Forget Muth-R, you need MUSH

So, remember a couple of months ago I wrote a piece about The Minefield of Making Mum Friends?

It struck a chord with so many people, got shared around the world and lots of people got in touch to say how they could relate. I heard from Dads in the same boat and even randoms on Facebook added me saying that they would be my friend.  Thanks guys, really.

I signed off by saying that I was going to launch an (imaginary) app called Muth-r.  Think Tinder or Grindr for Mums.  This too got a positive response with some kind folk wishing me every success with it. Gawd love ’em.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 22.53.47

 

Then a funny thing happened.

This week I went along to a brilliant Mother’s Meeting event.  It was all about networking and one of the companies that got introduced to the group was Mush.

Now this is where it gets really exciting… because Mush is my imagined app in THE REAL WORLD.

It actually exists and it is thriving. Download it here.

How it works:

 

The two clever brains behind it are ex-advertising MD Sarah Hesz and ex city-broker Katie Massey-Taylor; both from South-West London.

 

Sarah Hesz and Katie Massey-Taylor, developers of the new app Mush.

Sarah Hesz and Katie Massey-Taylor, developers of the new app Mush.

 

They became friends last year, at an admittedly lonely time for them both, when Sarah approached Kate in a rare act of social bravery.

I caught up with Sarah earlier to find out how it all came about.

Why do you think making mum friends is so hard?

It shouldn’t be, but it is.  When you have a small child and you’re knackered it’s hard enough getting out of the house, let alone making conversation with a stranger.  At groups you often know what the kid is called weeks before you find out the mum’s name.

Asking for someone’s number takes courage and or desperation.

I had seen Kate a few times in the playground, she looked normal, we had kids the same age and I needed someone to get through this tough stage with.  I asked her for her number with very little pre-amble and we became great friends.

The funny thing is, we live so close and have Facebook friends in common that it should have been way easier to make an introduction.

So Mush is about making it easier for Mums to connect.

What was the lightbulb moment?

It was a Friday afternoon, we went out for a hectic tea with our four kids at Pizza Express to celebrate that we had kept each other sane through the winter and the births of our second children. At least one bottle of prosecco was involved and the idea was hatched.

How long did it take you from idea to launch?

That initial idea came in March 2015.  We then went through the process of research to see if it existed already; we thought it must do but it didn’t. We talked to people about the idea and they seemed to like it.  We also knew we needed an app which we needed to raise funds for.

We made a really budget website, put 3 posters up around the playgrounds near us saying “Mums of East Sheen, let’s do this together.” And it worked; people signed up for it.  Off the back of that we looked for potential investors.  We secured investment at the start of this year and launched at the end of April.

How did you manage it with the kids?

We had no childcare in the beginning so were pulling in favours all the time.  Once we had some funding we got help so we could dedicate our time properly.  And now it is our job 4-5 days a week but with the flexibility to do nursery drop-offs and park time before tea.

And why the name Mush?

We have a few reasons.  In truth we wanted a word that meant something to mums and mush is something we all know with baby food etc plus we were probably weaning at the time.  It also has other meanings such as face and friend.  Or it could even be Mum’s Social Hub.

Are you both on it and using it?

Absolutlely.  I had a great playdate last week with a woman who, coincidentally, lives on a parallel street.  We had enormous fun puddle-jumping on a rainy afternoon.

What has been the feedback so far?

It has been fantastic.  We have been going for a month and have 11,500 users already.  Mums are making connections and that is extraordinarily satisfying for us.

We have had a lot of positive feedback from the media too:

Slide1

There is so much to do now.  Someone asked me the other day if I was going to have any more kids and I said that I have just had a baby. This app is our baby and it is keeping us very busy.

And finally,  what advice would you give someone with an idea they want to get off the ground?

Believe in your idea, people are going to pick it apart: the trick is to stay committed to your vision but open to feedback and advice.

And with that, I have downloaded the app.  It is really easy and pleasing to use; especially choosing the words to describe what you like to do with your kids and in your non-mummy life.   

I feel a bit furtive and nervous as I make a profile and start checking out other mums but it is also quite exciting to have a nose and see who you like the look of.

I have chosen carefully and sent a message to one mum who looks like my mates, I suppose. Plus she has kids the same age and has put similar interests as me.

We’ll see if she feels the same. I  do hope she doesn’t think I’m mushing into things. (Sorry, not sorry.)

Download the free app here.

 

Advertisements

Mum-Bling 4: Making Mum Mates – It’s A Minefield Out There

I saw a girl in a cafe the other day and I liked the look of her.
She had cool eye-liner and a nice top.
We got talking and had things in common.
She was nice and we clicked.
It took everything I had not to ask her for her number. It was too soon.
But when she left, I wished I had.

No, this is not the start of a very bad One-Day type novel.

This happened to me last week. I am a happily married woman. I am not a predator or a repressed lesbian looking for an affair. Though I realise I sound like both.

I am just at a stage in life (late 30s, new baby, new ‘hood) where I am making new friends again and it is harder than I remember.

It’s not like school. All lumped in together and, via a few painful years of writing notes, walking around the school field arms linked with that day’s BFF, train track braces and bad perms, your group is defined. I still have those mates, the stalwarts who have seen me flower from young Boris Becker to, well, middle aged Boris only with tinted brows and lashes.

boris

It’s not like uni or my early twenties either. Those glorious hedonistic years where we lived in each other’s pockets very happily. Sharing dreams, houses, clothes, secrets, fags* (*Mum please read that as library books), money, no money. We had limited responsibility and unlimited energy. We started careers and moved cities, taking the party with us. That bunch are etched on my heart forever. Geography keeps us apart, Whatsapp keeps us together.

It’s different for some reason.

And it’s not like; we’re all Mums so we must be friends because we’ve all got birth in common. That’s like saying all celebrities are friends because they have being famous in common. You wouldn’t see Beyonce hanging out with Susan Boyle just because they can hold a tune. Or Beyonce and Rhi-Rhi for that matter, but that’s a whole other story.

subo

There is no shortage of places to scout for potential mum-mates either;

Toddler Groups – A place to make a mess not in your own home and have tea served by a friendly old lady who asks you how you are. Try not to cry.

Soft Play – A chance to catch a fungal skin infection whilst drinking crap coffee and trying to sneak a look at Facebook whilst squeezing yourself down a dark tube that smells like sick.

Cafes – Places full of other mums with babes in prams getting a caffeine fix. Pram hood up = don’t talk to me, it’s asleep and this is my time, bitches.

A variety of music/ movement/ singing classes where you get very used to doing the Hokey-Cokey in a room full of strangers, before noon and without any alcohol. Sometimes you start to believe that the Hokey-Cokey is what it’s all about.

Black+Lace+UK+Hokey-Cokey+461715

One 360 degree sweep around these places and you know whether any of these ladies are going to be your BFF. Don’t get me wrong, I have had many lovely chats with many lovely ladies but you just know. WE just know.

So when you do meet one that matches your mental (in both senses) criteria, how on earth are you supposed to make them realise what a perfect match you are without handcuffing them to you and saying;

“Look how similar we are, you’re wearing converse too. You used to work in London? So did I. When did you move back here? Do you miss it? No – me neither. Yeah, wine, I LOVE wine ha ha. I’m a lightweight now though, not like the old days ha ha ha. You called her Olivia? That is such a lovely name. It was on our list too, actually, but she looked like a Grace so we went with that. No way! My 2nd is 10 months too. Much easier second time round isn’t it? Way more relaxed. Yes I loved Breaking Bad, did you watch Homeland too? Ha ha ha. Aren’t we really laughing loads like old friends? Ha Ha. Yes I am a REAL laugh. Your husband has a beard and works in London. Dan? That’s too funny mine’s called Dom ha ha ha. We should so get them together. WE should get together.”

Wait, what?

I am a peacock. Dancing around showing my wares, my bottom drawer, my dowry.

It’s like speed dating in stained clothes with no make-up and instant-coffee breath.

She is never going to love you. You are too needy. Children are needy enough. Need off, weirdo.

If one person on their own is hard, try penetrating a whole NCT group. Not like that, though I am sure a sex-starved Dad has thought about it.

NCT groups are like war veterans. They have been through a life-changing experience together. They could spot each other’s nipples in a police line up.
They stick together in public. Sure, you can enter the circle and chat for a bit, but move away to pick up a toy for your little one and the drawbridge is pulled up and you are there, waving from the moat.

I have even heard of people being properly spurned by someone they thought they were getting on well with. A friend-of-a-friend asked a woman for her number and she flatly refused to give it. Ouch. Atleast give a wrong digit and save the poor woman the humiliation. Mean Girl.

The magnificent Sharon Horgan nails the feeling in the close-to-the-bone and eye-watering episode of Catastrophe (Episode 2, Season 2) where she turns semi-stalker on a Mum she wants to be-friend. Watch the whole series if you can find the time. It totally wins.

Looking into this a bit, it is actually a thing.

Author Marla Paul has written a book called the Friendship Crisis which says that after you hit 30 self-discovery gives way to self-knowledge.

This makes total sense as, instead of forging friendships through new and shared experience like you do in your teens and twenties, it means the older we get the pickier we become about who we spend our time with and what we do with it.

And, according to a NYT article, Sociologists in the 1950s said that the following are crucial to making close friends:
• Proximity
• Repeated, unplanned interactions
• A setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other.

So, factoring in being more picky PLUS the time needed for your children, school runs, jobs, running a home, life-admin, sleeping, your partner, yourself, the mates you already-have-and-don’t-actually –get-to-see due to their partner, children, jobs … no wonder there isn’t the time left for repeated, unplanned interactions with a total stranger you like the look of.

But worry not, I have come up with a solution and I think we need to get digital, digital.

We’ve all got single mates on Tinder and Grind-r, finding folk they like the look of nearby for a bit of Netflix and Chill.

Well now it’s your chance to get in on the online action with my dazzling new app,    MUTH-R.*

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 22.53.47

Fed up of seeing all those laughing faces across the crowded church hall?

Want to talk to a mum just like you about pilates and piles over a bottle of pinot?

Well now you can.

Just upload your profile to Muth-R and swipe right until you see The One.

Proximity. Check. Find someone near you.
Repeated unplanned interactions. Check. Message each other willy nilly.
A setting to let your guard down. Check. It’s the internet, the ultimate place to be free.

Now remember to date safe, ladies.

And by that I mean remember your hand sanitiser if you’re meeting at the soft play.

*You saw it here first, Google.