Meeting new friends can sometimes be tricky, especially later in life. But having a circle of like-minded friends is never more important than when you become a parent for the first time.
As much as your childless friends might try, there are certain things that only other mums and dads will understand (like the 2am night feeds, poo explosions, and dreaded sleep regression).
A sympathetic ear can not only help you to make the most of your maternity leave, give you a source of support and advice, but also ease the potential isolation of new parenthood.
Not to mention that while you'd normally be able to attend a multitude of antenatal and baby classes, the coronavirus pandemic is limiting our socialising abilities somewhat.
However, thanks to technology, gaining a circle of parent friends has never been easier, with a number of dad and mum friends apps springing up to help parents connect.
Think of them like online dating apps but instead of finding romance they help dads and mums find local parents to hang out with! You can find people with similar interests, arrange play dates, or just find someone to chat to about the amazing and sometimes overwhelming world of new parenthood.
Here is a selection of the best (free) tried and tested apps that make making new parent friends easy...
NB: All apps are available for iOS in the App Store, or for Android at Google Play.
One of the biggest mum friends apps, the Mush app offers great coverage across the UK and is home to a very active community of mums, both new and those with toddlers or multiple children.
After uploading a brief profile, which protects your surname, the app will highlight the mums living closest to you based on the first three digits of their postcode.
Then it’s up to you to say hello and spark some conversation.
Mush is the friendliest app for mums. Created by Katie and Sarah after they met on maternity leave in a drizzly playground, it has now spawned over 2 million friendships and is the number one social app for mums.
Mums who use Mush can find friends who live nearby with kids the same age, arrange meetups, get advice from parenting experts and fellow mums on the topics keeping them awake at night, and join chat groups based on everything from their due date to their love of reality TV.
Mush meetups allow mums to organise open events, creating spontaneous mixers in your local area. The best bit? Everyone is in the same boat and there for the same reason, so it’s less awkward than it might seem.
The app’s message board is always bursting with conversation with mums able to throw questions out to the community, no matter how bizarre they might seem, gaining invaluable support and advice.
There’s also a handy message board where you can sell/give away your used baby bits.
Another frontrunner in the growing world of mum friends apps is called Peanut. Peanut is a popular and easy platform that works in a similar way to Mush except for the way in which mums connect.
It is as close to Tinder for mums as you will get, offering a swipe up/down ‘wave’ function.
If both mums wave at each other's profile, you’re in! On registering you can choose three personality traits that sum up your vibe, from Wine Time to Mum Boss or Outdoorsy, making it easy to identify like-minded women while also giving you a good conversation starter.
It’s a slick platform that also offers a chat stream among the wider Peanut community, as well as helping mums find more localised groups.
Happily, message boards are moderated to ban any posts relating to advertising, canvassing of mums by the media or hate, making it a peaceful and supportive space to meet other mums.
It's a safe space for mothers, expectant mothers and those trying to conceive to build friendships, ask questions and find support.
Introducing you to women nearby who are at a similar stage in life, Peanut provides access to a community of women who are there to listen, share information and offer valuable advice.
Whether it’s understanding IVF, adoption, pregnancy, first years or nursery and beyond, Peanut is a place to connect with women like you.
Because dads need friends too! This app is really well put together and looks great. It connects dads whether they are stay-at-home dads, working late in the office dads, single dads or haven’t got a clue dads.
It works in the same way as Peanut (and Tinder) in that it asks dads to swipe left if they want to connect with another dad.
If you both swipe left, a connection is made. Depending on where you live, there might not be enough dads in your area to make face-to-face friends, but the app is packed full of other content, from chat rooms and humorous memes to pertinent polls and advice-based features on everything from childcare and pregnancy to sex and money.
There’s also a ‘Ghost Post’ function which allows dads to post an anonymous message on any topic that they might feel too awkward to raise in person, creating a supportive space for honest chat.
While a lot of advice services available are geared toward mums, it’s great to find an app that puts fatherhood centre stage.
Mummy Social was set up in 2015 by mum of three Josie Barron, and in 2016 welcomed Helen Skelton, of Blue Peter fame, and Sarah Turner (AKA the Unmumsy Mum) to the team.
Filtered by distance, the app tells you how close another mum is down to 0.1 of a mile, although your exact location is protected.
You can also filter mums by the age and gender of their children too.
Unlike other apps Mummy Social also offers the ability to tell other mums which days you are free, allowing mums to seek out other mums likely to be at a loose end at the same time of the week.
Once you’ve loaded up your profile with as much information as you can muster, mums can send each other a private message, ‘suggest a cuppa’ or add them as a friend as you build your mum network in a similar fashion to Facebook.
Mummy Social mums can also put an open call out to mums in their area to meet up at a certain time and place, with events searchable within a set radius.
A bit more clunky than some of its competitors, Bumply is more basic but offers a similar service.
Locations are not postcode or GPS generated, which means you can pick the general area that you are based by dropping a pin and then select mums nearby from a map – a useful variation for those who might be more cautious about their privacy.
Profiles with which to scope out mum mates are more basic, with only key stats requested but with the option of offering as much about your interests as you like.
Connect to mums by sending them a ‘bump’ to invite them to chat.
It also offers a week-by-week guide to pregnancy, which is useful, but not vital as most mums I know use a separate, more detailed app, for tracking their pregnancy.
Far fewer bells and whistles than some of its competitors but a simple, lo-fi app that does the job nonetheless, if enough mums in your area are signed up.
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