Gatecrashing Mother’s Group

MothersGroupbyJulaJulz

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I used to be part of a pretty active mothers group two-and-a-half years ago initiated by the local Early Childhood Centre. Even before Miss T was born, developing a new social network with other mothers was something I really looked forward too. But the year came and went and one-by-one, we either returned to work, moved house or moved overseas. I was the one organising our social activities but also the one that returned to full-time work so event planning went out the window.

Now that I have a second baby, I really miss it. It was rammed home to me this week because I had the rare chance to catch up with two of those original mothers in the park we used to frequent.

It was really humanising to have face-to-face contact. And I was very surprised to see no less than three other groups of mothers floating around near the play equipment, on the park benches or on picnic rugs on the grass.

Why didn’t the Early Childhood Centre invite me to join a group for subsequent babies? I asked but they seemed rather surprised by my question. Was it because I’d already had a go? Was it because they assumed I didn’t need the moral and practical support? I think all mothers appreciate the support wherever they can get it. Why else would mummy blogging be so prolific?

I’m not the most extroverted of people but I’ve learnt to put myself out there a little. In my job, I’ve had to meet lots of people so that has helped me learn to socialise professionally, but personally, it’s a little trickier. Looking at these groups of mothers, I thought, how could I join in? They’ve formed connections since their bub’s were born. Who am I, a strange lady with a seven month old baby, to pull up the pram and plop myself down on their picnic blanket or bench?

I think breaking into a group is a bit easier if you have a toddler with you, running about the playground. You’re all dashing left, right and centre to keep an eye on your child. Sometimes you need to break up fights, return a lost child, retrieve a dropped toy, and these can provide openings for conversations. I guess I’ll have to come with Miss T next time she’s not in Childcare.

What was your experience with mother’s groups? Do you stay in touch? Did you make some close friends?

How do you break the ice at a park? Do you just politely barge into an obviously established group and ask for a spot on that picnic blanket? What if it didn’t work out? Would you boycott that park forevermore?

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22 thoughts on “Gatecrashing Mother’s Group

  1. this happened to me, I was invited to one with my first but it never really took off.. with my 2nd (when I would of really appreciated some support and friendship) I was never invited or told about one.. just because we’re not first time mums doesnt mean we wouldnt like to make new friends and just get out of the house!!

  2. I lived and breathed mother’s group when I just had Miss E and even when J-Man was in his first year. Our Wednesday catch-ups were so important to keep me connected and the kids entertained. Now the kids are older I don’t crave the get togethers as much, mainly because the kids are so busy that the mothers don’t get much chance to chat. But we have dinners together every couple of months to get that quality time together.

    • I know what you mean about mother’s not getting to chat. With toddlers running about, there are so many broken conversations. A mummy’s dinner is actually a great idea. I keep thinking the kiddies need to be part of it but maybe they are secondary to mummy’s getting some quality adult interaction.

  3. I’ve had success forming bonds with other moms through classes – like I went to a free new moms class at the library. They also now have free classes for toddlers, too. So you see each other every week and get to know one another. Some people also join mommy and me classes and that’s how they formed bonds.

    • I’ve got to look for a few new mummy activities I can get into. There is a playgroup around the corner that would be ideal but it clashes with my bub’s current nap time. I should try and swing it somehow though.

  4. I think they don’t ask mothers who already have children, because they don’t want siblings at them. I joined one with my first and my third babies. I had to push to be allowed to join the second time. We were new to adelaide, it had been 4 and a half years since my second baby, and I really wanted to meet and connect with new mums. I wasn’t allowed to bring my 4 and a half year old boy along, and all the other mums were first time mums, so their issues were often a bit different to mine. I still loved the meet ups, but it would have been even better if there were other mums with more than 1 child there. I guess that they also expect that second time around you will already have developed those networks, which of course isn’t always true with people going back to work, moving suburbs/towns etc.
    The thing I have found most helpful this time around has been playgroup, and I think it is probably the best way to find mums to connect with. Have you tried this? I know some mums who say they have to try a few before they find one that works for them, but I have been lucky with this move in finding one that is just right for us first time.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Sannah. I remember at my first group, the Childhood Educators spent some time checking with us all in case we might be slipping into PND. That is still possible with subsequent children. In fact it can be harder with two. I haven’t had to face that but other mothers probably have.

      I have been thinking about playgroup. There is one perfectly situated around the corner but it clashes with bub’s nap time. I might just go anyway, one day and check it out. I just don’t like disrupting her naps!

  5. I think that they are only formally set up for first time mums. Our group too dwindled when the key organiser went back to work full-time and I moved away. I stay in touch on facebook now and occasionally catch up if I am in Melbourne.
    When I moved and was having baby number 2 I asked about a mum’s group for people who are new to the area and they don’t have one. I miss my mum’s group too. 😦

    • That was sad they didn’t have a group near you the second time round. I might not feel the lack of it as much if I had close friends with children, or even relatives, but I don’t have many nearby. The mother’s group filled that void for me. I guess mummy bloggers are doing their part for me now.

  6. I lived and breathed for mother’s group in the first few months after my eldest was born. I got really lucky, our group just ‘clicked’ and now, nearly six years on we still catch up occaisionally. Most of us still live close by and some of the kids are at school or footy etc together. I cannot imagine not having these amazing women in my life now, even if we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to!

    • That’s really great. I would have loved to have that close connection with mine. We do Facebook but seldom meet. I might have to try and coordinate a long overdue dinner soon. Might be tricky with lots of new little bubs though but I will give it a whirl.

  7. I think from the perspective of the early childhood centres they see them more as an information sharing session. To them, the formation of long-term friendships is secondary. So, they assume that by baby #2, you know the information.

    I still catch up with about half of my original mother’s group (about 6 of us, now with 12.5 children) once every couple of months, but one particular friend from the group about once a fortnight. We used to meet weekly, but as you say work, moving house, kids starting preschool etc made us grow apart a little.

    • It’s really nice you keep in touch with some of your mother’s group. I know a few of the other mothers in my group do stay in touch over common interests eg: two over sewing, two because they were both from the UK. I got on well with all of them, but didn’t find my “other” in that group in the same way. I do think the centres provide a great service. Maybe they are overwhelmed too. I know I kept hearing how the numbers of babies in my area had skyrocketed in recent years.

  8. I loved Mothers group so much the first time round that I gatecrashed a second one when baby number 2 was born. I was the only mum in the 2nd group who had already survived motherhood once and it was a great feeling. We get together with the first mothers group 4.5 years later about four times a year! Our “babies” are all about to start school and we have been through it all together!

  9. I’ve gone to about three different playgroups, but haven’t formed any lasting relationships from any of them, which I suppose is sad. I always seem to get included in groups that already know each other from four or five different places, and while they are happy to have me join them, their social ties are so much stronger. But I still enjoy going for what I get.

  10. I gave mothers groups a try. I really did. All sorts. But I never found a group that I truly “gelled” with. Instead, I met mothers randomly at a cafe or something and they’re the ones I clicked with the most. Unfortunately, since going back to work (kinda), I really haven’t kept in touch with them…It’s a shame and I get nostalgic about the times when we used to hang out with each other and our children in the local park…but I guess it is what it is…a stage in life where you meet some great people at the crossroads…

    • I was fortunate to have a pretty good group. The ones that stayed in the core were all older mothers 35 and above. That probably helped. I do miss it, probably the chance to interact with other mothers, but you have a point; sometimes we need to let certain things go. They were there and were needed for a period but we need to know when to move on. Crossroads hopefully mean new opportunities up a different path!

  11. I stayed in touch with one mother from my original mother’s group and one from my antenatal class. I didn’t join a mother’s group the second time around ( no one offered me one, but I wasn’t interested either). By the second baby, I already knew all the people with kids in the area, went to playgroup regularly and running around after a toddler when everyone else would sit in one spot with their babies just didn’t seem practical. When I didn’t have my toddler, I just wanted to stay home, and get some rest.

    Do you have a playgroup in your area? If you go regularly on the same day, you’ll usually meet the same people and form a good relationship with them. My play group is very welcoming to new people, maybe yours is, too.

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