Four elements of a lasting Mothers’ Group
When you first have a baby; it doesn’t matter whether you have looked after a 100 children for a job or for pleasure - when it’s your own, everything is different. You might have done your research about the technical side of caring for your newborn, but the emotions of pregnancy and birth and this major change in your life play havoc with all your senses. Trust me.
Having a Mothers’ Group is a way to connect to a group of people who are in almost exactly the same situation as you. It was during a Mothers’ Group session that one of my now best friends talked about pregnancy dresses. I had been having so much trouble breastfeeding my daughter, and these were the only thing that allowed me to do it for as long as I did.
That same mother also put together a parcel from the group when I had my son, and having had conversation after conversation about the difficulties I had had with my daughter, included the lifesaving Lansinoh and these super soft reusable nursing pads.
While you should definitely shop around for the right fit when it comes to your Mothers’ Group, you also need to be open. I knew I had found the right one the day my baby girl exploded from both ends in the bistro at the pub, and wipes, wraps and a modern cloth nappy were handed to me from almost every mum there. Someone even took my smelly, sticky daughter off me while I sorted myself out. That’s dedication, that’s love.
In my Mothers’ Group, I don’t think there is one person who I would have met outside of the group. And whilst some of them are similar to me in personality, parenting style, history and family, some are very different. Every single one of them (there are 12) have been incredibly important to my sanity over the last 5 years.
Here are four really important things to remember about finding a successful Mothers’ Group.
1.Celebrate as well as commiserate
There is a huge temptation to spend most of your time in a Mothers’ Group talking about how badly everyone is sleeping, eating, and behaving and this is not just confined to the kids.
Take some time to think about some of the good things that are happening in your life. A little smile from a baby, a first tooth after a week of teething, someone else in the household doing the dishes without being asked.
Share the good things as well as the difficult things and ask the other mothers to do the same. Otherwise you’ll end up dreading your weekly catch up with the ladies and come home depressed instead of uplifted.
2.Take care of each other
Celebrate, but be mindful of the other mother’s experiences. Sometimes, one of the group may be having a particularly tough time. She (or you) may need some help around the house, a meal, an hour or two without her baby, or just someone to talk to.
These ladies can become the best friends you have ever had. Having that shared experience of learning how to take care of your new baby together is extremely powerful and a bonding event Take care of your group, and they’ll take care of you when times are tough.
In order for the group to flourish, you need to communicate. There are so many options these days for communication that it’s almost impossible not to talk!
My Mothers’ Group set up a closed Facebook page where we chat, post cute milestones, organise events, celebrate achievements, ask questions and offer advice. They are the first group of people I go to when I have big news, and when I need a shoulder to cry on.
If someone drops off the radar, follow them up. Chances are they’re busy, but make sure. Your group can be the lifeline of a struggling new mother.
4.Grow your friendship beyond the kids
While our friendships may have started with the birth of our first children almost 5 years ago, it has grown considerably since then. We have celebrated the birth of a second child in every family and the third in a couple. We have supported each other during difficult jobs, illnesses, miscarriages and challenging relationships. We have had dinners, birthdays and even a ladies weekend away.
We have all made a big effort to make sure we have a multidimensional relationship that will continue to grow as we get older. I’m going to need someone to talk about starting school, teenage girls, and boys, career paths and empty nesting. These are the ladies I’ll be looking to.
On one of our nights out, we met a lady at the restaurant who had just come back from a week away with her Mothers’ Group. They had been meeting for over 40 years and were still best friends. I hope that my group stays that close. These are the best friends a girl could ask for, let alone a new mum!