Can Friendships Survive Parenthood?
When you first get the wonderful news from the pregnancy test that a new baby is coming into your life, the last thing running through your mind is how many friends you might lose to make way for it. Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you that a slimming down of your social circle is an inevitable part of joining the mum club, but it doesn’t have to be all negative.
Having a baby changes your entire perspective, responsibilities, and free time schedule, and as it does, you’ll find some of your friends simply drop off the radar. However just because you now have a new accessory on your hip, it doesn’t mean you’ll be banned from society and forced to sit inside watching The Wiggles and singing nursery rhymes for the rest of your maternity leave, so all hope is not lost.
Why Do Babies Change Everything?
It’s sometimes hard to think back to what life was like before you had a baby, even though it wasn’t that long ago. One thing is certain, though, and that is you’ll never be bored again now you’re a mother, so your free time will be seriously lacking. Even the most well-intended outings can be changed in an instant if your baby has a sudden rise in temperature or an epic poo explosion on the way out the door, and some friends just might not be patient enough to deal with this.
A survey of new parents found that 45% of women said they had more friends before having a baby, and 38% of dads claimed the same. No doubt the main reason for this is a lack of time to foster those relationships, and no longer being involved in social scenes like drinking at the pub every weekend or spending hours shopping for shoes could cause a divide between you and your friends.
Something as simple as picking up a phone call when you see your friend is ringing isn’t so simple anymore. Either the baby is crying and you can’t hear your friend on the other end, or you’re in the middle of the bedtime breastfeed and have to reject their call. No matter the reason, these are all small things that might begin to chip away at your friendship.
The Silver Lining
For all the doom and gloom, though, there are actually plenty of silver linings to be found in your new role as a mother. The friends that are patient and happy to stick around while you go through this busy patch are the rarest gems of all, and they should be cherished for the rest of your life. These are the ones who’ll come over and fold some washing while having a chat, offer to bring you takeaway for dinner when the baby is sick, or just plain understand that you can’t make it to lunch (but still offer an invite every time).
Among these gems of friends that you’re left with, you’ll also find a whole new group of friends who are more in tune with your role as a mum. Regardless of how you meet them, having mums with kids close in age to your own can be a godsend, and there’ll be no need to feel guilty spending hours talking about all that boring baby stuff that nobody else wants to hear.
Finally, while you’re adapting to a shift in friends and social outings, this can be an ideal time to work on your relationship at home with your partner. Nothing calls for team effort more than becoming parents, so use this time to strengthen your relationship and become a united front in raising your children the very best you can. For many of us, we rely on our friends for support through hard times, but this can be a time when your spouse might be a far better listener than you ever gave them credit for.
Finding New Friends
If you feel that your social circle has dwindled, there are a few places you can look to find some new friends. There are mums at daycare, women you meet at fitness classes or the shops, or even mums at work who you never really connected with before having kids of your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner or a family member to ensure you’re still getting out and enjoying yourself without bub now and then, so you don’t lose your identity completely.
Motherhood can be isolating, so it’s important to build yourself a supportive community of friends and family along the way.
To get information on services available or helpful tips for adapting to your new role as a mum, click here to read the rest of the Peachymama blog.