I’ve been struggling with ways on how to make Mom friends. Ever since I left my job.
“Do call us if you ever get lonely, won’t you?” These were my boss’s parting words as I left my temp job in the city. 35 weeks pregnant and off to have my first baby. It was an odd thing to say. I thought, why would I be lonely? I was about to have a baby, there was literally going to be a whole new person in my life! Within weeks I would know exactly why she said what she did. Very quickly I would uncover the raging epidemic of loneliness among new mothers that runs silently throughout our society like a dark river. Never really seen by those who haven’t been a part of it. I never thought I would be the one wondering how to make mom friends, and I never realized how bad I would need them.
Mothers and women constantly go through an array of emotions. Dealing with challenges like do I stay at home? Or should I go back to work? How can I keep my career, build a home life for my family (cook, clean, etc.), take care of myself, and connect with my partner? The thought of making Mom friends can seem so unimportant! Yet, having others to connect with and share your journeys may be the most important thing we need to keep our sanity!
This is a guest post from Gudrun, the founder of Ecofeminist Mama. Keep reading to hear her tips for new Moms, and learn more about her below!
Old friends gone. Now seeking to make Mom friends
Looking back I should have seen it coming. Friends I had known and loved for years stopped inviting me out once I became pregnant. Not from malice or a falling out, but because our relationship had revolved around bars and drunkenly putting the world to rights. Once I couldn’t drink there was no place for me. Although they did welcome my baby warmly, and congratulated us appropriately. However, once I swapped wine glasses for breast pumps and late-night dancing for night feeds, there was no space for me in the lives of my metropolitan, party-life friends, or for them in mine. The rare meetups we did have felt awkward. We no longer knew how to relate to each other, and I suppose we didn’t. My need for other Mom friends continued to grow.
Loneliness sets in.
Meanwhile, like many mothers of my generation, my family could only offer long-distance, moral support. They were scattered around the country, hundreds of miles away from me and my newborn baby. For the first 6 months my parents valiantly made the effort to visit once a month. They drove nearly 200 miles each way, but the time, effort and cost made it impractical to carry on long-term.
So I staggered, bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived to local baby groups looking to make mom friends. However, I struggled to find enthusiasm for endless coffee meetups about feeding, sleeping and colic. I loved having a baby and being a mother, but I didn’t want to talk about it all the time. I was also alone in being an attachment parent, and that made me feel even more out of place. Gradually I just retreated and accepted the loneliness and isolation of my new role as an accidental full-time stay at home mom.
Using the resources we have to make Mom friends
My story of motherhood is unique to me. However, I’m not alone in feeling that the crushing weight of loneliness is a day-to-day part of mothering. Now that we’re in a global pandemic and social distancing is the new normal, our loneliness is compounded. Mothers have been getting increasingly isolated for decades. For centuries we raised children in large extended families. However, since the end of the Second World War we’ve been trying to do the same amount of work, if not more, with little or no daily, practical support. In result, making friends these days as a Mom is extremely difficult!
My generation of mothers has the additional complication of the internet. Social media places extra pressure on us to be the perfect Instagram-worthy mom. Not only do we need to make it through the day alone, we need to fill our child’s lives with crazy activities. Things like, extravagant sensory tables, wholesome forest school activities and expensive wooden toys. All while finding time for a side-hustle (if not a full-blown career), and daily doses of self-care. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
There’s never been a lonelier time to be a mother. The flip-side of the digital coin is that the internet gives us enormous opportunities for connection that we wouldn’t otherwise have. Here in the UK we’ve only just started ending a 15-week long lockdown. Every day I’ve felt endlessly grateful for living in the digital age. I don’t know how we would all have coped without the ability to connect with family over Skype, or order food online. The most crucial for me was being able to discuss the hardships of toddler lockdown life with other moms on Facebook. I was able to connect and make real friends as a Mom.
5 tips to make Mom friends
I want to finish with some tools you can use as a mother to start chipping away at loneliness and make other Mom friends. Whether you’re a first time mom with a newborn baby in lockdown, or a mother of multiples struggling to be everything to everyone. This isn’t the easiest time to come up with a list of ideas to beat isolation and make other mom friends. However, I hope some of these tips will be helpful.
Reach out to your existing network to make new Mom friends.
I don’t know about you but, for me, it’s easy to forget that there are people already in my life that I never connected to properly. Recently, for example, I started swapping WhatsApp voice notes with my adult niece who has a three-year old and a newborn. It’s been lovely to chat with someone in a similar position to me with a shared background. I don’t know why we didn’t do it before! Think about who is already in your life that you haven’t spoken to in a while, that you might connect well with. Take advantage of our amazing technology to reach out to them wherever they are. A tool like voice notes for example offers the convenience of a text that you can answer in your own time. It can be deeper in content, yet less time consuming than typing.
Recognize the difference between Friends and Mom Friends.
This was a big penny that dropped for me recently. Friends are folks you can chat with about anything, and sound off to when you need it. Mom friends are those that you meet at the playground, and swap stories of sleep deprivation with. These do NOT need to be the same person! Maybe it’s obvious, but that realization was huge for me. It instantly lifted the pressure to try and find a life-long friend in another mom. However, it’s okay to be casual friends with women where the only main connection is our kids. Plus, your old single friends who you used to be close to can be your best friends again if you make the effort to reconnect. Just leave the mom talk out of it, and enjoy having non-kid-based conversations again.
Think outside the social media box.
When I was pregnant I joined a whole load of Facebook groups, mostly generic pregnancy and due date ones. I expected to make other Mom friends, but they were so big and broad that I quickly found myself feeling disconnected. What I’ve found is that the groups I feel most at home in are not specifically mom groups. They’re just topical groups that happen to have lots of moms in them. If you’re feeling like none of the mom groups you’re in have members you can connect with and make Mom friends, then ditch them and look for groups about topics that you’re interested in instead. Even if they’re not specifically mom groups, they may have loads of members you can connect with, and other Moms looking for friends. It may be easier to connect because you have shared interests besides kids.
Reconnect with yourself.
I think one of the most isolating aspects of becoming a mother is that you lose a lot of what made you YOU. For me, it’s the little things like not doing my trademark make-up everyday, or not finding regular time to have my hair cut into my personal style. They’re small things, but they all come together to help form my identity. If I don’t even look like “myself” in the mirror anymore, I start to feel even lonelier because I don’t know who I am. Find ways to get back your sense of your old self before you became a mother, assuming that’s an old self you miss. If not, start consciously carving out new habits to go with a new identity. Maybe your loneliness is to do with hovering in between an old and new self.
Reconnect with your partner.
If you have a partner, try and schedule a regular date night to reconnect with who you were as a couple before you had kids. It’s the worst feeling being lonely even though you live with someone else. Sometimes it’s to do with the shift from being a couple to being parents. Try to carve out a regular slot where you temporarily pause your relationship as parents. Instead create a space where you’re a couple again.
You can do this in a lockdown, and with no babysitter. Dress up and eat a nice dinner as if you were in a restaurant. You can even order takeout, and snuggle up with popcorn and a movie after the kids are in bed. If you’re co-sleeping and go to bed at the same time as your child, perhaps use nap time instead and have a day date. If you’re forever nap-trapped with a young baby, think creatively about how else you might be able to date your partner. You can use online spaces, messaging services, and video chat to invite in some romance and connection. Who knows, your partner may just be the best Mom friend you are looking for!
We are in this together Mama! Let’s go make some Mom friends!
So I hope this post has helped you to feel a little less isolated! Even if it’s just in knowing that you’re not alone in your loneliness. This mothering gig is tough! However, it’s the most important job in the world, and you deserve to get the support you need to do it.
About the author, Gudrun
Gudrun is a full-time mother and writer living in the English countryside with her musician husband and their 2-year old daughter. She blogs on ethical pregnancy, birth and baby-raising over at Ecofeminist Mama. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.
This is an extra important time in our world. Making Mom friends is more crucial now than ever!