Just like we hope our children will connect with peers on the playground, we, as mothers, need mom friends, too! Becoming a mother for the first time is scary and new; there are so many questions to ask and so many ways to do the same thing. When you finally have a fourth, the products have changed and there are so many new things to browse through to make your list of must have baby products. Wouldn’t it be nice to ask someone who is familiar with the latest strollers or been there, done that? Let me add, you are not going to stroll into gymnastics or out to the soccer fields and automatically click with every mom you meet.
These are the women who don’t need to walk a mile in your shoes to understand what you’re experiencing. They’re deeply familiar with similar milestones and phases, and can offer empathy, encouragement and advice as you navigate motherhood together.
Perhaps you’ve recently stepped back from your corporate career and traded your 3 inch heels for a more practical flat or went from speaking to colleagues in Japan to speaking baby talk to your newborn. Maybe you’re less likely to make it to book club or bible study now that you have bedtime routines to follow. The social life you once had with your party going friends is now different and you meet up for dinner with friends that also have children in hopes that they will entertain each other while you catch up. No matter what phase of motherhood you are in, these practical tips for cultivating a mom community are for you.
- Show up: As hard as it can be to get out the door with little ones, attending kid-centered events is a great way to meet mothers! Try a few age-appropriate “mommy and me” classes, like The Little Gym or Kindermusik, or an activity at a local museum or rec center. While some opportunities might require a fee, others may be included or discounted with a membership you already have. Community events, like library story time, often don’t cost a thing and are an ideal place to see familiar faces.
- Consider common ground: Work smarter, not harder, to find likeminded friends! Look within organizations or meetings you already frequent, like church, worship centers, the PTA, or volunteer and alumni groups. These are fantastic outlets as they meet in public or familiar settings and you already have something in common. Plus, you’ll likely have mutual connections, making it easy to learn a bit more about someone and ask for an introduction.
- Invest in yourself: Our kids aren’t the only ones who can have fun in organized activities! Try social and support groups designed to help moms connect, such as Mothers of Preschoolers, which has been around for nearly 50 years. And if you love to be active but getting to the gym has become a lower priority, check out fitness groups like Fit4Mom, or a “Mom Bod” class (check if your gym or hospital offers one). Many of these groups allow your child to stay with you or offer onsite childcare so you can enjoy some uninterrupted adult conversation.
- Seek social media: Ask around for recommendations of Facebook groups or Instagram accounts specifically for local moms. These groups share events and resources in your area, and some are focused on special interests that may apply to you. Even if you don’t meet anyone through them, you’ll see relevant info in your newsfeed while scrolling during those late-night feeding sessions.
Courtesies, considerations & safety
- Safety first: When first getting to know someone, choose to meet in a well-trafficked public place, ideally with some other moms you know, before inviting them to your home. If a pre-established friend isn’t available to join you, opt to meet at a safe, kid-focused activity with others around. Just like you would do on a blind date, let someone close to you know who, where and when you’re meeting, and check in with them after the meet up has ended.
- Be a cheerleader: Not all children are the same, and neither are moms! What works for one family might not be what’s best for another, and a good phrase to keep tucked in the back of your head is “good for her, not for me.” Support a friend even if she does things or thinks differently than you, and trust that she’s doing what’s right for her family and their circumstances. Pursue friends who will offer that same courtesy to you.
- Give grace, not grief: Maintaining friendships during this phase can be challenging for a host of reasons. Extend grace if someone is late or misses a few get togethers as life with children can be unpredictable. Our days don’t always go as planned, so try organizing meet ups that can easily accommodate moms arriving a few minutes late or needing to leave early.
- Sharing is caring, but not with germs: No matter how excited you are to get together with a friend, ask for a raincheck and postpone if your child is under the weather. Bringing a sick child, or yourself, to a playdate puts everyone else at risk and can have serious consequences, so be considerate of others and keep germs at home.
Once you’ve established your mom community, share the love! You never know you might need a friend – perhaps it’s you right now – so just as we teach our children, always strive to be welcoming and kind.
- The Little Gym https://www.thelittlegym.com/classes
- Kindermusik https://www.kindermusik.com/
- Fit4Mom https://fit4mom.com/
- Mothers of Preschoolers https://www.mops.org/
- The Brother and Sissy Children's Team