First-time moms see their lives change in both gigantic and tiny ways. Obviously, you’re now responsible for another little human being and are navigating a new feeding and sleep routine (note: the word “routine” is used loosely since it implies regularity, which doesn’t exist with newborns). Your family has expanded, and along with it, your heart.
But there are also little changes that, when looking back, may actually have just as large of an impact on your life. For instance, you might no longer put stock in how you look — going out in a coordinated outfit and with perfect make-up probably might just not be as big of a deal anymore.
You also are focused on how present you are to your child, how comfortable you feel and how practically you are dressed for a day out with your baby. There was no grand declaration, but your priorities changed slowly and almost imperceptibly.
The same thing can happen with friendships, specifically friendships with your kid-less pals. As your life continues to change, they may feel left out or unimportant — but you don’t want to let years of important relationships simply disappear. Let’s look at six steps to maintaining friendships when you’re the first to have a baby:
Embrace the Change
There is no sense in trying to exactly replicate your pre-baby friendship. You probably aren’t going to be able to meet for weekly happy hours or a late night party — at least not every weekend. If you are breastfeeding a newborn and you’ll be away for more than a few hours, which is likely in any hangout scenario, you’ll need to lug your breast pump with you to express milk to avoid the discomfort of engorgement and to keep your supply up.
Think about ways you can still spend quality time together, like inviting her over for coffee or tea around naptime, so she can see your baby but also have one-on-one time with you. Include your friends in baby-centric events like baptisms and birthday parties. Make it a point to carve out time to go to a happy hour or club occasionally.
Repeat: Friendship Is a Two-Way Street
Remember how you try to be present to your child at all times? You put the phone away, look in their eyes and watch for cues in facial expressions. Treat your friends with the same intention.
Yes, your life has changed in monumental ways, but you can’t expect your friends to always come to you, always initiate phone calls or texts or always work around baby’s schedule. Be sure you do some of the contacting as well to set up get-togethers, and if your friend is communicating that an event or phone call is an important one, try not to brush it off.
Lay off the Kid Talk
Your kid-less friends don’t need to hear the pros and cons of baby carriers. They don’t need to weigh in on cloth diapering. Sure, you should share funny stories and adorable milestones, but don’t let the kid talk dominate your conversations. Also, resist the urge to repeatedly ask your friends if or when they are going to have kids. Don’t make them feel sub-par just because they don’t have children.
Don’t Trivialize Their Lifestyle
Sure, it may be fun to tease that your friends have more sleep, money or time than you do, particularly if you show up to a get together on a couple hours of sleep, after a night with a teething baby. However, trivializing their lifestyle by saying, “You have so much more free time!” minimizes their priorities and interests and is just plain rude.
Seek out New Friendships With Other Moms
You might find yourself taking over your kid-less friends with mommy talk. So you don’t exhaust your friends without kids, seek out some friendships with other new moms. Look for local mommy groups on Facebook, check with your church, look up your local breastfeeding group or just head to a park or other kid-friendly spot. You may feel a bit out of practice at making new friends, but moms have lots of common ground that makes conversations easy.
Be Kind When Friendships Fade — Reunions Are Possible
Some relationships just might fade when baby comes along. Unfortunately, the demands of motherhood are many and numerous, and sometimes there are other emotional issues at play. Instead of being bitter or angry, be kind to both yourself and your former friend. You never know — perhaps the friendship will rekindle sometime in the future, or when your friend has children of their own. But for now, be respectful of and grateful for the friendship and times you did share, and let it go.
As a mom dealing with the emotions and exhaustion that comes with adjusting to life with a baby, you may not have expected to experience changes in your friendships and support network as well. By being intentional with your friends, though, you can maintain and grow those relationships as you grow as a mom.