If you’re lucky like me it’ll be ok. Hubbs and I are actually stronger despite the dip in romance because becoming parents has been so amazing for us as individuals, plus there’s that moment every few days where we look at the baby and just think “holy crap we made you… and you’re perfect!”.
I’d say I’m also closer to my family who I see all the time now, and I absolutely respect and admire my mum about a thousand times more than ever before now that I’m a mother too.
But the one that sticks out is friendships…
I’m still in contact with most of my friends and there hasn’t been any drama on that front, at all. Some of them I hear less from and some are about the same but I think that’s just life… I’ve also made new mum friends and gotten in touch with some old friends who’ve got kids in a bid to build a village of mum’s around me!
A few mothers from a mum group I belong to on Facebook have talked about how hard it is to continue friendships when one of you goes and does something bloody life changing like having a spawn!
Comments have ranged from “I never hear from my friends anymore” to “my friend blames me for the breakdown of our relationship because I was “too busy” raising my son!”. This has struck a chord in my little mum circle, for sure.
Is it because you’re suddenly at different life stages and can no longer relate to each other? Or too busy raising kids and your friends feel like they don’t want to bother you with their own “stuff”?
I can’t tell.. and because I’m the first of my close friends it’s really hard to know as I haven’t been the one on the other side. You know, the one whose life stayed the same while somebody else’s got turned upside down and forever changed? Or am I thinking of this the wrong way?
Ok after some thought here’s what I’ve decided… It’s not just about kids. People are always changing and friendships change with you too.
Getting a new job and working longer hours, starting a new relationship and being in the honeymoon phase, buying a house and being stuck with a mortgage, moving countries or even cities… it’s not just kids that can change your priorities, perspectives and therefore friendships. The key is to keep trying to maintain the friendships that mean the most to you and forgive each other if there are bumps along the road. It’s also ok if friendships naturally fizzle out! You might find that you’ll reconnect in a couple years so long as you’ve both been mature about it. I know I’ve gotten back in contact with old friends for some much needed baby advice!!
So be kind to yourself and kind to your friends, and let go if you have to. It’s weird when things change, you kinda just need to roll with life and be respectful of yours and your friends lives and situations.
Advice for new parents:
- Don’t feel put out if friends don’t contact you as much as they did before baby arrived. They might be scared that you’re napping, or breast feeding, or busy with baby!! It’s also no secret that having kids is a handful and they’re probably trying to not clog up your life with their “stuff”. So try reaching out first. Personally, I keep in touch with my friends by sending them snapchats of baby Mackenzie so they can see what we’re up to, and texting is easier than calling as you can both reply when it’s convenient for you!
- When you talk to your friends, listen. It can be easy to mentally think about what needs to be done around the house but try to shut that stuff out and just be there for your friend. I’m not the best at this and I’ve been guilty of not replying to text messages for days but I always try to get back to people because I genuinely do love hearing about what’s going on for them!
- Get deep if you want, your friends can handle it! If you skip over all your struggles and go straight to “I love my life, I love my baby, everything’s great” you’re doing yourself and your friendship a disservice. Just because your friend doesn’t have kids doesn’t mean they don’t know a thing or two about life changes and how to handle them. At the very least they’ll hopefully be good at sympathising and supporting you!
- If you decide to go out, commit. Ain’t no point half arsing it otherwise you’ll get frazzled before you even get there and want to go home. Then you’ll get home and want to leave again because it’s still Groundhog Day. Enjoy catching up with your friends and try to be positive.
- Be aware that the “baby” issue can be a bit of a minefield. Not everyone wants kids or can have them. Not everyone feels the same way as you about having children in their life. It’s not your way or the highway. It’s ok to tell them how much you love your baby and that you wouldn’t go back ever again, but try to avoid telling them they’re missing out and that they should give it a go. Each to their own, ok?
Advice for non-parents:
- Guys, parents don’t suddenly have the plague. Contact them!! Even sending a text to say “thinking about you, hope you’re ok” is a good start. They won’t feel like they have to reply if they don’t have the time, but that little message of support means so much. I am super lucky to have friends who did this for me in my early days and I’ll forever hold those little spurs of encouragement in my heart.
- Be kind to parents when they give their time. Turning up to something takes a small village when you’ve got a baby at home so be nice if new parent is late, doesn’t contribute much to the conversation or leaves early. It can be hard trying to balance home life and a social life and it’s impressive if you can manage it!
- Please also be kind about the various aspects of parenthood. We think full nappies and baby spew are gross too, so don’t screw up your nose at our precious babies. We’ve also made our own choices about how to raise our kids so telling us that what your sister or cousin did, and that it’s what I should do, is not going to fly thank you very much.
- Be aware of a mother’s commitment to her family. Planning a full girls day out sounds like a dream but it probably won’t work if baby is still breastfeeding. I’m not saying you have to make your life fit entirely around your mum friends, but if you really want them to come to an event it’s a good idea to check what she can and can’t commit to.
- On this point, it’s actually a really caring and amazing thing to invite your mum friends to those day long, or weekend long events even if you know they won’t be able to come!!! Being invited makes them feel included and it’s nice to know that you’re still thinking of her.
What would you add to my list?
I’d love to hear from non-parents about their experience on this and could see a guest blog cooking from this topic! I bet there are a lot of good (and not so good) stories out there…