Making new friends as a mum is no walk in the park - but an app might save your sanity
Becoming a mother is a magical and momentous event, but it can also be incredibly lonely and isolating. A new app, being hailed as Tinder for new mums, is about to change that.
Women who have led busy working lives suddenly find themselves sitting at home changing nappies and having no adult conversation for 14 hours a day.
It's enough to drive a sane person around the bend.
When I wrote my book 'Me and My Sisters', which dealt with the loneliness of motherhood and the loss of identity that it brings, I received hundreds of emails from readers saying that they felt the same way as my character, Julie.
The feeling of isolation is something all new mothers feel and two brave women in the UK have decided to do something about it.
Sarah Hesz (34) and Katie Massie-Taylor (33) met on a cold and grey afternoon in a local playground. They both had a newborn strapped to their front whilst chasing around a toddler. They both hadn't had an adult conversation all day.
They soon realised that as well as having two children the same age, they also lived three streets away from each other and even had friends in common.
Katie says she was close to tears that morning, having recently moved back from New York to London. Meeting Sarah "kept her sane".
Days with young children can really drag. Mothers are often up at 5am with crying babies. Sitting in a park in the cold trying to entertain a demanding toddler can be mind-numbingly boring, with minutes feeling like hours.
So, the thought of having someone to do all this with, to have another real-life adult to talk to, is manna from heaven.
Sarah and Katie clung to each other for company and kept each other sane through the long days. "We went to Pizza Express with the kids and the meal was manic, I remember we were talking about how it should not be this hard to make friends with other mums - we then came up with the idea of the app," Sarah said.
Within months, Katie and Sarah developed Mush, a free app that operates like Tinder for mothers, using GPS and shared interests to link people with possible mates.
With 75,000 members, and growing daily, the free app engineers the sort of sanity-saving connection Sarah and Katie found in the park, on an international scale.
When searching for friends on Mush, you can see their photos, as well as their children's ages and their interests (top three tags: wine-lover; caffeine-lover; sweary), which Sarah and Katie have found is the primary thing parents are looking for.
Who knew mothers were all looking for coffee-drinking, wine-swilling friends who curse like sailors.
Sounds good to me.
The app allows mothers to group chat and arrange to meet up with people they have matched with.
"I believe that happy mothers make happy children and I feel incredibly passionate about the app. When you have your first baby you lose your identity a little bit and you need other mums around to help you," Sarah said.
It's awkward for mums to approach each other in a playground and randomly ask for each other's numbers. The app makes it less embarrassing and easier to contact people.
The two women admit that they took inspiration from other dating apps, such as Tinder, "but obviously our app is quite different, as it was created just so mums can make friends," Sarah added.
According to Joanna Fortune, clinical psychotherapist at parent-child relationship clinic Solamh, loneliness can lead to mums feeling quite negative about themselves.
"It can affect a woman's self-esteem and confidence and make it more difficult for mums to reach out," Ms Fortune said.
Research undertaken by Mush showed more than four-in-five mothers considered their friends a source of happiness and yet 60pc of them "often" go through a full day without adult interaction.
As well as the social interaction and support, it's also helpful to make friends with other mums to discuss problems you're having with your child and get tips on parenting, health issues and even practical information about things like local schools, babysitters and doctors.
Sarah said: "Our app was created just so mums can make friends. People are meeting each other online and it is all becoming very natural to meet people on the internet."
We all have a basic human need to interact and if that means finding mum-friends via an app, bring it on.