If you are new to motherhood, then it has likely been a hot minute since you have had to make new friends. After all, you have a baby now and have likely been up to your eyeballs in diapers, bottles, laundry, and Baby Shark. Motherhood is wonderful and fulfilling, yet oftentimes isolating. If you find yourself discussing this week's episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County with your tot, then it is high time to get back out into the friendship dating pool and find yourself some good mom friends.
Mom Friends Are Legit Unicorns
You snagged pals in your formative years, probably mostly thanks to your micromanaging parents and teachers. You scored a few good ones in college and likely have work buddies who you vent to over drinks at the end of a long work week. You have new and old friends of all kinds, but mom friends?
Well, finding those unicorns is a whole other ball of wax. A good mom friend is absolute gold because she wears so many different hats and will serve countless crucial purposes in your life. Mom friends are there to be your community. They are your extra pair of hands, keepers of surplus snacks and marital secrets, bona fide baby rockers, and your sounding board for just about every parental contemplation you can dream up. A quality mom friend fills a void, makes the abnormal suddenly seem totally normal, and allows you to recognize that no matter how rough motherhood gets, and it will get all sorts of rough, you are never alone.
See? A unicorn. Rare, special, maybe a little bit magical. Great mom friends are game-changers.
First, Do a Bit of Soul Searching
Making friends at this stage of life is a bit like dating in middle age. It's going to be harder than it was in your early twenties. You will have to muddle through a few misses, and you need to truly know what you want in possible pals. Before you know what you want in a mom friend, think about getting to know this new you.
Be honest with yourself about the type of woman and mother you are. If you try to be someone you are not, you won't attract mom friends who appreciate the true you. Don't be a Stepford wife around prospective new mom friends and then run home and turn into a sweatpants-wearing, Cheetos-devouring couch pumpkin. If sweats and the couch are your things, own them. Trust that there is another sweats-loving, snack grazing mom out there just as desperate for your companionship as you are for hers. Let the Stepford moms find each other at the Nordstrom super sale.
Think about your parenting style. What is it like? Sure, you are still figuring things out, but know that you will want to have some kind of parenting identity before hunting down those mom friends. If you are a free-range, loosey-goosey mama, steer clear of moms who color-code their children's schedules and create a daily theme for every meal. You don't have to have the same parenting approach as your new mom friends, but you will want to have similarities in family life and approach.
The Great Mom Friends Hunt
So you need a few mom friends, that has been established. Where in the heck are the good ones? How do you find mom friends who will be your cup of tea? You will have to put yourself out there a bit to find decent mom pals. Extroverts will have no qualms about this great friend hunt, but introverts are going to have to do a bit of grinning and bearing as they seek out companionship. There are a few tried-and-true means of meeting other moms who might be your mommy unicorn.
Look in Your Own Backyard
Not exactly in the yard, although you have likely attempted a conversation with a rogue bird or squirrel by now. Loneliness in motherhood will do strange things to a person. Check out your neighborhood. Hang out on your front porch, play with your kids in the driveway, say hi to the people passing by. Take more walks with your family. Let your kids pet neighborhood dogs and linger when they see something of interest. Bump into the people who surround you; many of them are bound to be other moms.
Prowl the Park
Remember when you used to prowl the clubs and bars looking for your dream partner? This is much the same, except you are trading in loud music for nursery rhymes, dance floors for swingsets, and stilettos for Crocs. Your girlfriends are no longer your trusty wingmen. That job has been handed off to your toddler. Even if you are gun-shy, your kid won't be. Kids will play with just about anything. Let him roam about and find a buddy, and then you can slide on in and chat up the new kid's parent.
Linger Around School
It is tempting to grab your kid and go after a long day of school and work, but lingering around the schoolyard allows you to meet people who undoubtedly have children as well. Spend a few minutes at the school park, or allow your children to talk with friends before heading home. See if another lingering parent seems like someone you can talk to. Who knows? Maybe by the time you leave, your kid will have scheduled a playdate for himself and you.
Try a Mommy Play Group or Baby Community Class
If you have young children, join an infant class or playgroup. Most communities offer tot activities at the library, community center, or local community pool. Even if these types of events are not up your alley, there is bound to be another mom or two who think you should all bust out of the playgroup confines and head to the nearest coffee shop.
Get Involved in Community Sports
Throw Junior on a sports team and meet a dozen new parents. It doesn't matter if he is the team's star, so long as he has fun and the parents are cool. Hang out after games and chat with other moms and dads. Attend team functions and offer to carpool to and from practices. Being a soccer mom can have its perks.
If you get an invitation to a coffee date, wine night, or children's birthday party, say YES! You have to put yourself out there if you are going to find your people. Even if the person inviting you isn't exactly your ideal mom friend, there might be people at a gathering who are right up your alley. Life is full of the unexpected, and the only way you are going to bump into your future best mommy friend is by getting out there and meeting new people.
Big Old Red Flag Friends
This is so important, and it is worth saying twice: there will be some duds. Don't get discouraged and give up. At some point, you are bound to think that you have found your tribe, only to discover that perhaps a few friendships were too good to be true. It's okay to let some friendships go if they are not healthy or beneficial to both parties. You are too grown to waste time on friendships that don't feel right. Know a red flag when you see one.
Avoid Moms Who Flake
When you have kids, jobs, spouses, and responsibilities, your free time shrinks immensely. If you have a new mom friend who is forever making plans with you and then bailing, cut her loose. It is far too exhausting to try to make a bit of "me" time only to get stood up by your buddy.
Skip Mom Friends Who Are Takers
Friendships have to be of a give and take nature. You want mom friends who you can call on to pick your kids up from school from time to time, or can lend you a Crockpot on occasion, and you want them to feel comfortable reaching out to you as well. You do NOT want to find friends who bleed you dry. Know a taker when you see one. If she is forever asking for your help and never offering to return the favor, this friendship is probably not going to stand the test of time. Moms are stretched thin enough as it is.
Ditch the Queen Gossiper
Yes, you and your new mommy friend will likely indulge in a bit of gossip from time to time, but make sure that your new friend isn't more about the dirt than she is about a true friendship. If all she ever wants to do is speculate and gossip about anyone and everyone, run. You don't need to get all wrapped up in that kind of juvenile behavior.
Steer Clear of Clingy Moms
If you think you found a mom bud but have noticed recently that she doesn't approve when you spend time with other friends, you could have a stage five clinger on your hands. You want mom "friends" as in many options, not one life partner. You likely already married that; you don't need two! If you feel overwhelmed and smothered by the relationship, consider talking with your new friend about your worries. If it doesn't shake out, that is okay too.
Not Every Mom Will Be Your Bestie
You will notice that at some point in your mom friend-making journey that you and your adult pal's kids get on great, but you moms can take or leave each other. In these situations, be mature enough to let your kids be friends without you all being besties. Recognize that your children deserve to find their perfect friend matches, too. On the flip side, don't toss aside a good mom friend just because your kids are not super close. You too can have relationships outside of your children.
Take Care of Your Mom Friends
Just as you would any important relationship, take care of your mommy friendships. They are important, and be honest; no one wants to reinvent this wheel over and over again. Know when a friendship is worth its salt and give it the time and love it needs to flourish.