Friday, March 4, 2011
Jacksta B's guide to....fitting in at coffee groups.
I've just returned from a morning at my local Mums group. I always leave encouraged and inspired for another week ahead of the relentlessly tiresome job of mothering. But it hasn't always been this way. When I first became a mummy 7 years ago, breaking in to the coffee group scene was tricky! At the time I didn't have any friends who were pregnant with me. I was in paid employment before but had decided to take the full year off maternity leave thereby leaving the workplace social interaction. With most of my friends unmarried, childfree and carefree it meant I had to find some other mums for company. Enter the big wide world of mums groups. So after 7 years experience of mums/coffee groups I thought I might give a New Mums Guide to fitting in at Coffee groups.
1) Try and find one person you know and go to a group together. At least you will both be in the same boat and can hang together while you make new friends.
2) Smile and be friendly. I know it sounds obvious, but go with the intention of making new friends. No one is likely to approach you if you have "do not disturb" written all over your face. And like wise don't be afraid to approach someone new. You already have one thing in common, you are all mums! Things like "how old is your little one?" or "Whats her name?" are always good starts to conversation.
3) Practice the art of empathy. If a mum says to you "Man! I have been up 3 times last night with little Jonny" Instead of saying "What! he doesn't sleep through the night yet?!" Something more along the lines of "Wow that must be so tough for you". At the end of the day we all just want to be listened to.
4)Try not to think of them as "clicky" groups. It is hard when you go to a group that feels "clicky". Understand that people have already established relationships before the day you arrive. So it is natural for them to talk to each other like they already know each other, because they do. Its just a natural social interaction. Just try and find one person from the group, establish a friendship with them first and they might fill you in on everyone else so you can fit in a bit more next time.
5) Its not a competition. Sometimes you come across other mums who feel the need to use their children as a props to their ego. Children shouldn't be used for this! You are always going to find someone elses child crawled early, walked early, slept through the night early. Each child grows and develops at their own pace. If you come across someone like this who wants you to know there little Jonny is the bee knees, just nod and smile.
6) Try and find something else in common with each other, other than your kids. Crafts, work projects, where you are from, what brand of coffee you like....anything! Our lives are not all kids and neither should our conversation be. Its easier to connect with someone when you have at least one other thing in common.
7) If at first you don't succeed try again. If coffee groups don't work for you try a preschool activity like Mainly music or swimming lessons. This way you are doing an activity together and can have coffee later to continue the conversation. If you find it hard to fit in at one group or it really isn't working for you try a new one.
Being a new mother can be isolating enough without staying home all day and watching daytime TV. So get out there and use this opportunity to make new friends. It will enrich your life and and your child's life too!