I’ve been a mum for several years now and while it is quite possibly the best thing I have ever done, it’s also possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I really don’t know how I would have managed these last few years without the amazing support system I have in my life. And a big part of that is the mum friends I’ve made along the way.
Most of my friendships have been formed at babygroups and at the school gates, although there are all sorts of other places you can meet other mums if you’re feeling a bit lonely. The thing is though, it can be really hard to know how to take a new friendship to the next level.
How do you go from general small talk at baby group to arranging playdates and actual nights out together?
I’m naturally quite an introvert and if I’m honest I’m still working on some of these things myself, but here are my essential tips for asking out a new mum friend.
Keep it casual at the start
When you first try to make the leap from acquaintance to friend it can be hard to know if the other person wants the same thing. So it can be a good idea to keep things casual and quite open-ended to start with.
Next time you’re at playgroup together (or wherever you normally see each other) try asking if they’d like to get a coffee together sometime, or meet at the park at some point for a play and a chat.
Keeping it open with the ‘sometime’ line rather than offering a set date or time lets you gauge their reaction and takes the pressure off both of you a bit. If they don’t seem interested you can just leave it and maintain the friendship as it is. If they say yes though then you can follow up with a firmer plan to get together.
Choose your moment and watch your body language
Things are always a bit manic with babies and young children around, but try and find a calmer moment to ask your new friend out. Don’t do it when they’re trying to calm down their screaming baby or juggle school bags and lunch boxes at the end of the school day.
If you’re at playgroup you can use a little psychological trick to your advantage and ask them when they’ve got a nice cup of tea in their hand. Studies have shown that when we hold a warm drink in our hands we think more warmly about the person we’re interacting with at the time.
Try to act confident when you’re talking to them too, and don’t fidget too much or cross your arms which can come across as really defensive.
Instead try gently touching their arm as you’re talking to them. Diana Mather, author of Secrets of confident communicators says;
“People who are tactile are often more popular than people who never touch others. Touch enables us to voluntarily and involuntarily get closer to each other”
If the thought of doing this makes you feel uncomfortable though, try to find something else to do with your hands while you’re talking, like holding a cup of tea or one of your baby’s toys.
Focus on what you have in common
If you want to start with getting together with your new mum friend and your children then this is pretty easy.
You can use the fact that you both have children to your advantage and ask them on a play date or child-focused activity. So see if they want to check out a new baby signing class with you, or meet up at the local pool for the baby swimming session.
If you actually fancy trying to do something with your new friend without your children, then it might help to find out what else you have in common.
It might be that you both love films but never get to see the new releases any more. In this case it could be really easy to suggest a trip to the cinema together once you know what sort of films they like most. Maybe you’ve chatted about the fact that you both want to get back in shape, and so you could ask if she wants to for a walk/run sometime or to check out a new class at the gym.
Make it easy for them to say yes
We all lead such busy lives that we don’t always want to add more things to the chaos.
So don’t make the first move with your new friend too complicated, think about making it something that’s really easy for them to say yes to. Ask them if they fancy a coffee at the cafe by school after you’ve dropped the children off. See if they fancy joining you and your little one at the park round the corner from babygroup. If you can find something that’s nice and convenient and doesn’t really put anyone out they may well be more likely to say yes.
Assuming everything goes well and your new friend says yes to getting together, try not to put too much pressure on yourself for it to go well.
Just relax, be yourself and try to have fun. And remember that she’s probably feeling the exact same way and is just happy to have another mum to chat to about life with babies and children.