Find Your Tribe: How to Make New Friends in Motherhood

by Megan Mangiaracino

Find Your Tribe: How to Make New Friends in Motherhood

I was five months pregnant with my second child when I decided to become a stay-at-home parent. One of my biggest concerns was how loneliness would impact my life, would I be desperate for adult conversation by the end of the day? Would my brain turn into a mush of Daniel Tiger songs and nap schedules?

With these concerns and my toddler in tow, we headed to the community pool for some much-needed relaxation. My daughter quickly made a friend and my husband and I struck up a conversation with Kelli, her Mother. She was so sweet and so relatable that we hit it off instantly. After they left my husband remarked that I should have asked for her number. I scoffed at the idea because honestly, I had no idea how to go about doing that and was too afraid to be vulnerable.

Miraculously, Kelli came back a few minutes later with a slip of paper with her name and phone number and a kind offer to set up a playdate soon. It was as easy as that. From that one bold move on her part I’ve developed a lasting friendship and been introduced to a network of supportive friends.

But why are Mom friends so important? As we become increasingly more aware of the effects of postpartum depression, we’re learning how important it is to develop a support system. Talking to others and having someone relate to all of the tough situations we’re juggling in this sleepless season can be life-changing. When my daughter had a total blow out in her car seat during our potty-training phase, it made the situation a lot better knowing I could text my friends later and laugh about the “poopocalypse”.

Now, as I sit at my daughter’s gymnastics class, I watch the girls laughing and making friendships so easily while the parents in the waiting room sit silently, heads down, phones up. I have to ask myself, at what point did it become so difficult to have a conversation with a stranger? How do we go about making new friends? Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past few years of raising two toddlers.

  • Ditch your inner introvert. I consider myself an extrovert and I’m still terrified to walk up to a complete stranger and attempt to make a connection. It’s awkward. What do you say? “Hey… do you want to hang out so our kids can be friends?” Let’s all take a tip from my toddler, who found a young friend at Costco and immediately bonded over running in circles and laughing. She was fearless and judgment free. Boldly walk up to your New Mom Friend, give your best smile and just start by introducing yourself.
  • Use your parenthood as a common connection, and see where it goes from there. I’ve found myself having conversations with strangers about everything from potty training to finding a new car that can actually hold two toddlers and all of their stuff. Get through all the common kid talk and sooner than later you might find yourself having an adult conversation.
  • Become your own Social Activity Director. Chug some liquid courage (coffee, tea, wine…) get out the calendar and start texting. Set up playdates, check out libraries and sign up with your local Parents as Teachers program. They often offer child development programs to attend and can set you up with playgroups with other parents in the area.

Having said all of this, don’t forget about your childless friends. Trust me, I know how difficult it becomes to sync up calendars when the kids have to be in bed by seven. The heart-breaking truth is sometimes it feels easier to just let the friendship fade a little, but you and your friends deserve better. Invite the girls over for a wine night or find a sitter you can trust and allow yourself some kid-free conversation.

Thinking “No thanks, I already have enough friends.”? Great. Good for you! But you never know when someone else might be desperate for a friend, or just someone to listen. Be kind, gracious, and boldy welcome new friends into your life. #babyboldly

Ashley is the mother of two toddlers, Haven (3) and Luke (16 months), wife of husband Ryan and is taking time off from her career in Fashion Design to spend more time with her children. Together they love to visit friends and family, test new cookie recipes and explore St. Louis, where they live. Ashley genuinely believes in the importance of friendship and the strength of family.

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