For many mothers, having a child often goes hand-in-hand with a feeling of isolation and a dwindling social life. Enter your saving grace: “Mom friends.” Yes, yes, we get the danger in grouping your friends with children into their own separate section/title, but we think you get our point: These are women that also have kids and that you often meet once you are both in the throes of motherhood, which might just be the thing that brought you together.
Whatever you want to call them, having girlfriends that are also navigating the sometimes rocky waters of parenthood is key in keeping you sane and happy. Personally, we don’t know what we would do without the village of fellow mothers who are a constant force in our families’ lives. They often seem to understand exactly what we’re going through, in an often unspoken way, which is incredibly comforting. They “get” the daily exhaustion, the embarrassment of having your kid freak out in public, the lack of “me” time, juggling work and raising children, and the fact that when you have a playdate, you’re lucky to get across a handful of coherent lines of communication between running after your little ones.
So, with these benefits in mind (and without previously stating the obvious: Your friends without kids are also incredibly important!), we’re listing some tips below on making “mom friends.”
Start With Your Pre-Baby Friends: If you were close friends with someone before you both had children, congratulations! You’ve already got an incredible built-in fellow-mother friend. Lucky you.
Expand Your Circle: Just like business networking, it’s always nice to widen your circle and cast your net out past your main crew (especially if they don’t live very close). Ask several of your friends—whether they have kids or not—if they know of any mothers they think you’d like. Have them make a connection, you guys can set up a date to meet, and see if any sparks fly. By the same token, if you have a consistent playdate going on with one mother, invite additional mom friends from time to time to keep your social group growing.
Hit The Playground: If none of your girlfriends have had kids yet, finding someone you can discuss the hells of the CIO method or 4-year-old discipline techniques is going to be a little harder. Have no fear, hitting up the nearest age-appropriate playground pretty much guarantees you’re going to encounter a gaggle of women in your same predicament. For little ones not quite ready for the park, there are breastfeeding circles, music classes, and mommy-and-me groups where you can meet mothers in the same stage of babyville. From there, try to spot and zero in on other mothers who seem like “your people” (you’ll often know them when you see them).
Speak Up: Yes, it can be awkward, but it’s also impossible to connect with a stranger at the park if you’re not willing to break the ice and engage in some chit-chat. Bringing extra toys is a nice way to engage with other kids (and potentially their mothers). Once the kids are entertained, ask your potential-friend if she lives in the neighborhood, how old her kid is, how her kid is sleeping, and other simple questions. Sometimes things fizzle there and you part ways. If you’re gelling, ask her more about herself and see if there’s common ground outside of motherhood, which is the basis for a great “mom friend” (i.e. someone you’d be friends with even without the kids!). Ask about where she’s originally from, if she’s currently doing any work outside of caring for her child, where she went to college, etc. Another good way to break the ice is complimenting a mother (or her kid) on her clothing, hairstyle, or shade of lipstick, which can often signal that you belong to the same “tribe” of sorts.
Get Her Info: With your kids running around your legs, we find the best way to grab contact info in a quick way is to get and follow someone’s Instagram or Facebook handle on the spot, or hand them your phone and have them add in their own contact number and name (it’s likely you’ve already forgotten it!), and quickly send them a text with your name and maybe your kid’s name. Business cards also work, or these tongue-in-cheek “You’re Cute” callings cards that poke a little fun at the whole mother pick-up artist thing.
Hit Her Up: Once you part ways and have each other’s contact information, send a quick “great to meet you” text and allude to your next meeting. Say there’s a new place you’d love to take your kid to, if she and her child are also interested. Or just let her know the time and day you’ll likely be at the park next. If those plans end up falling through, try again and don’t be discouraged. We all know how busy and unpredictable days with kids can be.
Form A Moms’ Group: The name/concept alone might make you shudder, but we think moms’ groups can be pretty amazing if you’re able to gather a small-ish group of great, like-minded women, who just happen to have kids. Start with a couple of friends and a Facebook page, then let those friends invite a couple of friends, and so on. Let the page be a place where folks can introduce themselves, freely ask kid- or career-related questions, as well as organize group events and one-on-one playdates. We recommend having your first big in-person meeting outdoors with your offspring. Then follow that up with a cocktail night sans kids so you can actually talk (and so that the age of your children becomes irrelevant).
Have any other tips on making friends with fellow mothers? Let us know in the comments below.