Mumpreneur duo develop new app to combat loneliness on maternity leave
After The Duchess of Cambridge made a heartfelt confession about the “loneliness” of motherhood. Saffi Yusef talks to two London mumpreneurs about their new app to help mums connect with each other.
It was a chance meeting in a rainy playground that got two London mums talking about their feelings of loneliness and isolation on maternity leave. It led to them discussing ways in which they could help others.
Together, Sarah Hesz, 34, and Katie Massie-Taylor, 33, came up with Mush. A free app to help mums of all ages connect with other local, like-minded mums with kids the same age.
They set out on a journey to make the lives of mums more sociable and fun, while enabling meet-ups in real life with other mums too.
Now there are ways and means of coming up with a name for a business, a blog or an app, but I love the simplicity of Mush and its link to weaning. It also sums up how my brain feels after a night of sleep-deprivation!
It’s a name I can relate to since I’m weaning a nine-month-old tot myself and I refer to Cyrus as my ‘mush mush-am’ or mousy mouse. This is of course in Geordie Farsi. It’s actually pronounced ‘moosh’, but as you know we have a whole different way of saying things up here!
The mums now hope that Mush will become the largest social network for mums globally going forward.
During their research, they commissioned a survey of 4,000 mums that found more than half of them struggled to plan with children, 80% of mums preferred to go to playgroups with a friend rather than alone and 50% would go shopping just for some adult interaction.
As a new mum over 40, I can relate to everything above and therefore believe the Mush concept is brilliant. Those first few months with a new baby can be really isolating, especially if you’re perhaps shy and aren’t used to mixing with a lot of new people.
It’s a great way to meet mums with similar interests, backgrounds and children of a similar age who perhaps just live around the corner. It’s also a place to connect with mums online, ask those silly questions or just chat after putting baby to sleep.
One mum who Mush has been a lifeline for is Jessica, 33.
She said: “Not knowing anyone in the area, the early days of maternity leave were lonely and I knew I had to do something about it. I was out walking three times a day and needed some adult conversation.
“You do meet a lot of mums at all the baby classes, but it’s not the same – Mush is great as you’re all on there with the same objective, to make friends.”
So far, Mush has helped create more than 250,000 friendships with its 85,000 members – and the network of mums continues to grow both here in the UK and across the world as far as Australia.
There have also been 250,000 successful connections made using the new app. It has not surprisingly been rated as the top app for mums on the UK App Store.
I’ve talked before about the difficulties I faced at baby groups as a new mum over 40 where the younger mummies seemed to be part of an unbreakable clique.
I’ve also blogged about the new friends I’ve made, my involvement with the Northumberland Mumpreneurs and how networking is more important than ever as a new mum over 40.
While I’ve turned to blogging about my experiences as an older mum to help others, London mums Sarah and Katie have been hard at work creating their free location-based app to help parents make new friends.
Now my own friends have formed a vital lifeline for me being of “advanced maternal age” because there’s only so much I wanted to offload on to my husband. Click here to find out more.
They have been there to listen to my ‘high risk’ concerns, my joys, my fears and even my worries over silly things like my son’s teachers being young enough to be my own children in years to come.
I admit making parent friends is hard when you don’t know where to look. There are plenty of new parents out there. But, when you suddenly become one, you’re the newbie.
It’s like your first day at work all over again. Do you just start going up to people and striking up a conversation? Chat to other mums at the bus stop or in Asda? Sometimes while it can lead to new friends, the approach can also prove quite awkward.
I went from working full-time and being very social to being very alone with Cyrus at the beginning. None of my existing friends were having babies, they all had teenagers, so it was a challenging time.
I’ve mentioned before how I found new friends via my local community centre at Great Park, Newcastle and KeepFitMammy. And without them, I would have been lost.The thing is you have to be brave to ask someone on a first play date.
It’s hard but you have to be willing to make that jump. That’s why this new app is such a vital piece of tech. It provides so many opportunities for parents and their children to socialise with others.
Although I’ve just signed up to the app myself, I’m sure it’s going to keep me sane through mummyhood, let me bounce ideas off others, plan activities and meet other mums in person for coffee and cake.
I immediately found 18 people online in my local area and I’ve already started to say hi! I’m going to make it an invaluable part of my life going forward.
Mush hits the Toon!
The mumpreneurs are now on a mission to get as many mums in Newcastle and the surrounding areas to download the app and start making friends.
A Mush mum meet-up will take place at the Birth and Baby Family Centre in North Shields, North Tyneside. There will be free tea, coffee and cake and an abundance of toys and activities for newborns up to pre-school aged children.
Janine Ruddin, an experienced and qualified parenting specialist and founder of the Birth and Baby Network will be attending.
Mush marketing mum Pip Milburn, 34, from North Tyneside, will also host an outdoor meet-up involving Slinga Fitness. Details are yet to be confirmed, but it might involve a walk with some light exercises thrown in.
Slinga Fitness was set up by personal trainer, Maddy, who specialises in pre- and post-natal fitness. She will be on hand to offer advice to any mums interested in getting fit with their little one.
Details, dates, times and venues of the meet-ups will be published on the Mush app once confirmed. Mums will need to confirm their attendance /interest to attend via the app so the organisers can keep track of numbers (and make sure they have enough coffee and cake to go around!)
Pip applied to become a Mush marketing mum for a number of reasons.
She said: “I was always the mum standing by myself at playgroups, not really knowing what to say and who to talk to. All the mums seemed to know each other and had formed friendships already.
“I joined Mush as a way of stepping outside of my comfort zone, giving myself a challenge and helping me meet some new friends along the way.
“I think the Mush app is such a wonderful idea, parenting can be super lonely and isolating, It’s a great way to meet mums who have similar interests and kids of a similar age.”
You can access the MUSH website by clicking here.