I should probably say that arriving in Rhu, Helensburgh at the end of March was a culture shock. Moving from noisy Ibrox, with the football every second week, Orange Walk most weekend during the summer and the (more than) occasional drunken squabble when the pubs shut and ‘rab and mary doll’ stagger back home. But, moving to the country(ish) was something we had dreamt about for a while. I was brought up in the countryside and spent every dry day in the garden or in the woods behind our house building dens. It was an idyllic childhood and one I have often dreamt of replicating for Wee C. So moving here was no culture shock, it felt like we were coming home.
However, not having our family & besties a hop skip and a clockwork orange trip away was going to take a bit of getting used to. When Col-D went back to work, taking the car (we sold our 2nd car a few months before we moved, as we didn’t need it in Glasgow – woops!) I found myself home alone with a babba and rubbish internet. Oooft! So, I decided to get myself out n about as much as possible. So most days I strap Wee C into the Stokke baby carrier (thank you J & A for this!) and go for a walk with Bonnie & Clyde. I must look a right treat to the passers by, as I’m half dragged along the road by our over enthusiastic Collie, whilst ‘wearing’ a baby. But, we are just a 5 minute walk to the sea an our dogs love swimming. So, its worth the 10 minutes of pulling, to get an hour of happy wagging tails!
Before Wee C was born, I promised myself (and anyone who would listen) that I wasn’t going to change, I was going to be the same old Lisa, workaholic, party monster but the mum version. But, guess what? I was full of shit! Ha! I couldn’t wait to do the mummy mingle. I couldn’t wait to strut my stuff with the pram.
However, forcing myself to go out n about, with the aim of making friends was actually pretty daunting. I can still barely remember my first day in secondary school, I can clearly remember the day I moved into my first student flat – and making friends and meeting new people is still a wee bit daunting to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am a business woman and I have to meet new people all the time in a professional capacity. But there is something about making new friends that makes me feel like I’m under a microscope and I’ve been transported back to 1st year (primary, secondary and university!).
A few times a week I walk the 2 miles into Helensburgh with Wee C in the pram. It’s decent exercise for me (hoping I can walk off the chocolate digestives that I’ve developed an addiction for) and its great to get Wee C out in the fresh sea air! During one of my walks (well a pit stop at the delectable Riverhill) that I met a lovely mummy and her gorgeous wee daughter, who was one week older than Wee C. After a quick chat she told me about a couple of baby classes in the area and we said our goodbyes. So I duly signed us up for Baby Sensory classes and became more excited by the day.
As soon as I walked through the doors, I met the ‘Riverhill mummy’ and my mummy mingling nerves left me. There were about another 12 mums & babbas there, and we were pretty much all in the same boat. So we instantly had something in common. Babies.
No matter how nervous I felt about making new friends, I was reminded that every single mummy in that group was in exactly the same place as me. We were all doing something new. We were all going through the BIGGEST life change we will ever have and we all wanted to connect with other folks in the same situation.
Since then I’ve taken my brave pills and I’ve gone to Bounce N Rhyme, Fun First, Baby Massage and the swimming pool. The Baby Massage class is held just after the breast feeding group, and as someone who managed to breast feed for a two weeks only (my boobs are ornamental only), these earth mummas can be quite intimidating – I feel a bit embarrassed and guilty when I bring along Wee C’s best mate – Tommy (Tommy Tipee that is). Wee C loves every part of it, she cant keep her eyes off the other babies. She smiles, giggles and adores being out and busy and after each session, she has a fantastic snooze! So no matter how far out of my comfort zone I am, its forgotten as soon as I see my beautiful daughter beaming up at me!
So my top tips for making friends are:
Take a deep breath and put yourself out there!
You’re not gonna make friends in your living room, so the first step to making new pals is going out! If I spend the day in the house then I speak to no one. If I put Wee C in her pram or in the baby carrier and go out with the dogs, or go to the supermarket, library or one of our baby classes, I can guarantee that I will speak to at least one other person (dad, mum, granny or just a friendly face!). There is always people stopping us to comment on cute she is, or how much hair she has!
However long you speak to them is up to you, but its lovely, trust me!
Make the first move
Taking a leaf out Riverhill mum’s book, I’d say ‘you should make the first move’! If you spot someone with a baby or a toddler, start a conversation with them. Ask their age, their name, give them a compliment. Folk always comment about Wee C’s hair, but its easy to say ‘what a lovely smile’ ‘ach she’s adorable’ etc parents/grandparents love this (I do!) so they will instantly be relaxed enough to start chatting to you. we have the same common denominator. The next step is meeting up for a coffee or a play date – it seems scary, but it’s our wee ones that are the most important wee people here, no one is judging you (well i bloody hope not!)
Get the digits!
Once you’ve been chatting for a wee while, I recommend that you get even braver – ask for those digits! Either a telephone number or Facebook, so you can stay in contact. Next time you plan to go swimming, or go out for a coffee and walk with your babba – send a wee friendly text and invite the other mamma along! They might not be able to make it, but I am pretty sure that they will jump at the chance to meet up with you at another point.
Maximise nap time
When Wee C naps (usually after exercise or a big feed) I have an hour or so free. I’m sure there’s loads you can be doing in the house (laundry, housework etc) but it is MUCH nicer to meet up with another mum for a coffee or a wee chat. Chatting about baby milestones, inoculations, feeding etc can also lead to chats about labour, child birth etc – all the things that have been massive to you but that you might not feel comfortable talking to your other friends about. This new mummy pal, will want to talk about it – because its all happening to her too!
Follow up connection
So what started out as a chance meeting, then a coffee and a playdate might develop into a stronger friendship as you realise that you have more in common than your babbas. But sometimes it wont. But I’m guessing that like me, you already have a lot of friends. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Take new friendships as they come. It should be no pressure, just an extra wee ally for you. Someone for you to spend a few easy hours with and someone who knows exactly where you’re coming from when it comes to brining up a baby!
So they’re my tips, and they seem to be working for me so far. But don’t get me wrong I’m still a bit nervous when I’m talking to new mums. But that’s just me (I’ve always been a bit self conscious and pregnancy has made it worse!). Making new friends has been awesome. I’m in a new town, with a new baby and I’m on maternity leave from work – having new mums in a close proximity to me has been the difference of me feeling happy and content in my new town, instead of lonely and home sick for the city.
Making new mum & baby friends expands our 14 Feet of Love, and suddenly there are more feet involved – and that’s just great with me!