Mama Friends, how I built my mama crew
We recently asked our Mom Culture Community about mama friendships. How they make them, how they sustain them, and all the struggles that come with balancing friendships and motherhood.
I was sad to read multiple comments from mamas who said they struggled with making new friends, especially now that they were mothers. I'm the "forever friend"-- the friend to the friendless and I truly believe all you need in life is one 'true friend', this is a motto I teach my children. Not to say that a whole gaggle of supportive friends isn't the goal we all strive for, but having one true friend is golden, ladies! Becoming a Mother is the most beautiful thing, an experience like no other, but it can be very isolating and lonely without a support system aside from your partner and family. Finding a village is so important, but I also want mamas to have realistic expectations that your village might be 10...or it might be two or even one.
I hear time and time again that it's hard to find new friends and I get asked for tips and tricks on how to find a village to join. I'm no expert; I'm not a friend matchmaker, ladies. What I can tell you is that when I became a mother, I had just moved to a new town where I didn't know a soul other than my sister and father-in-law, none of my friends had kids nor did they think about having kids and I was lost with the world's fussiest newborn you ever could meet. Man, was I a catch or what?! I mean wouldn't you want to be friends with me? The deer-in-headlights mother with the crying, high maintenance baby?
In all seriousness, here's what worked for me:
I ventured out in our new town and found a local baby boutique. The chances are that the lady selling the baby goods in town knows women with babies, and in my case, they even offered baby classes. Scope out retailers in your area some might provide support groups, mommy meetups or baby classes. This first venture landed me in my first mommy and me class where I met some fantastic women, and to this day I'm still friends with them. Can you believe our babies all turn 12 this summer? That one adventure truly saved me! I signed up for the free lactation support group, itsy bitsy yoga, and two music classes.
Classes are where it's at, mamas. Before you tell me it's "too expensive", hear me out, because we were far from the Rockefellers when we became parents, so I'm sensitive to budgets and can totally relate.
Most communities offer free story times at the library which was one of my favorite places to go because we were all in the same boat. Moms who were looking to get out and speak to fellow adults and entertain our babies or tots. This was another great way to meet mom friends we would strike up conversations about milestones, diaper bags just about anything and since the classes are weekly it's a great way to hint at a second mom date with a "Hey! I loved chatting today, will I see you here next week"?
Try a free class or month of classes were my jam too. Most mommy and me classes offer either a free intro class, two-weeks or some even a month. I tried all of them. There's no shame in this mama game. If it was free, I was there to test it out, and guess who was there too? My new friends from the first classes. We shared deals and tips, and everyone tried them together. I ended up signing up for a stroller fitness class after the intro month was over, and so did about four of my new mom friends. It was pricey, but my husband saw the benefits to my mental state and the happiness of our fussy baby, so we made it work. Guess what? Most of those fabulous ladies I strolled through the park with are still friends to this day. Some have moved, some I only connect online with, but we chat when we can and have watched each other's babies grow up from a distance.
Another great place to connect with fellow like-minded mamas is at preschool. I put my babies all in preschool part-time at age two. It was the perfect mix of time for them to develop friendships and time for me to grab groceries. I signed up for preschool with a few moms from my original baby class group which was nice because I had a few friends to get me started. Your kids are a great introduction to a possible new mommy friend. They are the ice breaker if you take the plunge, the common thread you and this potential new mom have. So, say hello to each other. Some of my core mama villagers come from my preschool days because that's when shit gets real for a lot of us and most of us are moving on to baby number two or more. Take the time to get to know your preschool mamas. Your new best friend might be hiding behind those yoga pants and messy minivans.
BIG KID SCHOOL
This stage of motherhood is harder in my experience to make new mommy friends, but that doesn't mean it can't be a great place to connect and build new friendships so don't write it off. I was lucky and joined a local charter school with some friends from preschool, so I did have a few built-in mama friends when this phase started, which made it a lot easier. I've found some really incredible new mama friends from my childrens' school by merely striking up conversations at mixers, open house, and field trips. I'm a talker...like crazy talker. My husband would say in agreement, and my kids totally roll their eyes at how much I talk, but honestly, you have to put yourself out there, mama. I'm not the shy mom at all, and I'm certainly not everyone's cup of mama tea, but you'll never know until you try and put yourself out there. One of my dearest mama friends is the mother of a little girl who transferred to our school in the second grade. She and my daughter became fast friends and wanted to hang out together outside of school so I made the time in my legit busy schedule and I'm so glad I did. While in all honesty, our little girls became a little oil and water to each other and their friendship didn't last we became the best mom friends. We're the one each other can call and vent to about being irritated at their spouse, cry when they've received bad news, or just listen when they need to chat. I would have never found her if I hadn't said "yes" to that first play date.
Not every mama is a mompreneur or runs a business but we almost all have a hobby. I've made some of the most incredible friendships while running Mom Culture. Again, it's only because I put myself out there. It's hard, I know and I've gotten burned...like, a lot. But, I try and not give up that there are good people out in the world. My business started from a hobby and passion for sewing. Having friends with common interest opens up a world of opportunities for friend adventures, meet-ups, collaborations, conferences. The possibilities are limitless, and you already have a common thread, so you have things to share.
These were the places where I found my village. Along the way I've gained so many beautiful friendships, lost a few, and learned a lot about motherhood and myself. We're all busy and the older the kids get, the more active our schedules become so maintaining friendships is hard and it takes work. Some will only be your "online" friends that you cheer on from afar as you watch each other's families grow, so keep that in mind. Your village might not all be together and physically here for you, but they love you just the same.
The number one thing I can share and I hope you take away is 'put yourself out there mama.' You will not be everyone's cup of tea. But, mama, you've got a lot to offer a fellow mama friend. You just need to find the right one, and she's out there. A smile goes a long way. Remember that everything you're hearing in your head, even those negative voices, girl, we know those voices get us all if we're honest...that mama is probably feeling all the same feels. As humans, and as women, we need someone to connect with because we were not meant to do this gig solo. We are meant to be together learning and leaning on each other to raise our children and grow our village. In the end, remember no matter our differences, we do all honestly share the same goal: to do the best to mother and raise good humans. So that's an excellent foundation for any blossoming friendship to start on. Build from that!