Getting out and seeing other mums is such an important part of the first year as a parent.
Meeting other people that are going through the same difficulties and look just as worn down as you makes the tough times easier to bear. You can share a laugh about it, it lightens the load. When you’re in the grips of sleep deprivation (more on why this sucks so much here) it can be easy to get trapped in a negative spiral. Alone with your thoughts you can agonise over why everything is so hard and lose perspective.
Having a mummy pal group means you can share a little cry, bitch about the situation and make a joke. It also gets you out of the house. As much as I didn’t want to leave the house some days with Bubba One in the first year, I always felt really glad when I did. I kept that in mind whenever I thought I didn’t fancy going out and never regretted grabbing some fresh air.
I was lucky to have a ready-made bunch of mum mates who had children at roughly the same time as me.
However I also ventured out to meet other mums at various baby groups with Bubba One and then toddler groups with both kids in tow. So no one can accuse me of not giving them a chance. And after two years of giving several groups a go I’ve decided they’re not for me.
My main reason is I find most groups are attended by friends who are meeting up. They’re not necessarily there for a chat with strangers, they just want to catch up with their pals. So when I did make an effort to chat to people I just felt like I was intruding on their get-together. No one was ever rude, in fact they were friendly. It just all felt a bit forced to me.
I remember at one group I attended not one person spoke to me and I felt really quite uncomfortable. I didn’t feel able to strike up a conversation with anyone there so I left early and didn’t go back. There was one weekly group that I enjoyed with Bubba One but it was organised activities with a group leader so my focus was always on what my baby was doing. I had the odd chat with other mums but made no real lasting friendships.
Another group I attended was like Peppa Pig meets Barney the dinosaur on acid. The leader must have been exhausted by the end. There were puppets and sensory balls flying everywhere, a different sing-along starting every minute and sign language accompanied every bit. I can be a clown to get laughs out of my children but this was just too much for me.
The final straw was after Bubba Two was born and I tried a couple of groups with both kids. I realised I was going because I felt it was expected of me. Like I had to do it for myself and the children. Now I’ve sworn off the groups I’m still getting out and meeting up with other mums most days of the week at the park, soft play or each other’s homes.
I know some people attend baby groups and find them an absolute lifeline. I think this is great, particularly if you’ve only just moved to an area and know no one at all. This must be so isolating when you have a new baby.
I’m not ruling out going to baby and toddler groups in future. Rather, I won’t go out of a sense of duty that tells me I have to go to tick a parenting box.
What do you think of baby and toddler groups? Have you ever attended them or did you not bother? Did they help you meet new people? Did you make lasting friendships? I would love to hear if I’m alone on this one!