Making new friends, let alone mom friends, is hard. As parents, we rarely have the time to put extra effort into our already busy lives. It already takes everything in me to get my family out the door fed and fully clothed before heading off to work. While I have an amazing group of girlfriends from college, they’re spread out all over the country taking care of their own families, so phone calls are few and far between. They’re always there for me, but you can’t beat a network of moms who live close by.
Because let’s be real: motherhood can be lonely. Many of us crave connections with other women whom we can lean on for support and talk to about the absurdities of day-to-day life. It might seem intimidating to make and keep new friends, but a little vulnerability is so worth it. For example, cultivating a new relationship with a mom I met at a birthday party helped me get out of my rut and forced me (and my family) to make plans for the weekend that revolved around something other than grocery shopping and doing laundry.
So, how do you do this? Read on for six suggestions on how to realistically make mom friends—and keep them!
1. Accept the awkward
Name how awkward the whole “will you be my friend?” conversation is, and just lean into it. As friendship expert Dr. Miriam Kirmayer wrote in an article for The Everygirl, being upfront “might feel the most vulnerable, [and] it can also be the most impactful.”
Odds are the other mom feels the exact same way, and somebody has to make the first move. If you’re getting the vibe that she would be fun to be around, then take a risk! I find it’s easier to do it in a group environment because you’re already both there and you can connect for a minute to establish a quick rapport.
2. Make plans
That leads me to number two: making plans. Once you’ve established you both want to move forward, exchange numbers, and decide what’s next. A glass of wine after bedtime? Coffee after drop-off? Going on a walk? Watching a show together? Trying a new workout class? There are plenty of shorter, low-pressure plans to get to know each other better.
3. Feel good about putting yourself out there
YES! You made plans! My friend and I went on a legit mom date after bedtime a few days after we talked at the aforementioned party. We met at a local restaurant and talked for hours over a few glasses of wine. It was delightful and refreshing on so many levels. And yes, we both acknowledged how strange it is to put ourselves out there in this way, but it’s been a great bonding experience.
4. Keep the connection going
Once you’ve established this baseline connection, don’t give up! This is the “how to keep mom friends” part. Try to find some way to connect in person every few weeks, with or without your families in tow. My friend and I forced our husbands to go on a double date, and they ended up connecting as well and have since hung out without us. I’m not suggesting becoming a stage five clinger or texting every day, but consistent communication and proactively reaching out goes a long way.
5. Repeat—voila, a new friend!
I realize this doesn’t sound like rocket science. If you want to keep a friend and continue building on what you started, then, of course, you can’t ghost them—DUH.
But seriously, if you don’t try to keep things up, it will fizzle, because everyone is busy, and it’s hard to make new relationships last when you’re older and busy with your family’s constant needs. Trust your gut about the person, too. If in the times you’ve talked you feel like there’s no spark, then maybe she isn’t your person. I’m not saying force something, because there does need to be mutual interest. You’ve made it this far in life with friends, so I feel confident saying you’ll know when it’s right—if nothing else, being vulnerable is a good exercise and something we’ll probably want to model as parents.
6. Choose wisely
And last but not least, choose quality over quantity. A few reliable friends who get you, make you laugh, and generally make this journey of motherhood more fun is better than a wide circle of acquaintances who you wouldn’t feel comfortable around unless you’re in your fanciest sweatpants.