Thursday 20 July 2017

5 ways you know you're overdoing it at baby group

Having a baby is a bit of a shock. All of a sudden, you’re plunged into this world of baby groups and nursery rhymes, and obsessing over the appearance of poo. It’s not a good place to be. There are overly enthusiastic women singing nursery rhymes you don’t recognise in shrill voices, health visitors wanting to know whether you think about hurting yourself every minute of the day, sometimes or never, and all kinds of suspicious-looking rashes appearing on your baby every single week. In short, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and a little lost.

When Ebony was born, I was lucky because I found a mum friend who I loved within a couple of months of the birth. She was ridiculously sarcastic, stupidly funny and loved calling her baby a dick (behind her back) as much as I did (about my baby, I didn’t call her baby a dick). Those early days though, when I was desperately trying to find my tribe (we all need a tribe, especially when we have leaky boobs, sore fannies and a desperate urge to pretend our baby has ‘friends’), I experienced some hideously cringy moments at playgroup while I tried to make BFFs with everyone who sat next to me.

You’d think it would be easier the second time around, that I’d already have a tribe in place, but the big age gap between my girls has left me somewhat of a newbie again. Most of my mum friends had their kids closer together and have now thrown themselves back into real life while I’m still walking around with a bag full of nappies and wipes and soggy rice cakes. If anything, I’d say it has been more difficult this time around because I’m busy with the school run and working and a million other things I didn’t have to worry about last time. I have, on occasion, noticed myself sounding a little desperate (read: completely mental) at baby group. Here are 5 ways you know you’re overdoing it at baby group:

1. When you invite people out too soon
Urgh. At some point, there comes a time when it’s ok to invite another mum to hang out with you. A day when your friendship progresses from random bumping into each others at baby group to let’s set a date and do lunch. I am bad at judging this. I have a terrible tendency of inviting people out way too soon, so they either politely decline or we go and then it’s a bit weird because we don’t actually know each other. If you wait too long though, it’s equally awkward because then you’re firmly in the acquaintance camp and it’s a big jump to try and force them into your tribe.

2. When you talk too much because you haven’t had an adult conversation all day
Anyone else guilty of this? I have a bad habit of oversharing at baby groups because I’m excited to be with other adults. I chat all day to my baby but she does little more than stare back at me with a blank expression and occasionally laughs in my face or tries to ram her finger up my nose. I had this under control when Ember was first born because I was doing the school run and chatting to other parents at the gate. But, alas, now we have fallen into bad habits and are usually running (very) late for the school drop off so I don’t always see other people then. And so, I go into overdrive and talk too much at toddler group because I’m excited to be having a real life conversation with an actual adult who might even speak back to me.

3. When you pretend your babies are friends
Babies don’t have friends. They have the worst social skills on the planet (did I mention that my baby likes to ram her finger up my nose?) and only see other babies as competitors for the decent toys at playgroup. My baby likes to pat the heads of other babies, she likes to poke other babies in the eye and sometimes she steals their toys. I call these victims her ‘friends’ in the hope that it will help to endear the other mums to us so we can all be ‘friends’.

4. When you have to keep dragging your baby back to where you’re sitting
Baby group is for babies, right? Er, no. It’s for mums. It’s easy when your baby can’t move, you can plonk them down in front of you and know they’ll stay there for the duration of the group. I have no such luck these days. I can collect all the interesting looking toys in the room in an attempt to try and keep Ember entertained, she will just plough through them on her way to Very Far Away which is where she likes to hang. She doesn’t care if I’m in the middle of an interesting chat or speaking to someone new, she just wanders off and finds the most dangerous situation she can put herself in. With Ebony, I would have just followed her around the room. This time, I try (and fail) to get Ember to stay close to me.

5. When you ask about schools while your kids are still in nappies
I would never have done this Ebony and I think it’s the low point of my desperation the second time around. Ebony’s baby best friend went to a different school, so after years of being best friends and going to preschool together, they went to different schools. With my first child, school seemed like something futuristic and it took years to arrive. This time, I think it’ll be here in no time. To complicate matters, Ember was born at the very end of August so a lot of the babies her age will be going to school a year later. I know this will stress me out, I’m already worried about her being the youngest in the year and how she’ll cope with the long days when she’s still so little. So, I know having friends who get an extra year with their similar-aged babies will be rubbish, for me, not for them. So I’ve developed a weird habit of working out which school year the other babies will be in.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who looks this desperate at playgroup.

Oh god, I am, aren’t I?

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