Making new friends as adults is hard enough as it is, but it can be especially challenging when you have kids. And it’s not just making new friends, but also maintaining those old ones too. I know first-hand that when you’ve already gone all those life changes that come with a new baby, it would be so nice if there was at least one thing that stayed the same. Sigh.
When our Spawned podcast listener Shari emailed asking us to discuss the topic friendships after kids (thanks Shari!), we jumped at the chance, because both of us have, in some way, experienced difficulties in that department. But we’ve had a lot of successes too, like… us! Liz and I became friends — and eventually business partners — after having kids, even though we lived hundreds of miles apart at the time. Whoo! Thanks, Internet.
So on this episode of Spawned with Kristen and Liz, we chatted frankly about our own challenges with making mom friends, and shared some smart tips for “finding your people,” whether your kids are babies or school-age.
Then, to help you even further, we’ve compiled a great list below of resources and tips for meeting new friends when you’re a parent. (Plus, other links we mentioned on the show.)
Take a listen right now on Soundcloud or click over to iTunes for the full episode. And make sure to subscribe to Spawned with Kristen and Liz on iTunes or Stitcher so you never miss an episode!
Tips for finding mom friends – and dad friends, too.
1 Get out of the house
This should go without saying, but we know as new parents sometimes you’re just too tired, too unshowered and feeling too gross about your new body to want to get out much. No judgment — we’ve been there too. But if you want to make friends, you need to get out. So start small; don’t discount the value of just visiting the local park or playground and chatting with other parents there. We’ve had lots of success meeting parents simply by talking with other parents who were shadowing their kids on the monkey bars and slides.
2. Find parent meetups in your own community
There are no shortage of local parent groups in every community, though of course that number depends on where you live. Those of you in bigger cities, like Liz in NYC, have access to lots of resources that list or coordinate in-person parent meet-ups, like Mommy Poppins, Big City Moms, Divalysscious Moms, and the NYC Dads Group. LA’s Peachhead has grown from a huge online community to one living offline, too.
However many of these sites are branching out to lots of other cities — Mommy Poppins, for example is now in Philly, Boston and LA — so be sure to click around before you decide they’re not in your neck of the woods.
You can also check the parenting pages of meetup.com which drills down by state, city, and even interest or life-stage, so you can find everything from a Single Parents Group in Portland, Maine, to North Scottsdale/Phoenix parents with kids under two.
Another helpful tip is to look for groups specific to your interests (remember those?), whether it’s parenting-centric athletic clubs like Moms Runs This which is fantastic for running lovers and fitness buffs; or groups based on a common interest having nothing to do with kids at all, like this Philly Tech MeetUp. Do some searching to see what’s out there and you just might connect with other parents you get to love in real life.
3. Get involved at your school
If you’ve got kids in grade school, preschool, or even a daycare center, it’s worthwhile getting involved in some form or another to meet other parents. There’s always the PTA and various school committees that are always looking for volunteers. And lots are based on interest (fundraising, gardening, diversity initiatives) which can really help you find like-minded parents to hang with.
We love the idea of getting involved in your kid’s own classroom too, but we know that can be hard, especially if you have several kids, you’re a single parent, or you work full-time. (Or all of the above, like me!) My tip is just to make a little extra time to pop in a little early at drop-off provided you don’t have kids who take the bus, or linger a bit after school is over.
Even chatting it up with parents at assemblies and performances can be a chance for you to socialize — and maybe bond with the other parents near you who are also laughing at that one guy in the front row, videotaping the performance on a giant tablet.
4. Social Media: It’s like Match.com for parents
It’s the big old Internet that brought Liz and me together, so we have nothing but great things to say about meeting people online. In fact, Liz commented on Kristen’s personal blog, Kristen commented back… and well, the rest is history.
But you don’t necessarily need to be a blog writer or reader in order to meet other parents. Though it does help. Facebook groups, message boards on sites like Babycenter or Cafe Mom, or even local community groups with a strong online presence can connect you with new friends.
Our big tip though is to look for places that aren’t anonymous — Liz always says that some boards may be great for advice (or gossip or snark or masochism), but if you want to connect in a real way, look for boards filled with parents who are also looking to connect and support one another, not beat each other down.
5. Find activities that bring out parents
I had my oldest daughter while living in Mississippi and felt completely out of sorts until I got back to teaching Music Together Mommy & Me music classes (or as we called them on Spawned, “Caretaker & Me.”). That opportunity to connect with other new parents was especially helpful at a time when most of my hours were spent in my office or rocking my daughter to sleep in her room.
But you don’t have to be a music teacher to find other parents out with their kids. Join a Stroller Strides group near you. Look for baby or toddler book readings at local libraries and bookstores. Sign up for a parent-baby yoga class. Go to a kids’ concert — at least when yours is old enough not to sleep or cry through the whole thing.
You can even go to the movies! Lots of theaters offer baby-friendly daytime movies like these in NYC. Or find a great list of five national theater chains with parent-baby movie hours featured on Baby Gizmo. In fact AMC theaters offer Sensory Friendly movie showings in partnership with the Autism Society.
If you’re still stumped, our friends the Rookie Moms have a ton of fantastic ideas both on their site and in the Rookie Moms book for all kinds of things you can do with your baby. Not every single suggestion involves meeting other people, but it’s a great place to start if you need a little inspiration.
6. Reconnect with old friends
Of course, it’s always ideal to be able to get together in person with real live people. Especially if your kids are little and you’re cooped up in a house all day — or stuck in an office with little free time for socializing. But if you just can’t meet new people right now, for any reason, do your best to maintain your existing friendships, whether those women have children or not, and no matter how far away they may live. It’s amazing how much authentic, valuable support you can get from texting, chatting on the phone, and even FaceTime when times get a little rough and you’re feeling alone.
Other links from this episode of Spawned
Liz talks about a friendship that changed after they both had kids.
Shout-out to @geektrooper on Twitter, who always has great comments about our show.
Here’s Liz’s cool pick of the week, just in time for the big snowstorm here on the east coast.
And Kristen raves about a new mascara she can’t live without.