One of the biggest challenges I hear from moms is how difficult it is to find mom friends. Some even liken it to going out to a bar and hitting on someone, hoping that they like you and want to start hanging out. That doesn't always have the best memories associated with it, does it?
The fear of rejection is real. And the effort it takes to meet new people can feel daunting or even draining for some of us.
And with all the new demands on our lives as moms after these new little people who've moved into our homes--the strain on our relationship, the lack of sleep, the curve balls they throw us left and right--we really just need a friend who gets it.
When I first became a mother, I had no moms friends that lived close to me. And of the mom friends I knew, many had older kids. So, I felt like the only new parent around. I remember feeling isolated and itching for connection.
Now, of course there are those naturally outgoing people that make friends easily. You know the type. They’re the kind of person that can meet someone while picking up baby wipes at Target and suddenly they have a new wine buddy. They are probably not reading this blog post.
But if you're a sweet momma that finds that making new mom friends is not as easy as brushing your teeth, then this is for you.
Here are some tips to help:
First of all, there are so many moms out there in the same boat as you.
I know you feel isolated and alone and that you are the only one that does not have a huge friend group of new moms, but that is absolutely not true. You are not alone.
This is useful information for two reasons: 1. It’s validating. 2. It also means that if you see another mom out in the world, there’s a very good chance that she’s dying for some mom-to-mom connection too. And that makes it so much easier to strike up a conversation.
Second, let’s think about where these moms are spending their time and how you can use that to your advantage. Here are some popular ways:
1. Facebook - Facebook is the new mom hangout, I’ve noticed. It definitely was not a thing 8 years ago when my son was born, but I know Facebook groups are quite the thing nowadays. Log into facebook and search for groups in your area. whether it is the city, town, neighborhood, etc and mom group. These can be a great source of support--a place you can ask questions or vent about frustrations. Some groups only exist as online support, but a lot of them will also meet at local parks or someone’s house. Or, if a group is support only, you might find that another mom will occasionally ask if anyone wants to meet up. If your area doesn't have a Facebook group, start your own. I will guarantee there is another momma that is looking for it.
2. Work in a workout. Sometimes moving a little can be a great way to take the pressure off of trying to meet a mom friend. Try a Google search for mom workout groups, baby and me yoga classes, Stroller Strides walking groups, postpartum sculpt classes. I have to give a shout-out to Sacramento based Herself Moms here. They’ve got some incredible wellness and exercise based classes just for new moms. Many gyms these days--the YMCA and YWCA in particular--have drop-in childcare facilities too, so that you can bring your littles while you squeeze in some time on the treadmill or or in a Zumba class. You’ll get a much needed break and you’ll likely encounter other moms at drop -off or pick-up.
3. Meetup.com - If you’ve never tried this resource, it’s awesome. It’s basically a place where you can search for groups that (unlike many Facebook groups) are created solely with the intent to meet in person for activities centered around a common interest. Use the search feature to find groups just for moms, or try searching for a specific interest you have (such as running, knitting, moms night out, book clubs, etc.). There’s really no limit to what you can find on there, and most events and memberships are free. If you’re local to Sacramento, CA, you can join my free meetup, Sacramento New Parent Connections. But, if you’re not local, don’t worry. Pretty much every city across the country has groups featured on Meetup.com. Don’t quite see what you’re looking for? Why not start your own group!
4. Try an App - Meetup and Facebook Groups are great for connecting, but often emphasize group activities (and yes, they have apps too). But, if group settings are a bit too stressful for you, you might appreciate something that is geared more toward one-on-one interaction or mingling and supporting your own neighborhood. That’s exactly what mobile apps Hey! VINA and NextDoor do. These are great options for mommas that have recently relocated to a new city, millennial moms, introverted moms, or any mom that just feels out of practice when it comes to meeting new people. Get to know women with common interests and learn who your neighbors are with these apps. (Or, if you’re not an app person, you can try one of the many friendship match-making websites that are cropping up in recent years too.)
5. When in doubt, keep it simple. Start spending time at your local park or child-friendly coffee shop. Put yourself in places where other moms are bound to be and just enjoy your time there. For one thing, even if you don’t meet other mommas, you’ll likely be glad you got out of the house. But, for another, people love commenting on babies and small children. Let them. You’re not the only person in the world that will notice how darn cute your sweet babe is. Use that as an opportunity to comment or inquire about their own children.
And finally, if the thought of striking up a conversation with another mom gives you anxiety, let’s break this down a little bit:
If your little one is old enough to be crawling or toddling around, her curiosity and engagement with the world around her will do a lot of the work for you, trust me. Crawlers and toddlers are great catalysts for interaction with others. They take toys out of others’ hands, they fall down, they explore the space they’re in. And this a great opportunity to exchange a laugh or a commonality with another mom.
If your little love is not quite at those stages though, you can still engage by commenting on the stage their in or inquiring about another parent’s little one. You can always default to “How old is yours?” And just be curious. Maybe ask, “Is your doing ____ yet?” and follow up with “Oh, how did you handle that?”
If you tire of the same old baby questions, acknowledge the mother. Ask her what you wish someone would ask you. Ask her how motherhood is going for her so far: “Oh, he’s so brand new! How are you adjusting to the change? Are you getting sleep yet? Me either. But today’s a good day--he napped long enough for me to get a shower!” Or, ask her about her life outside of motherhood: “How long have you lived here? Did you move here for work? Oh, wow, California is quite a change from Kansas. What was that like for you?” Acknowledging her personhood will probably make her day. She’ll likely return the favor and ask about YOU.
Then, if you feel like you’re really connecting with another momma, here’s the tricky part: Ask if she wants to exchange phone numbers or email addresses. Yes, this is a little scary, but odds are, she’ll admire your bravery and be excited to add you to her circle. Feel the fear and do it anyway. (And if you don’t want to ask for her number, at least you had a nice conversation with someone who doesn’t have it all figured out either. You can move on without having invested too much of yourself.)
For better or for worse, once we’re done with school (where it seems to be so easy to meet new friends), this is what meeting new people rides on--the big ask. But the good news is you can take all of this in baby steps (pun intended!). You don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for.
How did you meet your mom tribe? What has worked for you? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments!