Baby groups: do you find it easy to make friends?

(31 Posts)
SquidgersMummy Thu 17-Jan-13 23:08:05

I couldn't do NCT classes and we are new to the area for DHs work so I don't have any friends around here - plus all my closest friends dont have babies - I love, love, love being on mat leave and have really made the most of enjoying it and this time with DD. We go to a few groups (baby sensory, massage etc) but I find the groups are a bit like reliving secondary school in that there's the old trying to fit in thing - especially when there always seems to be a group who are already friends and 'do lunch' but aren't very friendly.... I guess I'm not the most socially confident person but am happy and confident with my career and my friends ...I guess I wanted to throw myself into some baby groups in the hope that DD would be better than me at this sort of thing. Does anyone else find them a bit hard work? I sort of feel like I should have made loads of new mum friends and be organising play dates or going for coffees but I'm not...am I being daft or doing it wrong?? X

Beamur Thu 17-Jan-13 23:14:04

I found them really hard work and didn't make any lasting friends, but many people have a whale of a time and meet like minded souls.
I think the trick maybe is, if one group doesn't click for you, then try another. Don't let it get to you though.

BonzoDooDah Thu 17-Jan-13 23:27:23

I agree I found it quite hard - and nobody tells you how isolated you can feel with a new baby ... I was so lonely at first. (actually thinking about it I was lonely quite a bit).

I found my local NCT bumbs and babes group (from the NCT website) and went there and met some lovely people. I also went to a few different baby and toddler groups held in different local churches. Again met a different crowd and stayed at the one I liked best.

And then I did stuff like library groups and going to the baby swimming session at the local pool, you could find a buggy fit group etc.
It does take some effort and yes I felt like the odd one out a bit of the time - but that's generally because some people are just bloody rude and you have to remember all you have in common (at first) is a new baby... and probably sleep deprivation.
Good luck.

CookieMonster88 Thu 17-Jan-13 23:27:38

I know how you feel, I think walking into a room of mums who already know each other is the most daunting thing I've done for ages. I've been going to 2months to a group now and have slowly got to know everyone. I was so proud of myself this week as I finally built up the courage to suggest going for a coffee after with one of the mums with a son roughly the age of my DD and was met with a big smile smile turns out she felt the same and didn't know how to make the next step lol! It's like dating all over again!! Just showed everyone is in the same boat really.

pebblesandbamm Thu 17-Jan-13 23:37:41

They're awful places. I share your lack of social confidence in new groups and can't bring myself to speak to people because I think "They could not possibly have any interest in anything I have to say". I too have forced myself in the hope that my children will never experience my social ineptness!! (It hasn't worked). But as time has gone on I have a laugh while I'm there but haven't built lasting friendships.

(I am a social disaster!)

Caitycat Thu 17-Jan-13 23:40:07

I was terrified of this situation and determined to avoid it if I could. I go to two baby groups and in both I have found there are groups of mums who seem to have known each other for years and no chance of breaking in. But there are also always newer people and I have forced myself to pretend not to be shy! I asked other mums in both groups if they fancied a coffee after and a few said yes (took me a couple of weeks to get to that point!) I now make sure I ask anyone new if they would like to join us and make sure they know where we go and that they are welcome to join us any time. This us totally out of character for me but I am so glad I have done it and now realise I never had anything to lose - if I had been knocked back by everyone I think I would have realised I was at the wring group!

horseylady Fri 18-Jan-13 08:10:40

It's hard!!! I think people tend to stick in their groups too.

I think that you have to go to groups a fair few times to be seen and then people will start chatting more.

I know no one in the Village I live in!! But on Tuesday went to a local group and people were friendly. On Monday or Wednesday I'm going to try another. I read on here to view mums as colleagues. Some you'll love, some you won't. Don't expect to make lifelong friends. Your doing a job together!!

dizzy77 Fri 18-Jan-13 08:17:45

I did every group w DS and made lots of friends, although can appreciate after a while I was probably in one if those groups who already lunch etc and might not seem that welcoming blush.

I second the advice to try lots of different ones around different activities as they all offer different types and experiences. Also, seeking out likely looking people on their own, taking a deep breath and sweetly saying "fancy a coffee?" after the group can work. Sometimes, the answer is "I'd love to, but LO needs a feed/lay down etc", and this is fine: don't let it put you off to ask at the next group. Someone on here said ML is like starting a new job, you gave to find your connections and people are polite and welcoming most of the time although not everyone will be lasting friends: I found that comparison more helpful than school some unhappy memories.

bluecarrot Fri 18-Jan-13 08:23:29

I'm not v social but have two very close friends thanks to the tots group. Met one 8 years ago and the other 3 years ago. However, there was over 100 people in total at the groups I went to and I didn't really connect with anyone else ( though I'm quiet and didn't really mind) I did fiddle with my phone a lot though! As a leader if a group for a time I tried to chat to newcomers before they made it into the hall with other mums, then I directed then to a seat beside someone they had something in common with. That seemed to work well smile

My advice is to talk to other newbies first, then wen you are part of the old group, make sure to bring new folk insmile

AlanMoore Fri 18-Jan-13 08:32:09

I only did one group with my first as I had no car and I did feel a bit isolated. I liked the women at the group and that coffee once a week was something I looked forward to. 2.5 years later our DC have outgrown the group but we are now all friends and meet once or twice a month smile

It can be a slow burn depending on circumstances. I've found it much easier this time round and have added some other local mums to our meet ups. But I found it easier because I didn't really care as much as already met really nice people.

Choose somewhere close ish to the group and baby friendly for the age of the kids eg cafe, soft play, and ask everyone if they want to meet for coffee on x day. Dont take no personally, and do it again the week after. If people say they'd love to but can't that day, ask when they can. Especially ask the people who keep to themselves, for sure some of them are just self reliant or standoffish but a good few are shy or feeling like you are. Good luck! X

TheCountessOlenska Fri 18-Jan-13 08:39:43

It is hard - how old is your baby? I didn't do NCT and it took me till DD was around 2 to get to the play date stage (and if I had gone back to work I would never have managed to make any "mummy" friends, I find it takes people about a year to know and love me wink )

All I can say is persevere with the groups and remember everyone really really is in the same boat and feels as awkward as you do!

ledkr Fri 18-Jan-13 08:44:44

It's funny cos I used to do two groups on different days but same hall different people. On Tuesday nobody spoke to me but on wed they were lovely, so weird.
I met a very close friend at a group ten yrs ago. Still in touch.
The worst for me us when you are chatting to a few mums and think you are getting in well then they all go off for coffee and don't ask you. sad

teacher123 Fri 18-Jan-13 09:57:57

I kind of dip into baby groups, a lot of my 'real friends' have babies, so tend to see them if I can, and struggle to commit to going to things at exactly the same time each week! Also my parents and inlaws are all retired and very hands on so I spend lots of time with them! Sometimes I feel a bit sad about it, especially as my best friend moved away 6 months ago, but I'm going back to work in April, so I wouldn't be able to continue going to them anyway!

Eskino Fri 18-Jan-13 10:02:23

"Baby" groups. Aren't they? I don't use them but if I did it would be for the purpose of giving my baby some extra stimulation.

If I want to make more friends I'd go out to a bar, or find somewhere with like minded people.

I really don't think that the fact you've all managed to procreate is a good basis for friendship. (especially judging on some of the people I've seen with kids).

SuperDuperTrooper Fri 18-Jan-13 11:38:57

Eskino I think that's a bit harsh. There are many women, myself included, that have struggled with the isolation that having a baby with no family support network brings. Baby groups are an opportunity to meet others in a similar boat and develop friendships. It can be hard and there are bound to be some people you click with and others you don't. It is possible to find like minded people at these groups but it may take some searching. I'm all for baby groups as a social opportunity for the parents. I did some groups to benefit me and some classes to benefit my DS. A healthy balance if you ask me.

Eskino Fri 18-Jan-13 13:13:56

But how do you know the other people there are eager and want to make adult friends? They might be less outgoing and sociable towards others because they are going there to provide their children with a stimulating environment. It's not being harsh to say that if I went to one with my son, it would be for his stimulation not for my own benefit.

SquidgersMummy Fri 18-Jan-13 13:55:15

Thanks all. I like the analogy of viewing other mums as potential work colleagues - I think it's very apt and makes it feel less personal and less like a secondary school re-run. Groups are for stimulating babies but babies also learn social skills from watching their mums so I really think it's part of the task at hand. I will take your advice and keep chipping away regardless! I think I need to be more consistent and not give up on a group too quickly. Still scary though. Here goes, big breath..smile. (If you spot me looking nervous on the periphery FFS say hello!!)

Shakey1500 Fri 18-Jan-13 13:59:59

I bloody hated them! Forced myself to go really as it got us out of the house, I felt I "should" etc. But Ye Gads, they were cliquey, to the point of making feel like a true outsider. I'm sure there are plenty that are extremely welcoming and useful for making new friends, I was just unluckly probably.

BonzoDooDah Fri 18-Jan-13 14:24:22

Intestesting opinion Eskimo hmm ... It's really easy to get out to a bar and find new people to chat to during the day when breastfeeding a new baby and the majority of people are at work. hmm
They're called baby groups to say you are welcome to bring your baby. Most of the time the babies are under 6 months old and couldn't give a stuff who else is in the room except their parent. But if you needed to get out to a baby group to give your baby that extra stimulation - then that worked for you.
Toddler groups are a bit different but the majority of baby groups I have been to (and helped run) have been a social crutch for new parents.

SuperDuperTrooper Fri 18-Jan-13 15:32:08

Bonzodoodah I agree. Having been to baby groups its clear that they are for the parent and not meant as a stimulating environment for the baby. I think that baby classes are for the baby as they have activities and resources to stimulate the child and baby groups are more for the parent as they are normally just involve a group of mums in need of social contact sitting around chatting and drinking tea. I don't see the harm in going to either. Babies need to learn to socialise, which they will learn by watching their parents do so, as much as they may benefit from baby music/signing/massage classes etc.

Jac1978 Fri 18-Jan-13 21:05:07

My father in law is always going on at me for not having mummy friends to hang out with like his daughter does but she is lucky in that her friends have had babies the same time as she has. I find the groups incredibly hard - my local village one is probably the friendliest but even then I feel myself hovering on the edges of conversations and feeling gutted listening to them arranging to meet each other but they seem to all know each other really well. I went to my local children's centre this week to a stay and play session - I had fun with DD who loves being around children but that's probably the only reason I stayed - the mums completely blanked me. It felt awful - I know I'm on the shy side but it does make me wonder if there's something wrong with me even though I used to have lots of work mates. I never imagined it would be this hard - I imagined lots of friendly, good humoured women willing to make friends but I have found the opposite and it's hard not to feel the pressure to meet people. I found it helped a bit with the village one when I offered to help the girl who runs it. It took some nerve to offer but it showed her I was a nice generous person and she always talks to me now which is lovely. I have found it very reassuring to know I'm not the only one. I'm going to try a couple more different ones, find the one that's the least awful and keep going in the hope that in time I will get to know a few people. It does get lonely being at home with a baby.

knitterati Fri 18-Jan-13 21:28:47

Squidgersmummy - I could have written your post! Before xmas, we moved to the Cambridgeshire area for DHs work, leaving some good friends with babies behind and the feeling that I had finally put down roots.

Now the New Year is here, I have made extra effort to go to baby groups to get DD and I out of the house and making friends. It is so hard. I sat at 'Little Movers' the other day after being ignored by a couple of mums and being awkwardly on the edge of a conversation. I am normally a v sociable person, but faced with this situation I just went in on myself & just played quietly with DD (and did cry a little bit) <slaps self with wet fish>

Can mumsnet local help you? That might be a place to look for a meet-up.

Good luck & let us know how you get on.

Geekster Fri 18-Jan-13 21:52:19

I managed to make a friend at one of the groups we go to and we have a coffee together every couple of weeks, but we are moving away next week to a completely new area and I'm dreading it as I will have to start all over again. I fully intend to take my DD to groups because she really enjoys them.

SquidgersMummy Sat 19-Jan-13 10:15:23

Hey Jac and Knit,

Thanks for yr posts - nice to know its not just me - feels so ridiculous being so bothered by it but when there it's so hard. (Snow permitting) we all need to keep going, surely there are some lovely mums out there in RL!! Posting on MN is like having a big sister give you a big hug. Thanks. X

Journey Sat 19-Jan-13 21:25:21

I agree with the advice about trying different baby and toddler groups.

Try and workout which toddler groups are likey to feed into your dcs future school. The reason I say this is because there is more of a reason getting to know a new mum if you know your dcs are likely to be going to the same school so the other mum tends to be a bit more welcoming.

Toddler groups that have a mixture of mums, childminders and grannies can be less clique. All the childminders I've met at toddler groups are lovely. I think they probably want to build up their network of contacts and as such tend to be more friendly. In turn they may become a good friend, or they may know someone who has similar interest to yours through their networking.

Take the time to talk to the grannies. I appreciate you may want to make friends your own age but sometimes you will later find out that the granny you've been talking to has a dd who is around the same age as you and she goes to the Wednesday sessions whilst granny goes to the Friday ones. You then have broken the ice a bit with the dd from talking to her mum.

brettgirl2 Sun 20-Jan-13 07:55:35

I think Eskimo has a point, although I' d probably say the same about bars!!! I'm fairly socially confident but have only ever met a couple of people I've particularly liked at either baby or toddler groups. Just because you all have a baby doesn't mean you will get on. I think the other issue with groups is that people tell lots of lies which can make you feel worse not better.

My motivation for going is to get out. I am polite to the people I see but that's it. Remember if they seem ' cliques' they probably knew each other before the group so that's hard to get past!!!

My advice is to just keep going out, not just to groups but for a quick coffee, to the park etc you will keep seeing the same people and eventually you will make some friends.

Flutterbutterby Sun 20-Jan-13 09:06:55

I agree it can be difficult if groups are already established. I also thought it felt very much like a "date" when asking people if they fancied a coffee! I've found that it just takes time, you can't expect to be best friends with someone immediately and you won't get on well with everyone. The colleague analogy is a good one.

I experienced it again having moved nursery and DD started going to birthday parties. The children had been through nursery together and the Mums all knew each other. Having said that I went to so many that over time I got to know them better!

I also found friends in random places: swimming lessons, noticing a common panic to get DC1 ready whilst stopping DC2 from wondering off etc! We now meet up sometimes. One very good friend of mine I met because I phoned her to ask her details about her DS's birthday party, we clicked so well that we regularly go out for drinks and have dinners with our DHs etc.

I also found the post natal NCT group to be a fantastic way of meeting friends and have also got to know people through volunteering at the NCT nearly new sales.

It does take time and a bit of confidence initially but it's worth it!

PatButchersEarring Sun 20-Jan-13 18:52:46

Knitterati Whereabouts are you?

I'm in Cambridge, and you'd be most welcome to come and play with me and DD (3.5), and another on the way :-)

jjuice Mon 21-Jan-13 23:40:46

I found my local baby and toddler group were all in a clique or just rude. I hated going there. I found Mondays Monsters run by lovely old ladies in a rougher part of town and made tons of friends. I loved going so did dd.
As kids have got older I have lots of friends through their sports.
You will get there. You have to persevere.

SnowLiviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 21-Jan-13 23:56:28

More info here
ANd also try your Mumsnet local - post on there and find some MNers to hang out with!
Best of luck with it all

VikingLady Tue 22-Jan-13 19:07:27

Try going to as many different groups as you can - some of ours are lovely and friendly, others cliquey. It's early to say (dd is 10m) but I think I have made a couple of long term friends through them. Now I know more people a bunch of us have a standing arrangement to go for coffee right after a couple of groups and we make a point of inviting new people - we remember being in their shoes!

That said, people are people, therefore many are utter arses.

Our surestart feeding group is the friendliest, btw. Due to the personality of the dragon running it. She does not agree with bullying/leaving people out. We did a secret santa there for the regular babies and made sure we asked the new mums particularly.

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