Having a baby is one of those times that will really test the mettle of your friendships – especially with friends who don’t have kids of their own. When your life revolves around the tiniest and most important person you've ever loved, it’s easy to get frustrated with child-free buddies who just don’t understand why you can’t meet for an 8:30 pm dinner.
Don’t they realize it’s baby’s bedtime?
Maintaining your pre-baby friendships will require effort from both ends. The good news is that your friends without babies will likely just need a bit of help to clearly see what your life is like. Here are some tips on maintaining your old friends while venturing into your new life as a parent:
Set boundaries. Tell your friends what you can and can’t manage. If you can’t leave the baby with your partner or sitter yet, be honest and just say so! If you’re too exhausted to go out when your little one finally goes to bed, tell them.
Explain your new life. When you cancel brunch because you were up all night with the baby, tell them – in detail – exactly what “up all night” means, so that they have a better understanding of how the simplest things for them are now a challenge for you. A good friend will try to understand, if you take the time to explain it.
Include them in your baby’s life. A lot of child-free folks actually want kids, and they want to get to know yours. Have them join you on your weekend outings, even if you’re just getting coffee or hanging out at a local playground. Invite them to your kid’s birthday party, or ask them to help you organize it. A good friend will be honored to be part of your child’s life and will hopefully even volunteer to help do things that you don’t have time to do. Plus side? Your kid will grow up with a lot of honorary aunts and uncles.
Ask for help. It's likely that you, like many moms, are trying your best to appear like you’ve got everything under control, so it's hard for others to realize when you actually need help. If your friends aren’t offering to do things like carry a heavy bag when you’ve got the baby in the carrier just ask them! They probably don’t know that carrying a tiny baby can feel like you’re hauling around a sack of potatoes after an hour or so.
Invite them over. With a newborn, you can sometimes feel like a prisoner in your own home. Hold on to your friendships by asking people to come to you. Invite your friends to drop by at a time that’s convenient for you and the baby. And no need to cook; order in!
Listen to them. Like every new mom, you have countless stories to tell about your tiny tot, but don’t forget to let your friends fill you in on their lives -- their news is as important to them as your baby is to you. Chat about the things you talked about before you gave birth. Yes, it’s hard to avoid the baby gushing at times, but remember your friendships were largely based on your pre-baby life and activities.
Try to make time. As hard as it is, it’s important to make time for your friends. This doesn’t mean you have to make movie dates or party it up at bars – it can be as simple as keeping in touch via social media or sending them a photo of your baby with a gift they gave. You might be thinking, “I just had a baby! Why can’t they just email me?” But friendship really is a two-way street. Meeting them halfway is an investment that could pay off for years to come.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.