Dealing with different types of mums

Making new mum friends is easy at various groups and classes, yet what about the mums that are more irritating than inspiring? Here’s how to deal with them…

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  • The routine queen

    You know the type…

    Never a minute goes by without Routine Queen checking her schedule – woe betide anything that gets in the way of her baby’s feeding, sleeping or eating time!

    Most likely to say…

    ‘Sorry, I’ll have to pass on coffee after all – Charlie needs his nap at 11.01am and he’ll be all out of sync if he misses it.’

    The problem?

    Everyone has their own way of doing things, but mums that are in a really strict routine can sometimes find that their schedule has a knock-on effect on other friends and social commitments. ‘There are quite a few mums at the groups that I go to who are doing Gina Ford and sticking to a strict routine, but it’s not always that practical and it has its limits,’ says Sophia Carlton, mum to seven-month-old Florence. ‘For instance, they’re so strict with their time that they will only see you at certain times of the day!’

    How to cope with her…

    This kind of mum can make you feel like you’re just part of her schedule, or else that you’re doing things wrong because you’re more relaxed with feeding or nap times. But, says life coach Gladeana McMahon, it’s natural for friends to develop different beliefs. If Routine Queen’s schedule is driving you crazy and she regularly cancels play-dates or coffee mornings because they’re not suitable for her, then gently bring the issue up so she realises how you feel. Try arranging to meet on a regular morning that suits you both – that way, it will become part of her timetable.

  • The Earth mother

    You know the type…

    She won’t let a non-organic morsel pass her lips, while her earth-friendly baby is dressed head-to-toe in unbleached, fairtrade cotton, smothered in chemical-free baby lotion and wears reusable nappies only – no landfill for her!

    Most likely to say…

    ‘Of course we’re co-sleeping, and I’ll breastfeed until little Archie starts school – it’s only natural.’

    The problem?

    While being a green queen is brilliant for both a baby and the environment, someone harping on to their friends about what they should and shouldn’t be eating/wearing/putting on their little one can get rather wearing after a time. After all, preparing organic meals and using chemical-free toiletries can be very expensive, and not all mums have the time – or inclination – to soak and wash real nappies. And while Earth Mother is busy breastfeeding (naturally), you may have found breastfeeding problematic, or simply feel more comfortable bottle-feeding your baby – and you shouldn’t be made to feel bad about this.

    How to cope with her…

    If you don’t share some of your new friend’s eco principles, simply explain that while you admire her ethics, you’re perfectly happy with your own choice of food, wipes, nappies and clothes. ‘Arguing with an expert is only likely to end up with you losing,’ advises Gladeana. ‘But you do not have to justify your position – simply explain it.’

  • The laid back mum

    You know the type…

    She’s so relaxed about parenting that her little one knows no boundaries – after all, allowing her to explore and experiment will help her learn more about the word around her.

    Most likely to say…

    ‘Don’t worry about that stain on the carpet – it will enable Angie to understand that Ribena makes a red colour!’

    The problem?

    Being Mrs Cool ‘n’ Chilled might seem like the ideal way to parent – unless you’re on the receiving end of the havoc her toddler wreaks. If you keep your house in order and your child knows the rules, having no control over someone else’s child while she trashes your house is incredibly frustrating. What’s more, you run the risk that your child will copy her bad behaviour.

    How to cope with her…

    This is a difficult one, as no-one wants to criticise other people’s parenting skills (or lack of them). If your friend’s toddler makes a mess at your house or insists on using the table as a climbing frame or drawing on the walls, you have a right to intervene. Address the toddler, and hopefully his mum will realise that little Angie is doing something that you’re not happy about, and stop her. If this doesn’t have the desired effect, you need to talk to her. ‘Point out the behaviour that you and others find difficult,’ says Gladeana. ‘Be clear and direct. The important thing to remember is that if you don’t set boundaries around someone else’s behaviour, you are, in effect, giving them the message that it’s acceptable.’

  • The pushy parent

    You know the type…

    Her baby’s every milestone is diligently recorded and recounted to you and anyone else that will listen at every given opportunity, so that other parents can see just how talented and clever her baby is.

    Most likely to say…

    ‘She really should be on her feet by now – my little angel was walking at eight months!’

    The problem?

    No-one likes a boaster. Pushy Parent just loves to boast about her offspring’s achievements, making you feel inferior, or that your baby is somehow not developing properly because she hasn’t learned to turn herself over, sit up or crawl at exactly the same moment as her baby.

    How to cope with her…

    Try thinking of positive responses to her negative comments, such as ‘Well, she’s started saying her first words, so she’s obviously more of a thinker than a mover.’ And, suggests health and wellbeing consultant Liz Tucker, ‘ask yourself whether your friend has a positive impact on your life, and whether you benefit from her friendship.’ If not, gently ease away from her (be available less and less when she calls) – you’ll soon be able to forge friendships with other mums in the group, with whom you have more in common.

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  • The super mum

    You know the type…

    Not only is she up and strutting her stuff in her power suit by 6.30am every morning, but she’s also already expressed enough milk for her baby and scheduled in a number of appointments before you’ve even had time to open your bleary eyes.

    Most likely to say…

    ‘Anyone mind if I express while we do our 9.30am tele-con?’

    The problem?

    Although the way Super Mum manages to fit her job around the joys of motherhood is admirable, it’s enough to make anyone feel a little inferior – especially if her house is spotless, her social life full and her career steadily winding its way up the ladder. You, meanwhile, are struggling to get your baby into a routine and have days when you just can’t seem to cope with the mountain of tasks piling up in front of you.

    How to cope with her…

    On the days when Super Mum joins in with your baby group, try not to feel as if she’s everything you’re not. After all, things haven’t simply worked out for her thanks to a quick wave of her magic wand – remember that she’s had to organise her life with pinpoint precision, and she’s probably just as exhausted as the rest of you.

    ‘If you constantly belittle yourself or tell yourself that you’re not good enough, you’ll start behaving in a way that reinforces that thought pattern,’ says Fiona Harrold, author of Indestructible Selfbelief. Instead of resenting her supposedly seamless lifestyle, try to befriend her – you might pick up some coping tips, and she can also confide in you when things get too much for her. You’ll soon see that she’s just human, after all!

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