One of the unexpected bonuses of having children, for me, has been the chance to get to know other mothers. Who else is genuinely interested in swapping stories about sleep deprivation and what happened when you let the baby bite on a lemon? Who else will pick your kids up from school when you're running late? Who else can drink you under the table and make you laugh like a drain? Mum chums, that's who.
If you're like me and are raising your children without having any family nearby, your friends will be your community, your support network and your social life rolled into one.
A new survey from award-winning website What's On 4 Little Ones? claims that eight out of ten (85 of mums are still in regular contact with the friends they made when they first became parents – some being longterm friends over 10 years on.
If you'd like to make more mum chums, this is how those surveyed did it: The majority of mums in the survey (51.9) of mums said that their mums also made friends when pregnant with them, some having now been friends for over 40 years.
"I made some of my best friends when I was pregnant with my daughter Alice. Five years on, many of these are still firm friends and I'm sure we still will be when our children are having children of their own!" says Sam Willoughby, founder of What's on 4 Little Ones? and winner of the Practical Parenting Business Mum of the Year award. "Taking part in local activities gave me the chance to meet other mums, share tips and advice and make lasting friendships. Plus Alice had the chance to have fun, meet other children and learn new skills too."
Sam's website now lists over 12,000 classes and activities for babies and children under 5 across the UK, is completely free to search and doesn't even ask you to register. All the information is quickly available, dates, times and everything else parents need to know including links to websites and contact information plus a map of how to get there.