When a new mum takes big, baby steps

MOTHERHOOD is a wonderful but often tiring, stressful and disorientating experience and new mums need support.

Playgroups can be a great help where newbie mums, with their training wheels still on, can hook up with other mums, swap experiences, find solutions to problems, and share the journey that is motherhood.

Well, that’s the theory, although admittedly getting yourself off the starting blocks and into the swing of it can be pretty daunting, as I found.

With my husband and six-month-old baby boy, I had moved from Canberra to Hobart, where I had no family or friends. At my first meeting with the local community nurse I was strongly encouraged to join a local mothers’ group.

I agreed it was a good idea, but when faced with the prospect of actually going to meet a group of strangers, I found the whole thing quite unnerving.

Mothers are often judged harshly, with the biggest critics often being other mums. With a baby boy who wouldn’t sleep and seemed to be suffering one ear infection after another, and with me stressed, exhausted and feeling totally brain dead, I just didn’t think I was doing a very brilliant job and the idea of talking to other mums just seemed way too much to contemplate.

Still when the day of the first meeting arrived, I managed to get myself and baby to the venue on time and, to my surprise, I found myself happily ensconced on a comfy couch in a kid-friendly café amongst a friendly group of mums who were happily chatting about motherhood, families, shopping, etcetera.

Unfortunately, with my little fellow happily gurgling away and a warm, comfortable spot near the fireplace, I promptly fell asleep! Looking back, I probably needed that sleep and I was assured by another mum I didn’t snore or drool.

However, over the following weeks I did manage to stay awake and even abreast of some of the conversation. Much to my surprise and thanks to the honesty of this wonderful group of women, I learnt I wasn’t the only mum feeling totally inadequate and overwhelmed; and I found myself with a whole new group of friends.

We unexpectedly moved back to Canberra some months later, by which time I was much more into the swing of things. But I will always be so grateful to these amazing women who threw me a lifeline when I needed it most.

Over the years, so many mums have told me both about their positive and negative experiences with mothers and playgroups. But for those who persist, there are life-long friendships to be made and invaluable support on offer. The trick seems to be finding a group that suits you, being prepared to shop around and not being discouraged or daunted when, as a mum, we take those first few baby steps.

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