Having a best mum-friend in your speed dial is life changing. It’s not just about having someone to brave soft play with, a coffee-shop and toddler-group buddy who doesn’t mind if you message her while you’re awake in the early hours— though that is great. It’s all about having someone to share this experience of being a mum with. Being at the same stage of this journey together. Watching your babies grow in tandem. Knowing that your children will be best friends too.
And if you haven’t found her yet, the good news is that you already have everything you need to make that friendship happen this summer. All you need to do is dust off your dating skills and use them to find Mummy Right. And if just thinking about approaching that interesting-looking mum in the park fills your stomach with butterflies, don’t worry. Once you’ve had a refresher on using those social tools you spent years honing, you’ll be just fine— we promise!
Work out your type
Ask yourself, do you have a type when it comes to friends? Just as we seek out similar traits in our partners, there tends to be a common theme in our friendships too. Are the majority of your friends chatty and confident, deep thinkers or perhaps a little reserved? Do your friends hold different viewpoints to you, or are they on your wavelength? Do you enjoy a relaxed conversation, or do you prefer being brought out of your comfort zone? Working out what qualities you find attractive in others, and what balances your character, can act as good indicators for who could become your future BMF (Best Mum Friend). Or working out what qualities you don’t like in others can also quickly help you suss out who you’re unlikely to be compatible with.
Get out there
At work, in a bar, at the gym… the conventional places to find a potential new friend might seem off limits now you have a baby, but the friendship pool is now even bigger than it was before you had a little one. The play centre, the park, your regular toddler group and even the supermarket all put you in the company ofpeople in the same boat as you and, with a shared interest, the stage is already set for relaxed interaction with other mums. To increase the size of this pool and the likelihood of finding ‘your type’ swimming in it, join some classes you’re interested in, whether that’s baby massage or mum-and-toddler exercise. Make the effort to search for family events near you too. If you love nature, you’re more likely to find a mum-friend who loves it too at an outdoor play session organised at your local nature reserve. Or if shopping is more your thing, then the opening of that new baby boutique will draw mums who feel the same.
Make the first move
Wherever you are, start looking for your type. And you’ll know her when you spot her: maybe you overheard her crack a great joke or you just love her handbag. Then it’s time to make the first move. And for most of us, this will be a new experience, and you need to be brave. But you are brave. You’re mum to your wonderful baby, so you’re already a Superwoman. If you’re not sure what to say, follow this three-step conversation starter: ask about her baby, then compliment her on her choice of pushchair, or whatever else that helps tag her as ‘your type’, then to ask her about which local baby classes she goes to. If she’s not responsive, it simply means she’s not looking for a new person to chat to. Don’t be disheartened: treat it as practice, and move on to your next target. You’ll soon meet a mum who’s more than happy to chat.
So you’ve developed a rapport with a potential new mum mate. It seems you have plenty in common. But how do you make the leap from a fleeting me eting to potential playdate pals? If you feel confident, be upfront and say that you’ve enjoyed talking to her and think it would be lovely to meet up again. Or suggest that it would be a treat for your little ones to have a playdate. If that approach feels too forward, there are other ways to open the door to future friendship. Tell her about a great class or group you go to, and tell her to drop by if she can. Then, when you bump into each other again, tone down the level of formality each time until you feel relaxed enough in her company to directly suggest you meet up.
Ditch the first date nerves
We all remember our best and worst first dates, and the lead up is always a nerve-wracking experience. Will it be awkward? Will the conversation fl ow? What if we don’t get on? You might be having the same worries ahead of the first date with your potential BMF. But if you’ve suggested a playdate, and she’s accepted, you’re over the first hurdle. She does like you and she is willing to give up some of her precious time to get to know you more.
Neutral ground is best to begin with. Aim for activities that you can extend if you’re getting along famously, or curtail if not. Set yourself up for success by suggesting two different types of date and ask her which she’d prefer. That way, if she’s nervous too, she can pick the one that makes her feel most comfortable. Go for options that you enjoy too, but make them as different as possible. For example, suggest a walk in the park with your babies in prams, or a coffee in town.
And when you’re on your way, remember you’re looking for a BMF who likes you for you, so what you and your youngster wear, whether you’re five minutes late, and how much sleep you’ve had the night before shouldn’t matter.
If you both had a good time, arrange another meet-up before this one ends. That way the relationship won’t stall as long as you’re both keen to continue. But don’t go all guns blazing to make this friendship work at all costs. Just like dating, this relationship has to be 50/50. Don’t pay for the coffee every time or always be the one who travels to her neck of the woods. Similarly, if hints of competitiveness or judgement rear their heads, don’t sugar coat them. You’re inviting this person into not just your life, but your child’s. So you owe it to the both of you to keep looking for someone—and not just anyone— who brings good things into your little world. You’ve already found your best friend ever in your baby, which means you’re now allowed to be a little more discerning: don’t accept anything less than kindness and support.
Follow the relationship rules
The rule goes that you’re almost certain to be friends for life if you make it past the seven-year stage. So that gives you a lot of time to go from new friendship to permanent pals. Help the friendship become deeper by applying common-sense relationship rules. Be open with her, because trust grows with honesty. Chat about what you are and aren’t comfortable with when it comes to your baby, so you build a bank of shared, unwritten rules. Spend regular time together, first with, then without your babies, as it’s important to get to know each other as women as well as mums. And wait a while until you introduce her to your circle of friends and family, so your oneon- one friendship isn’t absorbed by everyone else getting to know each other.
Do all this and, by the time the summer’s out, you’ll be best mumfriends forever. And this time next year, you—and your youngsters— will be inseparable! | MB