Earlier this summer while visiting with family, I had an interesting conversation with a fellow mom. She was telling me how hard it is to make friends in their new neighborhood. She is an out-going, easy to get along with type. If she has had trouble making connections with other ladies in her neighborhood...well then I don't feel so bad that I haven't either.
My besties don't live locally. They are the ladies I connected with earlier in my life; pre-motherhood. And as life has run its course, we now live in different places. While I miss face time with them, that's part of life. I still connect with them regularly over the phone. And I have a few ladies locally that I've gained a close friendship with, but I'm not going to lie, it has been difficult meeting and making friends since I've had kids.
So I've got two questions.
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH OTHER MOMS?
Moms have Different Priorities:As a parent our focus immediately becomes about our families. It's true. Parenthood gives our lives a whole new set of not only priorities, but also boundaries. Before kids, night was the best time to hang out with friends. You were done with school or work or whatever and had plenty of time to socialize. Now, that baby's sleep schedule is a precious, precious thing.
Gone are the nights of staying out late because you have to get up with the sun to take care of your family's daily needs; even on the weekends.
So the rest of the world is sleeping in on Saturday. By the time they get up, it's nap time for your little one. You get a few golden hours in the late afternoon/early evening where you could do something. But once evening hits and child-less people are ready to eat dinner, you've already eaten, cleaned up and are getting ready for bath and bedtime routines.
So if a Mom blows you off, consider that it may be because of her kids schedules, unique family routines and/or needs. Please, don't take it personally because most likely she would LOVE to sit down and talk about something other than the world of children for once, but she just can't figure out when.
Moms are Busy:I blame busyness for much of the mom-friendship problems. We get so involved in rushing our kids from place to place and taking on every volunteer activity that comes along plus the daily chore list that there isn't time left for anything. Notice, I said "we". I am guilty of this - tremendously guilty!
I think many of us want so much for our kids that we allow them to take on any and every activity they want to do without taking time to ask ourselves if this fits into our family life without over-filling it. And we feel guilty if we say no to coordinating the church bake-sale, so we take that on too.
All this busy activity doesn't add value to our lives. It adds stress and gas mileage and wakeful hours instead of rest. We are surrounded by people, but rarely connecting with them. Maybe the trouble with making friends is that we have become so bound up that we don't have the time to connect.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO REACH OUT AND MAKE THOSE CONNECTIONS?
Be Available:I'm not saying that we should drop everything. Moms are busy people there are things that must be done. But it may be that we need to evaluate what is adding value to our lives and what is stressing us out. Then letting those stressful extras go. It's hard sometimes. Personally, I just stopped singing in the choir. I love to sing and I love the fellowship I have with people in the choir. But the late practice was disrupting our entire following day and sometimes part of the day after that. So, I let it go and I'm glad I did. Maybe I can go back to it in a different phase of my life.
We can also make ourselves available with the time we have.
If a suggested play date doesn't work for your schedule, suggest a different time or date instead of just closing the discussion and feeling like you missed an opportunity.
Friday nights with out the kids don't work for you? Suggest a late morning play date so the kids can play and you can get in some talk time. Can you grab coffee while the kids are in dance class? Make it work with the schedule you have.
Join a Group:Ok, I know this is the exact opposite of what I just said about being too busy and letting extra activities go, but hang in there with me for a second.
Some people do take on too much. Some however, aren't doing anything but floating from work to home. They aren't a part of any particular group and find it difficult to meet people who share similar interests or are in a similar life stage. I've been in this boat too. It's a lonely and frustrating place to be.
Find a Meetup group for people who share interests with you, a book club or crafters group maybe. Mommy & Me groups, and Homeschool Co-ops have been a blessing for me personally. When you make friends with a whole family it's so much easier to get together and find activities that everyone can enjoy.
Start a Conversation:This tip is so much easier for some personality types than others. If you are blessed with the gift of gab, you are probably already doing this. If you are a more reserved personality, this will take some stretching on your part.
If you spend a lot of time at your kid's sports practice, reach out and talk to the other moms there. Or, that other mom at the playground could be a surprising friendship waiting to happen. If you never open your mouth to say hello and start a conversation, you'll never know.
I've been making it a habit to say something, anything to people I meet. My days are filled with little people and even a 2 minute chat with another mom in the grocery store check-out line can give me a little boost of energy and a feeling of camaraderie instead of feeling like I'm the only mom out there dealing with whatever it is we are dealing with that day.
Have you struggled to make friends after moving to a new place? Or even when you've been somewhere a long time? What has worked for you? How do you reach out?
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