A while back I wrote about your mom support network: what it is and who you may to have in it. Check it out if you missed it. The moms and other individuals in our support network are the people who you can turn to when you need tangible or intangible support. They care for you, and they “get” you and your kids- life is better because of them. Without friends and support in our lives we run the risk of being lonely, stressed, and unhappy.
I thought it might be helpful to talk about how you find people who will be in your Mom Squad and how to cultivate those friendships. I feel VERY lucky that I have an awesome group of mom friends. Some of these women I’ve known since high school and others for a few years or less. I’ve met them since I became a mom, and because we’re moms we’ve bonded and connected. I should say that I would be friends with these women even if they didn’t have kids and I think that’s important. Don’t be friends with someone just because she’s a mom and you are too- that’s not enough in common for a sustained, meaningful relationship.
Sure, you can have playdates and get together here and there with someone who’s a mom that you don’t really connect with, but that’s not the type of friendship I’m talking about here. I’m talking about how you can build real, meaningful, friendships: the kind of friends you want to hang out with when your kids are around and even when they’re not; the kind of friends whose kids you’ll happily watch and they’re willing to help with yours; and most importantly the kind of friends you can be the real you around. Those kinds of friends.
Regardless of how long you’ve been a mom, making new friends can sometimes feel like a daunting task. This post is going to help you figure out where you may meet these potential friends and how to make the first connection that could lead to a potential friendship.
Where you might meet other moms
Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but moms are everywhere. Depending on your lifestyle, though, you may not feel like you see them or have much of a chance to interact with them. In my life, I see moms all the time. I strike up random conversations on a daily basis, but I’m also someone who is pretty social (though I also love being on my own). I also don’t feel the pressure of looking for mom friends because I’ve got an amazing group of friends in my life. For me, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to chat with another mom because I’m just being friendly. There’s no pressure because there isn’t an expectation or hope on my end that it turns into something more.
For moms who are looking for mom friends, however, these moments can feel stressful and if you’re looking for mom friends, then you definitely want to take advantage of the opportunities when you’re around other moms.
If you feel like you want to expand your circle of mom friends, here are a few places you may want to be on the lookout for people to connect with:
- The park
- Your local library
- Your local coffee shop. (I personally love Starbucks!)
- Your childcare or school (if your child goes)
- The grocery store
- Target (or similar “all purpose” store)
- Local moms’ groups (check your city, town, or local church)
- Your kids’ classes and activities
- The gym (If you have the time, energy or money to go!)
So, now that you know where to find the moms (or maybe you already knew where we all hang out), how in the world do you become friends with them?
Making the introduction
Let’s start with a typical mom-meets-mom scenario:
You’re at one of the locations above…you see another mom with a kid about the age of yours…you make eye contact…What happens next? Do you smile? Do you look away? I would encourage you to start with a smile. Chances are, the other mom will smile back. If she doesn’t, well…she may not be the right fit for you, or maybe she’s just having an “off” day (as we all do). However, if smiling isn’t your thing, eye contact and a friendly “hello” work great too.
Whatever you do to initiate a connection, be sure to be verbal. Say hello. Then, try asking a question to start a conversation. You can ask how old the child is (and then share how old your child is); You can complement the mom or the child on something; You can ask their opinion or perspective. Or, you can even commiserate (gently), for example “Why is the line in Starbucks so long at 2p?! I figured I’d missed the rush.”
What you’re doing here is opening the door to a conversation. You can see if the other person answers as well as how they answer back. Do they give you a direct, luke-warm response? Do they smile and respond, asking you questions as well? Fairly quickly you can get a sense if the person is open or not. Now, keep in mind that not everyone is an extrovert (which some of you reading this know very well!). So with that in mind, this might be very tough for you to do and it might be very tough for the person on the receiving end to be warm in return if she’s an introvert and a bit uncomfortable. So, keep in mind that the first impression may not be the whole story.
Ultimately, when it comes to making a connection with a mom, stay true to yourself, but be willing to reach out of your comfort zone. If you’ve been able to do that and you’ve started to strike up a back-and-forth, I always love to add in, “I’m Sara, by the way…” and the other mom will then likely introduce herself. This seems like a much more natural way to meet people rather than going up and saying “Hi, I’m Sara. How old is your son?” We can get to introductions a little bit later on. And, if you’re not feeling like this mom is the right fit for you, then you don’t even have to introduce yourself. You can continue to casual, friendly banter and say “have a good day” on the way out.
While there’s definitely a lot more to cultivating a meaningful friendship, this is usually a good start. If you’re in a location where you may not see this person again (for example, the grocery store that you go to at various times or at a park you’re not usually at), then you may want to be a bit assertive and ask to exchange email addresses or phone numbers for a playdate.
If you’re likely to see this person again (for example you’ve seen her at Starbucks around 2P several times when you’ve been there, you’re often at the community pool at the same time, or your kids go to school together), then you can close the conversation with a friendly “looking forward to see you again” or “See you next time.”
Any time you’re out and about is an opportunity to meet and engage with people. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of being more vocal and talking with other moms who you don’t know, then find other low-stress ways to interact with strangers. For example, if you usually stay quiet during checkout at a store, try to engage the person ringing you up. If you’re in line at Starbucks (can you tell I love Starbucks?), complement the woman in front of you on her outfit or item of clothing (only if you genuinely like it!). By practicing these interactions, you’ll get more comfortable doing the same thing with women who could become friends.
If you feel like you need a boost to your mom squad, see what opportunities you have this week to meet people. If your week is looking busy, or a bit solitary, then make a point to do one thing differently that will put you in a place where meeting moms is likely. Use the list above and add in an outing to one of those places. Maybe you’ll meet another mom, or maybe you won’t, but you’ll be putting yourself out there for it to potentially happen.
The early interactions you have with other moms are very important, but in order to create genuine friendships, you need to be true to yourself. If you want to and how to create and sustain the momentum of new mom-friendships so that they may evolve into permanent members of your Mom Squad.
Share with us: how have you met your best mom-friends and any tips on the first meeting.