(This post first appeared on www.meetothermums.com)
So think ‘Toy Story’ (the original one, which is obviously still the best); along comes Buzz, a shiny, new, exciting toy that everyone loves and wants to get to know: leaving Woody feeling out-of-place, unwanted, hurt, forgotten, alone, confused; maybe even all of the above. Personally, rightly or wrongly, I found that it’s easy as a new mummy to feel a bit, well, ’Woody’. Relationships I had with those around me had altered, even if only every so slightly, because of my Buzz – sorry baby, would had innocently come along. For me, I have my mummy mates and baby buddies to thank for helping me through my ‘Woody’ period and literally saving my sanity.
Before baby I did have friends (really I did)… old school friends, friends with children, friends with no children, work-y friends; so it never occurred to me that I would need new friends, mummy friends. After all, what’s wrong with the mates I already had? The answer is nothing. There’s nothing wrong with my pre-baby friends, I’ll set that straight first and foremost; but what I do now know, is that my mummy-mates are different. You can’t compare them to pre-baby friends, they’re not better or kinder or more fun, but they share something unique with you. They are people experiencing this amazing, tiring, confusing, emotional rollercoaster that is mummy-hood at exactly the same time as you. This creates, I believe, a solidarity, a bond – and it’s that bond that has saved my sanity.
Mummy-mates DO NOT –
wear rose-tinted glasses. These are glasses that make other people tell you that this is the easy bit (I’ve no doubt that it may well get harder, but that doesn’t make this bit easy!)
offer well-meaning (but unhelpful) advice. ‘In my day we always put baby on their fronts…’ ‘In my day we weaned baby at 6 weeks old…’ ‘When I did it…’ Stop, no thank you.
Mummy-mates DO –
Understand. It’s as simple as that.
Who else is up at 3am and ready for a WhatsApp rant? I mean, I just can’t explain to you the levels of fury that accompany the phrase, ‘Why isn’t the cleaning done? You’ve been at home all day doing nothing’.
Who else will be a shoulder to cry on (as let’s face it, tears are nothing when compared with snot, sick and s#*t that’s usually there) without judgement whenbaby’s been crying none stop all day and you don’t know why – or indeed just because you need to cry for no other reason than just because?
Who else is going to share your worries and offer support when your sure your boobs are about to explode? Or when your worried your milks drying up and baby isn’t feeding well?
Old (or pre-baby) friends are there for the glossy, nice bits -of mummy-hood, as well as those nights out that can help make you feel like the ‘old’ you; whereas your mummy mates are there for the reality of the daily grid, warts and all.
Meeting other mums, 5 top tips:
1.Attend groups antenatally – I attended ‘Bump, Birth and Beyond’ classes whilst pregnant and the ladies I met there are my saviours.
2.Get out and about with baby – there are lots of FREE playgroups, feeding support groups, sling meets, coffee mornings around; anything just go and mingle.
3.If you can afford it, pay for baby/mummy classes – Bring Baby Pilates, Baby Massage, Sensory classes, Swimming; there’s something for everyone, and you also get to learn new skills.
4.For mum friends that are just a click away, look online at http://meetothermums.com/ a great website for Mums of All ages and All stages. You can read posts written by a range of mummies and find out how to get involved with mums in your local area, across the U.K. or just chitchat online. Join the #mumtribe
5.Start your own Mummy Group!! Whether you share your group online or advertise that you’re looking for your #mumtribe, there will be so many like minded mums out there just waiting for a place to meet up, so why not be the host? You might be surprised at what you can achieve…
So, in the words of Toy Story: You got a friend in me.