If there’s one thing I was totally unprepared for (I was unprepared for almost everything) it was just how lonely it can be when you’re on maternity leave. Most of the people you know are at work during the day or they just seem to disappear off the face of the earth once your baby is born.
Once my husband leaves for work in the morning I spend the next 10 hours talking nonsense to a baby that doesn’t talk back. My time is filled, don’t get me wrong there is always plenty to pass the day. In fact a few more hours in the day would be helpful, but I need human interaction, or adult interaction rather.
I can not tell you how much it has helped me by getting my butt off the sofa and out to a baby group. I know it’s an effort, it’s so much effort but it’s totally worth it. Our local library runs a Rhyme Time session, it’s just a bunch of mums (and the occasional dad and grandparents) singing nursery rhymes to theirs babies. It lasts 30 minutes and it takes us about 3 hours to get ready for it.
Not a great ratio I know, 3 hours of getting ready just for a 30 minute class but you know what, sometimes you just need to have somewhere to go to make you get up, get dressed and make the effort to leave the house.
Through Instagram I’ve met an amazing lady and her little girl and we have been going to Rhyme Time and a local baby sensory room together followed by Mum Coffee afterwards. The babies look at each other and try to suss each other out whilst we chat about anything and everything. It’s not all baby related either, shocking to think I can actually talk about anything else but we do and sometimes we can sit there for hours chatting. The babes are fast asleep in their prams, they gave up on us hours ago but its one of my favourite parts of the week.
I love it, I look forward to it, I get Amelia dressed up just to go and sit in Costa on the high street. It’s not about the coffee or singing silly songs, it’s about having a reason to go out, having somewhere to go with people who are all doing the same as you. It’s about chatting with other mums, hearing their experiences and their stories and realising we’re all in the same boat. Whatever you might be going through at that moment, someone else has been there before and lived to the tell the tale.
My local Health service has also run a Tiny Times session (it last for 4 weeks) and is designed for first time mums who’s babies are all over 8 weeks. We were a bit late booking in so we’re well over 8 weeks but it doesn’t really matter. Each week has a new theme, we have discussed sleep and routines, weaning and teething, health and safety and the final week is about returning to work. You get really useful information and leaflets but ultimately it is a chance for new mums to get out and meet each other.
We chat, have biscuits, our babies play together on the mats, we share more stories and ask each other for advice. Those of us with slightly older babies reassure the mums of the younger ones that sleep does get better (promise) and the idea behind the whole thing is just to give you somewhere to go to help you meet people. What has been so great is that even though the sessions have ended, we’ve swapped numbers and as a group we’re heading to a baby play centre next week. It’s all about making the effort once the classes end and I’m really looking forward it.
The only downside of these groups can be that they always tend to be in the mornings, considering I used to be on a train to work at 8am I am lucky if I am ready to go anywhere before midday these days so getting to a group that starts at 10.30am is hard work. I get up at 7am just to give myself half a chance of being on time. It also doesn’t help that Amelia takes her naps between 10-12am each day and she has definitely fallen asleep on me at Rhyme Time (I keep singing along, wouldn’t want to be the only one not singing) and she’s slept through an entire Tiny Times session too but it doesn’t matter. She hasn’t the faintest idea what’s going on anyway. Who are these other little people? Why is there so much noise? Oh new toys? These aren’t my toys? Where is my bed I want to be asleep? MILK!! – I am pretty certain these are her thoughts when we go to groups and it’s ok if you’re not really going for your baby it’s actually because you want to go and be surrounded by other mums. We are social creatures and we need interaction.
So what am I getting at here, well it’s simple – go to groups. Even if you really don’t feel like it and your pjs are so comfy and you haven’t showered for a week, set your mind that you’re going to visit a group this week and just go. You will feel so much better for getting up with a purpose, getting dressed because you have somewhere to go and you just might make some amazing new friends. If you’re nervous about going on your own, get on Facebook. There are loads and loads of mum and baby chat groups on Facebook, if you can find one for your area then join up and ask if anyone would like to go to the group with you. You’d be amazed how many other ladies are out there who wish they could go out but they’re nervous to go on their own.
I promise, it’s worth the effort!