Let me just start by saying I’m not a fan of the word “tribe”. It’s a bit like “journey” for me, and yes I am guilty of using that word too. But seriously, when you become a mum, finding a tribe that is the right fit for you is super duper important.
This month is all about creating memories and cherishing moments. We truly believe that the early years with your children are the ones where you need the most support – and it’s the years that it can be the hardest to find. BUT it is the people that surround you and your little ones that help create the most beautiful memories.
I’m not blessed with millions of friends. I personally have like five really good friends, but they are my tribe and I value them all very much. I only wish we had more time to see each other.
I have days where I feel isolated and alone. I also have times when I feel that no one understands what I am going through.
I think we all have these days. It’s normal to feel like that and it’s ok to feel like that. What makes these days easier is if you have someone you can call or text, or you know you’re going to catch up with someone later in the day or week. Or even better, you can contact someone for an impromptu get together.
But where do you find these like-minded, people? People who have the same parenting ideals as you and same moral fibre. How do you find your tribe? Robyna and I have put our heads together and between us we’ve come up with the following ways to meet other mums*.
Now for the tough love, at the end of the day, no one is going to hold your hand and do it for you. If you want to make some new friends you’re going to have to put yourself out there.
Antenatal classes – did you connect with someone in your antenatal class? Pull out the email list that was (hopefully!) circulated at your class or just get on Facebook and stalk them. Send them a message and see if they want to catch up for coffee before the small people arrive or get together to meet each others progeny.
Online pregnancy group – Groups like Essential Baby have ‘due date groups’ and sometimes if you connect with the mums on line, it might mean that you will connect in the real world as well.
Local Child Health Centre – Although child health centres no longer organise ‘mother’s groups’, they do host a series of weekly workshops on things such as settling, feeding, etc. The idea is that you meet mums at your series of workshops and then it is up to you as a group to keep in contact.
Australia Breastfeeding Association – This is another great place for support on two level. 1) with breastfeeding if that is the path you are going down, 2) they also organise get togethers and I dare say it would be highly likely that you might meet a like minded mumma at one of these.
Playgroups – These are such a great way to get out of the house, especially when your kids are into toddlerhood and kindy age. There is usually painting or music, and most of them run on gold coin donations.
Mums & Bubs classes – Think yoga and pilates. If you love these activities, chances are you’ll meet other mums who also like these activities. Get chatting!
Local council activities – Most councils will have a library program for bubs and toddlers. And good councils will also run free activities in parks, such as the Brisbane City Council’s Active Parks program which has heaps of mums & bubs/kids exercise programs.
Invest in what you have – Invest in the friendships you have. Odds are that one of your friends who also has small people would have been in your shoes before, no matter what it is that you are going through. Be brave, speak up and catch up.
Put yourself out there – If you’re doing something and want some company, let people know. Tell them where you’ll be and at what time and just leave it open for them to join you. It doesn’t have to be formal and structured. We often assume that everyone is off having a much better time than us (thanks social media!) but they too could be bumming around at home with their baby thinking, “everyone is having so much more fun than me.”
Do what is easiest! – If your toddler doens’t sit still, it’s probably not best to agree to a lunch date in a nice, quiet cafe. Maybe a homemade sandwich in the park that’s fenced is a MUCH better idea. And if you have people visit you at home, don’t feel everything has to be perfect! If you come to my place there will be stuff on the kitchen bench, toys on the floor and please don’t look in the pantry for too long…
Let go – Don’t hold onto friends who make you feel like crap. If you feel like you are being constantly (and harshly) judged for your parenting choices, you aren’t a good fit. Let go.
Friends should make you feel better – not worse.
Make an effort to keep your non-parent friends – You will no doubt drift, but as you emerge from the haze, you will appreciate time with people who won’t talk about poo and will drag you on a girls’ night out.
People come in and out of our lives. Friendships are dynamic relationships and at times we are closer to some than others. And that’s ok. So mumma, it’s time to get out there and don’t be scared to strike up a conversation with the mum who reminds you of yourself. She might be the next member of your tribe.
Do you have a tribe? How did you go about meeting those special people?
*We are based in Brisbane so this advice is based on our experience here. We hope that where ever you are, that there are the same or similar opportunities to help you find your people.