Maybe meeting your friends at the movies on a Friday night helps you relax after a tough week at work. Perhaps calling a friend after receiving difficult news provides you with the support you need to complete a semester at school. Or maybe hearing a friend’s excitement about the fact that you got into the graduate program of your choice makes you feel loved and encouraged as you embark on the next step of your life. It’s quite likely that you rely on your friends for all of these things: to have fun, to give support in times of need, and to share in your successes. Regardless of what your friendships look like, however, it is clear that all people need friends.
Having a baby, of course, changes friendships, but it doesn’t mean that you will no longer need your friends or that you must forget about them in order to be a good mom. You will be better able to care for your baby if you are receiving the outside support that you need!
Many women find that the biggest change in their friendships once their baby is born is the decrease in their availability to see their friends. This lesser availability doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to see your friends again, but this just means that you may need to be strategic in planning to see them! If you are able to afford child care (or simply just want to spend some time alone with adults!), some women partake in the same activities with their friends as they used to by trying to schedule accommodations in advance. Still, other mothers aren’t necessarily able to makes these accommodations and feel pressured to make the exact same types of plans with their friends as they made before they had children. If you are unable to afford child care (or simply just don’t want to leave your baby!), consider what one mom did. Cheryl started a group where she and her friends rotated hosting a monthly hangout on Friday nights where they and their kids could spend time together. An event like this Friday night hangout only became possible once her other friends also had children, but it became a great way for her and the other moms to socialize and watch their children!
While some moms find that it’s worth it to work through these changes with the friends they had before they had a baby, others find that they begin to acquire a new friend group after becoming a mom. Sometimes, women find that their “old” friends have difficulty understanding their new responsibilities as a mother, so they begin to gravitate toward friendships with other mothers who understand these responsibilities. Once children begin preschool and kindergarten, many mothers find that social groups form naturally as they begin to meet the parents of their children’s classmates, but there are also many ways to form a friend group while still caring for an infant. One mother, Candace, found that participating in a “Mommy and Me” class at her local library helped her make a lot of friends because her class was grouped by the baby’s age, which put the moms “in a very shared environment.” Still, other women, such as Molly, prefered developing friendships in a less formal setting and have found that simply having conversations with other moms at a nearby playground has helped them form meaningful friendships.
Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to find time to meet with friends in person with a new baby, and some weeks people’s schedules just don’t seem to align with each other’s. While spending time with friends in person is important both for your own well-being and maintaining friendships, there are also ways to seek out and develop friendships as a new mother from the comfort of your own home. Some moms enjoy looking at blogs and social media platforms to simply learn about how other moms foster friendships, but these platforms can also be a space for moms to reach out to one another and provide support over the internet. Cheryl found that reaching out to other mothers on the internet is “great during 3 a.m. wide-awake episodes.” Still, other moms find that simply making the time to hear someone’s voice on a five-minute phone call can help make them feel closer to their friends and add joy to their day when they’re having difficulty meeting in person.
Adjusting to friendships as a new mother takes time, so don’t worry if things don’t click right away. By approaching friendships in whatever way works best for you, things will sort themselves out!