions or try searching online: Essex Mums has many toddler groups listed by area and day in the Things to Do section. You might also like to ask for suggestions on the forum.
Out and about
If you do not want to attend a formal group to try and meet new mums then you could try just meeting people while out with your baby. You could take your baby swimming, to an indoor play area, the library or a local park and smile and start a conversation with another parent when you are there.
This may seem very daunting but all parents like to receive a compliment about their child and so a simple ‘your daughter looks gorgeous in that outfit!’ or ‘aww, your baby looks so peaceful’ or ‘wow, your toddler is very able!’ is usually enough to start a conversation. If you get on well with someone that you meet, do not be afraid to exchange phone numbers or to suggest meeting up again next week or somewhere else.
by Jenny, mum to William and James