(or making mom friends in the digital age)
Everyone talks about the joy that comes with having a baby. “It is so exciting!” “Your life will never be the same!” “You won’t believe how much love you feel for your baby!” But an often ignored subject is just how isolating modern motherhood can be. Starting from the beginning, with feeding and sleep schedules, it leaves seemingly little time to think about yourself, much less how to interact with other human beings that aren’t your immediate family. This is a problem. Americans are now lonelier than ever. According to a large scale survey done by BabyCenter, we are connected to our smart phones and constant stream of media (a whopping 8.3 hours a day), but having a meaningful, actual human interaction is rare. It is a public health crisis causing depression and premature death. Moms can bear the brunt of this loneliness. When you have a tiny human entirely dependent upon your needs, self care often falls by the wayside. Even as kids get older, sleep and feeding needs level out, but then the activities and sports and clubs begin. So what’s a mom to do?
Believe it or not, you’re not doomed to a life of isolation. I have 5 children, one brand new, and we just moved to a new city. With a little work, I have learned how to fight back against the solo life and make some mom friends. Here are my tips:
Three Pro Tips for Finding Your People:
- Join a group! This can be virtual (Facebook) or in real life.
Facebook has a myriad of groups for moms looking for some connection. It can be really broad like a mom’s group for your city (Charlotte NC Moms) or more specific, based on parenting philosophies and are limited to your area. A quick search will give you a list of options. Most of these groups have a Meet and Greet every month or so, so that you can interact in person. Make sure to actually attend! If the thought of meeting with strangers freaks you out, message one or 2 moms in the group that you have had a connection with (same part of town, kids go to the same school) and set up a playdate so that you can get to know one person and then invite them to the group outing so that you’ll have a buddy.
If meeting online isn’t your speed, join a group in your area. Most churches have mom’s groups that meet weekly. The PTO at school involves you with other parents with kids the same age. Meetup.com has a large number of groups that cater to any hobby or lifestyle. You can do it! So what if you’ve found a group but no mom friends are brewing? Next step…
2. Be open!
This applies in 2 ways: First- often, we have found our group and would like to get closer to someone only to be thwarted by scheduling conflicts. “Well, my kids go to bed at 7 so dinner wouldn’t work.” “I’d love to do something but I have a set in stone appointment with a glass of wine and my DVR.” Relationships require a little bit of sacrifice. Beginning a relationship also requires it. We need to step outside of our comfort zone in order to connect. Invite a family over for dinner and let your kids stay up a few more minutes or schedule dinner earlier in the evening. We’ve brought pajamas along with us to dinner at a friends so that we don’t have to worry about getting everyone ready for bed at home later.
Second way to be open: Verbally! It is so much easier to get to know someone if you are honest and are yourself! I recently made a friend while we noticed we had similar size pregnant bellies at the park while our other kids played. I knew we would be fast friends because she told me about pregnancy bladder woes and I reciprocated by sharing about my unsightly PUPPs rash. She wasn’t scared of being honest, for fear of how I would react to someone sharing details of their life and I immediately asked for her number.
Being open in schedule and mind will help bridge that gap between mild acquaintances and actual friends.
3. Think outside the box.
Unconventional connection is still connection. If you find a friend but aren’t able to align your schedules to hang out no matter how you try, try something different. Invite her to watch a TV show at the same time as you, and text each other throughout with your reactions (The original live tweet). Have your kids caught all the school bugs that are being passed around and you’ve been in quarantine for awhile with a serious case of cabin fever? Facetime someone! Even though it’s not in person, You’re still having a conversation, making eye contact, all of those things that foster real connection. Real time video calling a little too intimate for you? Download a video messaging app, such as Marco Polo for the ability to send short video messages back and forth throughout the weeks. Moving to a new city, this app has kept me sane! I’m able to shoot a few of my girlfriends a message to keep up and we are able to maintain our friendships.
It’s hard out there. But with a little effort, you can find your people and connect.
Ashley Lang is a momma of 5 little ones and Columbia native who recently had her world turned upside down by a move to nearby Charlotte. She loves all things crunchy, living real life with people, and wine.