When you become a mum, there’s a ton of difficult changes that come with the territory. One of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that a lot of your old pals – those friends who aren’t in the family way – just don’t get where you’re at.
In a recent survey of nearly 1,000 mums and dads, a whopping 45% of new mothers said they had fewer friends after their children were born.
Parenthood is time-consuming and energy-sapping on every level, and when friendships fall by the wayside, it can be easier to chalk it up to diverging paths, a classic case of growing apart, rather than use that uncomfortable term ‘neglect’. But there are actually ways you can maintain the bond with your pre-baby BFFs, even amidst the demands of your new role.
Mother&Baby enlists a psychologist’s advice on how to ‘childproof’ your old friendships, so that when the first few months of baby bedlam give way to a more organised chaos, and you gradually begin to get your groove back, you can re-establish those special connections to the adult world, and remember that life wasn’t (and isn’t) always about nappies and feeds:
HAVE BABY-FREE DATES
“Friends will want to visit your baby for the first time, but once the visitors tail off, it’s important to schedule in time to see them without your baby,” says Dr Irene Levine. But don’t feel like it’s a compromise between bud and baby; a quick coffee break minus the impromptu bum changes can be as refreshing as that elusive full night’s sleep, and a happier mummy means a happier everyone.
TURN TO OLD PALS
“In prior generations, family and friends helped new mums master the art of mothering,” says Irene. “If you’re having trouble [feeding] or getting your baby to sleep, ring a friend who has older kids for advice.” Your pal will thrilled to be included in your new life.
INVITE FRIENDS WITHOUT KIDS
“Make child-free friends feel they’re still a part of your life,” says Irene. “Involve them in family get-togethers, like birthdays.” Make your mate an honorary aunt or, if you’re very close, a godparent. This will help the bond between you and foster one between her and your baby.
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT BABY
“Conversation shouldn’t revolve around baby talk. That can get boring fast,” says Irene. “A child-free friend may also feel uncomfortable as she renegotiates your friendship,” adds Irene. “Show interest in her life as well – her latest work saga is as exciting to her as your latest baby dilemma.”
Not everybody wants or can have a child, so curb the urge to ask your child-free friend when she’s going to hatch a baby. As meaningful as your own life may have become now that you’re a mother, quizzing others on their family plan from your new vantage point can come across as a judgement.
IF A FRIENDSHIP FADES…
“Not all friendships survive children,” says Irene. “If you try to stay in touch and your friend doesn’t reciprocate, or you find you have less to talk about, it’s likely the friendship has run its course. That’s OK – you’ll find other friends to fill the gap.”