Mothers group... two words that can strike fear into the heart of new mums everywhere.
Will they judge me? Can I tolerate competitive mothering? Should I even bother going?
These were some of my fears when confronted with the mums' group conundrum. I almost didn’t go because I was so afraid I wouldn’t get along with anyone or I’d be singled out and judged for what I perceived as my endless parenting failures. I imagined polished, perfect mothers with perfect babies who fed perfectly and barely cried. Ha! How wrong I was.
While it may take some time to find a mothers group you are comfortable with, once you do, it's hard to look back.
Here are six reasons to join a mums group:
1. You'll realise perfect mothers don't exist
Instead of judgement about how I looked (mostly frazzled) or parented (by winging it), what I received was support, friendship and the realisation that there are other women in the same boat as me and my new bub. No perfection, just struggling new mums fumbling their way through the early days of motherhood.
2. To get out of the house with your bub
Just getting out of the house is a good enough reason to join a mums group. Those early days of motherhood can be lonely and hard work, so mothers group gives you a good excuse to get out and talk to other adults.
3. It's a great opportunity to ask questions
If you join a mums group run through your community health centre, this is a great opportunity to ask lots of questions of your child health nurse.
After our final community-run mum's group session, my husband and I were flying to Melbourne with our then six-week-old Olivia. During our session, I received the most valuable piece of advice from the child health nurse – feed your baby during take-off and landing. It worked a treat and I was so glad I asked. You may even find that your fellow mums will have suggestions and advice that you’d never thought of.
4. YOU and the baby get new friends!
Your local mothers group is not only a chance for you to socialise, but it provides your baby with the chance to interact with other little people just like them. Babies love play dates, just like new mums love (and probably need) coffee.
5. It's a good eye-opener about how different babies are
One huge advantage of joining a mums group is that it gives you the opportunity to see how different every mum and baby is. No baby will look the same, feed the same, or react the same. No mother will parent the same or have faced the same hurdles during pregnancy. And that’s ok – all babies, mums and pregnancies are different and that’s one of the things that makes motherhood great.
6. You'll have the opportunity to join different groups
Most mums groups are free to join, while some playgroups attract fees, but will let you attend a session to see if it's right for you before paying for the full term. It might take you a whole term to find the best playgroup for you and your baby, but just remember you aren't locked into going if you don't want to. Just don't let a bad experience hinder your perceptions about mothers' groups. There is one out there for you and your baby!
So what have you got to lose? You never know – it may be the start of a wonderful, long-lasting friendship.
I'm a first-time mother and I've found that I can't go out with my son without somebody giving me advice on how to raise him. There seems to be a general assumption that new parents have no idea about children, and it is everybody's duty to share their wisdom.