I moved to York 18 month ago and had ZERO friends. That’s right – I knew absolutely no one. Now that I look back at it, that is a pretty daunting prospect, especially at 20 weeks pregnant. But guess what, becoming a new mum is the absolute best time to make new mum friends and build an amazing ‘Mum Tribe‘. Whether you like it or not, you now have 101 things to talk and bond over, so you will naturally make wonderful new mum friends with like minded mummies along the way. I know many people whom are still friends with their mum friends years down the track, including my own mum!
So how do you go about building your Mum Tribe I hear you ask? There are lots of different options and you can put in as much or as little effort as you like. Given that I had no friends here, it was easy for me to force myself to make an effort and build those relationships. And I tell you what, you need these girlfriends to get you through the sleepless nights, screaming babies, poo explosions, weaning drama and the new household dynamics. Here are the things that I have done to build my very own Mum Tribe.
You can start building your Mum Tribe well before your baby even arrives. Whilst in Perth I attended Pregnancy Pilates classes at the studio I had been practicing Pilates at for years. When I arrived in York I searched high and low for a suitable Pilates class and was unable to find one so opted for Yoga, as it appears to be the done thing in York. These classes were so wonderful as not only did it help to keep me in shape and completely relaxed, but the teacher arranged for us all to have tea and biscuits together afterwards (so very British). She essentially forced us to become friends and even made us have a dinner together one evening after class, but I am so very thankful and grateful that she did as these friends have been my lifeline. I also attended Aqua-natal classes late in my pregnancy which had the obvious health benefits and a good opportunity for a chat and catch up with some girls I knew from Yoga.
In England it is the done thing to sign up to an NCT antenatal class. I figured there was no chance I was going to get my husband to forfeit his weekends to go to these classes and I didn’t fancy them much either. Besides, we were too busy travelling at that point! I have heard many people refer to these classes as ‘the most expensive way to make friends‘ as you will inevitably make friends with these other couples whom you have spent several weekends with during your pregnancy. In Australia I believe the classes are run by the hospital regardless of whether you are public or private. I instead opted for a privately run birthing class which was just one Sunday session (not the good kind ha ha) at one of the Yoga studios. I failed to realize that what I had signed up for was a natural birthing class so I did get some funny looks when I proclaimed I had no idea how I wanted to give birth and that I may want drugs – whoops! Whilst it wasn’t the traditional type of class, I thought it was a good time for us to bond as a couple and discuss the impeding arrival. As it turned out, Mackenzie was less than 3 weeks away.
Once the baby comes along, there are endless amounts of baby classes that you can sign up to (its actually a bit ridiculous). But I do think it is important to sign up to one or two so that you have an excuse to get dressed and leave the house in the early days. Again one of my favorite classes was Yoga and mainly because this acted as a bit of a support group. Each week we were given the chance to share any good or bad experiences and at the end there were tea and biscuits (of course!). I met a wonderful group of ladies here and then we would also often go for lunch afterwards. There are lots of different singing and sensory classes but they were really not my thing – probably because I am still in denial that I am a mother even 1 year later. Now that Mackenzie is a bit bigger we are attending swimming classes and occasionally I will try out different activities when we have the time.
I found a brochure for a Mum App called ‘Mush‘ in our local cafe. I felt like a bit of an idiot downloading it and even more of a loser writing to a few people. It is basically Tinder for Mums (Ha!) and given Tinder was well before my time I had no idea what the etiquette is for such an app. But you will never believe that I found a friend whom lives just down the road, has a daughter the same age and her husband works with my husband. Inevitably we would have met on the dance floor at the Christmas function, but that could have been years down the track. The app is available in England and Australia, so I highly recommended downloading it and finding some like-minded Mums whom are close by!
Cafes, Shops and Neighbors
Pre-baby I was never one to talk to random people on planes, in coffee shops or even our neighbors. We have friends who have made friends all over the world on various adventures they have been on but that was just not us. Until now! I don’t know if it is the moving country or the baby, or perhaps a touch of both. Everyone wants to talk to you when you have a baby and tell you about their child, grandchild, niece, nephew etc. And in York when they hear the Australian accent, everyone wants to tell me about their relative that lives in Australia or the time they went backpacking around the country. So I have had some of the most interesting conversations and swapped phone numbers with people that I never would have even said hello to in the past (see my previous post ‘The Pros and Cons of Being an Expat‘). I think it is quite remarkable and I’m actually at a point now where I enjoy it. I challenge you to give it a try yourself 🙂
Follow these 5 tips and I’m sure you will make mum friends and have a fabulous ‘Mum Tribe‘ (and a busy social calendar) in no time. I would love to hear your personal experiences so please comment in the section below. And if you are in York and would like to know which classes I attended, please send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org