It goes without saying that moms are the world’s greatest multitaskers. Who else can wipe a runny nose, brine a chicken, carefully “lose” a game of hide-n-seek and check for monsters under the bed, all while nursing a newborn? NOBODY, that’s who! Let’s all admit it: moms are superheroes with magical powers hiding in plain sight! Even superheroes and heroines need a few tips on how to increase efficiency every now and then. This series will explore all the ways in which moms balance the realities of maternal bliss and madness!
I’ve blogged about maintaining important relationships with other moms, but those aren’t the only friends mom have (or it shouldn’t be that way). Mom, you had plenty of friendships with single and non-mom adults before you were a parent. You shouldn’t let those relationships fall by the wayside simply because you have little human responsibilities added to your life’s plate. As with all things, maintaining your non-mom relationships will require balance, but here are a few tips to help you keep those friendships fresh.
Use “Happy Hour”
Whether you’re in the office or with kids, I’ve found that one of the most convenient times to steal some friendship time is between 4 pm and 6 pm, a.k.a. “Happy Hour.” I say this for two reasons. If you’re a working mom, chances are the office won’t notice if you steal time by 4 pm; enough work has been done by that point for the day. Also, if you have a nanny or sitter with your kids, it’s much easier to ask them to stay for an hour or so longer versus asking them to come back and stay late in the evening.
Even if you can’t get away, the 4-6 time may be a great time to catch up with friends via phone. This is especially a great time if you need to catch up with friends in different time zones. In any case, “happy hour” is a great time to catch up or check in with friends before going into serious “home mom” mode for the day.
Intentional Talk Time
Speaking of phone calls, it’s so important to let your friends know that you haven’t forgotten about them. Parenting keeps all of us busy, and downtime is oftentimes non-existent. But somewhere between the diaper changes, wiping food off the floor, washing clothes and the back-and-forth of daycare, find a moment to call (or at the very least text) your friends to let them know they’re on your mind. Chances are you’re thinking about them more times than they think of you; I know I think about my non-mom friends when I dealing with vomit- or poop-related situations. “Missing you like crazy, girl!” might go a long way in making your friends feel loved.
There is a vulnerable conversation you need to have with your non-mom friends regarding reasonable and unrealistic expectations of how communication will happen now that you’re a parent. This will help promote understanding for all parties involved, if done right. Talk for a few minutes (notice I didn’t say “complain for hours”) about all you’re going through with your little one, so they can see why you end up passed out on the couch for much of the time you used to spend with them. Chances are, before they type or say to you, “You haven’t called me back in two days,” they’ll know why.
Empathy is Key
If your friendships are authentic and worth their salt, the strand that runs through your lives is the need for everyone to live their best lives. Now that you’re a parent and some of your friends aren’t, your lives may look very different. That should be okay — if you genuinely love each other and desire to see everyone shine! Lift each other up in that desire.
So you’re a parent now. A true friend would want you to be happy as a parent and would want to know all about how that’s affecting you, making you happy, etc. Likewise, your friend doesn’t have the responsibility of kids yet. You should be just as excited to know about what things they’re up to, what’s new in their lives and what’s next for them. Genuine relationships are all about wanting to help meet each other’s needs as best you can. If you had that in someone before having kids, don’t let parenthood change that. It’s invaluable to us all as humans.
I’m A Parent, Not a Memory!
Listen, parenthood may take a lot out of us, but that doesn’t mean we stop living! I think many non-moms have this notion in their heads that families cause us to never have the desire or want to go out. NOT TRUE! Sometimes we parents feel stigmatized because our single friends stop asking us to go out. It’s a real thing! But non-moms need to know that we still like being asked to go out and do things with them. Even if we can’t because of the kids, it’s still nice to be asked.
I understand that having kids may cause our single friends to hesitate about hanging out because of the family factor, but the key, again, is communicating about these things with your friends. Be open and transparent about that. If you don’t mind going out every once in awhile, let them know! And, don’t be afraid to ask them out! Squeaky wheels get the grease! I will caution you, parents, not to connect with your friends to go out only when you need a reprieve from kids. That can border on or feel like manipulation to non-moms. Friendly outings should be about genuine connection — always!
Kids bring joy to our lives, but so do our adult friendships. When it comes to friends who haven’t or choose not to be parents, the joy of interaction should never be put into question. Be mindful to keep your non-mom friends as close as they were before the kids, and you’ll have support for life…as it always should be!