Written by Caroline Meyer
When we were little, we could just go up to anyone and ask:” Will you be my friend?” That was usually enough to make a new friendship for a few hours or a few years. As we get older, it gets harder and harder to make friends. Once we have had kids and are caught up in the parent talk it becomes even tougher to forge new friendships. Finding someone to understand the 3am screams, the weird stains and the lollipop stuck in the hair from trying to pacify screaming kids while you drive somewhere can be difficult. It is especially difficult when you have your first child especially if your friends are still in the clubbing phase of their lives.
If you have moved to a new home and left all your neighbourhood friends behind or decided to stay home with the new baby and have little contact with your old work buddies, you can feel alone and isolated. Building connections with new people who are on the same wavelength can go a long way to helping you through the early days. Sharing advice, hanging out and having someone to vent to can prove invaluable. Making new friends can be very difficult though. Where would you start?
Try joining a parenting group. This way you are at least guaranteed to meet some people that have kids and may be experiencing some of the things you are. This also helps you get out on a regular basis instead of being stuck inside the house with your “little angels” all the time. You can look at post-natal or “Baby and Me” type classes when baby is little. These classes also help with advice on early childhood development and offer solutions to some of the issues you may have. Chatting to people in the group may result in some new friendships or at least a coffee meeting once a month at least.
Take your little one to the park or similar outings a couple of times a week. It helps you and them get out in to the fresh air and soak in a little sunlight. It allows the toddlers to use up some energy in safe surroundings and helps you get a little exercise. Look out for the other mums and dads at the park and strike up a conversation. Other places you can try chatting to other parents include the paediatrician, grocery stores and stores selling baby and children’s goods. A simple conversation could lead to a lifelong friendship if you give it a chance. Getting out of your home and into spaces that may contain other parents is a good way to find new friends that are on the same wavelength as you.
If you have children in day-care or pre-school, you can also try and chat to some of the parents when collecting your kids or at events. You can also try looking at parenting websites, Facebook groups and forums where parents congregate and join in the online conversations. There are also parenting apps that may offer connections that may not be available elsewhere. You may find it more comfortable to meet parents in groups and slowly make more personal friendships. Look around at different parenting groups in your area to find one that suits you.
While it may be a bit difficult at first and it is perfectly fine to be a wallflower at the start, making the effort to get out of the house and into a different environment is the best way to start. If you can’t face the idea right at the beginning when you are exhausted and are not interested in doing more than sleeping when baby is sleeping, then try the online forums to start with. Chat with people or in the different discussion groups, ask questions and make a few online friends. Then when you are ready, step out and look at making friends offline too. You will often find that other mums are also looking for people to connect with and may feel lost and alone as well. Most would probably love a play-date and to find someone they can trust to babysit for a date night now and then and would be happy to do the same for you. Even if the first few mums you talk to may become more acquaintances than friends, you don’t need to be discouraged. Put yourself out there and you may find yourself with a whole circle of friends quicker than you imagined.