Life can be tough. No doubt about it.
Parenting can be a rollercoaster ride and we want to enjoy that ride as much as possible.
Being asked to write a blog exploring the impact of Mums attending groups made me think not only about the things I see when running groups, but also about my own experiences when my kids were young.
As a person who prefers to be with a small group of friends and who could in no way be described as a party animal! I was not totally on board with the idea of joining a group as a first time Mum.
The group I attended way back when, was very practical and focused on skills. Nappy changing, bottle feeding, etc. I have to admit, I didn’t go for long as the emphasis was on being taught and being taught their way. I felt a bit like I was back at school!
The thing that makes that group memorable, however, is the friend that I made there. She was the one person who seemed to be on my wavelength. So, after a few weeks of us both rolling our eyes, we decided to embrace the feeling of being at school again, revived our ‘year 10’ selves and bunked off! Thirty two years later and we’ve never looked back.
Although that particular group wasn’t quite my thing, I found support in the friendship that I made as a result of joining -and I wouldn’t swap that for the world. Being a parent and being a Mum in particular, creates a massive shift in identity. All of a sudden you become secondary in your own life and the more support you have, the better.
The groups I have attended with my Grandson have been much more appealing. Less prescriptive, more relaxed and all focused on a parent/child bonding experience in some way, which is something I would have benefitted from massively as a young Mum and something which provides a different focus from the group I experienced.
Whatever the focus, the opportunity to have dedicated Mum and child time cannot be overstated. Not only does it provide a shared experience, but it allows you to ‘piggyback’ off the session yourself. I always came out of a dancing class feeling energised and was very chilled after baby sensory sessions.
The opportunities at the end of the group to chat and interact with each other were more challenging for me but I found that having my child with me made it easier to access this valuable aspect of the group experience, enabling me to develop an extended support network- which was a welcome bonus. This was useful both practically and emotionally. Having, or even just hearing, a chat that sparks the realisation ‘It’s not just me!’ can be a huge relief in itself. Being able to laugh with other mums about common situations like tantrums (theirs and ours!) can diffuse strong feelings and make the day seem better and the ride worthwhile.
Whether you’re someone who enjoys talking or someone who prefers to listen, becoming part of a group that you enjoy can impact positively on your sense of self and wellbeing.
For some, joining a group is a pleasure. You feel energised and thoroughly enjoy mixing with different people. For others (like me) the thought of joining a group can be quite daunting and there can be a sense of relief when it’s over.
Over the years, I’ve overcome my aversion to groups as I’ve realised two things:
I don’t have to participate to extent that more outgoing members do and that’s fine. Most people don’t even notice
The benefits I’ve experienced personally from the things I’ve seen, questions I’ve asked or conversations I’ve listened to, have far outweighed any reservations I may have had about participating.
That’s not to say all groups are right for everyone, but I have come to recognise that it’s well worth pushing myself outside my comfort zone.
I wouldn’t be who I am today and would have missed out on some amazing opportunities and some incredible people if I hadn’t chosen to be part of the groups I’ve enjoyed.
I’m a convert!
About Rachael Walker - Beyond the Pond Coaching Founder
I am a qualified Personal Development Coach, holding a level 5 diploma and accredited with distinction by The Coaching Academy. I have a background of over 16 years working in the education sector, am a certified NLP practitioner and hold an honours degree in Psychology.
I have two children, two grandchildren and two cats! I have a passion for connecting with the great outdoors, empowering others and finding inner calm.
I believe that developing ourselves is the springboard to generating a deeper level of awareness about how we think and respond. This, ultimately, creates a more helpful and positive experience of life.
I understand that you’re always more creative when you feel like you have more options to choose from, so working together, I enable you to look at things differently and re-frame situations so that you are encouraged to really explore how you can expand your response options.
Whether you are looking for 121 sessions, group coaching or online consultations Rachael is happy to talk to you about your needs.