Isolation and motherhood can go hand in hand, especially if you’re a new mum whose friends are predominantly childless, or a mum who’s moved town, or like me, moved country. Staying at home with a baby is tough. It can be very lonely and the days can seem extremely monotonous. They don’t have to be though, and getting out of the house to meet people and make friends doesn’t have to cost much either.
Realistically, friendship doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to get to know someone and build a friendship. However taking those first steps is easy, and let’s be honest. Sometimes an adult conversation is enough. Meeting someone else in the same situation as you makes a world of difference. And as every child is different, even mum’s with friends already are often happy to reach out to others, share advice and become friends.
Remember, you already have a link with that stranger, you are both parents to a similar aged child. You will always have something to talk about, even if you have nothing else in common. That is unlikely however, as you’ve obviously chosen to do the same activity, so you must have similar interests! Here’s 5 cheap and easy ways to make new mum friends.
Libraries offer many services, including books, dvd rental, Internet, printing and scanning. But did you know many also offer free baby and toddler groups? These are often based around easy things to do, such as singing groups like baby bounce and rhyme (don’t worry, you don’t have to sing much or be any good). Some offer occasional bring your baby movie events, or even a craft session or story telling. Head to your local library and ask what groups and activities they host.
Most groups have time afterwards where you can chat to other parents. You don’t need to worry about being late, crying, tantrums, nappy explosions or anything else either. They’ve all been there before.
Look online or ask your local health visitor/plunket nurse about local playgroups. These are great for toddlers and pre schoolers as they get to interact with other kids, run around, and play with different toys. You can relax knowing the other mum’s all keep an eye out which is great if you have 2 or more children. Most provide at least a drink for you too, if not a snack for you and the kids. They usually are run by volunteers and ask for a small contribution to cover costs, which is probably no more than a coffee at your favourite cafe.
I never knew the extend of baby groups available until I had children. A quick google search will bring up plenty of ideas. The most common ones are things like swimming and music groups. Pretty much every pool will have baby swimming lessons, so they’re easy to find. Music groups are often held at churches (but don’t worry, you don’t have to go to church to go to the group). Baby signing, baby massage and baby yoga are gaining in popularity. Choose whatever appeals to you. You will usually have to sign up for a course but you might find that some that do taster sessions.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers might prefer some different activities, but there will be plenty of sports groups, crafts groups, music lessons, and more for you to choose from. Look online, ask your health visitor, and check out local community pages on social media.
Mum Fitness Groups
Some celebrities seem to manage the impossible and lose all their pregnancy weight in a ridiculously short time. For most of however, it can take much longer to lose that weight. I’ve still got plenty and my youngest is 8 months old now! While you shouldn’t let a post pregnancy wobbly tummy bother you, mum fitness groups are a great way of meeting new mums and banding together to lose the weight (or commiserating with coffee and cake if it fails). It’s not always about losing weight though, it can be hard to stay active and feel fit with a newborn (I’m thinking lots of sitting down and endless breastfeeding here).
Check out your local gyms for mum only classes, especially ones that encourage you to bring your baby along (either in a carrier or pushchair). If an exercise class is too much then look at your local park. Many have baby wearing groups so you can meet up, go for a stroll, and maybe a coffee afterwards. Personally I love baby wearing, but if it’s not for you find ones that are pushchair friendly too.
Council Run Activities
Local councils often organise local free or cheap kids activities, especially in school holidays when playgroups no longer run. Locally to me the, community hubs and malls have regularly been hosting events during the summer holidays. Follow them on social media to see what they’re organising I also love Facebook events to see what’s around locally!
As they are often one off activities you are less likely to meet friends here, but they are great for getting out of the house, entertaining your kids, and finding adult conversation. Alternatively go with some mums you’ve just met to keep building that friendship. Don’t forget to stop off for a coffee while you’re out!
Playgrounds, Parks and Indoor Soft Play
Never underestimate your local park. Once you are confident about putting your baby in a swing (for me this was around 6 months, when they were sitting up well by themselves) A quick stop at the park is great. Firstly, it’s a new activity for your baby (and a chance for you to be a big kid again), but you never know who you might meet. I’ve had some lovely chats with other mum’s while at the park, especially when we’ve both had children on the swings at the same time. Why not invite them to go on the seesaw with you and your kids (my mum and I loved doing this when Archie was a baby). Ask for help taking it in turns going down the slide with your child. If you meet regularly it could be the start of a great friendship. Best of all it’s completely free!
As my boys get older I’ve found new ways of making friends. We’ve always loved the park and I can’t wait to take the boys for swimming lessons. Library groups when Archie was a baby were great, but now he’s older he wants to explore more, so playgroups and music groups are just thing. Of course, Tristan is possibly a bit young for them, but he loves watching the older children play, and will be running around with them soon enough! I can relax when I’m there, knowing Archie is safe even if I can’t see him, (like when Tristan needs feeding) and that someone will pick him up and help if he falls over. It’s a friendly place to be, and definitely helps with settling in to a new life, both that of motherhood and as an expat. Before you know the playdates will be rolling in, weather it’s at your house, at a friends, or at a local family friendly place to visit, such as a local family friendly beach, museum, park or soft play.
How many of these have you tried? What would you add?