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I’ll never forget the awkwardness I felt that day at My Gym. I’d been sitting and talking to another mom while our kids played in a class. I really liked her. She was super easy to talk to. I hadn’t spoken to anyone besides my husband and my toddler in days. I knew I’d like to hang out with her again, but I didn’t know what to do. Give her my phone number? Find her on Facebook? It felt like being single again—hoping somebody else would make the first move.
Finding your people is hard once you’ve become a mom. Often, the friends you associated with before you were a mommy can’t relate to you in the same way when there’s a baby present. Finding the energy to get out of the house to do anything social with old or new friends is hard. Some of us even feel that we no longer have anything interesting to say once we’re in the land of diapers, breastfeeding, and Daniel Tiger.
Finding a tribe of mom friends is absolutely essential, though. Why?
Why We Need Mom Friends
- Having a mom tribe lets you know you’re not alone. Your mom friends are dealing with messy homes and toddlers who cry at everything, too.
- The members of your mom tribe are actually willing to talk about the color of your baby’s poop, whether or not that rash on your kid looks serious, etc.
- Your mom friends can step in to help when you need it—bringing a meal, babysitting your kids, or just providing much-needed conversation when life gets overwhelming.
- Having friends is essential for both your mental and physical health. I think it’s obvious that friends help lower our stress levels, but believe it or not, friends help lower your risk for heart attacks and coronary artery disease and make you less likely to die prematurely.
So, if you’re lonely and looking to build a tribe of mom friends, where do you start?
How to Make Mom Friends
Reconnect with friends who have kids
Did you grow apart from some of your friends when they had kids and you didn’t? Now might be a nice time to reconnect and gain some wisdom from those with slightly older children. Are there people that went to your high school or college or who worked at a job with you who might make good mom friends? Call ‘em up. There’s a good chance they’re looking for some adult conversation, too.
Join a local mom group
Right after I gave birth to my oldest, I was a part of a wonderful support group for new mothers called Discovering Motherhood that was sponsored by our hospital. Once a week, we’d sit in a circle with our babies and talk about our struggles. A nurse facilitated the group, gave encouragement, and answered questions. We often broke into small groups as we were leaving that meeting to get some lunch and go for a walk. Seven years later, I’m still friends with many of those women.
A quick Google search of the name of your town or region and the word “moms” will likely yield the names of some groups near you. In the box below, I’ve listed some large organizations that have chapters all over the US.
This platform isn’t just for moms. According to the website, it’s “for finding and building local communities. People use meetup to meet new people, learn new things, find support, get out of their comfort zones, and pursue their passions together.” A search in my zip code yielded 18 groups within 10 miles with the word “Moms” in their titles. There were groups for single moms, stay at home moms, Asian moms, African American moms, adoptive moms, etc. Meetup is, no doubt, a great place to find your people.
The word MOMS here stands for Moms Offering Moms Support. It’s an international group that is designed for stay-at-home moms. They plan activities during the day, when stay-at-home moms most need company and support. Activities range from play dates, to holiday parties, to community service projects.
This acronym stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. The organization has chapters in more than 60 countries. Although MOPS is designed for mothers of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, the organization also has a collection of groups called MOMSnext for parents of school-aged children.
Facebook has zillions of groups for moms, and the beauty of them is that they are often hyper-specific. I’m in groups for moms diagnosed with cancer while pregnant, moms of boys, singing moms, blogging moms, homeschool moms, etc. These groups are wonderful not only for general camaraderie, but also incredibly useful when you have a very specific query that lots of mothers wouldn’t be able to answer. There are several moms in my online groups that I consider very close friends even though we’ve never met in person.
There are lots of online forums outside of Facebook also. Search one of your interests or your location and the word moms. You’ll likely be very surprised at how many things pop up both in Facebook and in Google.
There’s an app for that
The Peanut App was created by a former executive of two dating apps. It’s essentially a dating app for moms who want to connect with other moms. You set up a profile by telling your age and your kids’ ages, adding a short bio, and selecting 3 interests from the list they provide.
The app will then show you women in your neighborhood that have similar-aged kids and share your interests. You can swipe up to wave at a mama nearby, or swipe down to skip her. If a mama you’ve waved at waves back, you can communicate with her. There’s also a general chat room, and regional groups chat rooms that provide a place for you to ask questions or share experiences.
Talk to your neighbors
Head outside to your front yard with your kiddo, a camp chair, and your drink of choice (consider keeping a few drinks close by to share). Before long, you just might have an impromptu mom friend date as your neighbor and her kid walks by.
Go for walks around the neighborhood and greet people. Make an effort to greet them with more than a simple ‘hello’. Ask open-ended questions. Offer to help them with a project. Invite them over for a beer or a potluck. Attend any family-friendly events that are open to the public in your community. If there aren’t any, spearhead a neighborhood celebration for something like Halloween, the Super Bowl, or National Night Out.
Sign yourself or your kid up for a class
There are so many options for kids’ classes. Although I’m not a big fan of over-scheduling little ones, a Little League team, art class, or Music Together course once a week is a great opportunity for both you and your child to make new friends.
If you’re looking to get some exercise, there are classes designed for moms to bring their kiddos along. A Mommy and Me Yoga or Stroller Strides class might be a great way to make new friends while getting fit.
Finally, don’t forget to chat with the moms in the pickup line at school (or the fellow homeschool moms at your co-op). Yes, all this small talk is awkward, but (1) we all feel the same way, and (2) it’s totally worth it.
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Alright, so you’ve met a potential mom friend. How do you go from fellow moms at the playground to besties?
How to turn a Mom Acquaintance into a Mom Friend
- Get a phone number or email while you’re chatting. Yes, it feels like being at a singles’ bar, but do it anyway. You might never cross paths again otherwise. Feel free to joke about the awkwardness of it all.
- Make a connection right away. You don’t have to text your potential mom bestie tomorrow, but don’t wait weeks to call her.
- Make an effort to set a date. Call or text with a specific hang out idea with kids–meeting at a fun local playground is always a safe bet.
- Move past small talk. Feel free to share some more intimate details about yourself and to talk about your life separate from the kids. This might encourage her to share, too, and will let you guys know if you’re on the same page.
- Be understanding if plans fall through. If she cancels your ‘date’ try to reschedule, it’s likely not personal. You’re busy, too, right?
- Choose moms with a similar philosophy or at least try to find common ground. It’s rare that you’ll find a mama who looks at child-rearing exactly the same way you do. It will be difficult, though, for a helicopter mom to be friends with a free range mom. When possible, look for the ways you’re similar, and try to build on them.
- End the relationship kindly if you’re not a match. You’re a mom now, and you’ve got to guard your time wisely if you want to get anything extraordinary done. If this mom relationship is not working for any reason, move on.
A note for my fellow introverted moms: Striking up random conversations with strangers can be stressful. This conversation muscle needs to be exercised, though. Continue to use it, and conversations will seem easier and easier. If you want to approach another mom but have no idea what to say, share something about yourself or ask an open-ended question that gets the other mom talking.
When all of this feels impossible, remember all the reasons you need mom friends that I outlined above. If you still are having trouble chatting, remember that your child is counting on you to be social. If you act like a recluse, your child might lack social connections also.
As for me, although I did get a phone number, my encounter at My Gym didn’t result in a bestie. Regularly practicing putting myself out there did make meeting new people easier. I now have a really nice mom tribe both online and in real life.
This ‘making friends’ game is never done, though. We’ve just sold our house, and are hitting the road, so I’m officially back in mama singles’ mode. What was the name of that app?