with friends I have made through volunteering in my mother’s club

Making new friends is EXACTLY like dating.  For better or for worse.

We wonder where we will meet quality friends who share our same interests.  The nerves of that first date? What do we say when meet. Will she like me?  Who will call the other first?  Does the 3-day rule apply?  We don’t want to seem to eager, but we don’t want to blow off a potential new friend.  And when you add the time consuming demands of now being a mom too.  Making new friends is hard.

But friends are essential for surviving motherhood, so here are a few tips to make new friends and make the friendship work.

Where to meet mom friends

  1. Join a mother’s club-most organized moms club will connect you with a playgroup with kids your kids age.  Make an effort to go to a few of those get togethers.  Even in a large group, your bound to meet one person you connect with.  Also, moms groups often host bigger activities that can be great “date” locations for new friends  “Lets meet up at the Mother’s Club Carnival this weekend?”
  2. Talk to the moms at your kids school or activities-it is hard to put yourself out there at first, but this is a great place to meet other moms, because you’ll automatically see them on a regular basis.
  3. Join a mom friendly volunteer organization-If you are passionate about a cause, you’ll probably meet someone else who shares that passion.
  4. Meet other women through your current friends– Don’t be shy about letting your other friends know you are ‘looking’ for new friends.  Suggest to a friend that you set up a get together and each bring one other friend.

What to do on that first “date”

  1. Take a chaperone-And by chaperone, I mean your kids.  Your kids provide an instant connection and an instant distraction.  You may totally hit it off with your new friend and want to meet for coffee or a glass of wine kid-free (yes, please!) But save that for once you know each other a little bit better and have more to keep a kid free conversation going!
  2. Go somewhere with a built-in activity.-meeting for coffee sounds great, but if you are both a little shy or don’t hit it off, sitting across from each other in silence can get a little awkward.
    • Farmer’s markets-
      Our farmers market has a bouncy house.  The kids can jump while you chat
    • Library story time
      Most libraries have children’s room.  After enjoying the story time, your kids can look at books or play with the toys and puzzles and you can get to know each other
  3. Somewhere where the kids are somewhat contained
    • Enclosed play ground-
      Don’t choose the biggest playground around.  If your child wants to swing and hers wants to climb on the play structure, you may never get to talk.
    • Mall play space
      Most malls tend to have children play spaces, and coffee shops.  You can get to know each other over a cup of coffee while the kids are entertained (and contained)
    • Walk with kids in the stroller
      If your children still will ride in a stroller, this can be a great way to meet up.  But unless you KNOW you both are avid hikers/joggers just stick to a stroll around town so no one feels uncomfortable or out of shape
  4.   Do something connected to something you two are already doing
    • Meet at preschool drop off and go straight for a walk.
      You both have to be there already at a certain time and you’ve already parked your cars.
    • Take the kids to the park or to get ice cream after soccer practice.
      Again, you both have to be there to pick up your kids, so half of your ‘date’ is already planned

Topics to keep the conversation going

  1. Ask about her background
    • Where did she grow up?
    • Where did she go to school?
    • When did she move to the area?
    • What hospital did she deliver at?
  2. Ask for parenting advice– Kids are an easy topic and most moms love (and need) friends to bounce parenting ideas off of.  I also think we all love to feel like we are helping someone else out
    • How do you get your kids to eat veggies?
    • How do you help your baby sleep?
    • Do you know where I can buy my daughter new shoes?

What to do to keep the friendship going

  1. Send her a text– Texting is a easy, no pressure way to say thank you and stay on the other persons mind.  Let her know you and your child had a great time and hope to get together soon.
  2. Friend her on Facebook–  Facebook is such a great way to get to know someone from a distance.  You’ll learn more about her, you can “like” status updates and comment how cute her kids are in photos.  You’ll feel so much more connected and it will be easier to get in touch for a second “date”
  3. Let her know what you are up to– This is another great way to use texting.  Send her a message that you and your son are heading to the park if she wants to join you.  This way its no pressure, you are going anyway, she can join you or she can decline and maybe suggest another time to get together

Things not to do:

  1. Don’t feel like you have to be BEST friends with everyone– That mom from your preschool might be a great walking partner or your kids might wear each other out at the park (yeah!), so do those things.  If you don’t feel like meeting her alone for wine, that’s ok too.
  2. Don’t push a parenting agenda– parenting is hard, and especially on a first “date,” try not to judge.  If she shows up at the park with a McDonalds Happy Meal, don’t tell her you never let your kids eat fast food.  Just feed your kids their apple slices and see if you connect on a different level.
  3. Don’t talk politics or religion– even if you met at a venue that you think puts you on the same page with that person (like church).  Save the weighty topics for date 3 or 4.  Just talk about baby food and sales at the GAP for today.
  4. Don’t ignore her if you see someone else you know– remember we are all trying to build a stronger community. If you run into someone else at the park try to include everyone in your conversation.  Or even help connect the other moms.  “Oh hi Jane! Have you met my friend Lisa?  You both have kids that go to Miss Sarah’s ballet class”  or “Hi Jane, this is my friend Lisa, we were just lamenting how hard it is to get our babies to sleep at night, do you have any good tips for us?”
  5. Don’t be offended if she doesn’t get right back to you. – We are all so busy and kids get sick and it is hard to maintain friendships.  So if you called her to set up a playdate and she didn’t get back to you, give her the benefit of the doubt and try again, maybe she just got busy.  If she still blows you off, that’s ok too, get back out there and meet someone new!