I have a lot of friends and I’m not saying that to brag.
I’m saying it because I’m proud of myself. I have spent most of my life as a shy, introverted bystander. A wallflower, happy to blend into the background. It wasn’t as much fear of being disliked as much as fear of simply being noticed.
Learning how to make new friends as an adult is not easy. It’s difficult and awkward, and even more so when there are children and partners involved.
Before parenthood, making friends isn’t necessarily easy, but I think it’s easier. You befriend the classmates you see every day in school, the people you work with who you end up hanging out with after hours, and the roommates in college who you got “randomly” selected to live with based on a survey about your background and interests. Don’t get me wrong, those people are important and dear to me, but I didn’t have to work as hard to connect with them because we were partnered up by fate.
When I moved to Vermont to live with my then-boyfriend (now husband), all of his friends became mine, especially his friend’s partners. I am so fortunate that he has a great crew. I truly love some of those people and we’ve become closer than I ever expected. Though, if I’m honest, when we moved to a new town and had children, those relationships became harder to maintain.
Even though I am an introvert at heart and cherish my alone time, I know there is great value in companionship. For the sake of my sanity and my family, I had to meet new people. People I could relate to and are on a similar journey. What I needed was to make new friends and find my mom squad. In order to do this I knew I had to put forth a strategic effort to make it happen.
Here are My Tips on How to Make New Mom Friends
I put this first because it was my biggest hurdle. You can’t meet people if you don’t talk to them.
Each day before I set out, I resolved to pretend I am an extrovert, just for the length of time needed to engage in conversation and get to know people. For every hour I spend with others, I need two to myself. I allowed myself time between interacting to recharge so that I could do it again the next day. Each time, with practice, I became more outgoing.
Know Your Worth
If in an encounter with a new acquaintance you feel you’re being judged or sized up in some way, well, you probably are. If you feel it’s for any reason other than to find out if you are mutually compatible, exit stage left immediately. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Not everyone is going to like you. Do not take it personally and do not change yourself based on anyone else’s opinion. Genuine, kind, down-to-earth people do not make you feel inferior for any reason. Befriend the latter, and run fast and far away from the former.
Be a Regular
Go to the same story hour or music at the community center each week. Have a picnic at a nearby playground afterward. Invite someone (or everyone) from story hour to join you and your child on the picnic the following week. If your children are older, be a regular at the gym, library, local park or playground, or coffee shop. Repeatedly seeing the same faces helps break the ice and fosters conversation.
Find a Playgroup (Or Start Your Own)
Playgroup helped me survive early motherhood because let’s face it, playgroup is as much for the caregivers as it is for the kiddos! I was fortunate to attend a couple of playgroups regularly before COVID forced us all into social isolation, so when it was safe to gather again I got in touch (via social media) with a small group of moms who used to attend with me. Four of us set up a casual weekly playdate at the park.
Meeting at the same time/same place, no commitment needed, come as you are, for however long you can, makes it easy and accessible. This allows not only the moms to build connections but the children as well. It is important to note – our children learn how to interact socially by watching us. Understanding this helps me put on my extrovert hat as needed.
Join a Team or Club
Softball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, hockey, tennis, swim team… Book club, knitting club, chess club, hiking club, gardening gurus… If you can’t find a club you like, start one. There are likely others who share your interests. Put up a flier or a post on your local community page online and see what happens. One woman recently made a Front Porch Forum post seeking friends to walk with – she got 14 responses!
Get Involved Around Town
If politics are your thing, go to town meetings and select board meetings. If not, there are recreation committees, historic committees, energy committees, and land preservation efforts. Again, there seems to be something for everyone, and if not, start it!
Join the Parent Teacher Organization
I enjoy being involved in my child’s school. By joining the school board, I am working with like-minded folks and creating connections in my community. I am also learning new things and building skills for when I reenter the workforce. My daughter started school in the fall of 2020 right when social gatherings came to a halt. As things improved and people were ready to get together again, I partnered with the school yo set up events for our community. Soon after that, others reached out to get involved and we formed a Community Building Team. In a way, we are starting over and learning what works and what doesn’t, and we are having fun doing it! Join the PTO. If your school doesn’t have a CBT, start one. You will surely make at least one new friend.
Host a Gathering
I bet if you host a gathering and tell a couple of acquaintances to invite a couple of their friends, you’ll have a full-fledged party before you know it. And rather than just saying, “Come over, I have wine!”, have a shared activity to facilitate conversation and alleviate people’s anxiety about small talk.
Here are some ideas based on parties I’ve hosted:
- Clothing Swap
- Potluck with a bonus Cook Off/Baking Contest
- Henna Party
- Paint & Sip
- Hike/Snowshoe/Bike Ride
- Yoga/Pilates/Zumba Class
- Creemie Tour/Beer Tour/Garden Tour
If those gatherings sound daunting to you, invite one friend or acquaintance out to dinner. Ask them to invite a friend. Make mom’s night out dinners a monthly occurrence, trying a new restaurant each time. Because let’s face it – as much as we love our families, absence makes the heart grow fonder, especially when it comes to toddlers and teenagers.
Go to a party even if the only person you know there is the hostess. You will be introduced to new potential friends and get to practice not doing the awkward nervous laugh we introverts are so good at.
Accept invitations to parties, to outings, and to try new things. I had never done paintball before. Did I like it? As much as a root canal. Did I meet new people and enjoy their company? Yes. Did I make lifelong friends I can’t live without? No. It’s not going to happen every time. And that’s okay.
Each time you put yourself out there, you accept the invitation, you host the gathering, you make conversation with someone new at the farmer’s market – each time you are one step closer to making new friends. And when you do connect with someone, building a relationship takes time and work. But it is all worth it. Having companionship and a strong support system is invaluable. I am so grateful to have found mine.
I hope these tips help you make new mom friends and find your squad, too. If this introvert can do it, so can you.
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