Becoming a mother is one of the most exciting and rewarding times of our lives. It is full of amazing highs – our baby’s first smile; the first time they sit, crawl or stand; their first words; daily cuddles; and, if we’re lucky, when they start sleeping through the night. But it can also be an incredibly hard and challenging journey. It is the kind of journey that is best done with good company. Have you heard the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Since becoming a mother, I have realised how profound and utterly true this quote is.
But unfortunately, that “good company” can sometimes be hard to find. Not all mothers are fortunate enough to be in close proximity to their support network of family and friends. That is why it is so important for new mothers to know where they can find other new mums to connect and build their own community with.
As a new mum in the Sutherland Shire (South Sydney), I am fortunate enough to be close to a range of local mums and bubs groups that have allowed me to connect with other new mothers. If you are in the Sutherland Shire – or the surrounding suburbs – and you are keen to network with other new mothers, make sure you check out one (or all) of these groups.
Local Mother’s Group
I was referred to the local mother’s group when we had our home visit by the Maternal Health Nurse (when my son was 9 days old). In the Sutherland Shire, there are different groups in different locations that meet on various days of the week (Caringbah, Cronulla, Engadine, Gymea, Menai, Miranda, Sutherland). I still meet regularly with my mother’s group, even though my son is now 10 months old, because we gelled really well together. However, I recognise that this isn’t the case for all mother’s groups. When my son was about 6 weeks old, I visited a different mother’s group as we had just moved houses, but I found that I didn’t connect with this group as well as my initial one. For me, it was worth travelling the extra 10 minutes to my initial mother’s group because that is where I gained the most support and encouragement from, and it has paid off to this day. If you are a new mum, chat with your Maternal Health Nurse about local mother’s groups (which are all over Sydney), and attend a couple to find a group of mother’s that you connect well with.
Mother’s groups are great for answering initial questions about motherhood and meeting new mums, however they are short lived. After 3 months, us new mothers are released “into the wild” of motherhood and are left to fend for ourselves (maybe not entirely, there is still support out there!). So another great way to continue connecting with new mothers is through Playgroups. Playgroup is a great way to get your babies interacting and engaging in a bunch of fun activities (self-run), while you continue socialising with other mums. Our mother’s group started our own Playgroup to allow us to keep meeting together in a baby-friendly environment. We get to mingle and chat on a weekly basis in a great venue for crawling/toddling babies, have resources at our finger tips and we also organise delicious morning teas – what is not to love?! We have already had half a dozen new mothers come along within the span of a couple of weeks as well, so it is a wonderful opportunity to meet new mums.
The Playgroup NSW website lists many local playgroups (both in the Sutherland Shire and across NSW), and you can join any local group. The website even lets you know if the group is designed for babies or for older children (as Playgroup can go up to the ages of 3 and beyond). Playgroup NSW allows you to visit any Playgroup twice for free before having to become a member (for insurance purposes). However, they have a new initiative called “Play Baby” where your yearly membership is free if your baby is under one year old. Separate Playgroups also have a termly fee which you would need to discuss with the Playgroup leader.
Babes + Picnics is an Australia-wide initiative encouraging mums from different areas and walks of life to meet up once a month for a picnic. There are over 30 B+P locations across Australia, with the aim of not only supporting new mums but giving back to the community as well. In March, I started up the Babes + Picnics Sutherland Shire group along with my co-ambassador Karla. Each month, we select a picnic location, a charity for the mums to donate to (our Sutherland Shire mums are so generous!) and we also have small businesses donate prizes for some of the lucky mummas who attend! It is a casual outing once a month, with between 30-50 mums attending, and it is a great way to network with other local mums in the Shire. If you are interested in coming along to our next picnic, find us on Facebook under ‘Babes + Picnics Sutherland Shire’.
If you are the type of mum who enjoys exercise and would like to meet other mums who like fitness, than Kangatraining is for you. I recently started Kangatraining, and I must admit I am absolutely OBSESSED with it. Think exercise class meets light Zumba while babywearing. It is a lot more intense than I was expecting, but it is a great way to work off some postpartum baby weight and meet other mums and bubs in the process. There is a range of choreographed dances and exercises to do that work out your arms, and re-strengthen your core and pelvic floor. Plus it is a LOT of fun and most (if not all) babies fall asleep in the process, so it is a definite winner! The Kangatraining Cronulla and Surrounds class currently operates in Kirrawee, and there is more information on the website.
Another great weekly group to attend is the Rhymetime program at your local library. Many libraries in the Sutherland Shire run a Rhymetime program on different days of the week so you can choose a group that suits you. Rhymetime includes a variety of nursery rhymes and songs to sing with your baby, and they are quite popular with the new mums (especially in locations such as Cronulla). It is a nice relaxed group where you can sing, do actions and just have fun with your baby – plus they have engaging extras like puppets and, if you’re lucky, a bubble machine!
These are the local groups in the Sutherland Shire that I have attended to build up a great network of new mum friends. Are there other mum groups in the Sutherland Shire (or Sydney) that you have found to make mum friends in?