Ever since getting married, my husband and I have moved a lot. Seven times in nine years to be exact. When you’re moving that often (always for jobs, no, not military) it becomes hard to mentally wrap your head around putting down roots. Pre-kids I had made a couple friends who were co-workers, but after having my son we knew we’d probably be moving soon, so joining a local moms group or church just didn’t make sense to me. At the time, I didn’t realize the value of human contact, even if it’s temporary.
Being a newborn parent is isolating
Unless you live in the same town/region as your entire extended family, being home alone with an infant is extremely isolating. You spend your days counting feedings and diaper changes and minutes of sleep. Between laundry and cooking and cleaning too, that doesn’t leave much time for friends. Its easy to get into a “routine” of survival mode (you can read more thoughts on that here), and for the first few months of motherhood that’s really your only choice. But then you start to feel human again. You learn to take showers during naps. Maybe (hopefully) your baby starts sleeping longer stretches at night. And you start thinking, hey, I can do this mom thing.
Why other moms?
We all have those friends who don’t have kids yet or are still single, they make great aunties and uncles who will spoil the heck out of your kids. Which is awesome. But when you’re a new mom, or even a mom of 2 or 3; you need to have some true friends who understand the phase of life you’re in. Who can commiserate. They can understand why you haven’t washed your hair in a week and your favorite yoga pants have become permanently affixed to your body.
There’s no substitute for real-life friends
When you’re in survival mode its easy to sneak a few minutes on a FB group for mommies while nursing. Or stay up late saving parenting tips on your Pinterest boards. But none of this is a substitute for real life, in person friends. I can’t stress enough how true this is. There’s something about having another mom, who’s in a similar phase of life, that you can talk to on the phone or even FaceTime with during the day. Better yet that you can get together with in person. When your babes are little this will probably include having them with you most of the time and thats ok for now. The point is finding and keeping those friends, even though it may take work.
At some point, ditch the kids
This may sound impossible if you have littles at home, and definitely if you have a nursing baby. But if you have toddlers that are weened; dad or grandma or a paid babysitter can handle it for a couple hours. You must let them handle it. Your sanity and your kids’ well being depends on it. Ever heard the phrase “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? I sincerely believe that was said by a mom of toddlers. If you don’t take time to unplug from your kids, and plug into real encouraging friendships; you will fall apart my friend.
Playdates don’t count, stop trying to make them count
Whoever said playdates were a great way to make lasting mom friendships never had kids, especially toddlers. I’m sorry, but you just can’t really get to know someone when your conversation is pausing every five seconds to tell your 2yo to stop licking the couch or hitting another kid. Its just impossible. Playdates are fine if all you want is your kids to make a friend, or you just need some reason to get out of the house. But don’t pretend you can find your new soul sister at a playdate. I mean, maybe after like 50 playdates and a year later.
Finding your tribe
You can’t imagine how your outlook on life will change once you’ve made friends a priority in your life. It changes everything. Set up an outing once a month at first, so you have something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The other night a girlfriend and I went and had wine and nachos. And sure we talked about our kids part of the time, but we also talked about our college days and our marriages and our families. The best part was we talked uninterrupted. You owe it to yourself as a mom, and woman, to give yourself a break.
For the love of everything don’t feel guilty about it, just go.
- How did your life change when you finally made time for friendships? I’d love to hear in the comments!