Going to a baby group isn’t always a happy clappy experience full of new ideas and great lasting friendships. For some it can be a chore, or even a bore! In some areas there aren’t many baby groups on offer, but in small towns and villages there can be few to none.
I found that when Sure Start was having money thrown at it, 7/8 years ago, there were lots of different types of groups and courses on offer and also back then a children’s centre. Sadly our local centre has been closed now and the building has been sold. This was an invaluable drop in for many and without it, the community relies on churches and charities to pick up the pieces.
Those of none religious persuasion could be put off by the church run groups, and new people to the area aren’t always fed the information about non children’s centre groups when they move to an area. Word of mouth is really key.
I’m a lover of group, a good one mind. It is as much for me as it is the children. If I spent all day with no adult conversation I would go mad, and just speaking to the husband on the phone at home does not count! As that conversation usually goes “What’s for dinner”, I respond with “Fuck off, is that all you rang me for”. End of conversation! I need more than this!
I am a woman, and I like to moan about teething, why the hell babies put everything in their mouths? And question am I the only one with worn out knees in my jeans? The offer of a free HOT cup of tea is appealing too and I just enjoy meeting people listening to their birth stories (we love a war story!), what their naughty little elves get up to and how their other half’s are useless (because all men are right?)!
I’ve finally found my feet with groups this time around and its a different experience. At 22 and a new mum, I felt like I was the youngest mum in the room, I felt instantly judged for my young face and presumed incompetence as a parent. I didn’t want to be known at the young mum, because to me I was just a mother, just like the rest, doing my best and in fact it was my choice to become a mother then, not an accident which I felt was also presumed!
At 22 I felt inferior to those mums in their thirties and forties who had their careers to discuss, looked like they had their lives all together, dressed in Joules with their Cath Kidston changing bags! I laugh because I quite like these brands and find myself shopping in both stores now! But I felt that I could not at this time, dress my age, act my age and really and truly be me, the me that my friends knew! Not the piss head bit mind!
So I waded through ‘those’ look like they have their shit together mums and found a mum just like me, young and making it up as we went along! We met at baby massage when our babies were just a few months old and we are still friends today, in fact we are neighbours because I moved across the road from her (pure coincidence, im honestly not a stalker).
Without her at this time in my life, I could of felt so lonely. I was lucky I had my family all here locally and a wide circle of friends, but they weren’t having children. She was not like me, she had no family here, she was from across the pond! She came here to study, met a man, had a baby and married and she is still here. Loves England I believe!
Our friendship was built on honesty, we could really tell it like it was. All a bit shit! The relief of having someone going through the same milestones as you at the same time is invaluable. For me survival of parenthood is probably 50% to do with my mummy friends, 25% husband (because they cannot sympathise with what my body has been through!) and 25% wine, god I love that stuff.
So today whilst at a group, the singing one, the lovely lady arranged a Christmas type party for all the children and her dear husband attended as Father Christmas. Now this women has been running this group alone as a volunteer type role, receives no funding for the group and simply does it for the joy of seeing all the children. Mad but true. I pondered on how important she has been over the years to many mothers and fathers (yep dads attend too), she could have been someone’s lifeline.
For some they may attend just one group, because that’s the only one they can get to/get on with. So I find it really important when I chat to mums about baby type things that I am as open and welcoming as possibly and not my usual tired moody self! Because I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by family and friends but living near an Army and RAF base this is not the same for others.
I find it sad to hear when people say they have tried a group and no one spoke to them, or it all seemed clicky. A friend recently told me she attended a group where she felt like the only unmarried mother in the room and judged for it! I told her she should have played on this and called her other half the BABY DADDY whenever she spoke about him! We cant be friends with everyone, nor can we be false, and just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you want to befriend someone you went to high school with! But I just feel like a lot of mums should/could be more understanding, we are not all alike, we do not have the same support networks, parenthood needs support and in sharing we help one and other massively!
In my experience I see some mums attend a group once, and then never again, for what reason I don’t know, and sometimes us mums just cant get out in the morning so may miss a group one week. Thinking about this, if a group wasn’t for you, and you went once, try it again? Someone else, nice just like you may be there, and just didn’t attend the week you went? Or they could all be uppity little shits? But you cant be sure unless you try again. can you?
This is my experience and opinion of groups, what’s yours? Like and share with me on Facebook.