Some people love them, others hate them, but there’s no denying that baby and toddler groups can be a great way to make new friends. Be it an informal group for a cup of tea and a play, baby massage or a sensory class there is something to suit just about anyone.
I have a confession though – I didn’t brave my first baby group until Piglet was over 10 months old. We went to our swimming lesson once a week, and to Mummy FITT. But neither of those required me to actually speak to anyone else. I could slip in and out pretty much unnoticed, and I was quite happy with that.
If you have met me you may find it hard to believe that I’m actually incredibly shy. I try to cover it as best I can, but I find I often come across as rude when I don’t mean to. I struggle to look at people when I’m talking to them if I am uncomfortable, and it is an issue I have been working on for years.
I thought having Piglet there would help, as there is a distraction to take focus if needed. However he simply acts as that, a distraction, and an excellent excuse to not engage in any conversation!
I don’t have many friends with children, so it can often be hard to get my friends to relate to situations I am in. The only real solution to that is to put myself out there more and meet some new people. Or persuade my friends to have babies. Unfortunately for me, I only have control over one of those options!
When Piglet was born I put our name down for a mother and baby group at the church next to our house. The hall is small and there are a lot of mothers so there is a waiting list. It was the perfect excuse to not go really! After 10 months though, it really was getting ridiculous and so I decided I had to act. Operation meet new mums was a go!
At the start of January I asked my sister about the mother and baby group she used to go to, as I knew it was only a 5 minute drive from my house. Not only did she tell me about it, she decided to come along to it with me. I am glad she did as it meant I couldn’t talk myself out of it!
So we went. And we survived. I talked to mums, I tried to look at them, to ask questions, to not give closed answers. I tried not to come across as too rude….. I almost succeeded. Maybe.
I do wish I’d done it earlier, but I don’t think I was quite ready to admit I needed other mums to talk to. Now Piglet is starting to get on the move I’m sure he is going to benefit from being around other children regularly too.
A few days after that first session we discovered Piglet had caught hand foot and mouth. That meant a week away while he recovered, and me too since he passed it on. Sharing is caring and all that!
So a fortnight later I plucked up the courage to return. Just my luck – there were no familiar faces. The few women I had spoken to the last time weren’t there, so I was back to square one with making friends for the session. I managed though. At the end of the day, everyone has to be new at some point and everyone is very friendly and welcoming.
We are still very new, and I have a long way to go when it comes to making “proper” friends. But I think toddler groups will be a new part of our routine. Who knows – I might even start to enjoy them!
This post first appeared on Meet Other Mums