If you’re the first one of your friends to have a baby, or you have friends without kids (FWOK) you might be wondering how to maintain those relationships when your life has changed so drastically. But the reality is that once you have kids, you need your friendships more than ever.
It’s so important for your mental health and sense of self, that you hang on to things that make you feel good and for many of us this is our friendships. But most mums put their own needs right down the bottom of the priority list – and that can often include friends.
Be open and honest
The reality, especially in the early months of having a baby, is that time is precious and your priorities have changed. Your friends with kids will get this, but you might need to explain this to your friends who don’t have kids. If they are supportive they will understand and give you the space you need – or better yet be there to help you in whatever way you need.
If your friends don’t respect your situation and your priorities, that says more about them than you.
Make a plan
It can be easier to maintain your friendships with kids, playdates and maternity leave give you more opportunities to catch up. Whereas your non-kid friends will require a little extra effort, so even if it’s locking in a date a month in advance, just do it. Planning dinners or weekend brunches around the kids can be hard, but it won’t always be so tricky, you will get some more flexibility and freedom as your baby gets older.
Know your limits and be flexible
The reality is you won’t always be able to do certain things that your FWOKs are planning – music festivals, weekends away and late nights might be off the cards right now. But perhaps there is a BBQ that you can take the baby along to or a dinner that you can arrange a babysitter for with enough notice. Let them know you’re not just always just saying no, and try and make plans to fit where you can.
Connection to who you are outside of being a mum
In the fog of those newborn days, it can be easy to dismiss your FWOKs – you couldn’t possibly imagine discussing anything but reflux or poopy nappies and the thought of leaving your baby to go out for dinner sends you into a panic…
But try not to dismiss those friendships completely, when you do come out of that fog those friends can be a good connection to who you are outside of being a mum. Sure you will probably have changed since becoming a mum, and that’s ok, great even. But those friendships might just be able to help you find a new and improved version of yourself.
Knowing when it’s ok to let go
Friendships should add value to your life. If you spend more time worrying about them or you’re putting more in than you’re getting out of a friendship, it might be time to let it go. Remember if they don’t bring the best out in you, it’s probably not worth your time.
Finding new friendships
Knowing when to step away from friendships is difficult, especially when you still want connections and relationships in your life. Remember quality is more important than quantity, and a few key friendships are better than many meaningless ones.
Looking for new friends as a mum can seem daunting but it’s actually a great time to meet other mums who are all going through similar experiences. Mother’s groups, at the park, library, local playgroups and even online on Instagram or forums can be a great place to start.