Have You Sought Out New Mom Friends?

Working Mothers and Mom FriendsHow are you doing on your mom friendships? One of my best friends, who was now a SAHM, asked me that question when both of our kids were about 6 months old. She had actively been trying to make friends with neighborhood moms at the playgrounds and local gym classes, both to schedule playdates and build a support system. Some of the friendships, she found, were kind of forced; others were going well.

My response: huh? I had friends. Some of them were moms. Why did I need local mom friends — new friends where the only thing we had in common was locality and the fact that we got pregnant around the same time? If a friendship happened naturally, great, but I wasn’t going to seek it out (and I certainly wasn’t going to try to force it). In addition to being a lifelong introvert, my reasoning at the time was that she was a SAHM and needed a support system and a schedule — as a WAHM mom I already had a schedule, and I preferred to spend my limited kid-time either focused on the kid or as a family. Besides, I figured, mom friends would come about naturally once my child started making friends.

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation, though, and am curious what other working moms have done. Did you prioritize finding new “mom friends,” even if just for maternity leave? (Have you kept in touch after you went back to work?) Have you naturally made new mom friends? For those readers with older kids, have your mom friendships changed through the years?

Pictured: Onehundred and fiftythree, originally uploaded to Flickr by Roxanne Milward.

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Comments

  1. greenie says:

    I never sought out “mom friends” although a few did come naturally through playdates with daycare friends. Now that my daughter is starting Kindergarten in the school system we don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, I would like to develop “mom friends”. I am more of an introvert, but since there are some planned kid/ parent activities before the start of school I will be actively seeking out friendships (and hopefully I won’t come off as too awkward or desperate).

  2. I haven’t sought out mom friends, but I could see making more mom friends as my kid(s) get older, and are in school/sports/etc. When I had my (now 20 month old) daughter, my friends were mostly married and childless, though I did have one friend with grown daughters who gave me immeasurable advice and encouragement. The greatest part about having childless friends is that, although you can no longer go out with them like you used to, they might be thinking about kids in the future (it turns out that two of those friends are now pregnant), and they are happy to practice by babysitting yours every now and then. :)

  3. pockets says:

    I made a bunch of “mom friends” when I was on maternity leave and it was life-saving. I can’t imagine going through maternity leave without those women. Some I liked more than others and now that I’m back at work I try to keep in touch with a few.

  4. I did not seek out mom friends, although I kinda wish I had while on maternity leave for advice, company, and commiseration. I was often lonely during maternity leave, but simply too exhausted to do anything about it.

    Now, I am friendly with some neighbors who have babies/small children. Almost all of them are SAHM and to be honest — although they are perfectly nice, sweet people — hanging out with them can be stressful because I hear about all the fun activities they’re doing and how they all make their own baby food and how their baby is such a great sleeper, etc. (and the “working mom guilt” starts to creep in). With these moms, it’s all baby talk, all the time, because that’s what we have in common. Fine in small doses, but I prioritize my existing friendships and spending time with family. Thankfully, my childless friends have not dropped me like a bad habit, which I was afraid of while pregnant!

    My daughter is still a baby, so she hasn’t made friends at daycare yet. I do actually look forward to making “mom friends” as she gets older and makes friends at daycare or school.

    • greenie says:

      I felt this way about SAHM friends, and mommy guilt the first few years as well. Although I was happy to be working (and really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter) I felt like I was missing out on many groups/ classes/ playdates/ activities because of my schedule. It was also hard to chose between seeing “friends” on the weekend versus just spending time at home as a family. I was very happy when I made friends through daycare that had the same stresses and schedule as me.

    • hoola hoopa says:

      It’s much easier with working mom friends. Same schedule, same frustrations and joke. Daycare hasn’t been much help for making friends, but my office and classes at times that are friendly to working parents have been.

      FYI, it’s worth maintaining those SAH parent friendships, though. They are super helpful once your child is in school and summer day camps! I also find out about a lot of neat community events, businesses, and activities from them. We may only use a fraction of them, but it’s good to know about.

  5. I did not seek out mom friends during maternity leave (because it seemed kind of pointless to me), but I have found that over time I have become friends with the moms at my level at work (associate, biglaw). I do have some mom friends from my kids’ friends at daycare, but I’m not sure how long those will keep going as my oldest graduates to kindergarten…

  6. Meg Murry says:

    I made mom-acquaintances through our local bf support group/mom’s group, which also had a private facebook group. I wouldn’t exactly call them friends, since I never met up with any of them outside of the support group meetings, but I did occasionally chat with them on facebook in the middle of the night, especially the ones that were also going through middle-of-the-night feedings at the same time as me. They were also a good group to bounce questions about bf, pediatricians, daycares, local playgrounds etc.
    I’ve also made some parent/friends from my younger son’s daycare classmates – again, not so much actual friends as “these are people I don’t mind chatting with while our kids run around together”. I occasionally comment with them on Facebook, or we arrange playdates, playground meetups or email back and forth about “did you get the school supply list yet?”, but they really aren’t people I make plans to spend time with when there aren’t kids involved.

  7. Danielle says:

    I’m due in late October with my first and will return to work after maternity leave. I’m the first of my friend group to have kids so I am worried about being lonely. I’m also planning on going the nanny route rather than use daycare (don’t like any that are near me) so I have no clue how I’ll start new friendships. It won’t help that I’ll be on maternity leave during the dead of winter in Chicago so I’m unlikely to be outside of the house at parks and such! I’ve done a few random CL/FB group postings but agree that trying to ‘force’ a relationship where the only thing you have in common is kids doesn’t make for a great friendship. If anyone has ideas I’d be open to hearing them!

    • pockets says:

      Don’t underestimate the value of having someone else to sit next to when your baby is 8 weeks old and screaming its head off and you can’t do anything or go anywhere because the baby needs to eat every 2 hours so in the 90 minutes, maximum, between feedings you need to shower, dress, get the baby’s things ready, get your things ready, feed yourself, and get to another place where you can feed the baby, all while holding/attending to that baby.

      It’s tough and it’s so much better when you have company. Honestly, not all the women I met I liked, but you’d be amazed at how much time you can waste talking about spit-up, poop, sleeping habits, in-laws, and parenting partners. And some of them you’ll be able to talk about books, movies, and life, but at that point it’s like icing on the cake. They may not be your best friends at the end but all you need is someone else to compare war stories for an hour or two a day – they don’t need to be your soul mates.

      I was so overwhelmed before I made “mom friends.” If you ask my husband it was literally like one day I was home and miserable and counting down the minutes until I could go back to work (I seriously considered going back after 8 weeks) and the next day I had made a friend and was going out and being happy and wishing my maternity leave would never end.

      I would try to find online groups (check yahoo groups and search for [your neighborhood] parents or [your neighborhood] october2014babies or [yourneighborhood]fall2014 babies. Or go to coffeeshops and accost women with babies that you see.

      • So here’s what I don’t get about this: If you have a baby and can’t go anywhere and your mom friends have babies and can’t go anywhere then how are you getting together? One of my friends had a baby around the same time as me, and we never got together during our leave time (10 weeks for me) because it was just too logistically overwhelming.

        • pockets says:

          Most of them lived walking distance from me so we’d meet and walk to someplace together, or we’d go over to each other’s places. And other new moms are pretty forgiving if you’re really late to meet because your baby pooped all over her clothing and then decided she was starving and now you’re 30 minutes behind schedule.

          I can appreciate the point that you already have friends and aren’t looking to make new ones, but to me it wasn’t a trade-off. My normal friends were busy during the day with work, so I hung out with my mom friends. On weekends I would hang out with my normal friends. If some of my mom friends made the transition to normal friend, that was great but I didn’t expect that to happen and wasn’t disappointed if I never saw some of the women I met on leave again.

        • hoola hoopa says:

          That’s a very reasonable question and I don’t have a reasonable response. It just sort of works out? I think in significant part because you can be an overwhelmed mess together. I was nervous to even go to the grocery store at first, but meeting someone who would be equally as gross and noisy at a nearby park just to walk with a stroller was psychologically easier. Thinking about who did and didn’t frequently come out, I’m sure parent and baby temperament plays into it a lot, too.

    • hoola hoopa says:

      If it makes you feel better, daycare has not been a mode of making friends for us. We’re only on friendly greeting terms with the other families, even after a few birthdays or seeing people in the neighborhood. Some daycares have bbqs, email lists, etc, but I feel like those are the exception rather than the rule.

      Are you taking a birth class? That was actually how we initially met other new parents. The friendships didn’t last past the first couple of months, but they were really valuable during that time. We were also the first of our friends to have kids and it’s isolating the first few months.

      Another thing to try is to go out with baby regularly (you should do this anyway) and notice if you keep seeing the same people over and over. I fell into a relationship with a dad who frequently walked the park loop at the same time as me. We never bothered to make formal arrangements, when we spotted each other we’d walk together and chat.

    • Carolyn says:

      Hi – this is a little late, but I’m in Chicago and due with my second in October. Let’s hang out! Maternity leave can be long and lonely.

  8. I have friends who I love. I barely have any time to see them. Why on earth would I go out of my way to make new “mom” friends when it’s hard enough to maintain my current friendships, which I value very much?

    • This, exactly, is how I felt/feel.

    • Hollis says:

      I’ll tell you why. Yesterday, a call was scheduled for me for 8:30 a.m. by someone in a different time zone. I had no say in the matter. Meanwhile, my husband had a pre-scheduled all day off-site meeting that he had calendared a long time ago. So, who is going to drive my girls to their camp, which starts at 9 a.m.? I’ll tell you who – my “mom friend.” Her son is going to the same camp, so I drop my girls off at my friend’s house this morning at 7:30 a.m. and off I go to work. I would do the same for her in a heartbeat. We met because our kids attended the same preschool together and she and I were always the last ones at pick-up. It is really awesome to have a friend whom you can visit with and the kids just go and play together and let you have an adult conversation with another working mom who “gets it.” If you have lots of friends nearby, I can see you not needing any more friends, but you may not have any friends who are willing and able to handle two extra kids (and install their car seats) at 7:30 a.m. on a weekday.

    • hoola hoopa says:

      IME, because they are easier relationships to maintain. I haven’t prioritized making local mom friends, but inevitably those are the only new friends that I’ve made in the last six years since becoming a mom. It’s natural and easy to meet up with them. I’ve maintained with effort my relationships with my pre-parenthood, childless friends without kids, but it’s a different relationship. We have a difficult time making connections because of schedules and commitments. I certainly wouldn’t say that making new mom friends has adversely affected those relationships – I’m just less lonely.

      I certainly don’t advocate ditching old friends and focusing on making new ones. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • Spirograph says:

      I do too, but they all live too far away to be part of my weekday life (thank you, DC area traffic). Sometimes I just want to be able to pop over for dinner, or meet up at the park and chat for a half hour before kids’ bedtimes. I’m thankful to be able to stay in touch with my far-flung friends via e-mail/text/phone, but it is not a substitute for being able to greet other parents at the playground by name and connect with people face to face… even if we’re not close friends, the human connection brightens my day.

      • I’m in the DC area too, so I hear you on traffic. Since I can’t do after work dinner or happy hour anymore, I only see my friends on weekends now.

    • I’d like to make mom friends (although I happen to have a lot of great friends who have subsequently become moms), but I seriously just don’t know when I would hang out with them. At this point, during the week is off the table because of work. On the weekends we have the kids’ extracurriculars (swim lessons right now) and then shuttle between grandparents’ houses (both are in town) so they can spend time with the kids. Maybe we get some down time/family time in between all of that.

      Now that I’m typing it out, I guess “mom friends” in the same phase of life would understand this schedule. So for the people that have made friends at daycare…how? I feel like I seem parents in passing as we pick up our kids, but we never really “talk.”

      • Meg Murry says:

        For the handful of mom friend/acquaintances I’ve made, part of it is signing our kids up for sessions of same activity, so we can either:
        -Sit and chat while kids do said activity
        -Trade off leaving one of us to be on hand for dealing with scrapes, falls or emergencies, with cell phone number (mostly if activity is sports related) while the other gets some errands done
        -Carpool once kids are old enough not to need to be in carseats

        As for making friends in daycare – part of it is just walking up to the parent and saying “Hi, I’m X’s mom, Meg.” Then progressing to saying “hi name!” then at some point saying “Hey, we’re going to XYZ playground on Saturday if you and little ABC want to meet up with us there”

        Another thing that has been ebbing and flowing in our daycare/neighborhood friends is playground playdates. Someone will say “The kids and I will be at such-and-such playground on Saturday from 10-12. Come join us and spread the word.” After a couple of weeks, a good sized group of kids are coming to the playground, and I no longer have to host play dates at my house or chase my kid on the playground – he can play with his friends, and I can sit at the picnic tables with the adults and chat. Are they my BFFs? No, but they are usually pleasant adults and a fine way to pass a Saturday morning.

  9. Spirograph says:

    I joined a moms’ discussion/support group through my delivery hospital while I was on maternity leave. It met once a week, and we have kept up with regularish get-togethers even though all our kids are aged out of the original group. It was fantastic on maternity leave, because it got me out of the house and gave me people to commiserate with. Now it’s just a pleasant reunion every month or two and the pack of babies plays together while the moms chat. There are a few moms I click with, and we e-mail back and forth occasionally, but we don’t really hang out outside of the larger group.

    I have recently decided I need to make more local mom friends — or more accurately, more immediately local friends, period. My neighborhood has an active community association and a lot of young children, so that’s been my starting point. I’m making an effort to go to the family events even though my son is really to young to know what’s going on, and I hang out at the playgrounds and make small talk with the parent of whatever kid is throwing mulch on my kid’s head. I haven’t made any new BFFs, but names and faces are a good start.

    I also registered for a prenatal yoga class. I like yoga, but meeting the other women who will be on maternity leave the same time I am is definitely an ulterior motive…

  10. pockets says:

    FWIW, my comments seem to keep getting pushed into moderation because of my use of a word to describe the solid waste matter that comes out of babies. I am of the opinion that you cannot have a functional moms website that screens for such words.

  11. nyclawyer says:

    Absolutely. I’m an introvert and could have gone through my entire maternity leave without *having* to talk to other moms. But I went to a local new moms support group and made some friends – all of whom were going back to work – and had an amazing time during maternity leave. Fortunately I had my daughter over the summer, so we would go on walks and picnics with our babies. Some of these women I have stayed friends with.

    It is invaluable to have someone to call when you are going to the playground, which is otherwise pretty boring. I have other mom friends that I met through a meetup group who I go running with on a regular basis, sometimes with our kids, sometimes without. Yes we met because we had kids in common, but we have since gotten past that and have plenty of other stuff to talk about. My mom friends haven’t supplanted my “real” friends – they are all legitimate friends, and who doesn’t want more friends, particularly ones who get what you are going through.

  12. mascot says:

    I don’t know that focusing on making new mom friends is that much different than just making friends. Being a parent is a huge part of my life and when I am not at work, I like to spend time with my child. But I also like to spend time with other adults, talking about all sorts of things. Perhaps it’s an imperfect analogy, but I don’t see this a much different than joining a hobby group or sports group. I get to spend time with other people and do my hobby all at the same time. Except with other parents, my child gets something out of it too, assuming there are some similarly aged/compatible kids.

  13. I have a one year old. Maybe I am in the minority, but now that I’m a mom and so many of my friends are moms (most women in my social group had kids the year before I did, some just had their second this year), I am kind of desperate for non-mom friends. Sometimes I just need a break from all the kid talk, you know? While I love my daughter, I’m more than just a mom, but I feel like our kids are all any of my friends and I talk about these days. When I am able to find time in my schedule to be social with other adults (outside of work, which is not that social), I just want a break from all things parenting for a bit.

    • anon eagle says:

      I have attempted to make mom friends from the mothers at my daycare. Most of them are too exhausted to do much of anything besides send an occasional text. Non-daycare mom friends….ehghhhhghghh. I haven’t had much luck. They seem so competitive, e.g., potty training, healthy foods, tv time. I feel like these mom friends don’t really want to have a discussion, they want to argue and defend their choice of parenting methods. I try to steer the conversations away from that, but I’m usually unsuccessful and start counting down the minutes until I can politely excuse myself out of that situation.

  14. Not a mom yet, but I’m actually looking forward to having kids as an excuse to find local (mom) friends. Making friends in a new town when you’re twenty-something/thirty-someting is hard!

    My mom has been good friends with some of my friends’ moms. When I was a kid, it meant that we enjoyed playing on the playground forever, because we knew that by asking for just 5 more minutes, they’d get back to talking and we’d get another half an hour. What could be better than being good friends with the mom of one of your kids good friends?

    Even now, my mom routinely has dinner with the moms of two of my friends from high school. She actually went to one of their weddings that I was unable to attend!

  15. former public accountant says:

    I left my job a little over a year ago, when my daughter had just started walking. As a SAHM, I think of mom friends as very analogous to work friends – interacting with people you like doing similar work as you can make that work more enjoyable and easier as you share advice, share the load, and/or commiserate. And if the water cooler chat goes well, bonus! There’s probably a lower barrier to transitioning from “work buddies” to real friends with other SAH parents due to the lack of office politics & privacy issues, but at the friendly acquaintance stage I think these relationships are largely similar.

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