We’re just gonna say it: motherhood can be bloody isolating.
Yes, you might have your parents, your partner and your friends. But they may not keep the same weird hours as you (5am is a legitimate time to get stuff done!), they may be at work while you’re not, or they simply might not get what you’re living through (yeah, that’s three-day-old vomit on your shirt, so what?!).
In part one of “A guide to friendships post-baby”, we explained that friends are essential for your mental health, especially during major life changes like, oh…having a baby. But, we also explored how maintaining your pre-baby friendships can be tricky, for a few reasons. Which is where mama friends come in – they get what you’re going through and they’re on a similar schedule to you.
However, for one reason or another, you might not have many friends that already have kids. Which is ok…because one of the coolest things about being a mum is that you’ll incidentally meet a sh*t tonne of new people, many of whom are mums themselves, and many of whom you would not have come across in your pre-baby life.
But, if you think back to the last time this was the case – at school, or university – you didn’t come out as BFFs with everyone, right? So, let’s chat about how to weed out the unicorns from the crowd.
How to find your people.
Firstly, it’s all about location:
Because you’re a clever cookie, you’ve probably guessed that if you want to make mum friends, you gotta go where other mums go. Think community organised groups, events, activities, and more. But, if you’re looking for other like-minded mums (the unicorns), you can level up by going to places or activities near you, and that you like. Here are some ideas:
- If you like a particular type of exercise, find a mum and bubs class – e.g. yoga, pilates, barre
- Your local playground or other community amenities, like the swimming pool and community centre, or local classes – e.g. baby sensory, Gymbaroo. They’re probably teeming with mums from your area.
- The Internet! In these weird #covid times, it’s ok if you don’t feel like heading outdoors. The Internet can be a glorious place, and Facebook groups, Instagram pages and apps (yes, like Mumli!) are all places you can connect with mums who are into the same things you are.
Secondly, how to kick things off:
You’ve bitten the bullet and hauled your a*s out of the house to one of the above locations (or to the couch, if you’re online!). What do you do now?
- Talk to someone
- Be your fabulous self
We can hear every introverted bone in your screaming! While we can’t tell you how to be yourself (that’s all you, mama!), we can give you some pointers on how to spark conversation:
- If you’re attending any sort of class, get there early and stay late. If the class is running, you’re unlikely to be chatting because you’ll be participating. Before and after the class are your prime times to strike up a conversation.
- If you’re at a playground or community centre, you can do two things: 1) park your pram nearby to other parents and mosey your way into conversation or 2) let your kid do the work. Wait for them to start playing with another kid, then you can find said kid’s parent and chit chat from there.
- If you’re online, on a parenting focused page or group, start by asking questions. “How’s everyone doing with the dreaded ‘S’ word (sleep)?”; “Anyone else finding this gig tough?”; “How the hell do you start solids?” are some ideas.
And because it’s probably been a minute since you’ve had to try and make friends with a complete stranger (we’re not going to talk about how long it’s been since you graduated school or uni), here are five phrases to start a conversation:
- “Your kid’s holding that ukulele like a BOSS! Have we got a future Bruce Springsteen on our hands?”
- “Man that pigeon pose was hard, hey. Don’t know about you, but my hips are f*cked after birth!”
- “So, you come here often?! Just joking…with a kid, it’s impossible not to be at the park every day. Do you have any other favourite ones in the area?”
- “Hey y’all! Anyone else’s little monster awake every 30 mins overnight? FML. Open to any tips you got mamas…”
- “Your pram is sick! What brand is it? Mine has the worst turning circle for cafes!”
Now, you’ve gone to where the mums are, and you’ve started a conversation. But, here’s the important bit: go back! Do it all again. And again, and again. You’ll start to recognise the same people. You’ll say hi again. You’ll find the ones that say hi back. And you’ll eventually say “hey, wanna grab a coffee?”.
Yes, approaching a stranger and making new friends can feel terrifying. But remember, you’ve already got one HUGE thing in common: your kids.
And go easy on yourself. You’ll find people that are open to new friendships; others that aren’t. But try. Because the reward is sweet, mama.
Tell us – have you made new friends since becoming a mum? What’s your best tip for striking up conversation?