Three months ago this forever Londoner packed up the baby, boyfriend and cat, and went past the Watford gap. For good. As a born South London girl and longtime Hackney resident this is BIG.
I love London. But a year and a bit with a baby in our ‘bijou’ (read: tiny) flat made us realise that it was going to be a major squeeze. Add in needing my fella needing a fulltime office at home. Not mentioning space for his ever growing bike habit…
Now we’ve landed in Hastings, East Sussex’s friendly, colourful, sunny (when you are lucky) seaside town. I’d quite literally only been here four times before we moved so I’m pretty much starting with a clean slate. I knew maybe five people and that was about it.
So friends were top of the list. Back in London my mama gal pals were an everyday lifeline. Leaving them was one of the hardest things to do when quitting the big smoke. I’d met loads of lovely mum friends but having a gang of likeminded mamas right round the corner, who were up for meeting every day was what got me though those tough first months. So…no big deal right?!
Here’s my back-to-basis advice on cutting through the post baby fog and finding mama pals in a new area for those long nap walks, nappy chat and the occasional actual grown up conversation:
– Use a mama app – Peanut is the Tinder style app designed to link up mums with similar interests in your hometown. Like Tinder it hooks up your Facebook pics and you add in some bits about yourself (and your babe) so potential pals can have a peek at your life before committing to a Wave. I discovered Peanut back in London while searching for my mum tribe there – it totally pulled through and the local, colourful haired, friendly looking girls (who were also Powered by Caffeine) I found on there ended up being lifelong friends.
So arriving in my new town I immediately amended my hometown details and have put myself out there again on Peanut. Eek. And it turns out that it’s still magical. I’ve chatted to, and met some super nice ladies through it already. Phew. Good work Peanut.
– Classes, classes, classes. Did I say classes? I’m a big fan of baby classes (as I’ve posted about before) so coming to a new town I knew signing up to some singing/playing/prancing/whatever classes would be on the agenda.
Hoop is a great way to search out local classes an activities for kids. It’s a listings app which I’ve often consulted to see what is on in my area by the day. It’s a must-download if you are moving to a new area with a kid – it saves scouring the internet for the local church playgroups or swimming lessons and you can sometimes even book classes online through Hoop and avoid the inevitable scramble to pay for a class while wrestling a baby (or is that just me??).
Once you get there, you know what to do – chat to everyone and let them know you’re new to the area too. Even if you don’t make any life long friends you’ll all have common ground of the mini folk so it’s at least a good chance to share/vent that day. Plus the savvy mums will always know where the best coffee spot post class is. Ask them and they’ll lead you to the caffeine.
– Swapsies. Offer your number/insta/facebook out. To, like, everyone. Well anyone you can see as a potential friend. Not every mama will come back to a class/wherever next time. Take a chance and grab it. At the worst it’s a random number in your phone.
– Be proactive. It’s a bit of a no brainier but something to nudge yourself to do. It’ll be worth it I promise! If you’ve gathered up those other mama digits don’t just sit on them. Arrange a walk, cuppa or to go to that shop you chatted about. Remember these ladies are looking for things to fill their days and entertain their kids with too. Local mamas will be a wealth of information on the best parks, nurseries, childminders, playgrounds, doctors, curry houses, so there’ll always be a recommendation to look for if you want to start a conversation.
– Let the little ones take the lead. Sometimes it’s just easier to see where your kids take you. If they take a shine to another child in the playground take a chance to chat to another parent. They might be looking for someone to hang out with too. You never know. And it’ll make play dates 400 times better if you actually like their BFFs parents.
– Go cultural, but your way. Use this as an excuse to indulge in your own hobbies – kids always find each other so it might as well be somewhere your usual tribe hangs out. Take them to football matches, skateparks, libraries, galleries. Any nice busy activity where you’ll hopefully find other parents just like you.
– Do some non mum things. This is one I need to follow myself. Sometimes through the fog I forget that being a mum does not define me. It’s a facet of me now and I’m very happy about that. But I was my whole self before getting a plus one along for the ride. Pre baby I helped run a book club, I went to blogger events, did yoga, ran 10ks. All great ways to link up with new people in a new town. Hopefully doing one of these solo activities can be my next task in my new seaside life.
SO FAR I’ve done pretty much all of these (I’m even going to a non baby yoga class next week!). Obviously I’m not expecting to walk into a ready made friend group (and thanks to the power of the internet I know I’ve always got my girls in my phone when I need them). But doing all this means I’ve already know I’ve got someone to check out a new class with, someone else who’s kid is the same age and another person who’s always up for a coffee. Fledgling friends. It’s still early days but it’s reassuring to know this mama is not alone here by the sea.