We interview Megan Butler, founder of Match Up Mums, where like-minded mums or mums-to-be meet for friendship and support.
How did you come up with the idea for Match up Mums? What were your biggest challenges in getting it off the ground?
I first had the idea when I was asked by my sister in law if it was worth spending the hundreds of pounds her antenatal course was costing, when she was really only doing it to meet other mums. I knew it could be a very 'hit and miss' way of meeting people with whom you had things in common. Meanwhile, it seemed like all of my friends were finding Mr. Right via online dating - so I decided to apply a similar technology from the dating sector, to helping women meet like-minded mum friends, in their local area.
Getting started was easy enough, we built our website and word of mouth got us our first members. The harder part came later when we went to new areas - we need to get lots of members signing up to make good enough matches, and that takes time. Luckily we have had some great testimonials, which really helps.
What do you think has been the biggest change for expectant mothers in the last three years?
There has been a huge increase in choice in antenatal course provision, from hypnobirthing to improved hospital classes and even online learning courses and Apps. We've set up partnerships in this area so members of Match Up Mums get great discounts and can put together the perfect antenatal package to suit them
Best single piece of advice for a happy pregnancy?
Oddone's ice cream. Say no more.
Best tip for adjusting to life with a new baby?
Fill your freezer before your baby arrives so you have some decent meals once chaos ensues! And the obvious one about sleeping when your baby sleeps, although I was never very good at that and spent far too much time drinking coffee instead.
What you love most about London?
How child-friendly it is. There is always something to do, it's easy to get around, there are loads of free attractions and activities.
Favourite London museum/monument/garden?
Not very original but we are regular visitors to the Science Museum. The basement area is fantastic for little ones, my bigger boys are crazy about the space rockets, and the whole family love the hands-on experiments and bubble shows.
Best piece of parenting advice?
Every child is different, and there is no point comparing your child to another child. I can see this every day as I have twins and they have always been very different characters, and developed strengths in different things. I can see it is pretty pointless to worry about what reading level they are at or what vegetables they eat compared to other children - they develop in their own way and in their own time. You know your own child better than any guide or 'national average', too.
Favourite season in London?
Summer. Picnics in the park, riverboat races, open air theatre, spontaneous football matches, eating outdoors - London comes alive in the summer. As long as you can keep the children cool enough to sleep at night, it is a perfect time to be in the city!
Best life skill?
I do a mean line in superhero birthday cakes. Hopefully they won't grow out of this phase for some time.
Favourite children's book?
My daughter and I love the classic, 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' - I hope to take her to see it at the theatre soon. My sons have either very highbrow tastes for five year olds, citing 'Greek Myths' as their favourites - or lowbrow - Sir Scallywag and the Dragon Poo. My view is both have their place! I love children's books.
What do you like most about angels & urchins?
That it doesn't talk down to its readers just because we happen to be mothers. Too many publications and websites seem to think you lose half your brain in the delivery room but thankfully angels & urchins isn't among them - it's a lovely magazine.
To find out more or to join Match Up Mums head over to their website here.