Did you know?
90% of mums feel lonely after having children.
80% want more mum friends.
But a third of mums have never taken the initiative or started a conversation that led to a friendship.
Source: ChannelMum.com survey.
Clearly making mum friends is important. And often hard.
Even once you’ve decided to put yourself out there, it may feel uncomfortable and may not lead to friendships.
Having friends to share the motherhood journey is so valuable. You need friends who are available at the right times and who understand what you’re going through. While you can connect on social media, face to face connections provide greater support, help you get out of the house and allow your kids to interact with others too.
Why do many mums find making mum friends so hard?
There are many reasons – it feels awkward (like dating), we’re too exhausted or too busy watching the kids to really talk, perceived or real cliques, you don’t know what to say, judgements on parenting styles and so on. It might feel like everyone already knows each other or you might be worried that they won’t like you (you’re not even sure how much you like yourself some days).
Often, it’s what’s going on in our own heads that makes it hard. Mindset is at the core of EVERYTHING. Including making mum friends.
Here are four aspects of mindset that can help you connect confidently with other mums and be more likely to find the right mum friends.
1. Don’t leave home without a helpful mindset
Which of these thoughts are running through your head when you’re about to meet other mums for the first time?
If you enter the situation with the mindset on the left, you’re setting yourself up for a more difficult experience. Before you even start connecting, work on creating a positive mindset. This will improve your confidence, help you feel more comfortable (perhaps with a bit of practice) and you’ll be more likely to actually connect well!
2. Let go of the fear of being judged
Are you afraid of being judged?
It’s a common concern for mums meeting other mums.
There are two important things you need to know about being judged:
a) People will always have an opinion but that doesn’t mean they’re judging you. Not everyone is judging you, so don’t assume this is always the case. If they are, do you really want them as a friend?
b) When someone judges you, it’s never about you. It’s always about them and what they think you should be like. And that doesn’t really matter because only you determine what you should be like.
Recently I heard Marie Forleo (gosh I love her) say that as humans we subconsciously create situations for others to judge us for the things we judge ourselves for.
For example, if you feel like being a stay at home mum isn’t as good as being a mum with a paid job, then you might keep bringing it up in conversations, using language like ‘I’m just a mum’, “I don’t do anything really” or “I don’t have a career or any special skills”. Your insecurity comes through and you keep creating opportunities for other people to comment on it. So, stop judging yourself first!
Remember lovely mum, you don’t have to be anyone but you. You’re amazing just the way you are.
Besides, pretending to be someone that you’re not, is exhausting and unsustainable.
We’re all human. Every mum has imperfections and insecurities but you may not see them until you know someone better. The mums you meet may even be having all the same fears about being judged!
3. Focus on being interested in and curious about others
The best way to build connections is to take the focus off yourself and focus on being interested in and curious about others. This also leaves less headspace for your fears and self-doubts.
How do you do this?
- Be available for connection – make eye contact with others (not your phone)
- Offer smiles readily (who doesn’t love to receive a warm smile!)
- Find something you genuinely like about a mum or her child and offer a compliment
- Ask questions. Start simple; “what’s your daughter’s name?”, ”do you live in the area?”, “have you been coming here for a while?”. As the conversation and relationship progresses, you can ask about their background, opinions and experiences. Keep it relevant to the conversation and keep the conversation flowing in-between so it’s not like an interrogation.
- Look for things you have in common
- Really listen to what they’re saying. Observe body language and the emotion in what they’re communicating. Often when people are talking, we aren’t really listening because we’re too caught up in thinking about what we will say next. Just listen and respond once you have fully understood.
- Tell them about you. Self-disclosure is a great way to build trust and connection. Just don’t overwhelm them with all your deepest darkest secrets straight away.
- Be generous and helpful. Pick up something they dropped, retrieve their child’s hat, help them get the pram down the stairs, or offer information that would help them (if they ask for it).
4. Check that your expectations are realistic
If your expectations are unrealistic, you’re bound to come away feeling disappointed.
Connecting with others is a process and relationships are built over time, on a series of conversations. It takes a lot longer for mums to have these conversations, since you’re often a bit distracted and can be interrupted every five seconds. So, don’t expect to have a new best friend straight away. Give it time.
What if they’re just not that into you or vice versa?
You won’t click with everyone and that’s ok. You’ll get a feeling about whether or not you get along with someone, either straight away or after a few conversations. You don’t need to waste your limited time and energy on connections that don’t feel right.
Mothers groups are great examples of this. A group of women are thrown together because they live in the same area and their babies were born around the same time. You hope that you’ll all bond and support each other. Some fortunate groups do have this experience. But it’s more likely that you’ll only really click with one or two people.
Just be genuine – if you don’t have a genuine interest in them, stop trying to be their friend. (This doesn’t mean you should ignore them if you’re in the same social circles, but you don’t have to invest extra effort into the relationship).
If they’re not that into you, you might feel that they’re distracted or disinterested. Maybe they don’t make contact again or respond to your messages. Don’t take it personally. Either she’s not the mum friend for you or it’s not the right time.
You don’t know what’s going on in her life. Mum life is busy and you know yourself, that there are seasons where you can only barely get through the essentials. New relationships (including the great ones) take effort and energy. She might even be having a crisis of confidence about making mum friends. Just move on or try again later if you think it’s worthwhile. You’ll find someone that will reciprocate enthusiastically.
What if our parenting styles differ?
It can be easier to have friends with similar parenting styles, since so much of the time you spend together involves your children. They’ll be able to better support you with a similar perspective on things. If you disagree strongly with their parenting approach, then that could make things difficult. However, if you’re able to put aside the differences and value each other as individuals, there’s no reason you couldn’t be great friends with someone who parents differently. Only you can make that decision.
So, that’s it lovely mum. Four ways you can harness the power of your mind to be more confident in making mum friends. Sounds simple but changing your mindset takes practice because it involves unwinding years of habitual thinking and behaviour. Persevere and it’ll get easier.
You’ll find someone that you click with if you keep connecting. They’re out there and they’re probably looking for you too!
Your action plan for this topic is to identify two things you need to do differently to better prepare your mind for connecting confidently with other mums. Try those two things the next time you’re in that situation.
Now all that’s left for you to worry about is getting yourself and the kids ready and out the door on time!!
Did you find this post helpful? I’d really love to know. Leave a comment below and tell me!