Guest blog by Tilly Lander Williams
When you land on planet parenting, a lot changes: from your body shape to your basic sleep and eating patterns; to your friendships. Being the first of my friends to have a baby and not only that, to be producing the first baby on my side of the family for about 20 years, I was one of the most clueless to all of this. Yes, I was naive – despite absorbing every daily dose from BabyCentre and turning the pages of My Pregnancy Week by Week every evening; surprise, surprise, there were some things the apps and books didn’t tell me! One thing that surprised me was the change in my friendship circle, which lost it’s shape completely: disappearing into thin air and resurfacing over the next few months into various dots representing my new team of random mum-mates.
With the exception of ‘meet-the-baby visitors’ and that presenter on Homes Under the Hammer, most people I interacted with in the long days between 0 & 3 months were completely new in my life. The first person was someone I’d only met twice in my NCT class. She literally turned up on my door one day, with a feeding pillow. We sat together on my sofa breastfeeding our tiny aliens, propped up by about 10,000 cushions (including the pillows off my bed), wondering how the heck we would ever feed in a cafe, like those cool-mums-with-slings do. We didn’t have much in common, apart from the fact that our boobs were very sore, our births were traumatic and we had no idea what to do with a baby despite shelling out £150 on NCT. Turns out that’s quite a lot to go on. That friend is now one of my closest confidants – I am forever grateful to her for that first visit.
Mum friends are important.
They can get you through a sleep deprived day with a newborn, a rainy week with a toddler or a month of post-natal depression.
The nights out you have with mum-friends will be some of the best nights ever! You are all in the same boat, experiencing that same exciting taste of rare freedom; you have SO much to talk about, you almost need to make it two nights; and the laughter will last all week long, like when you remember something funny on the school run. Mum friends lift you: they help you be a better you, a better mum and partner. But where to find them and how to spot them – now that can be tricky.
This post is totally inspired and written for Mummy Social, a fabulous website connecting mothers in all areas of the UK and combating parental loneliness. If you haven’t got any friends, don’t be embarrassed and don’t be lonely – join Mummy Social. Every mum on there has joined for the same reasons. They need a friend. Here are 8 types of mum friends you need in your life:
1. The One Who Brings Out the Best in You
Location: A walk and/or lunch in a child-friendly cafe.
This is my bestie. The mum who will always help you see things in the most rational way, who will listen and empathise with you to the extent that you feel like any problem or worry has already been halved. This one doesn’t care about trying to be perfect mum; so whilst you are with her, neither do you. You always feel grounded after spending time with this mummy, more confident and less alone. You spend a lot of time saying “I know, me too!” and “yep, i know exactly what you mean!” Your playdate will usually be a walk or lunch in a kid friendly cafe. It’s good to get out, to walk and talk…
2. The One Who Brings Out the Worst in You
Location: A pub/bar/nightclub
On a night out, the presence of this mum will have you ordering shots at the bar voluntarily, bringing out that wild side you thought disappeared 15 years ago in the Student Union. Fear not, that wild side is still there inside you mummy, and like an animal released from captivity she wants to P.A.R.T.Y.!!!! With this mum, you are likely to be dancing on the tables, letting off steam about certain people and making a slight tit of yourself but, the next day when your toddler is roaring like a dinosaur whilst wearing your eyebrow kit all over their face and licking dried baked beans off the walls, you will think back to your night out: laugh at how ludicrous you were; and have understanding for your actual wild child. You’ve still got it mama…
3. The Chilled Out Mum
Location: The park/beach
I love a day with chilled out mama. Her laid back nature always rubs off on me. With this mum you’ll laugh at your kids a lot more than usual, as you see the funny side to them having a paddy about putting their shoes on or eating mouthfuls of sand on the beach. We’re in no rush, they’re not in danger, we’ve got time to laugh. You’ll enjoy her presence and your kids so much, you’ll end up staying the whole day instead of just the morning -possibly the evening too. Chilled out mum is chilled out because she knows she has a huge bottle of gin in the cupboard for bedtime.
4. The Mum You Don’t Really Know
Location: A baby/toddler group
Your kids are the same age and you started the group at the same time. There was a slight wobbly moment early on in the relationship (when their child took a yellow felt tip that your child was using), but after that things have gone swimmingly and you make a beeline for each other regularly (especially during the part of the group where everyone has to sing the song about Peter Rabbit because you both still don’t know the actions). If it’s a swimming group, you both stand next to each other waiting to dunk you unsuspecting child under water for a photoshoot and sympathise with each other when your child is sporting a bogey during their dive / refuses to go underwater altogether. You share baby powder in the changing rooms and secretly both can’t wait for the course to be over so you can meet up without being cold and covered in chlorine. The tip here: remember to swap phone numbers: awkward, but essential.
5. The Playdate Mummy
Location: Your house or theirs
Playdate mummy is often very organised: the date will have been arranged a couple of weeks in advance. If she comes to you, she brings something, usually pudding or good biscuits. She will leave exactly before nap time so that her little one can sleep in the car. The best dates with playdate mummy are of course the ones at her house: she’ll serve you all a plate of triangle sandwiches, with red pepper & carrot sticks, mini cheddars and a petit filous of your choice. Then when your child and hers have emptied every toy box in the house, you’ll make a weak offer to tidy up which will be declined and you can go back to your nice tidy house, with your child sleeping in the car.
6. The Blogging Mummy
I have found the recent eruption of honest parenting blogs so helpful in the last couple of years, so much so that I have a) been inspired to join them and b) really connected with the mums that write them. I can hardly write a friends list without including them too. Blogging mummy writes the things you feel but can’t put into words; or don’t dare to. They are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram 24/7, plugging those moments between playdates, work and sleep. They make you laugh and cry with them and remind you that it’s not just you…
7. The Kindness of Strangers Mummy
Location: In a public place, when disaster strikes
My first kindness of stranger mummy found me crying in the middle of the road one day because my 2 year old was having a meltdown – which had involved her breaking free from me and bolting in front of a car. Luckily I had saved her but was so shaken that when she carried on the tantrum, I couldn’t hold back my emotions anymore. I had a 2 month old baby in the pram. This mummy appeared from nowhere, took the pram and pushed my baby back to my car so I could carry my rabid child. I followed in her angelic shadow, both my daughter and I sobbing all the way. Once at the car I had calmed a little, but not enough to throw my arms around the bewildered woman to show how grateful I was “thank you thank you so much, I’m just having a bad day…I…we were trying to leave the park…I” the kind mummy politely moved away and just said “it’s ok. I’ve been there.”
8. The Experienced Elder Mummy:
Location: In your neighbourhood
Could be your own mum, an aunty, godmother, grandma, family friend or neighbour. Now I’m not talking about the “oh no, we didn’t do that in my day” or the “are you sure you should be doing that?” kind. I’m talking about the mum who, when you turn up on their doorstep in tears will run you a bath; bring you a sandwich to eat in the bath and make you take a nap whilst they feed your baby. No questions asked, no judgements. They say things like how difficult it is for mums now: “with all this advice going around”; and that you should always follow your instinct (“it’s your baby, not anyone else’s”) and that you are doing SO WELL. They might just pop round to your house and make you both coffee, hold your baby and listen. Or do the washing up. Or cook you a meal. Or leave you their leftovers on your doorstep with a note saying ‘pop across the road if you need anything’. These women are the highest Queens of mum-kind. I aspire to be them one day…
To find some like-minded mummies in your area sign up to Mummy Social. It’s free!