It takes a village: how to find your tribe with a newborn.
It takes a village. So cliché but so true. It really, really does. You think that because you're a capable human with your own life well under control that you won't need that much extra support once bub arrives. Wrong!
Motherhood with a newborn is the most amazing, crazy, exhausting phase of your life and there is absolutely no way to prepare someone for how much their life will be turned upside down. That's not to say that it's not worth it, of course it is! There is nothing more glorious than watching this amazing little person that YOU made grow up. But... it's tough. So tough that you just can't do it on your own.
Support of a partner, family and old friends are all valuable tools for babysitting duties, if you are lucky enough to have them around. But that alone is not enough. You need a strong circle of women around you: Mum friends. Perhaps not many of your current friends have kids, or perhaps they already do have older kids. Regardless of this, friends with babies the same age as yours are so very important.
It is so true that every stage of motherhood passes us by so quickly that we often forget all the daily challenges of being a new mum and having a newborn. Nature, I think, allows us to forget these details so that we agree to have another baby again... and then alas, we remember. So no Sandra, your baby probably didn't sleep through the night at 2 weeks old.... and Barbara, your now two year old that "never cried as a baby" screamed its little red face off continuously for the first two months...BUT the mists of time have softened these newborn experiences. This is why mum friends with little ones the same age are so very important: you can suffer together! You can joyfully discuss poo colours over cold coffee that you'll never get to drink.
Mums' groups are the perfect way to connect with shared experiences, but sadly they don't have the best reputation. They don't need to be the competitive, "my baby is walking first" experience so often touted as the norm. In fact, rarely are they so. Once the first few awkward parenting chat sidesteps are out of the way, strong friendships that can last a lifetime may form. No-one understands the challenge of what you are going through like fellow newbie mums.
We are lucky here at Birthday Suit Co, as we both have two boys of very similar ages, yet we both still attended Mother's groups and are so thankful that we did. First time round I attended a child health clinic mums' group. These are excellent opportunities to meet new mums and are free. I met a lovely bunch of supportive mums who are now close friends and are a great support as many of us are now facing the challenge of going through the newborn plus toddler phase! Being on maternity leave second time round, I have decided to sample some different types of Mum's groups, including 'Modern Mamas' group in Brisbane for their post-natal pilates class. With a free smoothie each session in a beautiful studio, it is a far cry from the child health clinic group I attended for bub number 1. 'Modern Mamas' also run a variety of mother's groups with various exciting weekly activities and classes which is great for new Mums who would like to try a variety of things without committing to a whole term of classes. There are also baby-free social activities which are so important to remind new mums that we are actually still the same person (somewhere in there behind the spew stained clothes!). Another different Mums' group I'm giving a whirl this time round is crafting with "Mumma Got Skills", a local Brisbane social enterprise company. Having had fun at an earrings workshop, I've signed up for a Christmas bauble making workshop. Taking bub along, meeting Mums as well as doing something creative is so therapeutic. Both of these organisations also create their own supportive communities. 'Modern Mamas' offers a meals collection for new mums requiring some support and 'Mumma Got Skills' funds classes for women at risk of antennal health issues, financial hardship or those in remote areas. Now these are true villages. These are the Mother's group of the future.
Lifelong friendships and support networks can be gained by putting yourself out there and getting along to a mother's group. Added to this is that your little one has a new pool of friends to grow up with. There's nothing cuter than a first birthday party with lots of little mums' group friends' babies in attendance. It's so lovely to mark this achievement of making it through the first year of motherhood beside people who really understand what a feat this is! However you decide to find your village, it will be worth the effort.
Contact your local child health centre for details on their mother's groups.
Modern Mammas: https://www.modernmamasgroup.com.au
Mumma got skills: https://www.mummagotskills.com