How to make mum friends
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How to make mum friends

Becoming a mum brings so many positive life changes. But if your friends are not at the same stage in life as you are, you may crave the opportunity to make new mum friends, simply to have other parents to talk to about your experiences. Here’s our tip on how to make mum friends.

Parent and toddler groups are a lifeline for parents and provide a great opportunity to mingle with other like-minded mums with children of a similar age to your own. Aside from the social benefits, they also offer a change of scenery for your child, providing ample opportunities for preschool learning, to play with new toys, enjoy new sounds and make new friends. This can be a great help in building a child’s confidence.

Make the first move

It is important to get yourself out there, you should make it a priority to get out with your baby or young child. There are plenty of mums who are looking for companionship, so don’t be afraid to approach them and make the first move.

  • Visiting classes or getting involved in groups and social activities are a great way to meet new mums like you.

Find out about breastfeeding groups or toddler groups in your area or join a mum and baby yoga class or exercise group. If you don’t like a class initially, make sure you at least give it a good try. Maybe make an agreement with yourself to attend each class at least four times before making the decision to leave.

  • Many parenting websites with local forums are helpful too. Through these, you can connect with mums in your area who have children at the same stage as yours.
  • As your baby gets older, story times in the library can be a great place to make friends for both you and your child.
  • When you think you have made a connection with any of the mums you meet or if you think your child is getting along well with theirs, don’t leave without making plans to see them another time. Why not exchange numbers so you can schedule to meet up at the same time and place the following week or maybe you might like to try a new group together?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their plans and what they are up to during the week, this might give you some idea of other places you can meet new mums and it will help make it easier for you to settle into your new routine.

Remember chatting to new people is all good practice for making friends and will help boost your confidence.

  • For those who work full-time, getting out with your child can seem a much harder task. Feeling involved in your community with other mums can feel slightly more difficult to do and quite often it can lead you to feeling excluded but don’t panic! Saturday morning activity groups are available and would be ideal for you, it would be a good idea to find out if there are any running in your local area. These groups have been set up especially for you lovely working mums which means you don’t miss out on meeting other mums or catching up with mums that you have already made friends with.

Remember you are not alone, there are many mums out there who struggle getting back into the swing of things. Being organised, planning days out and getting connected will help you on your way to making new friends with other mums. Get yourself involved and most of all have fun – good luck!

“When I was pregnant with my first child, I was clueless about mother and baby groups or breastfeeding groups in my area. I had a few friends who were pregnant at the same time as I was or who had young children, but we didn’t all live close enough to meet regularly, so I didn’t really have a ‘mum-friends’ network so to speak.

By the time my second child had arrived, we had moved house and although it felt like I was starting from scratch with my research, I now lived close to my sisters, one of whom had two small children at the time.

My sister had done plenty of research on baby yoga classes and mother and toddler groups in our area, which of course made life easier for me.  Soon afterwards my other sister had her first child and so by the time my last baby came along, we had a collective up to date database of all things baby related in our locale.”

  • Anne Reid

“I think I would have gone crazy if it wasn’t for the social support offered by my local mother and baby groups. I knew no one because I was new to the area, and my baby was proving to be quite a highneeds challenge. It was in the Cuidiú coffee mornings where I found my village. The once a week meetings soon became an anchor in my week, helping me to make new friends, learn more about raising babies and socialise both me and my baby. I’ve had two more babies since and they’ve all made friends at Coffee Morning (as we call it). I liked it so much that I started volunteering to help on the committee of the Cork branch of Cuidiú, and I’ve even embarked on one of their national training courses to be an antenatal teacher.”

  • Amy Vickers

Where can I find a local group?

You can get information about local parent-toddler groups by asking your GP or district nurse or by checking with your local health centre.

You could also try Cuidiu and the IPPA-The Early Childhood Organisation  for information on parent-toddler groups.

Look out in local shops for notices or simply ask other mums you meet while out and about.

More like this:

3 food rules for new mums
Me-time (with baby)
4 lessons from a new mum

 

Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

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Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.