Question: How do I make mom friends?
I've lived in my town for about five years after a move across the country. I have plenty of friends back home and at work, know a ton of local acquaintances, and wave hello to my neighbors when I see them, but now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, caring for my preschooler, I realize that I don't have any "real" friends nearby. I would love to make some "mom friends" -- ladies like me who share common interests and someone to have a cup of coffee with while our kids play. I always considered myself to be a friendly person, but I'm really struggling with how to put myself out there and introduce myself to people, not to mention the safety concerns I have with suddenly hanging out with a perfect stranger in my home. What can I do?
Answer: Kids have it so easy, don't they? Put two kids who have never met before together on a playground and chances are in a few minutes they'll be laughing and playing like they've known each other their whole lives. Making mom friends isn't as easy, but it can be done. Here's how.
- Go where the moms are If you want to catch a fish, you'd go to the nearest well-stocked pond. The same logic applies here. Start looking for mommy friends where you find moms. Start with yourself. If you are looking for new friends who like the same things you do, then pay attention when you are at your favorite places. Other mommy "hot spots" include the library, the preschool drop-off/pick-up line, parks, community centers, and the playground.
- Consider joining a mom group There are plenty of organizations geared at getting moms together for a variety of reasons, including Mothers of Preschoolers, the Holistic Moms Network, Mothers and More, and Mocha Moms. For more options, do a Internet search of "mom groups" or "parenting organizations" or other combinations of these words. You can get specific too, by adding your interests, like "Catholic moms group" or "crafting moms group." depending on the group, some of these places hold formal meetings, collect dues, and have bylaws and rules, but once you get past all of the rituals, chances are you'll be introduced to women who are interested in the same things that you are. If none of these appeal to you, try starting your own group. For more: Starting a Parent Network and Starting a Preschool Playgroup (for the kids, sure, but while the kids play, the moms can chat!).
- Take the next step O.K., you found a bunch of mommies, some of whom seem like they might be fun to hang out with. Short of wearing a sign that says "Will Do Your Laundry If You'll Be My Friend," how can you approach these folks without feeling strange? To start, go slowly. Making new friends is an awful lot like dating. A good way to break the ice is to offer the other mom a sincere compliment. Make sure you mean it though. You can also take an interest in her children--maybe your daughters are both wearing the same dress or maybe your son has the same toy that her son does. Another good icebreaker is to ask her a question--"What kind of stroller is that?" or some such. Hopefully your efforts will lead to a conversation.
- Make future plans If you find yourself getting along with a new friend, you may want to meet up again in the future. You are right to have concerns about having someone in your home. Never bring someone into your house that you aren't completely comfortable with. The same for going to another person's house. Alternatively, arrange to meet at a future time in a neutral place -- the playground, a museum, or a restaurant for example. Certainly you can bring your kids, but if you and the other mom are hitting it off well enough, having it be grown-ups only is great too!