Do I really need to join mum and baby groups, even though I have social anxiety?


Earlier this week, I posted one of those ‘Ask Me Anything’ widgets over on Instagram Stories, and one of the questions I got was something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately:

What are your thoughts on baby groups? Do you go to any with Max?

So, here’s the thing: I really, really hate people.  Groups, I mean! GROUPS! Er, groups of people, I guess. Especially ones I don’t know, and who I’m supposed to attempt to socialise with. And, of course, for those of you who’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, this will come as no surprise at all. I’ve written at length (At great, great length…) about my social anxiety, my shyness and  my introversion –  and absolutely none of that screams, “Person who will want to join parenting groups!” does it?

Nevertheless, when you become a parent, you start to find yourself under pressure to socialise with other parents – often for no other reason than the fact that they are other parents.  It starts as soon as you get pregnant, in fact. Take ante-natal classes, for instance. Now, I didn’t attend a single one of those: I felt – and my midwife agreed – that as someone suffering from tokophobia,  some of the situations covered in the classes could be quite triggering for me, and I was obviously keen to avoid that. In terms of the information provided by them, meanwhile, I know it can be invaluable to many people (And, just to be crystal clear, I’m not knocking these classes at all: I know they’re absolute lifelines for some people – they just weren’t for me), but I already had a lot of support and information from my midwife and doctor, so both Terry and I were comfortable with our decision not to sign up for any groups.

“Oh, but you HAVE to go to classes!” I was told. “Because you’ll be able to make friends there!”

And this refrain was repeated over and over again. No one, it seemed, felt I should be going to ante natal classes in order to learn about childbirth or parenting. Everyone, though, thought I should go anyway –  “to make friends.”

But here’s the thing:

I already have friends. And, honestly? I didn’t really feel the need to make any more.

In fact, the repeated insistence that I HAD to make new friends now that I was pregnant was really quite odd to me. I mean, it’s not like I was about to become the only mother in town or something. Almost all of my friends have young children – in fact, two of them were pregnant at the same time as me, so it’s not like I was going to find myself suddenly cast adrift, with nothing in common with anyone I knew, was it? Still, I was definitely going to need new friends, I was told, so I’d better get on that, STAT!

I didn’t, though.

And, honestly, it’s not something I can say I’ve regretted: mostly because, every time I try to imagine me attempting to make friends via an ante-natal group, it ends up being as awkward as that one time Chandler and Phoebe tried to kiss on Friends. (Only without the kissing, obviously – because I might be awkward, but I’m not quite THAT awkward…) Like, I bet they’d all start a Whatsapp group without me or something.  (Seriously, though, even my own FAMILY have a Whatsapp group that I’m not in, so it’s not like it never happens…)

On the beach at Wave Resort, Bulgaria

Once Max was born, though, the focus switched to mother and baby groups, and I suddenly found myself having to find excuses not to join those, either. Because, again, I don’t want to.

I don’t want to have to go through the anxiety I know it would cause me to walk into a room full of complete strangers, and try to socialise with them.   I don’t want to sit on my own in a corner, feeling stupid when all of my conversational gambits fall flat, and no one wants to talk to me. I don’t want to have to make small-stalk about the weather – or even about baby stuff, really, which I guess is the whole point. I don’t want to feel like I’m back in high school, always trying my best to fit in, never, ever managing it. I don’t want to go home afterwards, and over-analyse everything I said and did, cringing at how totally awkward and forced it all felt.

(I sense you all about to tell me that it might not be like that, and I might might some amazing people, who’d become friends for life. And, I mean, your faith in me is touching, seriously, but experience teaches me that, NO, it probably wouldn’t, unfortunately. Or, not unless I was somehow able to change my entire personality first, anyway, and miraculously turn into the kind of confident, outgoing person who enjoys meeting new people and manages to fit in with them – instead of being the shy, socially anxious person I ACTUALLY am. And it’s not that I don’t try either: at soft play, for instance, I always do my best to smile and make eye contact with the other parents there, but I never know what to say to them, other than the usual, “How old is yours, then?” and none of them seem particularly keen to chat anyway – possibly because most of the other mums seem to travel in pairs, and be much younger than me – so they’ll answer politely, but then that’s that.)

I just don’t want to go, basically. But, the problem here is that, unlike the ante-natal groups, which are all about forging friendships between parents, with mum and baby groups, we’re encouraged to believe that they’re good for the babies, too. Are they really, though, I wonder? Because, it’s not like Max doesn’t get any contact with other children without these groups: no, we go to soft play, or the park, when it’s warm enough, and we’ve also been making more of an effort lately to meet up with friends who have children, so he can get to know them, and do some socialising of his own.  Honestly, though? He doesn’t really seem to care. I mean, he’s quite interested in some of the older children he meets (Like, 4 or 5 year olds, say), but when he comes into contact with children his age, he generally completely ignores them – and they ignore him, right back. At this age, I’m not convinced he really NEEDS to socialise with other children: but I know the time is coming when he will, and while he’ll probably be in nursery by the time it’s really important, I’m also wondering how useful the dreaded mum and baby groups might be for him.

Do I need to just suck it up and accept that I need to try to get over my anxiety and start spending Tuesday mornings in a church hall somewhere, gamely making smalltalk with strangers, I wonder? Will I have to sing or, God forbid, craft? Because, seriously, the only reason I agreed to have a baby in the first place was because Terry promised me he’d do all the “crafting” required, and the only reason Terry agreed, was because my mum promised she’d do it, instead. Can you tell we’re not crafters? Would I have to bring baked goods, that I’d made myself? Would there be a “parent dance,” like on that one episode of Modern Family where Mitch and Cam take Lily to a baby group, and end up stealing another baby’s building blocks? Is all of my information on baby and toddler groups actually coming from all of those chick lit novels I used to read, in which the hapless heroine keeps making a fool of herself in front of the local “yummy mummies”, but eventually shows what she’s really made of by stepping up and organising the church fete single-handedly? Will I have to organise the church fete? Are church fetes even a thing now? Is it possible I’m getting a little bit carried away here? Because, yes, I think I probably am? OK, stopping now…

Do I REALLY need to join mum and baby groups, is what I’m asking? Or is enough – for now – to keep meeting up with friends and trying less anxiety-inducing activities like soft play?

What do you think?
How important is it to take your baby to groups or classes?
How important are mum and baby groups? Do you really need to take your child to them?
Hi, I'm Amber, and I'm a full-time parenting/lifestyle blogger, and author of My Blogging Secrets, now available from Amazon. I live in Scotland with my husband, Terry, and baby son, Max, and you can read more about me here.

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  1. You absolutely don’t have to do anything you feel like would be bad for you. I took part in some similar groups (I live in Hungary, so maybe not the same type as in the UK but with the same general idea) and I never even talked really with any of the participants, although I am a fairly talkative person and I do not have issues to talk to strangers. Yet I felt that when it comes to motherhood/parenthood there are so many different approaches to so many decisions you have to make and sometimes wildly different levels of acceptance of other people’s choices, and I did not want to open up to people only to receive negative, codescending or any such type of comments on my choices at a point where even I had to find the stregth to stand up for those choices I make. I felt that if I ever socialize/talk to people I want them to be people I know will not make such comments. Of course I don’t only talk to people who think in the exact same way as I do but I do try to select those who I know have an open mind and are ready to discuss honestly and without any judgment our possibly different views. One thing I do not think we have to expose ourselves to during those (emotionally and psychologically) very difficult first months and years is unwelcome advice or comments. There’s enough of it in many other situations which you can’t totally avoid (although we can alwayt try) like at the doctor, at the nursery (other kids’ parents!) or on the street/at the bus stop/at playgrounds.

    • I love baby groups they are a lifeline to me when I have no one to talk to, when I need to get out the house, when my little one needs to play and she gets so much out of them. Toys she doesn’t have at home, messy play activities, chance to learn how to engage with other people. Some people don’t have other friends with babies, or many toys to provide, or anyone to talk to and this is where baby groups can be wonderful. The other side of it is the clique mums who make you feel unwanted and the dreaded “advice” people seem to want to dish out – but I found this to be rare, most mums at a group are there for similar reasons. I had one mum announce in front of a whole group of mums that coffee is bad for babies – as I had just fed mine and accepted a cup- it brought back my school age anxiety and I felt like leaving the group, but that is the first time in 14months I have come across a mum like that and frankly she is just a cow I have discovered lol! I don’t think baby groups are a necessity for everyone but they can be fantastic for socially isolated people or social butterflies! Good for young mums to venture to, to build confidence and mums with less money to be able to offer a lovely morning out for their little ones without breaking the bank and most groups cost £1-£3 or are free.

      Children centre play groups are so important underprivileged babies, did you know some babies don’t get spoken to all day, don’t have any toys, any social contact, so the dreaded singing you are so against for them is the only time they hear some doings and get some interaction.

      I am a firm believer in mums supporting mums and Even though it can be daunting to walk into a group of strangers, usually you will find someone lovely to talk to, and if you don’t it’s still nice to get out the house. I fully understand that they are not for everyone, but a post like this which makes them out to be pointless makes me feel like you haven’t got much consideration for the that others are not as privileged as you. If you don’t like them, don’t go, but why make others feel like it’s something stupid to to?

      • Loren, here’s a direct quote from my post:

        “just to be crystal clear, I’m not knocking these classes at all: I know they’re absolute lifelines for some people – they just weren’t for me”

        That’s in the third paragraph from the top, so I’m not sure how you could have missed it – or, indeed, how you can feel the tone you’ve adopted towards me in this comment is a good example of “mums supporting mums”? Absolutely nowhere in this post do I claim that groups are pointless or stupid, and your assumption that just because I don’t fancy joining one, I must be totally unaware that there are underprivileged children in the world is as baffling as it is condescending. This isn’t a post discussing whether or not groups might be useful for the underprivileged – I don’t think anyone would argue against that. It’s a post in which I talk about why my social anxiety makes them a daunting prospect for me *personally* – and, to be honest, the way you’ve come on here, lecturing, making assumptions, and accusing me of being inconsiderate hasn’t done much to challenge my anxiety about these groups: quite the opposite, in fact, as this kind of attitude is exactly the kind of thing I was worried about.

  2. Mother and Baby Groups are marvellous for the parents who need them. But I genuinely think they are quite irrelevant for the babies.

  3. Oh thank god. A person who didn’t do the antenatal classes. I just don’t want to and my guilt about that is overwhelming. They seem expensive and pushy (locally we have three; one is obsessed with pushing the natural birth angle which is never going to happen for us, one is terribly rude about how incompetent first time fathers are and the third seems ok I guess). I know I’m supposed to go and make friends, but paying hundreds to met people who I only have ‘baby around the same age’ in common with doesn’t seem like it will lead to fabulous life long friendships. I would like to make friends (we recently moved and I’m quite lonely here) but I was hoping to do it a bit more organically.

    • Do you work? I’ve moved a lot for work and my friends tend to be current work colleagues. But I’m also happy doing a lot alone.

      • We moved for my husband’s work. I’m used to moving now, seven locations in twelve years, and have done for my work and his.

        For now I’ve picked up some volunteer bits and something that may lead to employment in an area of interest, but I’m more likely to go self employed then back to traditional employment.

        It’s ok. I always figure it out. There’s just an extra layer of guilt that baby might somehow suffer while I do.

  4. I’m not introverted myself and in the past I’ve often been guilty of trying to get folk to join in, i.e., introducing groups of friends who don’t hit it off (yikes!). I can do rooms of strangers and yes, even teach kids’ craft sessions without giving it a moment’s thought. With the wisdom of age, however, I recognise that this isn’t what my introvert friends want *at all*. I’ve learnt to appreciate quiet times. And I can also see how bloody irritating it must be that extroversion is held up as the default way for everyone to aspire to – crikey, everyone talking at once and no one listening? It would drive me mad too!

    As for parent-baby classes, they must be great for the right people. But I can’t see they’d benefit someone who’s definitely decided they’re not for her and has clearly thought things through. My mum ran away from such things. Like yourself she’s an introvert and I remember so many incidents where she was roped into helping other mothers mind children or drop them off somewhere, all when she had too many other things to do and didn’t feel she could say no.

    Why expect someone to be in a situation where they feel uncomfortable and/or be the same way we are?

    • Yeah, I definitely think introversion tends to be seen as a personality flaw, somehow, which makes people want to try to “fix” it, or to convince the introvert that they really WOULD enjoy X thing, if they just gave it a chance!

  5. You definitely don’t have to go to mum and baby groups if you don’t want to. I did make friends from my prenatal group with babies around the same age and I found it nice having them to meet during the first few months as I would go stir crazy at home. In some ways though the only thing we have in common is having babies a similar age and I don’t think we would necessarily be friends otherwise. I went to a new mum and baby group once and everyone there seemed to know each other already and it definitely felt a little awkward.

    • but this is what I don’t understand! I would have gone mad stuck at home all day too – so I went out! To cafes, museums, galleries, markets – I didn’t need random strangers with babies to do that?

  6. I never went to any of these groups with my first kid even though there was a lot of pressure from many sides. I was 22 at the time and all the other mothers were in their thirties and forties, but regardless I would need them as friends, I was told.

    I tried with my other kid (now 31) and came to the conclusion I was intuitively protecting myself back then. Sanctimommies do not tend to stay on the internet in these parts (and I won’t even start with sanctidaddies, that’s a while another realm). Also there’s only so much diaper talk I can take, and that’s what’s in common with strange moms and dads.

    Both of my kids socialize a lot. With us, our friends and relatives. My first kid was very well adjusted when he began nursery and went to school. We never even had kids’ hobbies before school, because we do a lot by ourselves. I’ve never regretted not signing up, even though I was told I would be lonely and alone without them. I wasn’t. Turned out my friends liked me regardless of kids or not kids and wanted to hang out with us.

    • This is interesting, because I actually have the opposite problem – my friends with kids are all roughly the same age as me, but our group seems to be a bit of an anomaly, because the other mums I see at soft play etc are all much, much younger. I know there’s nothing stopping me making friends with them anyway, obviously, but I do think there’s probably less chance of having something in common with them: they always look right through me, anyway, so I’d imagine they’re probably thinking the same about me!

      • Maybe it’s a local thing. At least here in Finland the younger moms tend to be on the northern side of the country and older moms gravitate towards bigger cities in south. Who knows.

        I also felt them looking right through me back then. Now that I’m older all the other mommies seem to want to talk to me, no matter how much I avoid them. 😀

  7. You don’t need to. I dreaded the idea, suffering from horrendous PND didn’t help, so stayed well away from the germs and the awkwardness for the first year or so.
    Then I tried a few, and I am glad I did. I never feel the need to talk, and was quite happy looking at my child, still ended up meeting nice people and getting great advice on local places. My child LOVED it! no interest in other children at all, but the toys,all different from the ones at home, it was very exciting. I felt it was really helpful to be around the fist times he would have to learn to share, experience children snatching the toys he was using and following the mini routine of the group – which around here seemed to be: free play, then snack, singing or story, free play OR craft.

    I went to a couple of places that felt horrendous, a place that I liked but he didn’t: it was massive, but settled on 3 or 4 we were both happy and comfortable with.
    For me, it made the transition to nursery/ pre-school easier. At the beginning of going to groups, I had a child who really needed to see me and make sure I was around, then got more and more confident. When he was old enough to completely ignore me, and disappear in the garden with other friends, it was time to start pre-school.

    I felt a lot of pressure hearing people constantly going about baby class, baby massage/music/dance/swimming then toddler everything group, so I did try a few things to see what would work best for my own child. The very first was the singing group at the library: everybody sings so there’s no time to talk anyway!

    Around here: library was free, Groups at the Children and family Centre were free, children group in halls (usually church) were voluntary donations of £1 or £1.50 – but coffee/tea and biscuit for grown-ups, private groups had various prices.

    Only my own experience, Some parents have something organised every morning and afternoon, we had a few mornings a week towards the end.

    • I completely agree with everything in this article. I also have some social anxiety…no one I know believes it as I come across as extroverted and smiley. But it requires so much energy and I usually want to run home and sleep after a short time. It’s just the way I am, I wouldn’t change it, I’m pretty happy and I have all the friends and family I need. There is a lot of pressure to go to these groups. My GP and everyone on the planet keeps telling me I need to go, each with a different reason that may or may not be valid or relevant to me. I have been to about four or five baby group sessions because (and only because) where I live they cleverly trap you by combining it with baby weigh-ins. All babies are different but my baby does seem to benefit from them. At 5 months, he’s not particularly interested in “playing” with other babies his age other than to steal their toys. But he observes how I socialise with others, and he watches what other babies do. He gets to play with an insane amount of toys which he loves but it eventually overwhelms him. He sleeps for longer when we get back, and seems more settled and more “chatty”. I also take him to baby swimming lessons which are great as you don’t really have to worry about socialising – the focus is on the swimming. There is some evidence that these mum and baby sessions can be beneficial to both mums (or dads) and babies especially those who do not have a strong social network at home. It’s mainly because modern society has gotten rid of the large social networks that we evolved with…friends work, or travel abroad etc and it can get boring and lonely for some people. Also I’m pretty sure these groups are good for their immunity seeing as toys get chewed, vomited on, and passed round. Some times it’s been super socially awkward and you do get some brilliant and some terrible advice in equal measure. You will get the occasional person who will criticise whatever you do, but I usually ignore them or if they really wind me up, I come up with a reason why they’re probably wrong (there is no right or wrong, but there’s always a counter argument if you can be bothered. For example, where is the evidence that caffeine is bad for babies? Has that ever been researched? I should think not. It would not get ethical approval. Logic tells me I shouldn’t drink too much coffee and therefore I don’t, but logic isn’t proof). And anyway all a baby needs is to be loved and nurtured, and as parents we can provide that even on our own. They will eventually go to nursery or school and they will meet kids there. And for those that are so eager to criticise other parents, until your kid turns 23, you don’t know if you’re doing a good job or not so I’d withhold judgement. I went to a boarding school – controversial – all the pupils were different, some were shy, some were loud, some took drugs, some were “gifted” or “clever”, and one girl went on a strike involving not having a shower for a year. People criticised our parents for sending us away from home (abroad) to board. They said they didn’t love us enough – really. Yet absolutely everyone of us turned out just fine. As did my friends who didn’t go to boarding schools. And I feel my parents are the most awesome parents out there and I love them to the moon and back. Their critics got it completely wrong. There are many ways to raise a good human being, choose whichever one(s) make you happy.

  8. Oh I could have written this. I have an almost 3 year old and an 8 month and so far we have never been to playgroup or parents group. Not even once.

    We do play dates with existing friends and family and so far, so good. I think I may have to cave this year as my oldest is starting to need the extra stimulation but you better believe I’ll be picking the playgroup where I already no most of the people and don’t have to do the small talk, make friends dance. Thank you small towns where everyone knows everyone.

  9. I’m actually really happy to read this post because I’m not a Mum yet, but I ALREADY have chronic anxiety at the thought of going to things like this! I’m not shy exactly, but if I had the choice I would only spend my time with my chosen people and avoid everyone else at all costs. As it is I barely manage to tolerate work! I hadn’t really thought about it much until a friend told me a story about the time she took her daughter to a music/sing-a-long class, who promptly fell asleep the moment they sat in the circle. She was too embarrassed to leave so she just sat cross legged on the floor with a load of singing mums in agonizing awkwardness! I just know that would be me, and I can’t bare the thought! I am hoping very much that I have enough other babies in my circle when the time comes that I won’t feel the need to go!

    • The sing-a-long groups are my worst nightmare, because I am literally the worst singer in the world – I can’t even sing nursery rhymes in tune, so I’d end up having to just mime along or something!

      • If you wanted Max to go to a music group, his grandad could take him, although I think he’d enjoy his grandad just playing to and with him more.

  10. I think your situation is fairly unusual. I do think it’s valuable to have social interactions with other parents who are at the same point in parenting as you. If you already have a lot of friends with young children and two friends who are pregnant at the same time you already have that. No small part of the “new friends” fixation is probably born out of people’s experiences of largely being dropped by childless friends when they had kids.

    • Why do you think this? I don’t think this at all! I have a two year old, I don’t feel any great desire to have friends who also have two year olds? Some of my friends and colleagues have older children, some have none, they are still my friends. I find this very bizarre!

  11. I an quite shy and dread these groups. All my childen went to playgroup at 2 and a half and nursery at aged 3+
    Playgroup was essential, it taught a lot of things and was a pre-curser to nursery.
    You didn’t have to stay with your child, there was a rota whereby once a month you, your parntner or a grandparent would stay to help out. Not sure what routines there are now. Wild horses wouldn’t have made me join any baby (or adult) groups now or the . You might find a group you really want to take Max to before playgroup/nursery, if the subject is interesting, at a library or a community centre, who knows ?

    • From what I’ve heard, it’s still the same with the parents having to be on a rota, and I was really surprised by that: it just seems odd to me to assume that all parents will have the necessary skills to be able to manage groups of children who aren’t their own (I definitely don’t!), or that they’ll even want to. For me, I’m happy to look after my own child, but I’d be really uncomfortable being responsible for other people’s, and, tbh, if I was leaving Max at a playgroup, I’d want to know he was being cared for by people with the correct training and qualifications, rather than by random parents who are just there because they’re forced to take a turn. So that definitely wouldn’t be for us – I think I’d rather go to the groups, actually, if I had to do something!

      • These are very different from any group I’ve heard of. I’ve never seen any group where the parent didn’t stay with the child, not for children under 3 at least. And I’d agree, if I needed childcare I’d pay for a known competent person!

        • I’d have also thought there would be an issue with insurance etc if playgroups are making un-vetted parents help out? Don’t people providing childcare have to have some kind of security checks done first?

      • I think there are always two people or more in charge and fully qualified of the children. The parents on rota would help with other things. It might be useful to speak to someone who’s child is at a playgroup or ask to speak to someone who is in charge of one. That way you can have any questions you have answered and any myths dispelled, if there are any to dispell. I went round all the places I knew for my first child, just to see what was what, meet those in charge and learn their routines. They often ask to meet you before your child starts too.

        • I did some reading and also have a friend who’s
          baby is in a playgroup and it only seems to be community playgroups that require parents to help out, so we definitely won’t be sending him to one of those – neither of us are keen to be on playgroup rotas!

  12. They are not necessary if you don’t want to go. But if you are the kind of person who gets lonely, they can be a life line.
    The friends I have made at these groups are some of the most important people in my life, they’ve helped me through very dark days, and it was the fact that they are at the same stage with children that meant they were able to be there for me in that way. So if you don’t want to go, don’t force yourself. But also don’t discount them totally. All groups are different and some I’ve been to were NOT for me, and then some now feel like family.

    • I don’t get lonely, but I do get very, very bored trying to entertain him at home all day, which is one of the reasons I was wondering if I should give them a try – I’m just not sure if the anxiety it causes would be worth it! I suppose it probably depends on what the group is, though: if there was one where everyone was a blogger, say, so I knew I’d have something in common with them other than kids, that could change my mind. (Or if there was one where you got to play with puppies, say, or baby goats. That would definitely work 😉 )

      • Yes – this was my main motivation for going – just to local free council groups (which don’t tend to be full of sanctimonious middle class people, just normal humans!). Because it gives me a place where there are new things to entertain my child, and also where the focus is on her and I’m not thinking “but I really need to get the washing up done”. I got on fine with the other parents during the hour of the group but didn’t socialise with them otherwise.

        What you really need is one of those co-working spaces with a creche that i have heard about………

  13. I have two Kids and didn´t go to antenatal groups or any Mum and Baby gropus. Not because I am socially shy, quite the contrary, but I am a) a doctor, so I didn´t need to learn about childbirth, I already knew, and b) I went back to working full time pretty early on, so I had no time to spend my Monday mornings at groups and didn´t want to share the kids time I had after work with others. Selfish? Probably.
    But both my kids are very sociable and agreeable human beings that don´t seem to have suffered.
    At least not now, maybe I´ll get told otherwise once they are adults and start therapy.
    I´ll report back then.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

    • Probably not, though – I mean, there weren’t any groups when we were babies/toddlers, and my husband is the most sociable person you could ever meet: so there is hope!

  14. You don’t need to do anything you don’t think is right for you or Max. He has family and friends and all the love and stimulation he needs to thrive. He doesn’t need to join groups that are randomly put together rather than making friends through shared interests

  15. Everybody here seem to echo my own view on this- you don’t have to attend these groups and I hate the idea of them! I think the worst is the pressure society puts on us to attend a group- any group- but you HAVE TO ATTEND A GROUP! Now that my daughter is two and half months, even my husband thinks I have to socialise……The truth is I don’t like people, I don’t like groups and I don’t like socialising. I don’t have friends, as for me, family is enough. It’s my choice. I’m definitely introvert but if I have to pretend- you would never know that.
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one judging by your post and comments here.
    Thank you for this post ?

  16. And also – if you want to go out with a baby, go out with a baby – I genuinely don’t see how knowing other people with babies the same age helps! If anything it makes it harder to co-ordinate getting anything done. Whereas put your own baby in a sling, you can go where you like.

    I didn’t do antenatal classes either – everyone I knew said they were a waste of time in terms of information “but you make friends”. I still don’t get the need for friends with a child with a similar birthday.

    • Yeah, I’ve been trying to get out as much as possible with him, because I really hate being stuck in the house – it’s a bit harder at this time of year, when it’s so cold and dark, but I’ll even take him to the mall or whatever, if I’ve run out of options: he doesn’t really care where he goes, because absolutely everything is new and fascinating to him!

      • Exactly! Before my daughter could walk I used to enjoy going to the supermarket with her (now she wants to pull her own basket and it’s hard work!). but yes, shopping centres, museums if there are any, anywhere you would enjoy yourself!

  17. So I have a few friends with children. To be honest though, I am so busy. When I have time off on the weekends, I spend it catching up on all the cleaning my house needs and attending to spending time with my little 2 year old because during the week, I work and I don’t get much time with him. The thing I found that has helped with his socialization is daycare. Wait, hear me out, even if you are a stay at home mother.

    Even doing one day a week at a daycare can be super helpful for socialization and education. I cannot tell you how fast my kid got words down, politeness down and eating (since he is a picky eater) because he spent time with other kids in an organized setting. And the great thing is, I don’t have to expend precious energy being there myself to help him do it. I can work and on days I am sick or I HAVE to get things done, I don’t worry about him being bored or fussy or trying to take care of him.

    So, even if its just one day a week, find a place that you can drop him off for the day. Seriously. Do it.

  18. As s mother of three … eldest 21 (hell now I feel old) youngest 7.. I can confirm without doubt every mother and baby … turn mother and toddler group I attended .. consisted of different scenarios of particular children roughing up other children whilst their mothers drank coffee… no you DO NOT have to go ! Everything at max s age is a stimulating experience! Modern parenting seems to constitute a jam packed diary of children’s engagements… . Your Max looks like he has everything he needs xx

  19. It completely depends on personality and circumstance I think. I was afraid of meeting preachy superior mums when I first went to one, but I was really lucky and met the sweetest bunch of women (who were all scared of the same thing) and while we’re not forever friends, it’s been so nice to go out for coffee after a group, and talk to people in a similar situation, but that’s because none of us have other friends nearby. But also there are lots of mums who just come, have a tiny chat or a bit of a smile but mostly keep to themselves and don’t look for more, and that’s normal too. Sometimes it’s just something to do on a rainy day. I find all the groups for babies are really early in the morning (9.30?! Getting a baby out at that time for me is like a military operation) so I only make one group a week really. I do enjoy the ones I go to, and so does my baby. Although he also enjoys hitting me with a wooden spoon and licking the sofa, so I don’t think his opinion really counts.

    Now what fills me with absolute DREAD is the Mush app, which is like a dating app except you meet other mums. Someone signed me up once, and trying to define myself in a small bio without sounding like a desperate, friendless loser and wait for strangers to think I was interesting enough to contact just made me cringe! I’m sure it’s been fantastic for others, but it was totally not my thing.

  20. God, no. If you ALREADY HAVE friends with kids the same age, there is absolutely no need to go to a group which exists solely for people to meet parents of kids the same age. If there are people in your life who can empathise about your current parenting stage and if there are kids in Max’s life who you can describe as “his friends” even though they ignore each other, you’re fine. I’m always open to new parent friends but I haven’t met ANY of them at a toddler group.

    For the record, though, baby and toddler classes (crafts, swimming, music etc) very rarely involve talking to other parents. You all just focus on your own kid and get on with the structured activities. You may still hate them, but you’ll be pretty safe from small talk. Probably.

  21. I’m not a mom and I am an extrovert so the only thing I will say is that my mom is a painfully awkward introvert who met her best friend in my baby play group. Her best friend officiated my wedding 7 years ago and they’ve been best friends for 37 years now. Disclaimer: This is an anecdote, not an argument for or against baby groups 😉 If Max is able to see other children through your friends, I’m not sure of the point of a baby play group? My mom lived somewhere where she didn’t know anyone else with kids, so I think that’s really why she did it. Also, she didn’t work and was a SAHM with one kid, so I think she probably knew that even though she was an introvert, she was at risk of becoming a shut-in because my dad worked a ton of hours and was rarely home.

  22. I think so, purely for the benefit it provides to the kids. It would surely make it less likely that they will feel shy/unresponsive around other kids once they are a bit older. I grew up a very shy and socially awkward child since day 1 at primary school and I think that if I’d been around other children more prior to this it would have helped a lot. I don’t have any kids myself yet but I know that when I do I would socialise them regularly from a very young age and hopefully then they wouldn’t have to feel the way I did around other children. I imagine mother and baby groups being like any other kind of group activity you can attend, you can get as involved as you like and will gravitate towards those who you feel are more like you and on your level.

    • 100% me. I’m the only child and I was so not used to larger groups of children that my first years in the primary were so difficult… I would do literally EVERYTHING to not to put my kid ( at the moment 6yo ) in the same position. I always tried to socialise my kid with other children daily, sometimes organised groups, sometimes just friends. I don’t think that groups are in any way necessary, just in my case I didn’t know enough mums and kids.

      • I was the same, only child and single parent family. There was always interactions with any kids that my mum’s friends had but I definitely think there’s something to be said for socialising in an organised and larger group because this is what you have to do once you go to primary school. I guess when you have been so socially awkward as a child yourself then you will worry more about these things for your own kids.

  23. My advice would be not to do anything you don’t want to do. As long as Max can socialise with other children and learns how to share and behave with other children you have nothing to worry about. Being a mum is learning about what works for the two of you. X

  24. My mum has been pushing me to go to these groups because YOU NEED TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND SEE OTHER MUMS since before I even had Sadie, and 6 months into maternity leave I can honestly say… nope, I don’t. I have always been quite happy in my own company and a home-body and decidedly unhappy around a bunch of strangers I’m under social pressure to interact with. If the groups were just about my baby interacting with other babies and I could sit and watch in silence, I’d HAPPILY go to watch her have fun. But that’s somehow not ok, so the only one I go to is one that I’ve signed up for with a friend who I knew before I was pregnant and happened to have a baby five days after me. That’s the only mum friend I feel I need, and I don’t see it changing… So you’re definitely not alone!

  25. I would say just do what you want to do! If you feel uncomfortable then don’t go!

    I must so ask a hugely important question…. Where is the green dress in the picture from? ???

  26. Needed this today, felt like I could’ve written every word!! Spent 3 months just hanging me and the kid and recently been to some mum meet ups and joined groups online and just felt so out of place, upset and judged. Totally my own insecurities but still. Thanks for another perspective x

  27. I really wish I’d read a blog like yours when I was pregnant and had subsequent small child…I HATED ante natal classes, I HATED that I thought I had to go to various baby/toddler groups. I have a vague recollection about a Tumbletots group & my child was far too wayward and screamy for the other blessed angels. ? I think there was a lot of the half scooched up running after said child, (who, as an aside, had careered off with a glockenspiel hammer) while hissing his name to “get back here” as all other children sat quietly & waited. ?
    So, no, you do not have to go, he’s meeting other kids in happier environments via your friends & he’ll have oodles of new friends when he starts school (my son missed play school for various reasons and a mid August birthday. ?)

  28. This honestly felt like I was reading my own thoughts! Recently been going through the same thing and I always feel so selfish and stupid moaning about it but I couldn’t have worded it better myself! But I did attempt a new mums group this week (taking my partner so he was the only dad) I didnt want to try it on my own for all the reasons you’ve listed and I found out what I thought which is it just isnt for me and I dont want the small talk and to be forced to make new friends just because I have a baby, and he enjoyed playing with the toys like he does at home but yes, he is too young to have been interested in the other babies!


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