5 Rules for Finding Your Mama Tribe
Congrats mama, you’ve survived new baby life thus far. In only a matter of time, you’ll start to emerge from your sleep-deprived delirium (or simply adjust to the lack of sleep), and it’s as if a veil lifts. You can more clearly see your “new normal”.
Whether it takes you six weeks or six months to reach this new phase of motherhood, it can also coincide with a strong case of cabin fever. Having a new baby is full of competing emotions. While your heart has never been fuller, it can be an extremely lonely and isolating time. Your hours are now spent doing things completely new to you — breastfeeding, pumping, bottle washing, to name a few. And where did all this laundry come from? While the first weeks and months can be filled with visits from old friends, at some point those may taper off. That’s where the need for a “Mom Tribe” comes in — your go to group for everything from diaper rash advice to weekly playdates.
But why do you need new friends? Women are having children later in life, which means your best friends may not be in the same place — literally and figuratively — as your family. You may have a ton of friends in your social network, but few within your actual zip code. In these early days of babyhood, a few minutes with someone who is also in the trenches of newborn life can be a lifesaver. So who do you call? Your mom tribe.
Finding new mom friends can be a bit like dating — it takes effort, search, risk and communication. You’ve got to put yourself out there. Need some help? Here are five rules to help you find your mom friends for life:
There are hundreds of choices and decisions you make on behalf of your family. Yet, it seems each side has its fiercest supporters and critics. Bottle vs. breast. Circumcised vs. intact. Cry it out vs. co-sleeping. And the list goes on. These choices can be deeply personal, and furthermore, many are tied to deeper emotions.
When you meet other moms, you’ll soon find what works for your family may not work for others. So check your mom shaming at the door. Look at this as a learning opportunity, and you may find a solution to your own challenges you never thought of before.
Plus, let’s be serious, there’s only about a 50-50 chance that you will be showered at any given new mom meetup. So again, no judgment.
Patience and understanding
The last thing you need on top of a screaming infant is more guilt. It may take you several days to reply to a text message. Or your house may look like a tornado hit it. Or your baby may be the fussiest out of the whole play group. If your new mom friends are the right fit, there will be no need to say sorry. The aim of this support system is to lift you up, not make you feel worse. Find those who will be patient and understanding with you.
In turn, practice these traits yourself. Once you get down to planning a meet up, one of the biggest challenges will be finding a time that works for everyone. Nap schedules + unpredictable babies = chaos. Respect the nap schedule and the work that goes into building one. Be patient and understanding when it comes to trying to find a time or place that works. Better yet, set a standing weekly meet up that allows you to join if it works, and skip if needed. No pressure!
You do you
There’s already a ton of expectations placed on new moms. It’s hard not to think about all the things you “should” be doing with your babies. Don’t let that bleed into what you think your social life should look like. Find what works for you. That could mean having a dozen mom friends or just a few. Using the time for walks and exercise or wine and cheese. Gathering based on a similar interest or simply due to proximity.
Fortunately, there are countless communities — both online and not — where you can meet like-minded families. There are groups for babywearing, cloth diapering, parents of multiples, mindful parenting, and the list goes on. You can even bond over your favorite brands — from baby carriers to herbal supplements (hint: check out the Herbal Euphorics Facebook page, private Mama Tribe group or Instagram for ongoing conversations). Bottom line, it’s about finding the support that will help you — and you alone. So figure out what works and don’t look back.
Step out of your comfort zone
Unless you’re a true social butterfly, it can be nerve-racking to make new friends in adulthood. Plus when you’re homebound with a new baby, you aren’t exactly immersed in new social situations on a daily basis. But don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation, whether it’s at the store, online or in your neighborhood. They may not all lead to your new best friend, but one might.
Another option is to check out group meetings in your area. Organizations likeHolistic Moms Network, La Leche League, MOPS.and Babywearing International hold local meetings throughout the month. They are a great way to ask questions, learn something new and meet fellow parents.
The internet has truly changed the face of motherhood. A new mom today may find it hard to imagine what it was like before Amazon Prime for diaper deliveries, Google for any sort of baby ailment and Facebook or Instagram to help fill the time during pumping sessions.
Nowadays you may find just as much support online than through face to face. Or better yet, you can use your social media to facilitate an in person meetup. There are even apps like Peanut and Mom Tribe that help you find moms in your area — as if the dating metaphor needed to be even stronger. But at least they’re proof that you’re not alone.
People say that when a baby is born, so is a mother. This new phase in your life can be exciting, scary, amazing and discouraging — all within the same day. It can be incredibly helpful to find fellow soldiers in this ongoing battle for sanity. It may take some work, but it’ll be worth it in the end.