We all know parenting can be an emotional rollercoaster. But who’s there with us on the ride? Friends, that’s who. Here’s a shout out to your mum mates and all the reasons why we love them…
They’re on your schedule
Awake at 3am? Still in your pyjamas at noon? Conked out on the sofa at 8pm? Your mum friends are on the same timetable as you. And they get why.
They’ve been there and won’t judge
Is your toddler having a tantrum because the grass is green and he wants it to be blue? Your mum friend understands. Last week her little one screamed for 30 minutes because he wasn’t allowed to take a duck home from the park. Just take a deep breath and know that she’s been there.
Suzy Morgan, mum to Poppy and volunteer with Cumbria NCT branch, says: ‘I love one of my mum friends for cleaning liquid poo off my legs with wet wipes when I decided to change my son’s nappy on my knee – she didn’t even bat an eyelid!’
Full of ideas
Maybe you’d never thought of using that position for winding your newborn. Or trying that recipe for your toddler. Whatever it may be, you can always watch and learn from your mum friends and share tips and ideas.
Is your baby doing...?
When you’re new to this parenting business you can find yourselves worrying over everything. Should your baby be rolling over? Are their poos supposed to be that colour? How much should they be eating? Why, why, why aren’t they sleeping more?
Having someone going through the same journey and milestones can be so reassuring. Just try and avoid constant comparisons.
Reliving the birth
You may have noticed that after childbirth lots of women want to tell their story in all its glory. You might even find your boss or the cashier in the supermarket sharing their experience.
Your mum friends have been through the same spectrum of pain, worry, trauma, joy and exhilaration recently. It’s a great way to celebrate your birth but also talk through anything that didn’t work out as you hoped. They’re a very willing audience so you can get whatever you need off your chest.
Looking for mums in the same boat?
We have loads of NCT groups and activities you can join to meet parents in your area to share the highs and lows.
You may have come from a job where you felt competent and respected – and now you’ve been thrown into the baby world where you feel like you haven’t a clue what you’re doing.
But your mum friends can be great at giving you confidence. Whether it’s going on the bus together so you feel able to tackle a trip on your own next time or just telling you how great you’re doing.
Don’t mind the mess
They have milk, food, sick, snot or worse on their clothes. And their house resembles an obstacle course of toys and dirty washing. But none of that matters. And they certainly won’t be judging you for it.
Need a tissue?
One mum says: ‘I remember walking to a baby group with tears streaming down my face because my son never stopped crying and wouldn’t feed properly.’
‘Luckily, my new mum friends were waiting with hugs and words of encouragement. Because they were also getting to grips with the craziness of newborn babies I knew I needn’t feel embarrassed.’
Mum mates – they’re always a shoulder to cry on.
Need tea on a rainy day, coffee after a sleep deprived night or a large glass of wine following a long week? Your mum friends are (usually) on hand for liquid refreshment.
Laugh out loud
‘I love my mum friends for the comedy,’ says Emily Darko, mum to Jess and volunteer with Tottenham NCT branch. ‘We have a Whatsapp group where we swap stories of losing bank cards, leaving keys in the front door and one of us even went out having forgotten to put a nappy on the baby.’
She adds: ‘You’ve got to laugh about it or else you’d just cry.’
Playdates (for everyone)
If you’ve found one or two mums you get on with, playdates can be just as fun for you as they are for the little ones. (Hopefully the adults won’t be fighting over toys or snacks though).
The chances are if you’re on maternity leave you’re spending more time in your local area than ever before. You can rely on your mum friends to pass on their insider tips on the cheapest toddler activities, the best child-friendly cafes and the cleanest baby changing facilities.
"They have amazing local knowledge"
Feeling like your self again
Being a parent can feel relentless – like you’re on a treadmill of feeding, nappy changes, making dinners, dealing with tantrums and picking up toys. It can seem like you’ve forgotten who you are.
Your mum friends can help you feel like yourself again rather than just someone’s mummy. Never underestimate the importance of a good chat, a cry (if you need to) or laughter for your mental health.
No holding back
‘You can talk about anything with them,’ says Rachel Belcher, mum to Pippa, and volunteer with Witney and District NCT branch. ‘TMI (too much information) isn’t a thing when you’re all dealing with little people’s bodily functions several times a day, plus your own recovery and adjustment after birth.’
Share and share alike…
From old baby or maternity clothes to toys, you’ve got to love your mum friends for all the stuff you can borrow from them. Need some more babygros or muslins? You know who to ring. Broken your buggy? You know who’ll lend you a spare.
And the good thing is they’re just as happy to pass things on as you are to receive them (as it means they get to de-clutter their house and clear some space!)
...even when you’re out
Just used your last nappy? Forgotten to pack the snacks? Mum friends have huge bags full of everything you’d ever need. No doubt you’ll save the day with a wet wipe next time…
Who else can you ask to babysit when you’re ready for a night out with your partner? Babysitting swaps can work out brilliantly with your NCT group and other mum mates.
The bonus is that your little ones will be with someone familiar to them – reassuring for everyone. And it’s nice knowing you can return the favour.
She knows that if your baby suddenly has a high temperature you won’t make that trip to the park. She won’t make you feel guilty about the last minute change. And she doesn’t mind if you take a while to reply to her messages; she’s got her hands full too.
Let's talk about sex
Well, let’s face it, who else can you ask those slightly embarrassing questions? How long after childbirth did you actually have sex again? Did it feel different? And when exactly did you manage it if you have a baby sleeping in your room?
Usually nothing’s out of bounds. You can bet your friends are glad you brought it up as they’ve probably been desperate to talk about it too.
Just being there
There are hard times during parenting – or on the road to parenting. So much can happen from miscarriage to postnatal depression or relationship challenges. For better or for worse, in sickness and health, your mum mates really are the ones there for you. Cheers to you all.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby. To find out when an NCT nearly new sale is happening near you, search here.
You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.