We’ve all heard the old adage that it is quality, not quantity, that counts. When it comes to friendships, this is definitely the truth. Still, I feel like since becoming a mom it is easier than ever for me to stay in my comfortable friend spot and not make the effort to add new ones (who has the energy?).
Two of my kids are in elementary school this year and a third is in pre-K so I see a lot of other parents and teachers on a regular basis. While the easy route would be to just tap away on my smartphone while waiting for my kids at pick-up, or acting otherwise distracted, I know that getting to know the families of my children’s peers will benefit me, and my kids, in the long run. Plus it’s always nice to add a few trusted friends to the mix.
Based on my own experiences, here are some tips for making and keeping friends as a mom:
1. Leave your phone behind.
Are you really going to need to check your email or text messages in the 5 minutes it will take to pick up your child? The same is true of a visit to the park. Perhaps you work from home and the only way you CAN go to the park is if you bring your smartphone along. Still, know when to draw the line between necessary communication and playing with your cell phone just because it is a habit. Pay less attention to your phone and more attention to the parents around you. Make yourself available for conversation.
2. Introduce yourself.
You don’t have to hand out business cards at the preschool cubbies, but you should let other parents know who you are upfront. Usually parents know the names of your children because they have heard them at home, so lead with the fact that you are the mom of “child’s name.” I like to ask questions right off the bat too, like “How is he liking school so far?” or “What are you guys up to for Halloween?” When you break the ice, it makes it easier for others to feel comfortable around you.
3. Be specific.
When you are ready to take the next step in your friendship and get together for a playdate, or even a mom date, ask to do something specific. Don’t just say “we should have a playdate sometime…” because that time will likely never come. Present a date, time and place to get together. I’ve found that a few of the moms in my circles enjoy running so I’ve looked up races and asked if they wanted to participate together. When I know that I will be taking my own kids to the park, I invite the moms I encounter before we go. Everyone has busy family schedules so make hanging out a little easier by ironing out the details first.
4. Connect digitally.
Become electronic friends with other parents through Facebook or Instagram. If they have business pages, “like” those or follow them on Twitter. I have several moms who I text about school events or if I have questions about class. Not everyone can come over for playdates, or talk for hours on the phone (or even answer it sometimes!), so make simple, easy connections through technology that will build up your friendship.
5. Avoid negativity.
We all have our friends that listen to our gripes and complaints, and it’s a healthy thing to have those sounding boards. When you’re making new friends, though, start on a positive note. Avoid complaining about the school, or teacher, or other parents. Talk about the good things that are going in your kids’ lives and show your little ones through example what a healthy friendship looks like.
Do you find it is easier or more difficult to make friends as a mom?