When we started SuperMamas Berlin we had this vision of bringing people together, of fighting the loneliness that often comes with staying at home with a baby. We’re thrilled to see that this is happening and friendships amongst SuperMamas are growing! It is easy to underestimate the importance of socializing and friendship. Of course we can survive on our own. Of course we don’t need anybody’s help or advice to cope with everyday challenges. But it’s so much easier when your troubles are shared with another person, someone who knows what you are going through.
I’ve always felt a great need to have friends around me. One of my earliest memories is the first day of pre-school when I clung to a random little girl who also happened to be crying. We found each other in our shared misery and have been friends ever since.
Whenever we embark on a new phase in life, whether that is going to pre-school, moving to another country or becoming a parent, the need for friends becomes poignantly clear.
Friendship in times of loneliness
I’ve felt most lonely when my need for friendship was challenged because of I was moving to a new country or city. I’ve lived in different places during my student years. Making friends was easy back then. When the opportunity arose to move to Boston for a while with my husband we immediately said ‘yes’. Life however turned out to be much more lonely than I had anticipated. I was finishing my PhD in this super tiny studio, Boston turned out to be really expensive and cold (so cold!). So I tried to fight the loneliness by looking for friends – or just random people I could talk to. Like the woman sitting next to me at my usual coffee place, or this girl on the street that had a cool haircut (I was looking for a hairdresser). In the gym one day this teacher connected me with another German girl, (“there are so many Germans here today” – I’m Belgian actually but it’s quite the same, really). We were both so happy about this: ‘Do you want to meet for coffee?’ ‘Yes, sure… Now?’. ‘YES’. And we became friends instantly.
Starting a new life from scratch can be a thrilling adventure, but it can as easily lead to isolation and loneliness. Especially if you don’t know anybody (except your partner), are not familiar with the customs and don’t know the language. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the task of settling in. Whenever I moved my top priority has always been to socialize and find like-minded people who could potentially become friends. For my last move – to Berlin – this task was even more urgent as I was pregnant and did not want to go through this life-changing event without knowing anybody, preferably other pregnant women.
How I found my feet in Berlin
I was 5 months pregnant when I moved to Berlin. My priority list consisted of: finding an English-speaking gynecologist, finding a prenatal yoga class, and most importantly, making friends. I was so happy to come across the Berlin for All the Family website run by Sarah Winborn. This solved most of my problems because of the wealth of information (in English!). I realized I had overlooked an essential thing when I lived in Boston: I had completely ignored social media as a way of connecting with people. Now I made the most of it: I presented myself on Facebook pages that were relevant to me (Expat Babies, Dutch people in Berlin and Belgians in Berlin). I got really lucky because that is how I met Emilie! I made an effort to speak German with my fellow prenatal yoga class students and remained active on the whatsapp group afterwards. One day I discovered one of my neighbors was pregnant too. I wrote a card in German and left it at her doorstep.
This might all seem very random, but it’s really about taking the initiative to meet people and to not get stuck indoors. I knew that once my baby was there I wouldn’t have time for all of this. I can honestly say it saved my life knowing a few people in my neighborhood before giving birth.
Settling in made easier with SuperMamas Berlin
Even with this small circle of other mums around me, I still often felt lonely the first months after my daughter was born. I thought to myself: how great would it be if I could prevent other mums from feeling this way? This has been the biggest drive for me to co-found SuperMamas Berlin with Emilie. SuperMamas is a volunteer network of mothers helping out other mothers who just gave birth – by providing freshly cooked meals and a little chat.
Through our network we bring new mums in touch with more ‘experienced’ mums who live in the same neighborhood. We connect HelpingMamas, those who bring the gift of food, with BubbleMamas, those who deserve a little bit of pampering. Why do we do this? We want new mums to feel loved and cared for by strengthening the social bonds that exist around them. Living in a big city often means that there are no relatives close-by who can chip in whenever it is needed. Yet, this social fabric is so important in those early days of motherhood, when life is lived in a bubble of nurturing and caring for your baby around the clock.
Are you pregnant? Did you recently give birth? SuperMamas can help you to meet other mothers from your neighborhood. Or do you want to help other young mums because you can still remember how it felt? Do you want to make new friends? Sign up at https://supermamasberlin.wordpress.com/become-involved/
I’d love to hear your experiences. How did you manage to settle in Berlin? Are there any tips you think are worth sharing with others? What would you do differently knowing what you know now? Please leave your story in the comments below!