While you're pregnant
1. Join an ante-natal fitness class - These classes usually allow you to join at around the twelfth or thirteenth week of pregnancy. Aqua-natal and ante-natal yoga are great places to go and gently work out your changing body. I went to a local ante-natal yoga class that was beautifully facilitated to get support from your peers at all stages of their pregnancy as well as to gently stretch your body and prepare it for the experience of labour and birth. By sharing our experiences of pregnancy at the beginning of each session we were able to forge a strong and supportive bond.
2. Join an ante-natal birth education class - In the UK these are most popularly organised by the National Health Service and National Child-birth Trust. The NHS classes are free but usually quite short and you won't usually bump into the same people at two different classes e.g. the labour class and the feeding baby class as you book these separately. The NCT ante-natal courses are often run over a period of weeks with a group of parents whose babies are all expected at roughly the same time and enable you to form a strong bond with other parents. Many groups of NCT mums are meeting on a regular basis years, if not decades, after they've had their first baby. When you attend ante-natal classes be pro-active in sharing your contact details with the other parents so that you can arrange a meet-up once you've had your baby.
With a new-born
3. Go to baby-clinics to get your baby weighed on a regular basis. Your local children's centre usually runs them. While you're there try to chat to other mums. See what else they do with their babies and maybe suggest you go for a walk in the park or a coffee afterwards.
4. Attend breast-feeding support groups which are run by charities and the NHS. I went to one every week for the first six months of my daughter's life. Some mums came because they really needed the support of breast-feeding counsellors but for the rest of us it was just nice sitting and chatting about the evolving challenges of looking after our babies. The volunteers running these sessions are also pleased to be supported by people attending.
5. Arrange meet-ups with other parents you met during your pregnancy - from your ante-natal or fitness classes. Try to set a regular time that you all meet up e.g. on a Tuesday afternoon. If you don't do this these friendships will be more likely to drift.
6. Find out what NCT activities there are in your area. The NCT also organises social meet-ups for new mums. Get in touch with your local NCT branch to find out the details.
7. Check-out what your local Children's Centre has to offer. I really enjoyed going to a baby massage class. Children's Centre activities are often free or offered at a very low charge.
8. Join a post-pregnancy fitness group. I really enjoyed going on buggy walks and post-natal yoga. There are also buggy-fit classes.
|My son and I at post-natal yoga|
As baby gets a bit older
9. Sign-up for some classes like Sing and Sign, Baby Sensory or baby swimming. Make an effort to talk to the other mothers, ask them what else they do with their babies and, again, suggest going for a coffee or doing another baby activity together.
10. Check what your local library offers older children. Lovely rhyme-time and free story sessions are often available. Children's centres also offer activities for older children. Local libraries also have free story and rhyme sessions. Drop in and ask when they are held.
11. Find out about community or church groups running mother and toddler sessions. When I moved to my village when my daughter was six months old this was how I made friends.
More tips on making friends when you've got children...
- Even if you're really shy, smile and make eye-contact with the other mums. That will give them the opening to talk to you.
- Offer help. If you go to a mother and toddler group you could offer to bake cakes, take healthy snacks for the children or find a suitable venue for the summer outing. The organisers will really appreciate this and you will be drawn further into the friendship group.
- If there's another mother you really hit it off with suggest meeting up beyond the setting where you first met.
- Volunteer! Become an organiser. If you love the idea of buggy walks but none are available in your area, get the people you know together and organise it. Tell you local children's centre and health visitor and more might come along. You could even organise a mother and toddler group. As your children get older join the Pre-School committee, PTA, school-governors or offer to run the brownies or cubs. All these organisations are crying out for volunteers and working together with other parents is a wonderful way to create a life-long bond.
- The most important thing is to get out there so that you can meet people. You won't make friends staying at home all day.
Now you're making lots of mummy friends you'll have to buy lots of presents for other new babies. Sign-up for my email list and get a free copy of my baby gift guide that covers birth, baptism, Christmas and the first birthday - you'll never be short of an idea of what to buy, on any budget. You'll also get 10% off handmade baby gifts and nursery decor in my shop.