The thought of having another baby and being a stay at home mum was a scary one for many reasons. My older children are either in secondary school, or soon will be, so no more playground mummy friends (Something I’ve always struggled to maintain due to my shyness), or play dates which we weren’t really ever invited to. I can only put this down to my painfully low self esteem and confidence. Who wants to talk to the lady who is always looking at the floor and never seems to smile? I don’t blame people for it, but I can’t lie that each school run, or birthday party I took my children to where people found it hard to talk to me only made me worse. I desperately wanted to fit in, but had no idea how to do it. I’m pretty rubbish at small talk and always think of things to say once I’m back in my comfort zone. The thought that I’d have to go through all that all over again with a new baby terrified me. New mums in the playground, new children’s birthday parties, with possibly the same outcome. I do not want that for me or my new baby.
Shortly before Penny was born I heard about Walking Mums. I joined their facebook group and hoped to push myself to attend a walk after I’d had the baby. I would sign up but once the day came I’d chicken out and not go. All the same excuses come out. ‘I’ve had a rough night with the baby’, ‘I’m not feeling well’, ‘One of the children isn’t well’ etc. In truth I didn’t sleep well before due to anxiety about making conversation with new people. What if no-one talked to me? What if I said something to upset someone? What if I didn’t fit in? It was holding me back, but I knew something had to be done. For Penny as well as myself. Jay, who runs Walking Mums, was fantastically understanding. I opened up to her a little about my anxieties about meeting new people and she reassured me that many new mums feel the same way. Even the most confident women, find it hard to socialise with their baby, but that we are all in the same boat. The fact I had ‘wussed out’ of a few walks was never held against me, and eventually a walk came up which was so local to me that I thought, right, THIS IS IT!
The walk was run by a lovely lady and was thankfully quite a small group. Everyone was so friendly and conversation flowed easily. We walked around the Isle of Dogs and then through the Greenwich foot tunnel and up the steep hill to the observatory. We shared the achievement of making it up the ‘quick way’ and accomplishing our goal. For me it was about way more that making it up the hill. It was about overcoming a huge obstacle I had allowed to hold me back for so long.
Even after being on a high after my first walk, I found it hard to join another until I eventually built up the confidence to try again. This time I was surprised at the size of the group, but thankfully there were some familiar faces as well as some very friendly new ones, all with the intent on enjoying the sunshine on our Easter themed walk. We walked from Green Park underground Station, all the way past Buckingham Palace and through to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. The weather was fantastic and we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sun, while the babies played together. We shared sun hats (The sun caught me very unaware), toys and advice about teething and feeding. Conversation flowed easily, even for me. On my way home I felt amazing. I was determined that I would not go backwards after coming so far. I’ve made some lovely friends and hope to continue to do so.
Once I got home I took a big step forward and planned my own walk. The route was easy enough as I stayed local to where I lived, and I kept it quite short for my first time. I was shocked that I had a good turnout at the meeting point in Canary Wharf. The sun was shining and I knew that I needed to make this work and not let my shyness overtake me, as out of the 6 mums and babies who turned up, I had met none of them previously. As scared as I was, the walk was gorgeous. Along the Thames path, and finishing off at Mudshoot Farm for lunch and a chat in the sun. It went so well that I’ve even arranged to do it again next month and am also attending a few more walks in the future. With every walk I do, the anxiety has turned to excitement. Excitement about the sights we will see as well as the lovely mums and babies we will meet.
So, if you ask me what does Walking Mums mean to me, I can wholeheartedly tell you that it means a lot. The walks have not only enabled me to get out and about with my now 6 1/2 month old, but to meet lovely mums in the same situation as me. Motherhood can be very isolating, especially if you were used to the hustle and bustle of working life, to suddenly be at home, alone with no one to talk to but a baby is a huge shock to the system for many mums. Walking Mums gives you a reason to get outside with you baby in a pram or sling (All walks are pram friendly) and to have some grown up company as well as company for your baby.
Walking Mums is very important to myself and Penny as it has helped us to get out and meet new people which has always been something I’ve struggled with. The lady who runs it has applied to a Richard Branson competition to win funding to boost the business and really make a difference to mums of children from birth to 3 years.
Please vote and share with your friends. We need votes for this great initiative to reach even more mums aiding socializing and keeping active with their babies.
Every vote counts and is much appreciated.