The importance of friendship for mums and finding your tribe ….
Motherhood can be a lonely, overwhelming place to be until you find your tribe. The friends that you can turn to for advice, reassurance, a laugh or just a hug.
As a mum, it’s hard making new friends and making the time to see friends and no more so than when you have a new baby. It’s so much harder getting out of the house plus there is the whole meeting new mums pressure which is pretty daunting too! It’s just another thing to add to the list of things to do when you have a baby and worry about.
It also doesn’t help that your friendships change when you have children and friends that you might have been close with before are around less and you can feel very lonely and isolated. Then slowly and surely you discover people that have lived around the corner from you for the last four years but the only reason you have met is because your baby was born in the same month as theirs and you find yourself in the same postnatal group!
It can get harder getting out if you have another child – suddenly coordinating various nap times and routines for two is a struggle. Then suddenly you find yourself back at work and the lovely hazy days of coffee mornings and buggy walks fade into the background as you juggle work and family commitments.
So why is it so important to have a community and be connected?
Mums really need a support network, those first few weeks when you can’t see through the fog of sleepless nights, nappy changes and feeding routines can test the best of us and if you can’t get out then seeing and speaking to people online becomes essential. To be able to talk about your feelings with people that understand is essential.
It’s estimated that 1 in 10 new mums develop a mental illness in the first year so having friendships that provide us with a support network is vital for mental health.
Support is probably the most important thing that friendships bring, being able to talk about your feelings with a non-judgmental friend or group of friends. Being able to tell people how you feel is sometimes just enough and if it’s not you’ll find advice and other mums opening up too about their feelings. It’s an amazing feeling when you realise it’s not just you that feels this way. You know the saying “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
When you can’t get out of the house it’s essential to be able to meet and chat with friends online which is why Kensington Mums was set up! Initially as a network of friends in 2011 (in case you missed it we just celebrated our 7th birthday in November!) A place for new mums to share knowledge and experiences. We now have XX followers on Instagram a weekly newsletter with XX subscribers!
You can be honest with friends about how you feel. Something that might be awful to you, when you regale it and chat through with friends it can take on a different meaning, and you’ll see a funny side that maybe you won’t have seen before. Friends help you take yourself less seriously and laughing, sharing and communicating all boost our mental health. If you can share and talk about your experiences with mums that are going through the same thing then it can make being a mum much easier. It’s great to know if someone is going through the same as you and you can learn from the experience of others.
Here are our Ten Top Tips for finding your Tribe.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to find that perfect group of Mum friends straight away; it takes time and it’s just another thing for a new mum to do! But it does get easier once you find mums to talk to about that strange coloured poo and the fact you haven’t managed to shower for 3 days!
- It can be much easier if you are shy or find it hard making friends, to initially chat online. It’s much easier meeting people in real life once you have already ‘met’. So, have a look on social media for some new mum or baby groups in your area and dip into the conversation. Check out our app!
- Remember what people put online isn’t always a reflection of their lives! It might be the best hour they have had all week! No one else sees the frantic paddling underwater. They might look like they are acing motherhood from the fabulous yummy organic meals they produce but is their child actually eating them..?
- Join some classes and groups and look for likeminded friends and try and go regularly. It can seem really daunting to say hello a bit like asking someone out on a first date! But you’ll find that the mum next to you will be so relieved you did and will have been having exactly the same conversation in her mind.
- Use your children as a conversation starter. It’s the really big thing you have in common!
- Give the gift of words – they cost nothing. When a fellow mum tells you, she loves your dress/handbag/hair it can make you feel a million dollars especially when she’s thinking the worst!
- Don’t expect that just because you are thrown together in a baby group you’ll immediately find likeminded friends, you may have to try a few activities or different groups.
- Join a local buggy fitness which is two great wins – getting out and getting fit which does wonders for clearing the mind!
- Set up a regular day that you meet for coffee in real life, it’s as much about you having a routine for seeing friends as it is for your child.
- Use technology to your advantage! How else can you find out if anyone else is awake when your child wont sleep…! Why else would you have a WhatsApp group…!
Being connected is crucial for your mental health especially for mums. If you can’t get out to see people in real life then you can at least meet and chat with friends online and start friendships online that make it much easier to turn into real-life friendships. Even though we are massively connected online never underestimate the value of a hug in real life too!
What’s the strangest place you have met a new mum friend? What are your top tips for keeping in touch with friends? Let us know!