A cup with a heart chocolate in it

How to maintain your friendships when you’re a Mum

Bringing a new baby into the world means some pretty big lifestyle changes, especially when you’re a first time Mum. You’ve gone from being your own person and doing what you want, when you want, to suddenly having a tiny human attached to you that relies on you for everything. When we’re meeting the demands of a newborn 24/7, we inevitably let other areas of our lives slide without even realising that we’re doing it.

Distant friends

In the whirlwind first few months after bringing our babies home, friendships, relationships, sleep, and diet can all take a battering. We’re so focussed on giving our babies what they need, when they need it, that we tend to forget about everything else, including our friends. Good friends become distant, and distant friends become non-existent. Which leaves us wondering – is it our fault, or is it theirs?

Two friends making a heart with their hands.

The first step

The first step to figuring out what’s going on is thinking about what type of friends we have:

  • Friends that have children and fully understand how much your life has changed
  • Friends that don’t have children but try to understand how much your life has changed
  • Friends that don’t have children and expect you to be the same person as you were before baby

Let’s look at each category and see what we can do to nurture those friendships that we want to keep and how we can recognise and admit defeat with the ones that really aren’t going anywhere.

Friends that have children and understand how much your life has changed

These are the friends that really understand what you’re going through because they’ve been there themselves. They’ve been through the sleepless nights, the weaning and the potty training. They know what it’s like to turn up to everything half an hour late because there was a poo explosion just as you were leaving the house. They know what it’s like to start replying to a text and then have your phone grabbed out of your hand by an overzealous toddler who runs away laughing. They know that you don’t have time to just pick up the phone and sit down for an hour long chat.

They’ve been there and done it all and they don’t hold it against you when they don’t hear from you. These friendships are the easiest to maintain, but they do still need a little bit of work to keep them going. Here are a few things you can try:

  • If your children aren’t too far apart in age, a baby or toddler group is always a nice thing to do together. You get to spend time with each other while also spending time with your little ones. It’s a chance to get out of the house and have a little bit of a routine in your hectic lives.
  • Soft play is another good activity you can do together, especially if there’s a bigger age gap between your children. The older ones can entertain themselves for a little while and you can spend time with each other and the babies.
  • If you both have some errands to run, why not plan to do them together. Something as simple as a trip to the shops to pick up some more nappies can easily be made into a chance to have a catch up and enjoy some company.
  • Organise a monthly meet up at each others houses. If it’s in the diary, you’re more likely to be able to stick to it, and it’ll give you something to look forward to every month.

Friends that don’t have children but try to understand how much your life has changed

These friendships are a bit more difficult to maintain because although they try to understand, they just don’t know what life with a baby is truly like. They may understand that you don’t have as much time as you used to for socialising, but they can become distant when they find that you can’t fit in around their schedule anymore.

When 5pm rolls around, they’re ready for a nice glass of wine in a sunny beer garden talking about the meaning of life until the early hours, whereas when you’re a Mum, 5pm means starting the evening routine of dinner, bath, book, and bed before sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine in an exhausted heap.

So how do you keep the friendship strong when you both lead such different lives?

  • Keep in contact with each other. Even if it just simply means sending a text before you fall asleep, it’s still keeping that connection open and letting each other know that you’re there.
  • Instead of going out, try having an evening in together. Have your friend come to you, get Daddy or Grandma to do the bedtime routine, and then relax and have a catch up. Being at home means that you’re still there for the children if they need you, but you don’t need to worry about driving or getting a taxi, and it’s cheaper than going out.
  • Make the effort to have some baby/child free time. Even if it just means popping over to a friends house for a coffee while Grandma has the baby for a couple of hours, at least it gives both of you a chance to have a chat without a little one running around.
Two friends laying on a sofa and smiling.

Friends that don’t have children and expect you to be the same person as you were before baby

These friendships are the hardest to maintain, because it often means that the other person isn’t willing to change. There are a few things you can try, but always remember, friendship is a two way thing, and there needs to be a bit of give and take.

  • Arrange an afternoon out together so that they can spend some time with your baby, and get to know them. They may just be feeling a bit left out of your new life.
  • Communicate. If you’re going to be late, or you can’t meet up at a specific time/date, let them know why. Explain the situation and suggest an alternative, then the ball is in their court.
  • Compromise. Do something they want to do, but make sure it’s you making the plans the next time.

Calling it a day

Some friendships just aren’t meant to be, and they’re the ones that will most likely fall into this category. If someone isn’t willing to cut you a bit of slack at one of the most important times in your life, then they’re just not worth your time and effort. If you’ve tried to contact them, tried to arrange a coffee or a lunch together and you’re still not getting anywhere, then it may be time to admit defeat and move on.

It’s hard to give up on a friendship, especially one that’s got a lot of years behind it, but sometimes it’s the best thing to do.

Create new friendships

If you find that a lot of your friendships are tending to fall into the second and third catagories, then why not get out there and make some new friends. Baby/toddler groups, libraries and online communities are all great ways to meet other Mums. Get chatting and have some fun, you never know, you might just meet a life long friend.

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