Oct 8, 2012
Rachel

Keeping friends as a new parent

Although I’m totally excited to become a mom, one thing that I worry about is staying social and close with my friends after I have the baby. I’m sure that Patrick and I will find ways to make it work, but I always hear about how hard it is to keep friends once you’re a parent. It might be one of those things that people like to complain or scare you about (like “oh, you’ll never get through college without pulling all-nighters!” or “in order to get ahead in x, y, or z, company, you have to put in 80 hour weeks!”), but I’m sure that there is some truth to it. You do become responsible for another human being, after all.

I was thinking a lot about this last night, so I decided to do some searching to see if other people have creative suggestions for how to stay close with friends once you become a parent. Unfortunately, there’s not much out there. Here are the only relevant articles that I found:

Other than these articles, the only things I found were “ways to help your kids make friends” or “how to make your baby social.” Not what I’m looking for.

Here are my ideas for how to stay close with my friends after we have our daughter:

  • -Stay involved with sports (Patrick is currently on 2 soccer teams and I played before I got pregnant). We’ve discussed either bringing our daughter to the early games and rotating who plays or having some of our friends “babysit” while we both play (I’m talking to you, Team Amuuurica!).
  • -Invite people over to our house more frequently for dinner or to just hang out.
  • -If our daughter can handle it, taking her out to restaurants earlier in the night.
  • -Rotate who takes care of the baby so that we can both have one night out per week separately to hang out with friends.
  • -When she’s older, have one set of our parents (hey Mom and Dad!) take care of her for a weekend so that Patrick and I can either take a trip alone or with friends.

I think that with enough effort, I’ll be fine and will be able to maintain my friendships. I’m sure that my life will change a lot and that things won’t work out perfectly, but I’m ready for the challenge and my friends are really important to me! After viewing an episode of Pregnant in Heels where the mom literally hadn’t changed out of her sweatpants or even showered for 4 days because she never left the house, I vow to not become that person!

 

20 comments on “Keeping friends as a new parent

  1. Rebecca on said:

    I have a lot of friends who have kids of various ages and all of them say that the key to keeping friends is to find a really good babysitter :) If our friends’ kids are in tow, we usually opt to do lunch instead of dinner, and we enjoy doing “play dates” – we go out to lunch with friends and their kids, and then all of us go to the park, playground, or beach (or, we do lunch at one of those venues). I don’t know what it’s REALLY like since I’m not a parent, but I can say that, as an adult without children, I really don’t mind hanging out with my friends’ kids. I think that your idea of inviting friends over more is really good, too.

    • Courtney on said:

      Such great suggestions!

    • Rachel on said:

      Rebecca, I’m glad to hear that you don’t mind hanging out with your friends’ kids! I think that going on lunch dates or trips to the park/playground will be great ways to spend time with friends, too. I’ll also be on the lookout for a babysitter!

  2. Courtney on said:

    Don’t worry you aren’t alone, I struggled with this as well! I was the first of my friends to have a baby and it was an adjustment. Some friends you will let go of, and that is OK. But you’ll also find all new friends and get closer to others. It all works out in the end.
    We all say that we won’t be ‘that mom’, but she sneaks up on us every now and then. Especially in the first year. My first encounter was when Sam had her first cold and I was up all night with her for days. Geoff was working during the day and Sam just wanted to be held. When I went to the pharmacy another mom stopped me and gave me a little bit of advice (I must have looked like death).
    Your daughter can feel your stress so put her in the bouncer, take a shower, do your hair, brush your teeth, and get out of your PJs. You’ll feel like a new woman and be a lot more relaxed. She’ll respond and will relax as well.
    I still need to remind myself of that sometimes!

    • Rachel on said:

      Courtney, I’m sure that I’ll have my fair share of days of being “that mom” :) . Things like colds or bad days are bound to come up and I hope that I can deal with them without becoming completely stressed out. I’m just going to try not to make it a regular habit to not change my clothes for multiple days in a row like the lady I saw on Pregnant in Heels. Also, we still have to try to get together some time!

  3. Matt and I won’t mind hanging out with baby Anna! I’ll even be your soccer babysitter as it is essential that Anna attends all games as our new mascot!

    • Rachel on said:

      Yay, thanks Megan! Hopefully she’ll be a well-behaved mascot. Patrick will try to teach her soccer skills at the earliest age possible :)

  4. It’s not as hard as you think to keep friends as a new parent, but it does take some accommodation from those friends. My friends were wonderful at understanding that we couldn’t do everything we used to do anymore. For example, you might want to go to restaurants that are kid-friendly (loud, not too crowded, and get the food to you quickly) and will let you pay ASAP if you need to leave. Or, once they are mobile, finding a restaurant with a playground or field nearby for running around. Also schedule going out earlier in the evening. Staying in for dinner is easier because you can change the baby, nurse, or do whatever you need to do.

    Also, as an aside, I was totally naive about WHY new moms can’t just pull themselves together to take a shower and wear clean clothes. It’s easy to say “well, that won’t be me!” before you have a baby, since obviously you aren’t that way now, so why would you be that way as a new mom, right? With a new baby, you have to get everything done in the unpredictable time they nap. When you put them down, is the nap going to be 5 seconds, five minutes, or two hours? Who knows? You have to triage housework, eating, sleeping, and taking care of yourself. If the baby is napping and you know you want to leave the baby with your husband while you go out later, are you going to pump first or take a shower? Here is where having a husband (who is hopefully taking a few weeks off), family, or friends makes all the difference.

    A support system is so crucial for allowing you to take care of yourself. If your friends help you now, during the hard stage of recovery and getting used to being a mom, you know they are the ones you will want to keep.

    • Rachel on said:

      Hadyn, I think it’s great that your friends were accommodating of your new schedule! I definitely hear you about choosing restaurants that are more kid-friendly and any time I eat out now, I check around to see if there are children at the restaurant. I’m sure that navigating the line between making “me” time while the baby is napping and taking care of her needs will be difficult and I hope that no one thinks that I’m judging new moms who have trouble with that. I feel so lucky to have a strong support system of friends and family and I’m sure that they’ll be helping me through the early days when I feel like it’s impossible to take a break!

      • I didn’t think you were judging new moms at all. I, on the other hand, definitely DID judge before I had my son, and had to eat serious crow. I think it’s great that you’re already thinking about this, and about what is important to you. But don’t worry if it’s harder than you anticipated, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t look presentable all the time, or didn’t get done what you wanted to do. It’s ok, all of us on the other side understand :)

  5. Colleen on said:

    Great photo choices for this post! Haha. I think that you’re going to do a great job of keeping friends– especially because this is so important to you. I’ve dealt with the same issue– not because I have a child (surprise!), but because of a new job. One of the things that I have done is emailed people that I didn’t have time to talk to on the phone, or asked people to come my way when I would normally commute out to see them. I think it also makes a difference just appreciating the time that you do have with people– not seeing someone everyday doesn’t mean you aren’t as close!

    • Rachel on said:

      Thanks Colleen! I think that e-mail and facebook will also be great ways to keep in touch with people. I’ll also definitely appreciate the time that I do have with my friends!

  6. I thought of one more thing- having a smartphone can really help you feel more connected to your friends in the early months! Once I got one, it made the marathon nursing sessions or being trapped on the couch while the baby is napping much more bearable because you can check e-mail, facebook, make plans, etc. So practical!

    • Rachel on said:

      Hadyn, that’s a good tip! I have a smartphone and was actually considering downgrading it because I don’t currently use the internet very frequently on my phone, but maybe I should reconsider now…

  7. Aunt Janelle on said:

    Rachel, You already have a big head start on most new moms and that’s because you have Patrick and they don’t. There are a great number of new dad’s who are afraid to take care of a baby or think that this new baby is all your responsibility. As long as you work together and plan ahead you’ll both have lots of wonderful experiences with Anna, your friends and the sports that you both love.

    • Rachel on said:

      Aunt Janelle, you’re right, I do feel incredibly thankful that Patrick is as supportive as he is and that we’re both going to be so involved in our children’s lives. I think we will be able to work everything out so that we’re still able to spend time with friends and continue to play sports.

  8. Catherine on said:

    As your friend, I certainly appreciate you making this a priority! I’m no expert, but I half suspect that it will get harder as more people have kids. I don’t have many close friends with kids now, but so far we’ve been able to maintain our relationships because a. both sides are putting in effort and b. I have a lot of flexibility as a single woman without kids. I can take semi-spontaneous trips to Raleigh or Charlottesville or wherever. If I call and she’s nursing and wants to call back in 20 minutes, that’s usually fine for me. But I do worry about when I have kids and then I’m just as busy as my friends who are moms. It’s one thing when you’re kids are close in age and they can play together, but at this rate, I feel like my kids are going to be 10 years younger than everyone else’s (if they exist at all!)… Sigh.

    I’m sad I won’t be at your shower, but I’ll be thinking about you!!

    • Catherine, I agree that it might be harder if everyone had young kids at the same time. Maybe then you all could hang out when you’re nursing together or something, though? Also, everyone is on their own timeline, so don’t feel frustrated or worried about having kids later! I feel confident that it will all work out for you. Hopefully we can meet up soon!

  9. Stephie on said:

    I also enjoy the photo choices of this post! :)

    I can attest to the current friendships I still have and are going strong even though these friends have babies. It’s true that I don’t see them as often, but as long as we plan a get together and I am flexible about when and where I see them, it works out great. Also, I like to call my friend’s kids my “baby friends” since I plan on getting to know and bonding with these cuties too (and so they know early on who their favorite “aunt” is ;) hah

    • Stephie, I’m glad that you like the photos and that you’ve been able to stay close with your friends who have kids! I’m sure that Baby Anna will be your baby friend, too :)

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