From the outside, being part of a mother’s group just looks to be a chance for the mum to drink coffee and natter while babies sleep. I think the only time I enjoyed this perk was at the end of a baby massage class for a sacred 15 minutes before having to attempt the car seat transfer. Of which I failed miserably, every time! I don’t want to burst this bubble for expectant mums though as you may be lucky to have a baby that sleeps happily (I had mum friends whose babies did this!) but Austin just wasn’t much of a public sleeper.
But joining a mother’s group (a mum club as I like to call it) isn’t just about meeting a bunch of strangers who are also new mums and feeling like you’re in the school playground again trying to make new friends. Being part of a mum club does in fact have important benefits for your health both physical and mental along with positive impacts for your baby in return too.
Becoming a parent, especially if you’re the primary caregiver, can be a period of huge change. This often is accompanied by anxiety for a lot of women. And since the early years of your child’s life are crucial for their development, you suddenly also have the pressure of wanting to get things right too.
So walk in to a mum club and it may seem like there is a lot of laughter (and coffee) along with bums being changed while half eating a biscuit. (Anyone nodding their heads right now relating?!) But this all in fact points to something very important. Social isolation can be a trigger for postnatal depression and anxiety. So, what seems like a social outing, is actually fulfilling an important role for that mothers’ wellbeing. It reduces maternal stress and strengthens social bonds in term, helping avoid that trigger impacting mum. I still found that post-natal depression took hold but I can hand on heart say if I didn’t have my amazing mum club to keep me sane over coffee or over WhatsApp messenger, I would have added this trigger to my already existing long list.
And for parents who are used to working full-time, the adjustment to being a home-based carer is a huge shock to the system! Having fixed dates, like a weekly mothers’ group or baby massage class for example, can help you and your baby to get into a routine together. It’s also so easy to just stay in when you’re tired and baby has been constantly up all night. But not wanting to let others down really does help you get out and once you have a coffee in hand, it can seem like the biggest achievement all day!
Finding a mum club while your child is a baby could also have long lasting social benefits for them too! Many studies show that parents who regularly took part in groups when their children were younger than three were twice as likely to say that they enjoyed support from friends when their children were older. This really does make sense though doesn’t it? Baby sees mum happy and sees the smile and laughter when she’s around her friends. That tells baby that friends are good, they make us happy and baby of course wants to copycat. And ta daaa… hopefully a social butterfly in the making!
For some, being part of a mum club can actually be the cause of anxiety too. While every child is different, and will hit their milestones at their own pace (and in their own order and probably in their own way), it’s only natural to compare your baby to others and the 6 weeks + age difference between the eldest to youngest in the group can actually make the world of difference in the early months of development. Rather than compare, use the other mums that have been through something already to gain their advice and expertise. I can’t tell you how many times “is this poo colour normal?” and “any teething advice” have been asked on the group chat!
We attempt a quarterly mums night out… it includes a lot of wine!
My mum friends (now I can simply call them my friends 😊) are my rocks and I would recommend for every expectant mum to ensure they find their own! The people in your mum club become the people who you can share the highs and lows of parenting with too. They also become the people who you share a lot of wine with! As our babies grow, we swap notes, trade information, and see friendships form. I can’t wait to see how our club grows as our babies begin to walk and talk. I can only assume the glass of wine we share will become a bottle. A lot more often!