From the round-the-clock demands of a baby through to the rush of school runs, homework and after school clubs once they’re older, having children changes our lives and the amount of time we have to ourselves completely. So it’s not surprising that our friendships can suffer as a result, with less time to prioritise these relationships, and perhaps feeling like we’re now at different stages of our lives to our friends compared to where we were before.
It’s easy to see why such a focus is put on making ‘mum friends’ who may have children of a similar age and likely know exactly what you’re going through, who will understand when plans are changed last minute or a message isn’t replied to straight away. But when you don’t have enough time to nurture long-term friendships with the people you care about the most, how do you go about making more friends, and do you really need to?
We recently conducted a survey among Keeping Mum readers on Instagram, and everyone who answered said they had formed new friendships with fellow mums since having children, with 83 percent saying they felt it was important to do so.
Meanwhile, 75 percent said their existing friendships had changed since becoming a parent, and sadly, 75 percent of those said they had got worse.
“My friends who don’t have children don’t seem to understand that I don’t have the same freedom or flexibility for nights out or girls’ trips anymore, nor do I want to. I end up feeling bad as I always have to be the one to cancel plans or say I can’t do something, but at the moment my baby is completely dependent on me and he’s the priority,” one commented.
Another shared: “I think I’m not in the same place as some of my friends who don’t have children, but we hold a loving space regardless.”
Befriending fellow mums can definitely have a benefit to our wellbeing, particularly in the early days when you can bond over the sleepless nights, teething troubles or weaning worries, and help each other realise you’re not alone on the days you may be finding parenting a challenge.
But it can also bring up insecurities and questions if you’re struggling to make new friends, or feel like you’re the odd one out if you’re the only one attending a baby group alone, which can be difficult at a time in your life where you’re likely to be particularly vulnerable.
There are many people who have made life-long friendships at these classes or through antenatal groups such as NCT, but don’t feel pressured to forge friendships or be downhearted if you don’t click with the mums you do meet; it can be hard getting past being anything more than acquaintances if the only thing you have in common is the age of your babies and where you live.
If you can, maintain that bond with your existing friends as much as possible, knowing that even if you’re not currently sharing the same experiences, there’s so much you’ll have already been through together, and they’re still in your life for a reason.
At a time when your days are consumed with nappy changes and nap times it can be refreshing to remember that everyday life is still going on as normal, and liberating to have people to hang out with who know and like you for who you really are, and not just as a mum.
As good as it is to have friends you can chat to about your children’s developments and how they’re sleeping, it’s equally – if not more – important to have friends who can remind you of who you are aside from being a mother, who think to ask about how you are as well as your baby, and who you have more in common with besides your babies.
You may not be able to go on boozy nights out or all-day shopping sprees together like perhaps you once did, but messages, phone calls and quick coffee dates will no doubt mean as much to them as they do for you. A friendship that can evolve as your lives do is definitely one to hang onto.
Has motherhood affected your friendships and have you met new friends since having children? Share your experiences below.