I learned, early in motherhood, friends were vital to for my mental health.
Motherhood can be isolating and lonely. The challenge can be finding friendships. As a shy person, I had to push myself out of my comfort zone. If only potential friends would just come to us, right? Not only can finding friends be tricky, implementing playdates and meet-ups can have its own difficulties.
As a mom to four, for nine years, I have found ways to not only find friends but maintain some of the best friendships.
1. Accept the possibility you will be turned down. Rejection hurts. It has held me back in the past. When the feelings are not reciprocal, it is not an indicator of what kind of person you are. We can’t be compatible with everyone we meet. We also need to keep in mind that not everyone is looking for friendship or more friends. Do not let this hold you back.
2. You’re awkward. I’m awkward. We’re all awkward. I guarantee you are not the only one who claims to be awkward. It is the number one description I hear other parents describe themselves as. Even the most confident people have admitted they have insecurities affecting how they come across to others. I, myself, have been told I appear confident. I assure you, I certainly do not feel it.
3. Focused on your insecurities? I’m too busy focused on my own. I find myself tugging at my shirt to hide my belly. Is my eye shadow uneven? (And really, do I look like a clown because I am terrible with make-up? But, you know, insecurities get the best of me.) Do I smell? The thoughts can be overwhelming, and on top of them, feeling like others notice has me hesitant to socialize. I am so focused on mine that I promise I am not looking for flaws in you. I am looking at a fellow friend.
4. Just ask for the phone number. It is not as painful as it sounds. If you were to ask me for mine, I would be thrilled. If you feel like exchanging numbers is a good idea, there is a strong chance the other person feels the same way. It’s a matter of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. The worst-case scenario is they say no. (See number one.)
5. There are plenty of places to find friends. Social media, alone, provides the opportunity to search for groups and activities in your area. For me, it was joining a moms’ group at my church. As a member of the Cincinnati Moms blog, I turn to other contributors. Libraries offer plenty of storytimes. Playgrounds are hot spots.
6. Don’t be afraid to open your home to others. I once invited a new friend over, only to learn she was an interior designer. As a mom of four young children, I don’t have the nicest furniture. There is clutter, but my friend did not judge. As a mom, she understands. She was here for conversation and friendship. If I step on your toys or see the dishes in your sink, I’m not phased. I’m just happy to be in good company.
7. Be intentional. Life gets crazy. We get caught up in activities. Make plans and commit. You got the number. That was the hardest part.
8. Be yourself! I appreciate my friends for the amazing people they are. You don’t need to feel pressured to look put together or censor your thoughts. If the person you are bothers someone, it’s best to let that one go.
9. Ask questions. I love getting to know others and find they open up more when you show interest and ask questions. You would be amazed at how a simple “Where are you from?” can turn into a good conversation.
10. Keep the location of meet-ups in mind when planning a play date. A playground is excellent but be prepared to have little interaction as most time may be spent chasing little ones. Conversations can be cut short, and you may find yourself on opposite ends of the playground. If you are looking for more “relaxation,” meeting in a home may be the way to go.
What do you say? Do you want to be my friend?