Megan Woolley is the founder of www.mumsquadconnect.com. She originally trained for a career as a barrister and subsequently moved into a career as a company director. Megan is originally from South Africa but now lives in the cooler climes of North East England with her husband and two year old daughter, Camilla.
Here, she writes about motherhood and the affect it had on her new business.
I was the first of my close friends to have a baby. I spoke to them about the early weeks of motherhood and sent them countless photos of my beautiful baby girl. We discussed breastfeeding, the elusiveness of sleep and how it felt to become a mum. I still treasure the friendships that I forged before becoming a mum. I don’t think that motherhood has altered any of those friendships. If anything, it has added a new perspective to our conversations. I am lucky to have friends who understand that I am not always available for last-minute adventures or spontaneous phone calls and that it sometimes takes me well over a week to respond to their messages.
It was wonderful to share my new motherhood with them following the birth of my daughter. However, I started to crave conversation with other new mums. I wanted to connect with a new tribe of women who could relate to my new life as a mum. Other mums would understand the sleepless nights, the constant poonamis and the way your brain wildly scans for anything that might endanger your little one. I wanted to chat to women who knew what those first few weeks felt like. I wanted to find my Mum Squad.
I really could have done with some mum friends when I started to struggle with breastfeeding. I was determined to get it right but the first few weeks were difficult. Latching issues often pushed me to helpless sobbing. Bleary-eyed, I scanned the internet for advice but I really just wanted to speak to another mum who had been there, who could empathise and tell me that it would get better.
I thought about how great it would be to spend time with other mums on maternity leave. Being at home in my new mum and baby bubble was lovely. However, I knew that it would be fun to meet up for coffee with another new mum and to chat about the millions of things that we were experiencing at that time. Even having a friend to join me for a baby sensory class sounded wonderful.
There was a tiny hitch in my plans to spend time with my new mum friends. I was fairly new to the area and had no mum friends around me. I am South African and at 17 years old I decided to broaden my horizons. I came over to the UK in 2006 to study law at Newcastle University. I did a masters degree at Durham University, trained to become a barrister in London and was Called to the Bar in 2012. I then lived in Surrey until 2014 when a heart problem led me to re-evaluate my priorities. My husband and I moved back up to County Durham so that I could be close to my mum. We left our friends in the South and only had a handful of friends in the North.
Randomly meeting people in the street or in the health visitor’s waiting room seemed daunting. I would take my daughter for a walk in her pram around our village and saw other mums doing the same thing. We would smile in the direction of each other’s babies but that was it. It seems silly that I was looking for mum friends but felt too awkward to ask these mums to join me for a cup of tea. Would they be interested in meeting up? Would they think I was strange? It occurred to me that there should be a sure-fire way to find other mums who were just as interested in meeting up.
While feeding my daughter in the early hours of the morning I brainstormed ways to meet new mums in my area. I even googled ‘Tinder for mum friends’. At the time, in 2016, there was nothing like it in the UK. I decided to create something that I wish existed. I grabbed a notebook and started jotting down my ideas. I sketched profile designs, colour schemes and ideas for a blog for like-minded mums. I work as a company director at an engineering firm so designing a social network was a completely new experience. I approached a website developer who collaborated with me to bring my ideas to life. I wanted the website to belong solely to me and not to investors. To ensure that I could keep full ownership and control I self-funded the entire project. In early 2018 I launched www.mumsquadconnect.com.
The website is for mums all over the UK and Ireland. It ensures that the mums you meet are local to you. Within a few days, I had connection requests from three mums in my area. Fast forward a few months and I have found an amazing group of mums whose children are around the same age as my daughter. The best part is that they all live within 10 minutes’ drive from me.
I recently met two of my new mum friends at a spa where we discussed everything from toddler sleep problems and potty training to date nights. We also have a WhatsApp group where we share advice, encouragement and laughs. We are currently brainstorming a team name for our Thursday night pub quiz. The top contenders are ‘show me the mummy’ and ‘who let the mums out?’ Our partners are following our lead with their own dad’s WhatsApp group too. It makes me so happy to know that I have a tight-knit group of women to turn to for advice, support and the odd girls’ night. The fact that I have forged connections with other local mums has added to my sense of belonging and community. Expanding my social circle has also made me feel more confident.
The beauty of finding mums in my area is that our children have an in-built friendship group. Hopefully our friendships will last through our children’s school days and beyond. Thanks to www.mumsquadconnect.com I have found my Mum Squad.
Buy my bestselling book in paperback or audio
My debut book is my guide to surviving and thriving at work and at home and offers insight into how to create a digital business or return to work with confidence.
Mumboss: The Honest Mum's Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home (UK 2nd Edition)