Sunday, 21 August 2016

You Are Where You Go

Picture the scene.  You inexplicably find yourself, after years of working full-time and travelling, in a house all day in an area you barely know with people around you who are virtual strangers and with an adorable, yet regularly screaming, child you really don’t know what to do with. Sound familiar? This was me 20 years ago. I was not alone. Regrettably I didn’t know this at the time and when hormones are raging strongly and sleep is but a distant memory, your self-esteem can take a real hammering even for a comparatively confident person like myself.

Huggle would have changed all this. If I had been told all that time ago that there was a way of finding out where people just like me go and where I could meet up with them, I would have bitten their hand off.

I thought I was organised. Being the first of my friends and family to give birth in a long time, I knew nothing about looking after an infant. I read books and magazines and prepared myself thoroughly.  What I hadn’t catered for was how I would feel after the birth and what my life would actually be like.  I had already decided that I would be a stay-at-home mother. Great! Getting up when I wanted and sauntering through the day at my own pace - it would be like a holiday. (So na├»ve!) However, years of travelling and using my  home as a veritable crash pad meant that I knew absolutely no-one in my immediate neighbourhood. My nearest family was 50 miles away and all my friends worked full-time.  In short, I didn’t see anyone regularly for the first month I was at home.  I started hanging out in parks to see who else may be in the same position. I felt lonely and isolated.


 Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I am not the only one to have had this experience. One mother recently highlighted what I now know is a typical feeling:-

The hardest thing of all was accepting that my friends and work colleagues were not accessible to me on a daily basis as their lives hadn’t stopped for this big event, only mine had. So on top of all this I now had to make friends all over again, when I was more desperate to have communication with other mums but when I felt least like myself so I am sure I came across as neurotic and desperate!”

Huggle would have changed all that. The social app works by tracking where you go and is deadly accurate.  Even if it doesn’t get it exactly right, you can change it to an alternate location from the list given. I tested this out recently and discovered that it can even detect which platform you are on at the train station - amazing! Going back to the younger me, having the app would have meant that I could have checked which people were visiting the parks (and anywhere else) I was going to in a quick and easy way without any of those awkward fake conversation starters like:-

“Ooh, I have never seen such an adorable baby”

(Not true - your baby is always the most gorgeous.)

Also:-

How lovely - what’s his name?”

(About your daughter.)

And the unforgettable:-

“Do you come here often?”

Instead, Huggle would have immediately got me to the local meet-ups and drop-ins that took me an age to uncover and wheedle my way into. (You don’t have to be Sherlock Homes to be a first-time mother but it helps.)

Fast-forward 5 years on when I moved into a new area, with 3 children under 5 years of age, and found myself in almost exactly the same position. This time it wasn’t just the parks I was looking longingly for people to relate to (whilst clambering up small trees to rescue children caught on a branch) it was school playgrounds too. Accessing the ‘Places in Common’ part of the app means that you can easily identify parents similar to you. (It uses the premise that people who go to similar places may have stuff in common which is a real step-up from striking up a conversation with someone randomly.)

And now? Accelerate ahead another 15 years and I now find myself desperately trying to find a way of helping my socially anxious teenager transition to university. Please, Huggle, show me the way!  

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