Mothers' groups - yay or nay?

As a new mum, making friends can be loathsome or a lifeline, says Kerri Sackville

Practical Parenting / July 18 2018

I've been friends with the women in my mother's group for around 20 years. Six of us began meeting once a week when our first babies were just a couple of months old. We bonded during the vomitous baby months, remained together during the tantrummy toddler years, and now, with our clan of teenagers, we are intimate friends still.

We all got along from the very beginning, and were deeply supportive and understanding of each other. We shared our challenges and worries, our disappointments and fears – our kids’ behavioural issues and struggles at school, our own miscarriages and difficult births, relationship problems and financial strain. And so when things went well, we wholeheartedly shared in each other’s triumphs, because we truly knew what it took to get there.

A gaggle of mums

But let’s face it, I got lucky with my mother’s group. I know plenty of women who hated their mothers’ groups, and who dropped out after a few meetings. Either they had nothing in common with the other women (for example, a 42-year-old with a bunch of 20-somethings), had very different styles of parenting (routine versus attachment), or – worst of all – landed in a group of Competitive Mums.

You know the type – women whose babies bear the title of Best Sleeper, or Easiest to Feed, or Most Advanced. “Theodore took two steps today!” they will say of their four-month-old, or “The nurse says we really will need to consider a selective school”, when the toddler can barely drink from a cup. I run screaming from women like these, and I don’t blame anyone else for doing the same.

And then, aside from the difficulty of finding a group of like-minded women, some women simply aren’t ‘group’ types. My mother’s group originally had seven members and one dropped out; we never found out why, but I suspect groups just weren’t her thing. And that is fine.

Moral support

Not everyone needs to join a mother’s group. It is, however, quite desperately important to find support in those early months with a new baby. Having a newborn can be a terribly isolating experience, particularly if you are taking time off work. It is worth giving your local mother’s group a go, even if just to see if you can find one or two women with whom to have the occasional coffee. If that fails, consider joining a baby class – say music, or Gymbaroo – to meet other mums with kids the same age. Ask friends and family for the names of other new parents, or join baby forums and seek out local members.

Making new friends is hard, and it can be even harder when you don’t have the time to get dressed in the morning, let alone shower and do your hair. But if you find the right women, they will understand your struggles. And you can remain unwashed and clad in tracksuit pants together, while your gorgeous babies vomit on your shoulders and poo out the backs of their nappies.

That is how lifelong friends are made.

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