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There’s nothing better than a mom friend. Who else will really want to hear about your baby’s latest blowout or overlook that spit-up down your back? Instead of balking, a fellow mama will simply hand you a tissue and continue the conversation.
But whether you’re a brand new mom or a veteran parent of older kids, it can often feel like motherhood is an exclusive club. How do you find other parents? And once you find them, how do you sort the potential lifelong pals from the mommy mean girls?
Making new friends doesn’t have to feel like waiting to be picked for the kickball team. Here are nine (relatively painless) tips to help you find kindred spirits in the parenting sphere.
- Find other moms. This may seem a bit obvious, but it’s hard to know where to start looking for parent pals. A great place to meet other moms and dads is the public library, many of which host storytimes for kids of all ages. “Many of the events are also broken down into age ranges so you know your child will meet other kids the same age,” says stay-at-home dad Mark Blasco. “And best of all, they're free!” If storytime isn’t your cup of tea, many children’s stores host or have information about local “mommy and me classes” and events, such as yoga, midday movies or activities at the park.
- Try non-traditional venues. Parents don’t just hang out at the playground. Your gym’s childcare, play areas at restaurants, and the grocery store line are all places you’re likely to run into other moms—just listen for a babbling baby or whining preschoolers.
- Go online. Browse the web for parents in your area who share your interests. Regional mommy blogs can point you toward local events, such as nature days at local parks, or help you arrange to meet up with like-minded mommies. There are even websites, like Meetup.com and Bigtent.com, who offer online parent groups for specific cities and needs, such as working parents or breastfeeding moms. If meeting other moms face-to-face makes you wary, an online community can be a great place to start. Thousands of chat boards exist for every type of mom in every situation. Chances are, someone will be online at 3:00 a.m. feeding her baby, too—and she probably wants someone to talk to.
- Make “mom time” a priority. Whether it’s a science fair project or a ride to soccer practice, your kids will always demand your time—so it’s critical to pencil in time for yourself, and stick to it. Friendships require effort away from kids to establish a lasting bond. Denise Cortes, who writes about raising her six kids on her blog Pearmama, agrees. “Make sure your friendship isn't centered around your kids only. The minute your kids grow apart, so will your friendship.”
- Be brave, and make the first move. If you see a mom with a screaming baby in the grocery store line, don’t be shy about giving her a sympathetic smile, or saying hello. Remember, she’s probably looking for some mom friends, too.
- Have something to say. Make it easier on yourself and prepare something to say ahead of time. Something as simple as “How old is your baby?” or “How do you like being a mom here?” can break the ice. Just get the conversation started.
- Be yourself. Don’t worry if you went out in your yoga pants again or whether you brushed your hair this morning. Most moms are in the same boat and are just as self-conscious as you are. “Be genuine,” urges Denise.
- Follow through. As you well know, moms are busy, so don’t be offended if your new friend doesn’t return your text right away. Just be patient and know that friendships once you have children may be less spontaneous than in your earlier, kid-free days, but they’re still worthwhile. But “don’t be pushy,” cautions Denise. “People make friends in different stages.” Give your friendship time to grow.
- Be a good friend. “Start by thinking of what you can do to help that other mom,” suggests Stephanie. “Like with all types of friendships, if you focus on giving, you’ll not only help others, but will get the benefit of help in return.”
Only another mom knows how exhausting parenting can be. Having a mom friend to lean on when times get tough (hello, teething!) can be invaluable.
Approaching a potential new friend may feel like a first date – uncomfortable and a little scary. But isn’t it worth one awkward moment for a friendship that can last a lifetime?
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