I Struggle to Make Mum Friends

The other day I was dropping Emma off at nursery and I noticed that a few of the parents in Emma’s class all seemed to know each other quite well. It started to upset me more than I expected as the day went on. Why hadn’t I met another mum at Emma’s nursery? Am I not friendly enough? Or maybe it’s on account of the fact that on some days, I really do look like I’ve clambered out of bed minutes before we leave the house.

struggle to make mum friends - picture of Emma walking through maze

It’s only recently that I’ve started to worry about this. Life has been so busy fitting it all in, and my biggest priority was always that Emma was happy at nursery. She absolutely loves it there and I’m so lucky to say that it is like a second home to her. Every time we drive past it over the weekend, she will get all excited to see it. She also chats away to me about the friends she has made at nursery. It seems to be a little group of four girls, who she always mentions. When I ask her at the end of the day, what was her favourite thing today, it’s always seeing these friends.

On that morning, as I watched other parents chat away like they’d known each other for years, I suddenly felt myself thrown into a similar whirlwind of self-doubt and angst as when Emma was two days old. Is it normal that I don’t know anyone? Am I doing okay? Is it weird that I’ve never had the opportunity to bump into them and strike up a conversation? How would I even go about meeting them? I know Emma would love to see her friends outside of nursery – perhaps I’m not doing enough for her to get to know them better. I always imagined it would happen organically but maybe I’ve misjudged it.

So we’ve entered a new stage in the parenthood ride: meeting other parents at the nursery stairgate. I’ve got to admit: I’m not great at this. At baby and toddler groups, I always used to focus on Emma a bit more because of the social awkwardness I feel at not knowing what to say to other mums. “How old is yours?” only gets you so far in the conversation. Plus I know deep down that I’m not the kind of girl who is great company from the get go, but after a bit of effort and time, I’m actually alright. While you wait for her to arrive, you can have an awkward joke and nervous laughter!

I’m being pushed out of my comfort zone, and that’s okay. I’m so thankful to have the support network of girls I met when I was pregnant and while I was worrying about this, I shared with one of them my concerns. I’m usually too proud to do this, even though I know that’s to my detriment. She told me that she feels it too sometimes and I sighed a breath of relief that it’s not just me who feels this odd pressure to fit in. If anything, it’s also a reminder that we’re going through this together and to admit you’re struggling is absolutely fine.

It’s more than fine. Struggling is not confined to when you have a newborn baby in your arms and everything is new. This is something I forget every day. Even though my days with Emma are largely like Groundhog Day…woken up at the same time, bum shuffling down the stairs shortly after, turning on the TV on just in time to see the 6:45am episode of Baby Jake. Just because the days are filled with such similarity, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be thrown off course. It doesn’t mean that you won’t suddenly notice something that questions how you’re doing as a parent. The crazy thing is, that sometimes we’re struggling together and only by being brave to say “this is making me feel like I’m not doing enough”, do we see that, actually, we’re not alone after all.

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57 Comments

  1. July 20, 2017 / 2:20 pm

    I can really relate to this. Some parents knew each other so well at our nursery that they sometimes stepped in to pick each other’s kids up. I didn’t even know them by name. Sometime we didn’t even mumble a hello! However she’s now been in nursery for about 18 months and I just connected with another mum because her daughter and my daughter are such great pals. I plucked up the courage to just say to her, “I hear our two are really good friends and mine is always talking about what a great day she’s had with your child”. We’ve since had a play date and it was great to see the kids together outside of nursery. I think when they’re old enough to start forming actual friendships it will be easier for you to do so too with their parents. You’re not doing anything wrong! It will come in time x

    • July 20, 2017 / 2:29 pm

      Thank you for such a supportive comment, it’s a minefield isn’t it!? That’s so good to know that it happens in time, really reassuring 🙂

  2. July 20, 2017 / 3:12 pm

    I totally relate to this lovely – the line about the nursery stair gate! Exactly the same. I thought all mums were the same as me then at a party recently I realised they all knew each other way more than I had thought, only now is it suddenly too late with only one month left of E being there?! It’s very hard as for the sake of the kids I prefer the drop and run approach in the morning, then in the evening I’m trying to race home quickly to get on with dinner etc. I’d never thought of it as a place to have long chats and make friends, maybe we’ve been missing something?! Anyway, you’re not alone xx

    • July 20, 2017 / 4:13 pm

      Haha I totally agree! You sort of keep it short and sweet so the kids don’t get upset…maybe we missed something hey 😉 Thank you xx

  3. Georgie
    July 20, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    Oh yes I know exactly how you are feeling! For me it started with the NCT group, I felt I want good enough as I didn’t breastfeed for very long, I don’t own a second home or a million pound townhouse! It has happened at both primary schools my son has attended. He is just about to finish primary next week and I cannot tell you how happy I am about this!! I have found it really hard to fit in with the ‘clicks’ not that I have much in common with them anyway! My advice to you is hold your head high we shouldn’t have to fit in to be accepted!!
    I might add that I did find a few mums that are good friends but it took a while so hang in there xx

  4. July 21, 2017 / 1:46 am

    I felt this way at first. Now my son is a little older when I pick him up, I usually am waiting around for him to tell me he’s ready to go home. As I’m waiting I usually end up talking to other parents waiting. I also got to know a lot of parents by inviting kids to my son’s birthday party from his class.

  5. July 21, 2017 / 6:44 am

    They could well know each other from older siblings – that is what I found anyway. But, I did find that it wasn’t until reception that I finally made friends – it was like everyone needed to warm up a bit. It isn’t nice though and there will always be some unfriendly mums but just know that you are lovely and friends will come xxx

  6. July 21, 2017 / 7:52 pm

    I can really relate to this. I’m really awkward and feel uncomfortable striking up conversations with other mums and dads I see at the Popple’s nursery – even the parents of the kids she always talks about as her ‘friends’. I felt the same way in any baby/toddler classes that we went to – like you, I focused more on my daughter than the other mums. Maybe it gets easier as they get older and get into school? I hope so. #BlogCrush

  7. July 25, 2017 / 6:09 am

    I’m not a mom so I can’t really relate, but a lot of my mom friends say they have trouble making new friends now that they have kids. #DreamTeam

  8. July 25, 2017 / 6:55 am

    Just popping back from #DreamTeam – totally get where you’re coming from, mama.

  9. July 25, 2017 / 7:04 am

    Im feeling for you! Silly thing is, they’re probably all looking at you thinking the same… I’d be your friend
    #DreamTeam

  10. July 25, 2017 / 7:25 am

    Making friends really isn’t easy! I totally agree though, even when people look like they have it together often they have their own struggles! #DreamTeam

  11. July 25, 2017 / 8:49 am

    I very much felt alone a few months ago and was wondering why people outside the preschool all seemed to know each other. It was by chance that I got to speak to one of them at a speech and language therapy session that our girls went to and then everything changed. I really made an effort after that to speak to everyone at the gates, whether it was a ‘hello’, ‘good morning’ ‘any plans to go on holiday’ etc, because I wanted to really try and change that feeling of being alone. Since then I have tried to get involved in everything the preschool does in order to meet other parents and it has worked. I have started to get mum friends, have play dates and even go down the pub with our other halfs and children. Making friends as a parent has been extremely difficult and it has taken some time, but if you put yourself out there a little bit you will find others are wanting to make friends to. You are never alone. 🙂

    #dreamteam

  12. July 25, 2017 / 8:53 am

    I relate to this so much. Its hard to make friends, the self-doubt creeps in and you shrink back into your shell thinking you’ll talk to someone ‘next time’. It’s so hard. #dreamteam

  13. July 25, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    Hi, I’m sure many of us can relate to this whatever it is in life. The mum’s at the gate may well already know each other because of older siblings or other groups they met at. It’s a bit like being the new one at school or a club and trying to fit in and feeling very always at the same time #dreamteam

  14. July 25, 2017 / 1:58 pm

    Oh I feel this too – because of a house move, my daughter started school after everyone else and I really feel like an outsider with the other mums (even though she’s been there 2 years now). I try to smile at them and there are a few that I say hello to, but when they want to chat, it’s not me they choose – they naturally go to the other parents that they know well. I do wonder if I look unfriendly or unapproachable but I’m not sure how to change that… #dreamteam

  15. July 25, 2017 / 2:43 pm

    I’m forced to and it’s a lot of work. Usually we move with my husbands job, so every year or two it’s a new country and I know no one and have no family around. I join the parents FB group, find out how playdates are arranged and where playgroups are and what other mothers do. I have no idea how to get there, normally I’m still setting up our home and unpacking our stuff. I actually probably wouldn’t bother so much if it was just me and would be perfectly happy reading a book, writing or doing yoga but I know if I don’t start to forge these connections we’ll be stuck with just the two of us. So, it takes a while each time but I’m used to it now. #DreamTeam

  16. July 25, 2017 / 3:24 pm

    Oh my goodness, you are so not alone on this one. I struggle with friends full stop and it’s not being shy that’s the problem. I will happily talk to anyone and everyone and come across as really confident, but as a result, I often find myself sidelined, even by my friends. On the plus side, as an only child I’m pretty adept at keeping myself busy and amused, but sometimes it would be nice to have a friend to go out with #DreamTeam x

  17. July 25, 2017 / 4:30 pm

    I often feel like this too. Everyone tells me it gets easier when they start school but thats happening in september and im worried its going to be more of the same! #dreamteam

  18. July 25, 2017 / 5:30 pm

    I feel like this sometimes too but I actually came to realise that some mums actually HAD known each other for years because they had older kids in the same class at primary school etc! It took me a while to get to know other mums and I still wouldn’t count any as close friends. It’s a bit like a dysfunctional family in a way as you sort of have to be around them all but they’re not necessarily people you would CHOOSE to befriend. Most of the time I make polite conversation and forget pro-actively trying to make them my friends – maybe it’s because I’m not a first-time mum but I’ve become bitter and cynical and unacceptably anti-social! I may well need to start making more of an effort come September! #DreamTeam

  19. July 25, 2017 / 5:55 pm

    This one hit so close to home. I’m the same. It was so easy when I was young and I was lucky enough to find great friends- but they are not around. I don’t even have other friends around at the moment, only my husband’s friends since I only live in the UK for a couple of years. I keep worrying that people find me weird, talk too much, talk too little, boring, etc. I have a small circle of pals, but I keep having a feeling that I’m the last one they all care about. You know what I mean? I’m also very busy with these too. They mainly have just one or 2 but they are bigger. And this stage is a killer. It’s been for a year. But blogging gives me some extra push in everything. #dreamteam

  20. July 25, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    I think a lot of people struggle especially when the child is more developed and you are less focused on them. Wait till you get to a school there whole new set of politics involved X #dreamteam

  21. July 25, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    Just popping back because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the #blogcrush linky! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” badge 🙂

    As someone who is naturally quite shy, it’s hard to break into a group of friends who all seem to know each other, especially when you’re limited for time at the school gate. I’m not sure what the answer is… #blogcrush

  22. July 25, 2017 / 8:58 pm

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I have felt left out in some ways whenever I go to a class event or up to the dance studio, but it is just because the other moms know each other so well from their older kids! It definitely gets better as they grow up. #dreamteam

  23. Mainy - myrealfairy
    July 25, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    I can see by the other comments that you have had plenty of reassurance that you are not alone, its tough but gets so much easier. As i’m blogging tonight I’m also whatsapping with my nursery mum friends that I met when my boys were in nursery 8 years ago! They have come to be amazing long term friends:)
    Mainy
    #dreamteam

  24. July 25, 2017 / 10:10 pm

    I think in this tale I am probably one of those other Mums who seems to know everyone – I’ve even had some other Mums ask how on earth I know every parent by name and seem to say hello to every person that walks past. That happens when you live in the same town you grew up in and your kids go to the same school you went to. My advice would be to take it in baby steps in which you feel comfortable – a small smile and a hello goes a long way, and once they start with the whole kids party thing at school, it’s impossible to not get chatting to the same parents time after time. Best of luck honey and don’t beat yourself up – sometimes these things just need time or that one first ice breaker to happen. xx
    #DreamTeam

  25. July 25, 2017 / 10:53 pm

    Yes can empathise with this one totally and often ask why I always seem to be the outsider but only on my bad days now to be honest. I am shy and an introvert and that won’t change now but that’s OK and I accept it. There are loads of us out there and sometimes I think it would be great if a bubble could appear over our heads with our worries because then I am sure we would be approached by other mums saying “Yes me too!” or in a way I guess parent blogs do that for us too

  26. suzanna
    July 25, 2017 / 10:56 pm

    I feel your pain. Just remember other mums could feel the same as you.
    Good luck xxx

  27. July 26, 2017 / 8:51 am

    Snap! I feel so alone at the school gate but then I think to myself that I’m there to collect my child not chat away for 5 mins until he comes out, The first few weeks all I heard from the mothers was bitching and moaning about other children and their parents so I made up my mind then that I was just going to drop him and collect and not get involved, I say hello, some say hello back others do some days then put their head down and walk on other days totally ignoring me! I just haven’t got the time for it and its like back to school for parents too!

    #fortheloveofblog

    • July 26, 2017 / 8:51 am

      #dreamteam sorry I’m still asleep!!

  28. July 26, 2017 / 11:17 am

    Yep! I feel the same way. I am lucky to have a few mum friends at nursery and at school, but only being able to see them for a minute or two during pick up or drop off is a nightmare. I am sure you will get some friends. Just keep smiling and being you #DreamTeam xxx

  29. July 26, 2017 / 5:56 pm

    Fantastic post!
    My eldest will be going into year 6 in September and I still feel this way when waiting in the playground at pick up time! Most mums seem to know everyone, I know 1 or 2 mums!
    Next year will be different because all the children I childmind will start school with my youngest,I’m so excited that I’ll have lots of mum friends to talk to!!
    #dreamteam

  30. July 26, 2017 / 6:58 pm

    I relate to this so much. The more I read your posts the more I think we are one and the same! I’m dreading the school gate in September but trying not to think about it. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. We are who we are. Shame we all don’t live near each other – problem would be solved! 🙂 #DreamTeam

  31. talkingmums1
    July 27, 2017 / 9:12 am

    I can relate so much to this. My youngest went to nursery onsite at work until I finished work for mat leave with number 2. I felt ok there as I would see other people from work and it wasn’t awkward at all. I then moved her to a local preschool and boy did I feel like a fish out of water. The other mums all clearly knew each other and it was almost like I was too late to the game. I just accepted that it wasn’t meant to be. We can be the nicest person in the world but we don’t need to be everybody’s friend. However I do feel I sometimes give off the don’t talk to me vibes when actually I would love a bit of conversation.
    Roll on school (not the school attached to her preschool, so different parents) and things couldn’t be any different. The majority of the mums are really approachable and happy to have a little chat whilst waiting. I’ve made a couple of really good friends there too. I really think we naturally migrate to some people and not others and it’s pot luck which group of people we are thrown into x
    #DreamTeam

  32. July 27, 2017 / 2:12 pm

    My shyness gets in the way of me chatting to the other mums 🙁 I am dreading next year when Anya starts and I have a whole new group to try to sidle up to to join in with a conversation… #dreamteam

  33. July 27, 2017 / 3:36 pm

    So true! Pushing our boundaries, listening to out inner wisdom… these are the ways forward. Well done for listening to your true self! (:

  34. July 27, 2017 / 3:50 pm

    We’ve not gone down the nursery route but I imagine I might feel an outsider at first with primary school. #DreamTeam

  35. July 27, 2017 / 8:35 pm

    I used to have the same problem! And my oldest daughter’s name is Emma too! When my Emma was a baby, I was SO uncomfortable approaching other parents and striking up conversation. But I found it was much easier if I couched it as, “Can my baby play with your baby?” That doesn’t sound nearly as weird as a grown woman saying, “Wanna be friends?” I found my mom crew through library story time and MOMS club. I hope you find yours soon too! #dreamteam

  36. July 27, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    This is me Bridget! It still is. It’s hard to step into an established group when you are on the edge of it all. My guess is that it’s a bit easier if you are around for drop offs / picks ups right at the beginning of a bunch of tiddlers starting nursery for the first time. Working full time has meant not being able to do those daytime play dates, groups and ‘oh shall we grab a coffee’ on the spur of the moment things. #Dreamteam xx

  37. July 28, 2017 / 11:31 am

    Darling this is a post so many people will be able to relate to. I wish I lived closer – we’d be off out all the time. It’s such a difficult situation and I too have found it hard to approach others. Anyone would be lucky to be your Mama friend xxx #blogcrush

  38. July 28, 2017 / 11:34 am

    Hey Bridge, you might need to tag along to school with a little pup, you know, like Gatsby, to help open the door to friends! <3 In reality, this is very real and I do not mean to make light of this – many more moms than you know feel this way, and like high school, things get clicky! just be your wonderful, awesome self, and they will attract to you like bees on a flower. We would all certainly be your friend if we were there! M'wah to you! <3 #DreamTeam

  39. July 28, 2017 / 1:15 pm

    Rev T did the school pickups and had the same experience. As we’d moved to a new area, we didn’t know anyone so he only really started getting to know people as the Tubblet did. It’s hard to break in as a newbie as many of the mums will know each other from other groups or via older siblings. But keep at it as friends will come 😉 (Either that or do as Lisa P suggests and get a dog. You’ll acquire friends in double quick time. Of if that seems a step too far, use someone else’s dog as an excuse to start a chat). Good luck

  40. July 28, 2017 / 1:19 pm

    I’d say the sheer number of comments you have shows that you are definitely not alone. I have definitely felt the same. It got easier as my daughter was older because there were things that you could say to the other parents to break the ice like ‘do they have homework’ ‘how is your child getting on with that new science topic’ blah blah blah. As I’ve begun to feel more part of the group, I do try to be on the lookout for those who are on the fringes. Sometimes it’s so hard to break into a circle that already seems to know each other so well. Keep at it and know that so many others of us are feeling the same way! #blogcrush

  41. July 28, 2017 / 4:56 pm

    You are most definitely not alone in this. I am terrible at making mum friends. The other week Clem had a preschool trip and I went along. Almost every child had a parent with them and I spoke to none of them. They all seemed to know each other, and talked amongst themselves. At first I found it quite awkward but as the day went on and I saw Clem play and interact with the other kids, her friends, my worries disappeared. Whilst I might find it difficult she doesn’t. Plus there’s the whole of next year for me to pluck up the courage and say more than hello. x

  42. July 28, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    Oh I totally get this. I think I am similar, small talk and general chit chat not my thing, but once you get to know me – not quite so bad. I am quite nervous about the school gate mum crew and whether or not I’ll be part of it… I think like you say I am just going to try and push myself out of my comfort zone and give it a go! Good luck lovey – I think many of us are in the same boat. #dreamteam

  43. July 28, 2017 / 9:40 pm

    I just moved to a new town with a one year old, and I had not made any momma friends in my old place. All of my friends were not mothers and still more into going out, so I still had interaction but mostly without baby. I have a goal of having playmates for the kiddo by the time it’s his second birthday here, and I’ve been finding a lot of people on facebook mom groups. Granted, I’m in a bigger city now, but it seems to be working without all the awkward introductions. #dreamteam

  44. The Daisy Pages
    July 29, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    I think a lot of us have been through this, so you’re not alone! From experience, it definitely gets easier as they get older and they start to form friendships. Then you get all the rounds of birthday parties of course, which is great for swapping contact details with other mums and dads. Sometimes taking a friend or family member to collect your child can make you less nervous, too 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  45. July 29, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Ive struggled to find any mummy friends that arent online or ones I knew before Ben. Im so glad to know im not on my own though! #dreamteam

  46. July 29, 2017 / 11:40 pm

    I can totally relate to this feeling but I’ll bet you are not alone! Hope you can get chatting to some other parents and they’ll undoubtedly find out how lovely you are soon I think it gets easier at the preschool or starting school stage! You’ll soon be hosting playdates and birthday parties and wonder what you worried about! #dreamteam

  47. July 30, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    I completely relate to this. I don’t have any mummy friends and as a parent to a three year old, i can feel pretty lonely. My little boy starts Nursery in September and I’m really hoping I meet other people. Hope you can get talking to other parents and once the small talk is done, maybe it will be easier. I struggle with the beginning of first conversations too. #dreamteam

  48. July 30, 2017 / 8:41 pm

    Yes I can really relate to this. All the mums at Leo’s ore school seemed to all get on and chat together and sometimes they would all hang around afterwards talking together and I would feel so left out. I started to make more of an effort to say hello and there are a few who will happily have a conversation with me now but I wouldn’t say they are friends, I just don’t know how to go from a bit of small talk to actual friendship . You’re definitely not alone xx #dreamteam

    • August 2, 2017 / 10:19 pm

      Back again from #blogcrush. ..someone has linked this post up as their favourite post xx

  49. July 31, 2017 / 3:45 pm

    Ah I’m dreading this as I am terrible at meeting/talking to people! Like you, once I warm up a bit, I’m fine – but the initial awkwardness is a killer! At least if I don’t make friends, I know I’m not alone 🙂 #dreamteam

  50. August 3, 2017 / 10:47 am

    I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling like this Bridget 🙁 I wish we lived closer, especially as Emma and Baby Lighty are so similar in age. I’m kind of the opposite in that I’ve got a lot of baby group friends now, but I’m struggling to reach out to them over the summer holidays as I feel like I’m being a bit of a hindrance! xxx

  51. August 14, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    It definitely is a common thing that happens and I always found that making friends as an adult is really hard. For the first 6 months at my daughters preschool it was really hard and awkward with everyone knowing eachother. What I made sure to do was to put in the effort of getting involved with everything that is going on with the preschool, either helping with projects or being an extra person at the events, and either myself or my husband will go to the meetings they have. (They have to have at least 10 parents/committee members present for meetings to go ahead). I know not every place parents can get involved but it is just what I have been able to do here. 🙂 xx

  52. October 13, 2017 / 9:16 pm

    I’m the same, I’m not great on small chit chat but if we really get a chance to talk I’m not too bad haha. My little boy is at reception now and us mums that came from the same nursery have kind of meshed together. It does get easier, you’ll find a few mums that you’ll really click with as time goes on. xx

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