Parenting

Making friends as a mum

About this time last year, it occurred to me that I was going to need to start making friends as a mum, or mum-to-be.

Making friends as a mum sounds easy in theory. Parents are everywhere. Look out of your window and you’ll see some worn-out soul carrying a microscooter, whilst a miniature human flies past them and disappears into the distance. These people often look so world-weary that I thought they’d welcome the idea of friends in their lives.

Turns out, making friends as a mum is kinda difficult. It’s a lot of energy and effort, and it takes time. The last big experience I have of making friends was university and freshers week, which was nearly 15 years ago. Fresher’s week is an environment where it’s hard not to make friends: people organise events, clubs, and societies. People often have life stage, shared experiences, and studies in common. In contrast, the only thing parents have in common is their children: you may or may not have sex at a similar time as another human being, which is not, in itself, a solid basis for friendship.

We also had our work cut out, due to the COVID-19 pandemic: things were cancelled, or very limited, and everyone was very anxious. I was vaccinated relatively late, due to being pregnant when the vaccines were rolled out to my age bracket. Where limited structured support was available, it was remote.

A year on, and I’m getting there. I have acquired a handful of mum acquaintances that I see on a semi-regular basis. We rub alongside each other, and in the fullness of time I may be lucky enough to call some them friends.

Here’s all the ways I’ve tried (and/or failed!) at making friends as a mum so far.

1. NCT Antenal classes

I’ve written before about our experience of doing NCT antenatal classes. Ours were on Zoom, due to the pandemic, which is an odd format for initial introductions. We met people during these classes but did really not make friends.

I had hoped that my NCT group might provide a local social circle, with informal cups of tea and walks with local mums.

When my group had had their babies, it became clear that there was a ‘pecking order’ of priorities for people. Baby classes and education were at the top of this pecking order, and connecting with other mums in an unstructured or informal way was the lowest rung of priority. This generally meant that any half an hour get-together needed booking at least a month in advance, and was subject to being cancelled at short notice.

Many of our NCT group peers were also different to us, and very competitive. I persevered at meeting-up with the couple of families I connected with, and still see these on semi-regular basis.

2. The Peanut App

The Peanut App is like Tinder but for parents. You download and scroll a series of profiles of parents in your area, deciding if you like the look of people, or not. Additional features include open question boards, groups and forums.

I swiped my tiny heart out, but my efforts were largely fruitless. Lots of people seem to put up a profile and then never respond to any messages or attempts at friendship.

I did eventually meet someone I connected with on the app. My husband jovially insisted I meet them publically, and check in with him throughout, in case they were a killer. She was not a killer, just another mum. I talked with her when our babies were young but eventually this petered out, due to her additional life stresses.

3. Local WhatsApp groups

I joined a number of local WhatsApp groups for mums. I got added to these groups in different ways: one by a mum who accosted me when I was out and about one day; and another by someone I met at an event I attended. People contributed to these groups to broadcast information in the style of Facebook status updates, and were not interested in connecting on any sort of real level. On one group, I was suddenly put under substantial pressure to purchase event ticket events, and so I left it.

4. Local parent walking groups

I attended a local NCT branch ‘walk and talk’ event. This was a quiet and cold affair, with five other mums and babies, and a mile and a half route that took two hours to walk. The winds whipped along the footpath and my baby cried because she was cold and bored. The other mums were all from a neighbouring town, and their conversation centred around house prices and bitching about any town they did not live in. I did not have much to say to them, and so did not go back.

The second parent walking group I attended was set up via a local council, to support parents’ mental health. I committed to attend this four weeks in a row, and met a handful of mums who were very different to me, but who turned up regularly. We’re in the process of becoming friends.

5. People I already knew having children.

So far, people who I already knew having children has been my strongest ‘stream’ for connecting with like-minded people, and people who parent in a similar way to us. I am lucky enough to have two friends I knew before having children, who have recently had babies. I see them on a semi-regular basis.


So, in summary, making friends as a mum: I’m getting there, but it’s all very much a work-in-progress.


I’d love to hear about you, in the comments or on @wholemealmum or #wholemealmum!

How did you find making friends as a mum?


wholemealmum

Mother of a baby girl, born in July 2021. Finding my way with it all. Recipes, parenting, and walking.

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