I connected with Shay through Instagram. After experiencing some challenges working full time and being a mum, Shay decided to set up a community for other working mums feeling the same in Croydon. I love finding women that empower other women and Shay really stands out as a lovely lady that has grown from her own loneliness and was inspired to support other mums to create powerful work connections and friendships. In this interview, Shay talks openly about juggling it all, how to make friends as a mum and her own experiences of loneliness.
Hi Shay, I love the community for mums you’re building in your local area. What inspired you to start The Mum Hub?
I’m a mum of 2 young children and I work full-time. I love having a career and I think it sets a good example to my kids that hard work and grit does pay off to achieve your dreams. I wanted to meet more people who had a similar mindset and there was nothing where I lived that bought people together like that, so I started The Mum Hub. The Mum Hub connects working mums in Croydon giving them opportunities to meet other mums to help inspire and motivate them to achieve their goals and make new friends. I host meetups and events all in Croydon.
How has becoming a mum impacted your friendships?
I have less free time to see people. I used to be able to go out on the evenings, and stay over a friend’s houses on a whim. Now everything has to be planned to a tee and I need to ensure childcare is covered if I’m not bringing them. So, some existing friendships it’s not impacted at all, others it really has and I hardly talk to these people.
Do you ever experience feelings of loneliness and how do you avoid/overcome them?
Yes! So much so. That’s why I was so glad I found your blog! I started to feel the pang of loneliness a couple of years after finishing uni. I was used to being in close-knit groups at school and at uni, but after a couple of years of formal education finishing and friends working and moving away, I started to feel really lonely. Don’t get me wrong I had friends, but I didn’t see them very often. I missed having friends living close to me that I could see frequently without having to work out complicated logistics. This feeling of loneliness pretty much lasted until I became a mum. It became worse during the early months of becoming a mum; I couldn’t travel as much with a small baby to see my friends, or they were working when I was free; I didn’t know anyone locally; I only had two friends who had babies and they lived on the other side of London; and my NCT group didn’t work out.
Have you made new friends since becoming a mum and where did you meet them?
Yes thankfully! I made some through an app called Mush. Mush has been described as tinder for mums. It connects you to mums a stone throw away through the app. I messaged some mums and then arranged a meetup. Some mums I connected with and 2 years on we’re really strong friends. Then the network just grew because they introduced me to their friends. I’m in a WhatsApp group with 20 other local mums now and someone is always saying to meet up. Also, a lot of people on my road have kids a similar age so immediately it’s given us something to talk about and connect. I’ve also made friends through the Mum Hub.
Tell me about your current friend circle and how have your friendships formed and changed throughout your life?
I’ve got some friends from school, friends I met in an online chatroom (ah remember those days!), friends from uni, friends from old workplaces, and mum friends. I tend to pick up friends as I go through life and I cherish every one. I can’t say I’ve always been the friend I want to be with all of them. We’ve definitely had ups and downs, but I’m so glad to have worked through the downs and are still friends after. I see my mum friends the most as they’re local, and for the others are all long-distance friendships so I’ll WhatsApp catch up with them and we’ll arrange a weekend to see each other. I very much believe that the friends I have, I’ll have for life. So I invest in each friendship, by checking in regularly, make an effort to turn up to events, and remember important info. Although, there have unfortunately been some friendships I’ve let go as they were having a negative impact on my life. It was hard doing it at the time, but it has made me happier on the while.
How do you juggle motherhood and friendships?
Whatsapp! I use it all the time to keep up with people and arrange when to see them. Also, I use my calendar religiously to put in important dates for friends (i.e. birthdays, anniversaries, kids birthdays or other life events). It makes such a difference when people drop a message for these things, as it shows you care. I’m pretty scheduled with my time too so that I can fit in seeing friends around working, parenting and general adulting. This means I have set evenings during the week when I can meet friends in town due to childcare arrangements, or I can meet them locally after the kids are asleep. Also, any weekend jaunts will need to be scheduled in advance to ensure my husband knows he’s got two crazy kids to look after on his own, or when he needs to come along. I will say it took me 11 months after having my first to leave my baby in the evening. I know this was partly hormonal, and partly because he screamed without me, and I never felt comfortable leaving him to do that. So if you’re a new mum and you can’t face going out yet, your friends will understand if you can’t leave the baby yet… just make sure to make it up to them by seeing them at another date even if it’s with the baby.
What advice can you give someone looking to support a friend that has become a new mum?
Check in regularly. Some people tend to ease off on the contact during the early days because they think a new mum has loads to deal with. They do, and their whole world is changing so it’s even more of a reason for you to check in with them. If they’re having a hard time of it, say that you’ll help with the housework while they nap with the baby and they will love you forever.
Tell a friendship story…
I’ve got to talk about my bestie here. I met her at school when I was told that I had to look after her by my form tutor… which I was not pleased with at the time. However, it turned out to be a truly remarkable friendship and I couldn’t do without her. We’ve seen each other’s big events through life and still manage to chat about crap on the phone for hours. She was great when my boys were born, and sent presents, personalised cards and made trips to see them. Since having the kids, she’s always driven down to see me, because she knows I find it hard to get to hers, and never once has she complained! The one thing I really dislike about our friendship is that she lives blooming ages away. We only get to see each other maybe 4 times a year, so we use WhatsApp a lot and video calling to catch up. Even though we can’t see each other physically, touching base regularly still keeps that feeling of closeness.