Small talk’s hard when you’ve had four hours sleep, alright? By Robyn Wilder.
“Ah, I see you have a baby also.”
When your baby is very small, and you’re not really sure if you’re awake or asleep, and you’re still wearing last week’s pajama top, getting out of the house at all – say, to a baby group, or the park – is an enormous feat in itself. So your conversational skills might not be sparkling, at least initially. But worry not – the right mum will take such awkward ice-breakers in the spirit in which it was offered, and probably offered some sleep-deprived humdinger back, such as: “Yes, my baby is a baby. Is yours?” Note: if this isn’t the case, that just means this mum is not ready yet to enter into such sophisticated adult discourse. Move on.
“Do you come here often?”
When in doubt, roll out one of the classics. Everyone knows that “do you come here often?” means “Hello, I would like to get to know you better”. And, if on the off-chance they don’t, they might take the question literally and tell you which other kid-friendly parks they go to in the area. Win-win.
“I think you dropped this.”
Somewhere, right now, a mother has realised, with that awful sinking sensation, that she or the baby has dropped something in the street. It might look inconsequential to an observer, like a dummy or a raggedy old bit of cloth, but it may also mean days of heartbreak (and nights of no sleep). Be the hero you want to see in the world. Pick up after this mother, and run to her. Run to her, and hand her the item. She will love you unconditionally forever.
“Do you have a spare….?”
Baby wipe? Nappy bag? Nappy? Dollop of bum cream for a nasty spot of nappy rash? Minute to hold the baby while you root around in your bag for a baby wipe, nappy bag, nappy, or bum cream? Don’t be afraid to call on another mum when you’re in crisis – and it’s a great in-road for the sort of chat that leads to a coffee at some point.
“This changing room is horrible! There’s a much better one over there.”
It is the sacred duty of any mum to disclose an unpleasant baby-changing facility to the mothers next in line, and will earn you respect if not friends.
“Wow, I love how you’ve got your baby to eat raisins so well! Mine throws them on the floor…”
Compliments are good. Compliments that praise a mother’s parenting style are better. Compliments that earn you valuable parenting tips (and maybe win you a friend in the process) are GOLDEN.
“It’s okay, there are plenty of toys!”
Taking extra toys to the park is a sneaky but wholesome way of attracting other people’s children – and their parents. Once their kids are happily playing with yours/arguing about whose toy it is, the parent will be in your orbit – then you can grab their contact details and whip them into a lasting, rewarding friendship before they realise that IT WAS ALL A TRAP, MWUAHAHA.
“I’ve been thinking of getting a baby carrier/buggy/changing bag like yours – would you recommend it?”
Sometimes, when you’ve spent half your maternity leave researching buggy reviews online, or testing out carriers at your local sling library, all you want to talk about are your findings. Trouble is, there is no one to listen to them. So if you fancy a long chat, ask a new mum for a product review. You’ll be fast friends in hours.
“You look really pulled together! How do you do that with two tiny kids?”
Everyone loves being told they look nice and that they’re doing a good job, and new mums are no exception – although of course she may not feel as though she looks nice, or that she’s doing a good job, so will probably reassure you that she’s had minus three hours’ sleep and has Sudocrem on her bra. Mum solidarity is the first step to friendship.
“Are there any local new mums out there who need friends?”
New parenthood can be isolating, particularly if you don’t know a lot of people in your area – and no one knows this better than, er, other new parents who don’t know anyone in their area. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there right here on Mush. You’d be surprised at how many positive responses you’ll receive (and lasting friendships you could make) as a result.