Being a mum is no picnic

CHILD WRANGLING: Aberglasslyn mum Lauren Greay said the support and friendship of other mothers gave her confidence in her parenting of son Bryce, 2, and daughter Chloe, 11 months. Picture: Marina NeilWHEN LaurenGreay fell pregnant with her first child, she did not expect the experience to be so isolating.
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“I lost a lot of friends,” the Aberglasslyn mother-of-two said.“We became a little boring, me and my husband, and meeting new friends was really, really difficult.”

It is a loneliness shared among many mothers of young children, including Heidi Gooley from Newcastle. For Mrs Gooley, the support of other mums has been a lifesaver since the arrival of her son Brandon, now 20 months.

“Being a mum is definitely isolating,” she said. “You need that support from other mums to get you through.”

The women are part of a growing movement bringing mothers together for friendship, adviceand a laugh.

Babes + Picnics groups have exploded across the country since the first meeting was held in Brisbane in October last year. The groups meet once a month in public places and are open to anyone with small children. There are now about 20,000 mumsmeeting in 40 locations across Australia.

Mrs Greay is raising two children, Bryce, 2, and Chloe, 11 months, and says connecting with other parents was a lifesaver.

“My husband almost pushed me out the door to the community mother’s group and those peopleare now my best friends,” she said.“There’s a real need for this. Motherhood is extremely isolating.

“There are days when I don’t leave the house.”

She said one of the most valuable aspects of the groups was being able to drop any facade of the “perfect” mother.

“It’s given me confidence because you’re second guessing everything as a first-time mum, you just doubt yourself so much,” she said.“It’s nice to sit with other mums, who have become really good friends, and have a nice conversation and you don’t have to put up this image that everything is perfect.

“Because it is hard. Some days, my husband comes home and dinner is not on the table but the kids are happy and in bed and that’s what I achieved that day.”

The groups also have a “pay it forward” policy, choosing to donate to a different local charity each month.

“We don’t ask for money as there are a lot of mums where even $5 can’t be afforded,” Mrs Greay said.

“But if you’ve got lots of nappies that the kids have outgrown then we can donate to the Nappy Collective, and things like that.”

The next Babes + Picnics Maitland meeting is on Friday, August 4, from 10am at Maitland Park Bowling Club. The Newcastle meeting is also on August 4, at Habitat Adamstown from 8.30am. For more information visit Babes + Picnics Newcastle or Babes + Picnics Maitland on Facebook.

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