How do we get away from the Mom conversation loop? How do we insert conversation in that doesn’t revolve around Diapers. Husbands. Naps. Sleep deprivation. Losing weight. Diapering. Poop blowouts.
How do we reconnect with ourselves and others beyond “Mom?”
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for these topics above. I’d go crazy if I couldn’t discuss the reality of my days with my friends. But today, we’re talking about upgrading our conversation. Adding another level to it, and staying out of the endless loop.
So, let’s chat.
I definitely get it. The first chance you have for some social interaction with other Mums is amazing – you finally have the opportunity to run through successes and challenges, ups and downs, and you try to figure out what the hell just happened to you, and your life with a sympathetic, understanding, and knowledgeable ear.
The tricky part though is how do you get away from the same conversations?
I bet you know the loop I am referring to.
Feeding habits…Diapers…Naps…laundry…Complaining about mom things. Husbands coming home late from work. Those universal touch-and-go points that fill our days on maternity leave.
Remember those days when you used to talk about world events? Interesting facts, maybe a dash of celebrity gossip? Dreams and things you were looking forward to? Positive things?
Then you get to this place where you realize you are replying to “how are things?” with “good” and then discussing bowel movement highlights of your baby.
It’s a slippery slope down into the same Mom conversation loops. Especially if you are with a group where there are varying degrees of friendship and familiarity.
It’s just too easy, right? Find something in common with someone you don’t know, and establish a rapporal by connecting on your similar experiences.
“Oh, how old?” “Eating/walking/rolling yet?”
But, what then? How do we move beyond that? How do we get back to the place of conversation we miss so much on maternity leave and connect with other mamas beyond diapers, and naps, and feeding, and sleep deprivation?
How do we acknowledge in ourselves -and- other women, that we are so much more than our babies? That there is more to our identity? More depth than just that?
Shifting conversation is surprisingly difficult because it takes forethought, putting ourselves out there and intentional effort.
Every few years we run into life changes where we have to re-examine and upgrade our skills. We have to overhaul our nutrition and workouts after pregnancy and childbirth to lose that baby weight. And just like our physical health, we can re-examine and overhaul other areas.
Ramit Sethi runs a fantastic series on how to master group conversation – which is a must-read (and watch) for anyone who engages in networking and different forms of group conversation. Sethi’s blunt honesty is not for everyone, but I love his insights.
I recommend it as a supplemental read to deepen your knowledge and motivation.
Here are some tips from the best conversationalist Moms I know, on how to have better conversations on mat leave and stay away from the bitchfests (they feel good but they have a *limited* time and place.)
First, become more aware. Your job is to start becoming conscious and notice when the conversation gets stuck in the usual loop.
Follow a few fascinating facebook pages or general interest blogs and put them at the top of your feed “appear first” so they don’t get lost in the other content.
(Some of my favourites)
Brain Pickings or Wait But Why – Long form blogs on interesting topics of relevance to all of us. Gets your brain ticking and leaves you with questions you want to ask your friends about. I often read these while I feed the baby.
Blinkist for iPhone summarizes all of the latest non-fiction books into nice 15 minute condensed summaries and is smart at picking up on your favourites and suggesting other new releases. Another go-to during baby feeding time.
I purposefully don’t watch the news – but I do like to maintain a connection with world events – the Skimm, a daily (sassy) summary email is a great quick + short read to stay on top of important topics. Get this summary delivered to your inbox each morning.
Think about a goal you have coming into a conversation. Do you want to inspire? Make someone laugh? What is your style. Also think of your conversation partner. How do you want them to walk away feeling as a result of being with you? Lighter? Happier? Educated? Grounded? Inspired?
We are so limited in our time to connect with others, especially our mama friends. Let’s really make that time worth it by choosing great conversation.
Take time to think about 3 stories this week that have nothing to do with your children. They can be profound, humorous, or of a feel-good nature. Ramit Sethi calls this technique the story toolkit. You carry those stories with you and pull them out in conversation.
For us Mums, taking time to intentionally think about 3 stories particularly important because
a.) We have brain fog
b.) Our higher levels of thinking and conversing sometimes get lost in oh I don’t know, onesie folding and isolation all week? (I can say this because I’ve been there!) We need to retrain our brains.
c.) Poop takes over everything. It’s amazing. But we really should talk about more things.
Stop being weird with eye contact. If you are in a group with more than one mama, practice making eye contact with each person rather than focusing on your nearest and dearest friend or most familiar acquaintance. This can help with the cliquey-ness that we feel (and sometimes unknowingly contribute to!)
And if all fails. Just drink more wine. And maybe have the book of questions around.
My friend bought this pre-kids and it has made for some pretty fantastic conversations. (So has the alcohol lol)
It still does.
I can’t wait for our next girls’ getaway because this book comes out and so does the laughter and connection (and for one or two nights, the chance to remember who we are and feel like ourselves again!
Try it out.
xo – Carina