Before I became a mum, only one of my best friends was already a mum. I remember telling her first that I was pregnant because I knew how excited she would be for me, and she cried.. and cried and cried. She was over the moon for me, and she knew what I had ahead of me and was excited to share the journey. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that actually, some of those tears were relief. She opened up to me about how she felt after having her first child and admittedly, I was clueless that she ever felt this way. She said that she felt lonely, and left out of the group, and sad when people stopped coming to see her and the baby. She said that she was relieved that she would now have an ally in me, a best friend who would understand what she’s going through.
And it’s only now that I’m a mum myself that I totally understand what she means and can relate to all of the experiences that she has opened up to me about. Becoming a mum is like being part of an exclusive club, a club that you can only join if you’ve had shared experiences with other members. You cling to each other desperately because you feel like the rest of the world doesn’t understand how you feel, nor can they offer any sound advice apart from ‘I’m sure it will pass.’ If you have a mum friend, and you don’t quite understand how to be there for her, like I never did, then here are a few tips on how to be a supportive friend.
Buy her coffee and chocolate
2 things that a mum will never turn down are coffee and chocolate. Go to her house, make her a coffee and pass her the chocolate. For bonus points, keep the baby occupied whilst she enjoys it.
Don’t expect her to be who she used to be
Your friend has changed in ways you may never understand. She’s lost, and discovering a whole new person inside of her. Understand that although she’s still your friend, she’s different now. She might not like the same things anymore and her priorities have changed. But she’s still the girl you know, and you should still love her for it. Just be understanding if a day of shopping isn’t her idea of fun anymore.
Organise a ‘baby-friendly night’
We don’t expect anyone to change their plans or organise whole nights out around us because our situation has changed. But it would be nice if you offer to organise a ‘baby-friendly’ night and understand that your friend might just not feel comfortable leaving the baby for a night out yet. Throw a PJs and wine party and make it clear that the baby is welcome to come along.
Still invite her out- even if you think she’ll say no
A night of drinking followed by a night of zero sleep and an early morning wake up call aren’t fun for anyone. Whilst we all love a night out, just know that everyone goes at their own pace and the thought of leaving the baby for a night can be very scary for some. But no-one wants to see photos of a night out they weren’t invited to all over the group chat while they’re crying into their cold coffee. Invite her out anyway, but let her know that it’s okay if she can’t make it.
Offer to come round and cook or clean
Most people primarily come round to see the little cute baby, and that’s fine. But mums can often feel neglected once baby comes along. She’s also swimming in washing, dirty dishes and hasn’t eaten a hot meal in a very long time. Show her you love her by coming round and giving the house a little clean or taking a load of her washing to do.
Book her a beauty appointment
Mums everywhere are mourning their pre-baby blowout and gel manicures. They don’t have the headspace to even think about booking an appointment and probably don’t have the money to spend on themselves anymore. She will forever be in your debt if you book her an appointment and treat her to a beauty treatment. It will make her feel like a million dollars, even if it’s just for a day.
Don’t just ask how the baby is, ask how she is too
People mean well when they ask how the baby is. After all, the baby is the centre of her universe now. But she will feel a little lonely when people don’t ask how she is. She might not want to open up to anyone, but just a friend asking how she is shows that she has their support no matter what and that she’s still cared about by people other than her baby.
Looking back, when I asked my mum friend how she was or what was going on with baby, I’m not sure I really listened. This is what happens when people start talking about something that we have no experience in and don’t understand what their talking about. But they’ll have so much that they want to talk about when they’re at home all day with no adult conversation. So let them. Listen when they talk about the sleep exhaustion, ask what a leap is, reassure them that they’re gorgeous no matter how they feel.