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The Importance of Mom Friends {and How to Make Them}

Just For Fun Parenting

When you have a new baby, it can feel like you’re trapped, the hostage of a tiny, impotent human. The baby has no real strength, but she wields the power to confine you to that rocker nonetheless.

Getting out of the house is worse than a marathon. It’s a constant slow jog with no finish line. You feed the baby, change her diaper, and strap her into her infant carrier. Then you rush around grabbing all the stuff you need for a quick trip to the park. By the time you’re ready to go, the baby is crying to be held again.

For hours a day, you’re never alone but still oh-so-lonely. Just you and your infant companion who can’t talk. Your heart and mind both crave a little conversation with a person capable of making consonant sounds.

Friends are important in every stage of life. But during motherhood, they are especially important. Whether you’re at home with a new baby or rushing them off to school before heading out for a long day at the office, your friends are a reminder of your personhood.

When you’re up until midnight gluing popsicle sticks together for your “daughter’s” school project, or you walk around all day without noticing the strained peas in your hair, it can be easy to forget that you once had hobbies and adventures of your own. Your friends are the people who remind you that you’re the same person who belted out Bohemian Rhapsody at karaoke halfway through your cross-country hike. 

The Science on Friendship

In fact, studies show that friendships are important to your mental and physical health. A recent study from researchers at UCLA found that women don’t experience the typical “fight or flight” response to stress that has been documented in studies on male subjects. Instead, women’s bodies release oxytocin. Yes, oxytocin. You may know it as the hormone that stimulates uterine contractions during childbirth and breastfeeding. But it has another purpose that’s just as important.

Oxytocin also plays a role in social bonding. In fact, some people refer to it as “the love hormone” because our bodies release it when we snuggle up or bond.

Why is this a response to stress in women? The researchers postulate that the surge of oxytocin can compel women to “tend and befriend.” It’s what makes us rush to protect our babies at the first sign of trouble. But it also compels us to seek out that bonding with others, to connect with other women.

In other words, you need friends, mama! It’s for your health!

How to Make Mom Friends

You might be thinking, Duh. I’d love to have more mom friends. But I’m an introvert/I can never get out of the house/I’m new in town/[insert common excuse here].

We know. It’s not as easy as we’re making it out to be. Here are a few tips to help you get out there and meet somebody.

1.     Get out of the house and go to places where moms hang out. 

OK, we get it. It’s hard to get out of the house. But you’re just going to have to do it. Take your child someplace where you’re likely to see other moms with kids. The park, the library, a restaurant with an indoor play place. Population density is your friend here.

2.     Break the ice with compliments and small talk about the kids. 

You’ve found your local mom “hot spot.” You’ve got your eye on another mom who looks like she might be fun to chat with. Now you’re going to have to gather up the courage to talk to her. But here is where your kids actually give you an advantage. It’s completely socially acceptable to plop down next to a stranger and compliment their kid. “Your son is so cute! I love that outfit!” “Wow, your daughter is really good at the monkey bars.” From there, you can move onto more small talk and hopefully a full-fledged conversation.

3.     Be sure to exchange contact information. 

Don’t forget to get the digits! We promise, it’s not weird! If you hit it off with another mom, suggest that you get together again sometime soon, and get her number, or at least friend her on Facebook. Don’t leave it up to chance that you’ll bump into each other again.

4.     Plan playdates "for the kids.”

If you feel uneasy asking an adult stranger out for coffee, no worries. Start out by planning playdates “for the kids.” You’ll get a chance to hang out with your new friend while the kids are playing.

5.     Trial and error with lots of different moms until you make a connection.

Just like with dating, you’re not likely to meet “the one” on your first try. You may have to repeat this routine many times before you find a truly close friend. But keep at it! You will eventually connect with someone, and the friendship will be worth it.

Friends are so important for moms. Whether you stay at home, work outside the home, or any combination, you need other women to remind you that life is more than just spit up and diapers. Here’s to friends, and they joy they bring.

This article is part of our New Year's health and wellness series for kids and parents. Check out #FamilyGoals: 3 Family Resolutions for the New Year {And How to Keep Them} for some great tips on how to have a healthier, happier family in 2019.

Tags: making friends moms kids


 

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