It’s sad but true. Once you’ve had a baby, it can be pretty difficult to relate to your childless friends. They are going out on the weekends with cash still in their pockets because they don’t have to pay a babysitter, and you are trying to remember a time when you were up at 1am because you wanted to be (not because you had to feed and care for a tiny human). Try as we might to maintain our friendships with non-parents, it can be pretty difficult once we’ve crossed the divide into motherhood.
For a lot of moms, parenthood can be isolating, especially if you are no longer working. But there is really no other time in a woman’s life when she needs friendship more than when she has a new baby. We are social beings, after all, and we need the support and encouragement of other moms to reassure us that we are doing okay. We need someone who has been there before to point us in the right direction when we aren’t sure what to do. We need someone who understands how incredibly hard it is to get ourselves out of bed for the tenth time in the middle of the night but how absolutely wonderful it is to kiss those sweet, soft hands as we nurse our little one back to sleep. We need friends who are mothers!
So what’s a new mom to do when she needs companionship but just can’t make it to happy hour? Make new parent friends, of course! Easy, right?
Okay, so it isn’t that easy. At least, it wasn’t very easy for me. But making mom friends is really about putting yourself out there and connecting with other people.
Here are some things that were really helpful for me to meet new friends after my daughter was born:
1. Join a New Mother’s group. Most hospitals and birthing centers offer some sort of free support group for new mothers, and generally you are meeting with mothers who have babies around the same age as yours. This was my most valuable source for meeting new people. I still keep in touch with the group of mothers I met at the Austin Area Birthing Center through our Facebook Group.
2. Join a MeetUp.com group for moms in your area. There are loads of MeetUps in Austin for moms with children of all ages, and they are constantly organizing playdates and days out for moms. Perfect for getting to know someone new in your neighborhood.
3. Get involved with a parenting organization. Are you passionate about breastfeeding? Attend your local Le Leche League meeting. Do you like to wear your baby? Visit the next Babywearing International event. (both organizations can be found on Facebook)
4. Go to where the babies are! It may be a cliche, but one of the best ways to meet new moms is to be in the same place as they are. The same way that you would go to a bar to meet other singles, hang out at the park with your little one. Or visit the children’s museum. There is bound to be another mom that you can visit with and maybe foster a new relationship with.
5. Don’t be afraid to make the first move! There is a good chance that the other moms you meet are just as nervous as you about meeting new people. Don’t be afraid to be the first to suggest a play-date or offer your contact information.
Of course, we don’t want to leave behind our pre-baby friends. It can be difficult to maintain friendships when you have the kiddos, and they don’t – but some friends are worth the work! (And yes, I did say some friends…one thing I learned after kids, is the quality of friendships far outweighs quantity of friendships.)
Here are a few ways that you can still keep those friendships going strong!
1. Schedule friend-only dates! Get a family member, or hire a babysitter to watch the kids, and do something fun sans the kiddos. Not only will your friends appreciate the effort, you will have a great night too!
2. Include your friends in your kids life. Make them an honorary auntie or uncle so that they will feel a part of the family. I think it’s pretty easy for our friends w/o kids to feel left out. We all know how our children consume our lives (in a good way), and even if you a friend or two who don’t plan of having kids, they might feel a little jealous of your time – so include them in a special way. Maybe a friend loves music and bands – find a time when a kid-friendly concert is happening and invite them along.
3. Be honest with your friends. As long as you have open communication with them, they will most likely understand why you having reached out to them for a couple of weeks during the time your sweet baby had a cold. I think it’s easy to sometimes not want to monopolize the conversation with baby talk, but if you’re struggling or your baby has been struggling, be honest. Your friends will understand and extend you some grace if they know what you’ve been dealing with.
4. Listen to your friends. They may be struggling too. The reverse is true here – they may not want to monopolize the convo with their non-kid banter. Make sure that you are making an effort to be there for them, too. Even if it’s just a quick text during the day, or an email after the kids go to bed – let your friends know that just because your life has taken this road, you still love them and want to maintain a relationship.
Change is good and good friends are worth the effort!
What are some of the ways that you made friends AFTER baby was born? How about some pointers on maintaining relationships with your friends that don’t have any children? Let us hear from you!