Parenting can be an exciting journey, but it’s not without pockets of loneliness. So, if you’re having trouble finding mom friends (or dad friends), read on for some helpful tips!
The Benefits of Friendship
Between work, driving carpools, and managing all the moving pieces in your life, it often seems like we don’t have time for friends! But there are several reasons it’s crucial to prioritize adult friendships.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of friendship are numerous, ranging from a greater sense of well-being and purpose to a lower BMI. Studies have shown that friendships can help you reduce stress and even improve your cognitive functioning.
It’s one thing to know the benefits of friendships. It’s another way to make real friends, like the types of people who you could call upon in a crisis or even have a pleasant conversation with while your kids are at dance class. So read on for some tips to provide you with mom support during these busy years.
How Do I Find More Mom Friends?
If you’re like most parents, you probably have a lot going on. So, making friends in places where you are already spending time is a natural first step. Here are a few places you might naturally run into parents with similar interests.
Low-Pressure Places to Meet Friends and Neighbors
One of the least awkward ways to meet new parents is to talk to people at the places where you’ll already be with your kids. Here are a few.
School Dropoff/Pickup– Use the time to get out of your car and walk your kids into the classroom to connect with other parents or caregivers.
The Bus Stop- In time, the casual time waiting for the bus together can lead to deeper conversations. If you can, this is a great place to arrange to walk with your neighbors.
Playgrounds– Whether at the neighborhood park or an indoor play place at a restaurant, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to start conversations while your kids naturally play together.
Sporting Events- Take the time to connect with other parents from your child’s sports teams. You’ll spend hours watching the games or practices together, which can often turn into more meaningful relationships.
Birthday Parties– This is a place where it’s essential to read the room. You don’t want to stick around a dropoff party when all the other parents have left! But if several parents are lingering at the party, this can be an opening for socializing and striking up new conversations that could later lead to friendships.
Mommy and Me Classes– Bond with some grown-ups while your little one learns a new skill. If you notice your child gets along well with another one, consider arranging playdates, which could lead to more adult interactions.
Adult Classes and Clubs for Meeting Mom Friends
While it’s nice to meet friends with kids who get along, there are many other ways to forge new relationships without being in specific mom groups. Sometimes, pursuing a club or activities you’re interested in can be more beneficial when finding new like-minded friends. Here are a few favorites:
House of Worship: Churches, synagogues, or temples are excellent places to connect with other parents and potential friends. Since many churches have members of several different generations, you can often get good parenting advice from those older and wiser. Or, if you’re more interested in connecting with peers, many have groups specifically designed for parents of teens or toddlers.
Gym: There’s nothing quite like bonding after a really sweaty boot camp, dance classes, yoga classes, or running on the treadmill. Several gyms also have extra social events, providing additional ways to meet new people.
Garden Club: How does your garden grow? Gardening clubs or flower arranging workshops are a lovely way to add beauty to your home and meet potential new friends and neighbors.
Book Club: If you like to read and discuss, book clubs provide many fantastic opportunities to find new friends.
Crafting Groups: Release your artistic potential and enjoy different artistic endeavors. Whether you attend a more formal group or something more casual like a paint and wine night, it’s a fun way to connect with others.
Cooking Classes: Not only will you learn a practical skill, you’ll have ample opportunities to connect with other aspiring chefs. Perhaps a cooking class could lead to dinner clubs later.
Volunteer Organizations: There are many ways to give back to the community! Specific volunteer organizations also offer family-friendly activities, so you might be able to use that service to make friends for the whole family.
PTO/School Volunteering: Investing your time and energy into your kid’s school can be a beneficial way to meet new parents and other families at the school.
Building Deeper Friendships
While meeting people with similar schedules and interests can be an excellent first step, it only takes you so far. It’s very rare that you’ll sit next to a parent at a basketball game and automatically become BFFs. Here are a few more common questions and tips to overcome the next hurdle and make authentic friendships.
How Do I Make Small Talk With Other Moms?
Some of us are naturally friendly and have no reservations about engaging with strangers. My mother is exceptionally gifted in this area and could make new best friends anywhere, from standing in line at the grocery store to the airport.
But if you’re not as naturally chatty, here are a few tips to get you started.
- Be genuinely interested in the other person. Don’t tell them about how great you are. Find out how great they are.
- Ask good questions. Give them the opportunity to talk about themself.
- Start small. More than likely, you won’t be best friends with the first person you talk to, but have the goal of coming away with three takeaways from your conversation. This could be as simple as their name, child’s name, and job or neighborhood.
- You could talk to someone beside you while sitting on the bleachers at a soccer game. Take your child to a party and engage with the host of other parents. Volunteer at school, join the PTO or take your family to community events and talk to other parents. These small interactions can lead to more meaningful socialization and friendships later.
How Do I Socialize With Other Parents?
Seemingly minor interactions can lead to more meaningful relationships later. If your child has a favorite friend, you can invite their whole family for dinner or meet up at a restaurant. Assuming you click with the parents, set up a kids-free coffee or activity later.
Just get out there! While it can be intimidating to take friendship initiative, chances are, most people around you are also desperately wanting real friendships. Studies show that over 60% of parents (especially moms) feel lonely. Over one in three adult women report depression or anxiety.
No matter how sad, lonely, and anxious you might be about socializing or even meeting new people, you’re not alone! Take the initiative and call someone to do just about anything. They’ll be so grateful you did.
Do I Have to Make Mom Friends?
Of course not. There are plenty of others in the world, so you don’t necessarily have to have mom friends, or any friends for that matter. If you’re significantly older or younger than the parents of other people in your child’s class, it can be a bit harder to connect with parents on a deeper level.
But if you’re asking this question, you might want to probe a little deeper as to why. Surely you don’t need to be besties with every person from the mommy and me classes, but if you don’t want any parent friends and you have kids, there could be something deeper going on that might be worth exploring with a trained therapist.
A Note on Technology
As much as our phones and devices can connect us to the outside world, they can really isolate us when it comes to making new friends. DO NOT USE YOUR PHONE AS A CRUTCH!! It’s nearly impossible to make meaningful friendships if you’re preoccupied with virtual relationships or even checking email.
The next time you’re somewhere where you could meet potential parents, like a coffee shop, park, or soccer practice, put your phone down! You will probably be shocked at how much easier it is to engage with people.
Making New Friends
Children model their behavior on what they see us doing. Considering all of the amazing benefits of friendship for our emotional and physical health, we should be proactive about modeling pro-friend behaviors for our kids.
Whether you want advice about stages of child development or a shoulder to cry on when you’re going through tough times, it’s so helpful to have friends and enjoy life together. So reach out and call a potential new mom friend today. You’ll be glad you did!