I remember when I was 18 and fell pregnant and my two best friends didn’t seem to hang around with me as much, it was like I was no longer a person to have fun with because I had a child. They still came around to mine a few times after I had the baby but over time we drifted apart. So when I had my second child and subsequent children I found motherhood rather lonely. I did what other mums do and go to toddler groups, try and make friends, negotiate the cliques at these specific groups and tell myself I was going for the children. Occasionally I would chat to other mums but the suggestions of doing anything together was a scary thought, I would have liked to meet up at other places but I think the fear of rejection does stop many people just asking. It is a scary thought saying ‘do you want to be friends?’ especially when you are in your 20s and 30s.
I did have a couple of meetings outside of toddlers were we went out for the day, however our kids went to different schools at 5 and then work got in the way, weekends got taken up by various different classes and you lose touch. When my son started school I made some new friends, we used to sit outside of school chatting at pick up time and they were my kid of people, we are friends on facebook and we go out probably around once a month which suits me fine now. That is about 4 people I would class as close friends, they are the people I can tell anything to and I won’t be judged, the people I can be myself with and just relax around and we could be anywhere even the dingiest of places and we will still have great fun although I don’t feel I have a best friend and the thought makes me a little sad especially when you see best friends tagging each other on facebook all the time or the best friend quizzes that do the rounds. I am glad my daughters have each other so hopefully they will have a friend for life.
There are solutions to this friendship dilemma though so don’t fear it. We have all felt the loneliness of motherhood or life at some point and the solution really is just to get yourself out there. Attend the toddler groups, speak a few words, add people on social media, find yourself some hobbies and groups that you can attend weekly whether that is an exercise group, writing group or class that have people interested in the same things as you that you can connect with and make friends that way. Another option is to network with people you work with, people you do business with at network groups if you are self employed or people who attend the same classes as your children. You can also use an app called Meet-up, they have different sections for different places in the UK and they always have events going on you can just tag along to cover a wide variety of interests so there is always something for everyone so just click interested and tag along – You never know you could meet some new friends for life and even if you don’t at least you are living life and getting out there and giving it a chance.
I asked some other mums what we could all do to combat the loneliness that being a parent brings sometimes:
Hannah says “I have made new friends through a local Facebook group for mums. I then set up a baby group to get out of the house and have made my closest friends from that. We have a WhatsApp group chat and a Facebook chat so although we might be busy and not be able to get together, when we need it there’s always somebody at the other end of the phone. This has really helped me combat the loneliness as it’s nice to feel like there’s always somebody there to talk to.”
Lyndsey says “I found going to baby classes so helpful. As a first time parent it was nice to be able to meet people in the same situation and have someone to chat about it to.”
Hannah said “When my eldest was born I met some mums through an antenatal class my midwife ran. I stayed in touch with them and we met up when we could. It was great to have someone to ask ‘is yours doing this?’ Whenever the babies did anything! When my eldest started school my youngest was a couple of months old and we were in a new area. I got involved with the PTA. It was the best thing I could have done. I met some lovely mums and we are in a small village so we can all walk to each other’s houses for wine as necessary!”
Catherine says “I’ve learnt that you have to be super brave. Step out of your comfort zone. And most likely the person you want to make friends with is desperate to make friends with you too. You have to push through the initial awkwardness.”
Raimonda suggests “Apps like Mush or Mummy Social can be really good. 2 years ago I met a lady at Mummy Social meet up, who I’m still friends with and our boys are friends too, even if both of them are quite shy! ”
Karen says “I found that there were lots of new clubs to join (baby massage etc) that meant I soon met lots of new mums, my friendship group might have changed but it was better overall as we were all in the same boat dealing with similar things so could support each other”
With thanks to the contributors below