I’m not sure if it’s the same for everybody, but when I found out I was pregnant I had a lot of expectations and scenarios playing in my head which I thought would happen. I imagined being inundated with people wanting to spend time with me and the baby, I imagined going for coffees with groups of “yummy mummy’s” and our wee ones and I imagined weekly play-dates.
Honestly? It hasn’t quite worked out as I expected.
Starting from announcing my pregnancy, it almost felt like my friends dropped like flies. I stopped getting invited out to places, people stopped coming round and I started to feel so lonely. I ended up with SPD so was pretty trapped in the house and isolated.
In reality, it’s nobodies fault. People don’t want to feel like they’re imposing and as life moves on, people tend to drift apart.
For the first few months of Eleanors life I was too scared to really mix with other mums and tended to avoid playgroups as when I had tried, everybody seemed to know each other and I felt like a complete outsider. I was determined to make friends, but needed to do it on my terms.
Last year I started a crafts club within the church I now attend and I met a lovely lady named Paula who has fast become a great friend of mine. I had wanted to set up my own baby group as a way to get Eleanor to mix with other kids whilst doing something I love (music, dancing and crafts) and when I spoke to Paula she was also wanting to set up a similar group and so we put our heads together and Wriggle & Rhyme was born. We’ve been going for a few months now and seem to be going from strength to strength. I think my favourite part of it is helping people who are first timers feel comfortable enough to join in with our conversation and build friendships. This is one way I’ve found friends, but there are many other ways you can find new friends too, such as –
- Join an online group. I was added into the “Mama Mates” group and honestly haven’t looked back. These women have become my village and I know I can always get help. I started somebody just reading posts but soon became engaging online and adding people. I then answered a post asking for volunteers and found myself invited to different events. When I put myself out there and actually accepted an invite, I found myself connecting with a wonderful, down to earth bunch of women whom I never thought I would of met. Our friendships then grew from me actually putting myself out there and suggesting meet ups and since then there’s been parties, ice cream dates, hang outs and just companionship. I know that at any moment I can pop into my group chat and one of my pals will be there to help me and that’s such an amazing thing.
- Try a new hobby. I’ve made friends from going to Aqua Zumba/swimming and after a while of seeing the same faces we have just naturally started chatting. I’m also starting a new adults crafts club to bring people together.
- Host/go to a playdate. I’ve hosted a playdate where I invited people I’ve met on parenting groups to my home and we’ve had a great time despite never meeting before. I just looked to invite children of a similar age to my little girl and Eleanor has always had a great time.
- Don’t be afraid to say hi. You never know where a simple hello will take you.
- Let your children make the introductions. If your children are playing together, try to strike up a conversation. I find it easy to ask about their child or to introduce my child to theirs.
- Put yourself out there. I know it’s scary, I know it’s nerve racking but you don’t know where a simple hello will lead! A silly comment such as “I fancy a dinner” might lead to arranging a meet up and if you’re as lucky as me, you could end up finding a great group of friends from it.
Making friends is hard. There’s no real “etiquette” and as a whole, us British are painfully awkward. However if this is how you feel, then you’re probably not the only one who feels like this! I always make a real effort with new people who come to my groups to help them feel comfortable and a lot of them say “I don’t go to many groups because I’m scared and I feel like my child misses out” so generally, most people are just as scared as you are. Sit next to a stranger, have a tea together and see where the conversation takes you.
My last year has been enhanced by the wonderful women I’ve met both as friends and through my baby group who have grown to also be good friends. I bit the bullet and put myself out there despite being terrified and for me it has payed off massively.
I’m always looking for more friends so if you’re in the Teesside area and want to come to our events – get in touch!