29 June 2017

Mummy groups aren't for me

I'm one of those awkward people who is difficult to become friends with. I've always been this way, throughout my entire education from primary school through to University, in jobs and workplaces; I'm just not the most approachable person. I have a small number of friends who I value tremendously, but having had some very turbulent friendships in the past and always being the friend that gets let down, I find it hard to let people come into my life. 

When I found out I was pregnant and had a million leaflets thrust at me by health professionals about antenatal classes and baby groups, I panicked. Did I have to go to these groups and make mummy friends? Because I'll be honest, mummy groups really aren't for me.

Local mummy and baby groups


We were encouraged to join NCT and attend their antenatal classes, but the idea of spending hours with people I didn't know and the only common interest we had is that we were expectant parents, didn't entice me to spend an extortionate amount on the course. We were told there would be free antenatal classes available to us at our hospital, which seemed less personal and less of a way to force us into making friendships, but they never came to fruition (lack of funding)

We did attend a breastfeeding workshop run by a local group of volunteers, who I found very approachable as an organisation, but other parents on the night we attended were already in their 'friendship groups' and there wasn't much room for trying to talk to anyone.

When Willow was born we were given even more information about local baby groups and were lucky enough to, at the time, live right near our local Sure Start Centre who had a whole list of baby and toddler groups advertised. We made an effort to go along, only to find out funding had been cut and every single group had been cancelled - the only baby and toddler groups available in our town were now at the other end of our town, and as non-drivers, these groups weren't realistic for us. 

I decided to turn to Google, searching out any local groups that weren't Government funded and found quite a few were available in our town centre; all held at churches and with a lot of focus on religion and becoming part of the church. As an atheist, this completely ruled those groups out for me; I have no issue with any faith/religion, but I wasn't prepared to fake an interest just so Willow could play with some toys. 

Then we moved to another part of our town and our local community centre informed me they held 'Stay and Play' groups, so we went along to one of the sessions, but with Willow only being 7 months old at the time and not very mobile (she didn't start crawling until around 9 months), these groups were better for older babies and toddlers, in fact, there were only toddlers above the age of 18 months there. This is a group I'd like to return to, but have found that they are never guaranteed, and often you can turn up and find out after making the trip there, that the group isn't on that week after all.

Sometimes I worry, that by not going to baby and toddler groups, I am doing Willow a disservice; she doesn't attend nursery and is home with me every day. Although we do go out, we have fun days out at farm parks and local Countryside beauty spots, we have playdates with friends at ours or theirs, days out at the park, she attends weekly swimming lessons and of course, all the boring things like taking her shopping with me, whenever I see pictures of babies at baby groups? I worry that I'm not being a good mum, by not taking her to any groups myself. 

Does it make me a bad mum?

Then I see her, interacting with other people, with other babies and children, adults of all ages, you name it. No matter what age or gender, she adores being around people. She'll talk to them, tickle them, play with them, she'll sit down for people to read her books - even complete strangers who are visiting for the first time, she just loves people. She'll share any of her toys with babies and children of all ages, and she's so eager for them to play and engage with her. To be honest, she spends most of her time around other people in fits of utterly hysterical laughter, it's like being around people gives her this intense happiness. 

Even when she's not directly engaging with another person, say when we're out shopping or strolling around on a day out, we have complete strangers approach us and say what an absolute delight she is. How happy and smiley she is, how well behaved she is and what a 'good little girl' she is. On holiday we had families come up to us and say how nice it was to see a baby being so happy and enjoying themselves and when we go out for meals we have people at tables all around us giggling away at her as she beams with happiness and chats away. She is a very happy baby toddler is our Willow, she's always smiling and giggling and talking away.

So I wonder, am I really a bad mama for not liking mummy groups? People (that coincidently, go to baby groups several times a week) tell me it'll negatively affect Willow's social skills and development - yet she seems to be doing perfectly fine to me. She is walking and talking and playing and learning and developing every single day, and her interaction with others is far above anything I imagined for our little girl.  Maybe we'll give baby groups ago again when she's older, but for now, I'm happy to have our days out and adventures at home. 

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32 comments

  1. You are an amazing mum and Willow is such a cutie! I only take my daughter to a couple of classes but they're ones we booked for a term so I feel obliged to go. I haven't taken her to any other classes but I do want to start. I find she's quite shy in large groups but is okay in smaller ones, so I want to take her to more small ones. I've found making mum friends really hard. I did go to NCT and have a small group of friends from that but I don't know how that will change when we all start returning to work different days.

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    1. Thank you SO much Debbie, you're so lovely! I hope things stay as your little group want them to, hopefully returning to work won't change things too much xo

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  2. Mummy groups can be so hard to get into at times, not because they're not good but just because sometimes other mums are in little groups like you say and they're already set. Great post.

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    1. Yes definitely! I'm not one for trying to push my way into a friendship group either xo

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  3. I definitely don't think stay and play is the be all. We did go for a while but then it coinsided with Henry's naps so stopped. We do weekly swimming like you. He's now in nursery and they say he is brilloant with other children but also happy to play by himself too. Not going to multiple play groups hasn't negatively impacted him at all!!

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    1. Exactly. So glad to hear he's doing well at nursery :) xo

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  4. I hated them with my first daughter too. They just all seemed so clicky. We've tried a few with my second and although we've made friends I struggle to get there with her nap times now! ox

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    1. Yes! Willow is at that stage where she naps either 11am - 1pm, or 12pm - 2pm, so our days out are always cut in half at the moment! Trying to get to a set group time every week wouldn't be ideal xo

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  5. I hate them. I really try and make the effort and feel so guilty all the time but I just hate them! I do try and make mum play dates though. You'll never be a bad mum to that little girl, you're amazing x

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    1. I think some of us just aren't meant to get along with mummy groups! Thank you so much Georgina <3 xo

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  6. I went to one when little was 6 months old and haven't been to one since. They send my anxiety crazy, and I get all awkward. I'm going to try and go to some now he's older as like you, I've felt like I might be doing him a disservice, even though he's great with other children. Mum guilt is awful isn't it? You're not a bad mum, don't you ever think that x

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    1. It definitely is, and we get it about so many things! Thanks Amy xo

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  7. I have never been to a mummy group and dare I say it I can't imagine I ever will. If I was still on maternity leave I may have tried to push myself out of my comfort zone, but I've probably fallen into the trap of using the social skills he'd acquire at nursery as an excuse for not needing them. I do regret not trying, but at the time, ur felt like the scariest thing in the world.

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    1. It can definitely feel like that, especially if it's out of your comfort zone! xo

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  8. goodness are you me? I did a post so simalar to this!! I hate baby groups, i was told to go to them with all my children but i cant deal with it, people scare me hah! I prefer talking to like-minded mums online rather than meet up with people and make my stress levels go up! great post!! nice to see im not the only one :)

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    1. Glad to see I'm not the only one who felt this needed to be talked about! Thank you :) xo

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  9. I don't think your doing willow a disservice at all. Your clearly a great mum and she's a happy contented toddler.
    Like you I'm not a fan of organised baby groups. We go to mini gyms but that's more for our little one to play and I only go because my sister in law goes. After some time I've begin to feel comfortable on my own if my sil isn't there but it's not really a place for making friends and socialising.
    My little boy is always smiling and chatting away to people when we are out and about. He like to shout bye to everybody he seems too
    X

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    1. Thank you SO much Nicola, you're so lovely! I've never heard of mini gyms before, might need to look into them! Willow does that too, and 'Hiya!' :) xo

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    2. kids are the best. Mini gyms is run by our local authority not sure if other places do it but it is very similar to tumble tots 😀 X

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    3. Thanks Nicola, I'll look into it! :) xo

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  10. I've tried to like them, I've tried really really really hard to love baby groups in the last year. And it turns out now, that I just don't, I've grown to seriously hate them. It makes me anxious and I honestly have to ask myself what the point is in making myself miserable and uncomfortable just so my child can have dirty toys snatched off her and be pushed over/stood on because she's small for her age. No thanks! I'll stay at home with our own toys and decent snacks, because incidentally to add insult to injury I'm sick of custard creams.

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    1. It's definitely not worth making yourself feel like that! I love custard creams but can't eat them after finding out what is in them.... Hopefully not going to baby groups will rekindle your love for them eventually ha! xo

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  11. I'm not s huge fan of playgroups either. They are great for older kids but for kids willow's age I don't bother. They are just teeny. They have years to socialise. Pre 3 I think the best thing for them is to be around multiple attached caregivers - parents, aunties, grandparents etc. Then 3 plus before school I find it's a good time for play groups to help them adjust to school when it comes. Don't sweat it, you are doing fine. You just do you.

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    1. I completely agree. Thank you so much lovely xo

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  12. I could have written this as I am not a fan of baby groups, all the ones near me are held in churches too and I am not at all religious. I went to a few groups, baby massage and toddlers when my little girl was a baby but I just felt so left out as everyone already knew one another so I stopped going. My children certainly haven't missed out on anything from not going and they are super happy and confident and settled into nursery no problem when they joined. Your doing fine and Willow is clearly very loved and happy xx

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    1. I really wanted to go to a baby massage group when Willow was born but I was shocked by how expensive it was! Thank you lovely, that means so much xo

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  13. Sophia, you are one amazing mama! I've said it before but Willow is an absolute credit to you & sounds like she's doing just swimmingly without the baby groups and you're the one helping her every step of the way.

    I hate baby groups, and some I will give a try but I prefer to not go on my own & when I get there, I'm always thinking people are looking at me and waiting for something to happen to make me say, never again. I too worry that it'll affect bear in the long run but at the moment he's just so happy being with me and doing what we do, going to a group is an added bonus, but also very stressful for my anxieties Haha!

    But please know that you're amazing and such a wonderful mama and person. Willow obviously seems to really enjoy what you guys are doing at the moment so why change it :) xx

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    1. I am sure it won't have any effect on him at all! You're doing a brilliant job and that boy is lucky to have you as his mama! Thank you so much Claire, you're always too kind to me!

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  14. I've been attending Baby groups since Eco was 3 months old (still going) and do think they have had some part to play in his development and great social skills. My reason for attending these groups was to give Eco a different experience whilst being around other babies as I'm the only one in my circle with a child. I find they also give you ideas on what activities you can do at home to enhance their development. I have been extremely fortunate to have made great friends with two ladies in particular and find I am much closer to them now than the friends I had pre pregnancy. You my dear are not doing Willow a disservice, you're doing what you feel is right and that's ok. She is thriving and is clearly advanced for her age so continue to keep doing you Mama xx

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    1. I am so glad you found the right groups for you and I don't doubt it's had a positive effect on Eco's development. I just think it doesn't negatively effect a baby/toddler if they don't go to one :) Thank you so much Danielle! xo

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  15. At 4 years old ive still never taken my daughter to one of those groups and so glad to have not. No enforced socialising just because u birthed thanks!

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