Mum-Friends for­ever!

Want to find a new best mum-friend this sum­mer? You al­ready have all the skills you need

Mother & Baby - - LIFE & KIDS -

Hav­ing a best mum-friend in your speed dial is lifechang­ing. It’s not just about hav­ing some­one to brave soft play with, a cof­fee-shop and tod­dler-group buddy who doesn’t mind if you mes­sage her while you’re awake in the early hours— though that is great. It’s all about hav­ing some­one to share this ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing a mum with. Be­ing at the same stage of this jour­ney to­gether. Watch­ing your ba­bies grow in tan­dem. Know­ing that your chil­dren will be best friends too. And if you haven’t found her yet, the good news is that you al­ready have every­thing you need to make that friend­ship hap­pen this sum­mer. All you need to do is dust off your dat­ing skills and use them to find Mummy Right. And if just think­ing about ap­proach­ing that in­ter­est­ing-look­ing mum in the park fills your stom­ach with but­ter­flies, don’t worry. Once you’ve had a re­fresher on using those so­cial tools you spent years hon­ing, you’ll be just fine— we prom­ise!

Work out your type

Ask your­self, do you have a type when it comes to friends? Just as we seek out sim­i­lar traits in our part­ners, there tends to be a com­mon theme in our friend­ships too. Are the ma­jor­ity of your friends chatty and con­fi­dent, deep thinkers or per­haps a lit­tle re­served? Do your friends hold dif­fer­ent view­points to you, or are they on your wave­length? Do you en­joy a re­laxed con­ver­sa­tion, or do you pre­fer be­ing brought out of your com­fort zone? Work­ing out what qual­i­ties you find at­trac­tive in oth­ers, and what bal­ances your char­ac­ter, can act as good in­di­ca­tors for who could be­come your fu­ture BMF (Best Mum Friend). Or work­ing out what qual­i­ties you don’t like in oth­ers can also quickly help you suss out who you’re un­likely to be com­pat­i­ble with.

Get out there

At work, in a bar, at the gym… the con­ven­tional places to find a po­ten­tial new friend might seem off lim­its now you have a baby, but the friend­ship pool is now even big­ger than it was be­fore you had a lit­tle one. The play cen­tre, the park, your reg­u­lar tod­dler group and even the su­per­mar­ket all put you in the com­pany of people in the same boat as you and, with a shared in­ter­est, the stage is al­ready set for re­laxed in­ter­ac­tion with other mums. To in­crease the size of this pool and the like­li­hood of find­ing ‘your type’ swim­ming in it, join some classes you’re in­ter­ested in, whether that’s baby mas­sage or mum-and-tod­dler ex­er­cise. Make the ef­fort to search for fam­ily events near you too. If you love na­ture, you’re more likely to find a mum-friend who loves it too at an out­door play ses­sion or­gan­ised at your lo­cal na­ture re­serve. Or if shop­ping is more your thing, then the open­ing of that new baby bou­tique will draw mums who feel the same.

Make the first move

Wher­ever you are, start look­ing for your type. And you’ll know her when you spot her: maybe you over­heard her crack a great

joke or you just love her hand­bag. Then it’s time to make the first move. And for most of us, this will be a new ex­pe­ri­ence, and you need to be brave. But you are brave. You’re mum to your won­der­ful baby, so you’re al­ready a Su­per­woman. If you’re not sure what to say, fol­low this three-step con­ver­sa­tion starter: ask about her baby, then com­pli­ment her on her choice of pushchair, or what­ever else that helps tag her as ‘your type’, then to ask her about which lo­cal baby classes she goes to. If she’s not re­spon­sive, it sim­ply means she’s not look­ing for a new per­son to chat to. Don’t be dis­heart­ened: treat it as prac­tice, and move on to your next tar­get. You’ll soon meet a mum who’s more than happy to chat.

Be bold

So you’ve de­vel­oped a rap­port with a po­ten­tial new mum mate. It seems you have plenty in com­mon. But how do you make the leap from a fleet­ing meet­ing to po­ten­tial play­date pals? If you feel con­fi­dent, be up­front and say that you’ve en­joyed talk­ing to her and think it would be lovely to meet up again. Or sug­gest that it would be a treat for your lit­tle ones to have a play­date. If that ap­proach feels too for­ward, there are other ways to open the door to fu­ture friend­ship. Tell her about a great class or group you go to, and tell her to drop by if she can. Then, when you bump into each other again, tone down the level of for­mal­ity each time un­til you feel re­laxed enough in her com­pany to di­rectly sug­gest you meet up.

Ditch the first date nerves

We all re­mem­ber our best and worst first dates, and the lead up is al­ways a nerve-wrack­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Will it be awk­ward? Will the con­ver­sa­tion flow? What if we don’t get on? You might be hav­ing the same wor­ries ahead of the first date with your po­ten­tial BMF. But if you’ve sug­gested a play­date, and she’s ac­cepted, you’re over the first hur­dle. She does like you and she is will­ing to give up some of her pre­cious time to get to know you more. Neu­tral ground is best to be­gin with. Aim for ac­tiv­i­ties that you can ex­tend if you’re get­ting along fa­mously, or cur­tail if not. Set your­self up for suc­cess by sug­gest­ing two dif­fer­ent types of date and ask her which she’d pre­fer. That way, if she’s ner­vous too, she can pick the one that makes her feel most com­fort­able. Go for op­tions that you en­joy too, but make them as dif­fer­ent as pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, sug­gest a walk in the park with your ba­bies in prams, or a cof­fee in town. And when you’re on your way, re­mem­ber you’re look­ing for a BMF who likes you for you, so what you and your young­ster wear, whether you’re five min­utes late, and how much sleep you’ve had the night be­fore shouldn’t mat­ter.

Re­spect your­self

If you both had a good time, ar­range an­other meet-up be­fore

this one ends. That way the re­la­tion­ship won’t stall as long as you’re both keen to con­tinue. But don’t go all guns blaz­ing to make this friend­ship work at all costs. Just like dat­ing, this re­la­tion­ship has to be 50/50. Don’t pay for the cof­fee ev­ery time or al­ways be the one who trav­els to her neck of the woods. Sim­i­larly, if hints of com­pet­i­tive­ness or judge­ment rear their heads, don’t sugar coat them. You’re invit­ing this per­son into not just your life, but your child’s. So you owe it to the both of you to keep look­ing for some­one—and not just any­one— who brings good things into your lit­tle world. You’ve al­ready found your best friend ever in your baby, which means you’re now al­lowed to be a lit­tle more dis­cern­ing: don’t ac­cept any­thing less than kind­ness and sup­port.

Fol­low the re­la­tion­ship rules

The rule goes that you’re al­most cer­tain to be friends for life if you make it past the seven-year stage. So that gives you a lot of time to go from new friend­ship to per­ma­nent pals. Help the friend­ship be­come deeper by ap­ply­ing com­mon-sense re­la­tion­ship rules. Be open with her, be­cause trust grows with hon­esty. Chat about what you are and aren’t com­fort­able with when it comes to your baby, so you build a bank of shared, un­writ­ten rules. Spend reg­u­lar time to­gether, first with, then with­out your ba­bies, as it’s im­por­tant to get to know each other as women as well as mums. And wait a while un­til you in­tro­duce her to your cir­cle of friends and fam­ily, so your oneon-one friend­ship isn’t ab­sorbed by ev­ery­one else get­ting to know each other. Do all this and, by the time the sum­mer’s out, you’ll be best mum­friends for­ever. And this time next year, you—and your young­sters— will be in­sep­a­ra­ble!

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