Parenthood, especially the first time around, isn't something you want to attempt completely alone. If you're lucky, you'll have your family around to help out here and there, but what you really need, too, are some great friends to cheer you on and lend their support. Here are three types of friends that got me through those challenging times:
The friend who can watch the baby when something unexpected comes up.
Whether you are a stay-at-home, work-from-home, or back-to-the-office new mom, there will be times that you'll need help in a pinch. I was thankful to have a close friend whom I really trusted and knew I could count on; she wasn’t always available on short notice, but she came through enough times to be worth her weight in gold.
The friend who gives you maternity and newborn clothes hand-me-downs, along with some been there, done that advice.
Being close with someone who was just a few months ahead of me in the world of parenting was a real gift. Things like baby gear and feeding schedules were still fresh in her mind when I was looking for advice, plus she was living proof that there's a light at the end of the sleep deprivation tunnel. And, even though that few months' difference might be a big deal now, as our kids grow older, they'll be close enough in age to be playmates, and even go to school together.
The friend who offers a night out with no poopy-diaper talk.
Sometimes I just needed a break -- a real break -- from my life as a mom. If you have a girlfriend who doesn't have any children, you're more likely to discuss or take part in some of your non-parenting passions. Another option is to deem a girlfriend get-together a "child-free zone" (after you show off the latest photos, of course), and focus on grown-up chit-chat only.
Putting time and effort into your friendships might seem hard when there are so many other things to focus on, but keep at it. Life is easier and more joyful when you share it with good friends.
Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, women's lifestyle, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in Family Circle, Parents, WomansDay.com, and more. She lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband, two fast-growing boys, and a living room full of toys.