Today Life with Katie is bringing you something different but I'm hoping it may be useful to those readers in the UK who, like me, often feel a little isolated and in need of the company of other mums. Since having Pip my life has become increasingly isolated as most of my friends have older children and moved on with their daytime lives leaving me with a very small (read that as almost non-existent) social life. Pip and I rub along and go to toddler groups and have day excursions but I miss having mums to hang out with. I miss going out with other mums with the children and most of all I miss some easy daytime natter.
I recently found a website called Mum Amie. It is a site for mums who want to meet other mums. It's for mums, like me and maybe you, who are looking for some company; someone to chat about the children with; someone to go out socially with; someone to be friends with; or maybe someone who has similar experiences of parenting children with challenges. I think it's a great idea so to support Aime's redevelopment of the site I suggested that I share the website here to let all my adopter friends (and the many readers who read this blog quietly) know about the site, just in case it's something that you think might be of use to you. I asked Aime to put together some information to tell you all about herself and the reasons why she set the site up. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Before my daughter was born I had a full time job, plenty of friends and a great social life. I was rarely alone – always surrounded by other people and always busy. This happy-go-lucky, responsibility free lifestyle changed in heart beat when my little girl arrived. The first of my friends to have a baby, I spent my days alone with her while everyone else was at work. By the evening I was normally completely shattered and far too tired to socialise. I used to log onto Facebook and see what they were all up to (activities that I had as recently as a few weeks ago been a part of) and sob. The change in lifestyle that becoming a mum triggered was, for me, very difficult to adapt to.
|Aime and her daughter, Suz|
By the time my daughter reached 12 months of age, I was forced to admit to something that I found difficult to acknowledge. I was lonely. When I took my lovely baby to soft play or to the park and saw other mums sitting together chatting and laughing, I felt a deep pang of jealousy. I wanted (and needed) to find some mum friends of my own but wasn’t really sure how to go about it. Clearly mums weren't going to turn up at my doorstep and so I would have to go out and find them. This was a bit of an alien concept for me as most of my existing friendships had come about from school and university. I had never actively looked for friends before. The whole concept made me feel a bit desperate and needy; it certainly wouldn't be acceptable to approach other mums in the park and whine ‘please will you be my friend?’
I didn't go to antenatal classes, which seems to be the way that the majority of people make friends with other parents. I had been to a few play groups but everyone seemed to be in their established circles and no one spoke to me. Perhaps if I had more confidence I would have found it easy to breeze into places where mums hang out and chat to everyone – but unfortunately this is not me. Although happy in a group of established friends, I'm quite shy in situations with new people.
In the end I decided to venture from the unknown into a complete abyss – I decided to go on-line. I found a website with a meet-a-mum board and tentatively wrote a post introducing myself and my daughter before asking if anyone would like to meet up. To be honest, I didn't expect to receive any replies. But there must have been mums in the same boat as me because within hours I had received a couple of replies. Within a week, I had received about thirty messages.
I’ll never forget my first ‘mum date’ with Helena, who lived close by and had a similar aged daughter to me. After sending a few messages, the next step was to actually meet. We arranged a time and place. She would be the one with the bright purple buggy and I would wait for her outside Waterstones at 3pm. This meeting took me totally out of my comfort zone and consequently I was incredibly nervous. It felt like a blind date. In reality that was just what it was. What if we had nothing to talk about? What if she didn't like me? Luckily, Helena and I hit it off straight away. I’m very fortunate that she was my first ‘mum date’. Had it been a total disaster I would have probably given up at that point. Helena remains a very dear friend to this day.
|Aime and her son, Fred|
After Helena, I met twenty or so other mums. Some I connected with immediately and some I didn’t gel with at all. As each blind date approached, I felt more at ease and the nerves disappeared. I came out of the process with five lifelong friends and made more mum friends through them. About six months after going online, I finally had my very own network of mum friends. My days became filled with play dates, trips to parks, soft plays and other kid related activities. The odd night out was also not uncommon. Ironically, my family is about to up sticks and move eighty miles away from our current home. And so I will have to start all over again. And this time, I’m really looking forward to it!
All the joking about blind dates aside, for me finding mum friends online was very hit and miss. I began to wonder how my quest could have been simplified. How could I have ensured that more of my dates were hits, thus eliminating the misses? If making mum friends online was similar to online dating then surely the same logic could be applied? The idea of a website that allowed you to create a profile, answer match questions and then be matched up with similar mums began to form. I’m delighted that three years later, Mum Amie is finally here. It has become clear to me, from the overwhelmingly positive response we have received from mums, that Mum Amie was badly needed and I hope that we can help countless other mums to find their mum friends.
A final word from Gem:.....
If the concept of this site appeals to you then go and check Mum Amie out and see if there are people in your local area who are also looking to get together. I've already been chatting to some local mums and are hoping to meet up with the children soon.