How To Be A Better Friend

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
9:00 am
03/07/16

Illustration by Alessandra Olanow

She’s your other half, your partner in crime, your go-to for difficult family situations or fights with your partner, and your backbone. A good friendship is something we all strive to make, flourish, and keep. And maybe you have many close pals and can’t really pick a favorite, but either way, something so easy as maintaining a friendship takes a lot of work, especially once you become an adult. Between the jobs, meetings, kids, errands, and events, it gets harder and harder to squeeze in time with your girls. But we all know we’d be nowhere without them and that’s why it’s important to keep that bond strong.

So, what does it take to be a really great friend? Like any relationship, it’s a two-way street, but putting forth your own efforts to show you care, keeping in touch, and carving out time for your girlfriends on the reg goes a long way. Not to mention, things like spontaneous fun, making meaningful memories, and little notions like fun surprises are a big bonus. When you learn to prioritize your schedule to include your besties more often, you’ll look forward to getting together and having more balance in your life. We’ve compiled a list below of ways to help you be a better pal and stay connect with your BFF.

Your Kid-Free Friend
-You have kids, she doesn’t. Don’t let your friendship get lost in translation. Instead, plan things that you know you can commit to, even if your kids are in tow—dinner at your house, movies and wine with the adults after bedtime, invite her along to the park for some fresh air and good conversation, or suggest brunch at her favorite spot with the family over the weekend.
-Of course your life is consumed with being a mom, but hers isn’t. Yes, she wants to hear what’s going on it your life, but try to keep the conversation geared towards more balanced topics and real conversation and not all things baby.
-Coordinate your appointments—hair, nails, treatments, etc—together. You have to get that stuff done anyway, why not do it together?
-Those short moments while the kids are at school? Make a point to grab coffee or lunch. Little breaks like these are what keep us all sane.
-Commit to a hobby together. Finally nail down a date and sign up for that dance or pottery class you both have been dying to take.

Your Fellow-Mom Friend
-Set up weekly playdates with your kids—they get to have fun together, and so do you. Plus, who doesn’t want their children to become future besties?
-Offer to watch her kids when she has an important event, date night, or an emergency. This will come in handy when it’s your turn, we promise.
-Utilize nap time as a friend date. Have your girlfriend bring her baby over and have coffee or wine while the little ones snooze.
-Ask your partners to watch the kids while the two of you escape for a few hours. Shop, eat good food, get a pedicure, whatever it is, have some girl time for the afternoon.
-Exercise together. Sure, being a mom in general is a workout, but a regular yoga class or outdoor hike will have the two of you beach-ready in no time.

Your Long-Distance Friend
-Stay connected as much as possible. Sites and apps like Skype, What’s App, and Samesurf are some great ways to stay in touch with your best friends. Set a time each week to catch up on each other’s lives.
-Send handwritten letters. There’s something so special and meaningful about a handwritten note that will never be replaced by an email or text.
-Send surprise flowers or donuts on her birthday.
-Plan trips to each other’s town once or twice a year, or meet in a fun city in the middle for a best friend getaway.
-Curate the perfect care package, just because, full of her favorite things or fun trinkets that remind you of her.

Your Friend Going Through A Tough Time
-Shower her with your time, whenever possible. Gifts and pick-me-up gift baskets are always nice, but when you’re down, nothing beats one-on-one time with your best gals.
-Listen. Maybe she’s talked to you about this same situation 100 times already. Still, listen. Offer positive advice, but only if she wants it.
-Encourage her to vent, grieve, or cry—even when she doesn’t want to. A huge part of healing is getting it all out.
-Take a day-trip together. Find a nearby city or town to explore and escape the same old surroundings.
-Hit up your favorite spa for some much-needed R&R. Nothing beats getting pampered with your girlfriend—away from the kids, work, and craziness.

Your Incredibly Busy Friend
-We all have that one friend (or maybe that friend is you) who is always consumed with work and family and commitments. Make a date and time, write it in your calendar and stick to it, no excuses. Making friend dates a priority is just as important as that work meeting.
-She may not have the free time to meet up as much for girl dates, but she can certainly make a weekly phone call or FaceTime happen.
-Keep conversation consistent, even if it’s through text. Don’t let your life get so busy that you don’t know what’s happening in hers.
-Start a new tradition of getting dinner every first Sunday of the month, or getting your nails done together every other week.
-When you’re together, focus on them without distractions. Turn your phone off and push any thoughts of work away.

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