The Mommy Friendship Hustle

Far away, are the easy breezy days of meeting people and making friends in high school or college.  Graduating can bring a sense of starting over, but you work at it and while finding your way in the world, you meet some cool people.  Then you become a mom.  The new life phase can wash away at the momentum you gained growing friendships.  Your priorities, lifestyle, schedule, availability all shift.

I’ve been a mom for four years now, and it wasn’t until recently I started to remotely feel like I’ve gotten into a groove with other moms.  Motherhood is awesome and fulfills me in a way I never realized was missing.  What also comes with it are innumerable responsibilities and a rollercoaster of feelings that can be overwhelming.  I swear, half of the burden of motherhood can be the mental load, thinking about everything you need to be doing, what everyone needs.  Finding a peer you can trust, to talk freely with and unload with, is cathartic.  But how do you find your people?

If you manage to find a prospective mom you think you might click with, you still have to contend with so many factors that go against making friends.  To make new friends you need consistency, the confidence to make plans, availability, and commonality.  Other things as well to be sure, but these are some main building blocks.  Kids throw a major wrench into the mix.

Is it me?

It can feel like you’re the only one struggling to make friendships.  Not so!  There have been so many times I’ve cried or been in a funk over not having close friends nearby or false start friendships.  When we are viewing our friends, acquaintances, bloggers, etc., through the lens of Instagram and Facebook, we have to remember, that is NOT real life.  It’s a projected life that is cropped using only one perfect picture out of fifty crappy pictures or moments.

The Mommy Dating Game

Motherhood is a friendship HUSTLE!  You’ve gotta work it!  When you do meet someone you mesh with, you have to actually meet up a second time to get the ball rolling.  Sounds easy, but damn!

Moms (I mean, kids) are signed up for some many activities and obligations.  Trying to plan a playdate with another Mama is like playing the most complicated game of Tetris Scheduling there ever was.  On the one hand, all those classes, activities, and other obligations are helping moms to get out there and meet new people.  On the flip side, they can get in the way of making plans sometimes.

First Base, and Beyond

While you are meeting people at these cool kid things, you typically don’t have a lot of down time to talk and connect.  This is where it gets awkward.  You think someone seems could be cool and you want to “take it to the next level” by doing something outside of class.  You’re basically back in the dating scene.  Only instead of guys, you’re trying to catch a mom friend.  Remember when you thought dating was soooo hard?  Mom dating, is a whole other level.

Then, say you do find that miracle day where the stars align and you can meet up.  Congratulations!  You’ve made it to second base!  There is a 1000% chance a kid will get sick, have a poopsplosion all over the car seat making it impossible to drive anywhere, some family emergency, or some other crazy issue will arise for one of you.  Boo!

The Setbacks Can Be Killer

If it’s not you that had to cancel/reschedule, then you’re thinking, “Did I do something wrong? What if they just aren’t that into me? Maybe I came off too strong?  Or not strong enough?!?!”  Stop the downward spiral.  Avert! Avert!  Your logical self understands.  After all, it could have just as easily been you that had to cancel for all the crazy reasons that happen when you have kids.  Still, it’s hard to not feel insecure or slighted sometimes.  And this can happen multiple times before actually succeeding in both of moms showing up for a date, I mean, play date.

Get Out There, Then Be Ready to Repeat

You must put yourself out there.  Way out there.  I think I’ve had more play dates or mom nights out that have been rejected or cancelled, than have happened.  It can get a person down.  I know how easy it is to get discouraged, just keep at it. I swear, took FOUR YEARS for me to find and connecting with new people.  While I’ve gotten to 4th base with some moms, I would still say we are in the honeymoon phase of our dating.  I do think the outlook is promising!

Mom besties
This is one of my mom besties. She lives across the country, but we make it work. My motivation to get out there and connect with other Moms near me.

Haste is Waste

It’s not to say it won’t happen next week, or tomorrow even.  Remember though, any friendship needs time.  Sometimes in our haste to connect with other people we overlook the fact that maybe there isn’t much substance.  Sure, you both have kids the same age, and that can go a long way, but similar parenting philosophies, love of gardening, or whatever, other real interests are needed in any friendship.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome!

Remember when you were out there in the dating field?  Didn’t you think you had a ‘type?’  You still must look around and be selective.  As a Mom, you don’t have time (I mean literally, the schedule is packed) to date moms that you don’t even care to hang out with.  I know it seems like you can’t be, but you need to!  This isn’t high school.  A core group to keep you grounded, save you from your kids, show up for plans.  This will only happen if it’s the real thing.

Keep perspective by knowing motherhood is perfect for no one.  Again, don’t get sucked into the social media projection.  Successes and setbacks are all part of finding cool moms.

If you can relate to this, please, please share!  Better yet, let me know how you work through the mom dating scene or how you persevered and found a mom bestie!

Trapped in Your House? 8 Awesome Places To Go With Your Baby

I’ll admit the thought never occurred to me while still preggers that my house could become my prison.  I thought, “We’ll go on walks, mommy friends will fall from the sky, it will be tough, but I’ll figure it out,” loneliness was no where on my radar.  You don’t know what you don’t know, until you know…  And that is pretty much the everything learning curve when it comes to parenting.  Additionally, baby blues happen after the “joy” of giving birth which will not motivate you to look up all sorts of cool and fun things to do.  The catch 22.  

Now that I have a little more mommyhood under my belt and have finally started exploring, and I’ve discovered tons of ideas and activities.  Signing up or at least getting the schedules for a couple classes, meetups, or play dates prior to delivering can be helpful.  Plus, having that commitment might be the push in the tush you need to step out of the house and into the world.  Below are just a few things to get you started, but check out your community page, ask your local mom Facebook group, ask other mom friends! There are so many cool things to do with your baby, it’s just a matter of learning how to find them.

Stroller Workouts or Baby Bootcamps

This is great because you have achieved not only leaving the house but also working on your post baby bod.  Yes!  Another alternative is also finding a gym with a daycare/kidzone, but these usually do not allow babies until 6 months and are you going to wait 6 months to work on getting back in shape or just leaving the house!  Hell no!  

I found out about Baby Boot Camp when my son was about 3 months old, but you can start going as soon as you get the OK from your doctor.  Reece loved it.  Seeing all those other babies was such a kick for him.  Plus the workout was pushing me but I could still dial it back when my postpartum body wasn’t ready.  Our instructor always offered TONS of modifications for everything we did.  An alternative to Baby Boot Camp is Stroller Strides.

**Note: Running with infants under 6 months is not recommended. I either walked with the stroller or left it to the side with a mommy that was feeding there baby, there’s always one baby at any given moment that’s hungry.

IMG_20140627_103542.jpg

Your Local Library

Each one is different, but most, if not all, minimally have a story time, but activities can vary.  One in my area has Jumping Beans Toddler Time that is stories and singing, Mother Goose Lapsit, or just letting the little ones roam in the kid area that might have a few toys that they can explore. Another bonus, this activity is FREE!

robyn-budlender-112521
Photo by Robyn Budlender

Music & Movement Classes

I had heard whispers about such classes but had brushed them off.  Then when my son was around 18 months I finally tried it and really liked it.  Damn! Why did I wait so long to check this out?  These classes usually involve singing, dancing, moving about, and a few minutes of letting the kiddos explore instruments.  

Whole Foods

I know what you are thinking: Did she just say Whole Foods? Huh?  A lot of Whole Foods have little kid play areas now and offer story time and other activities so after taking a spin around the store to pick up your organic milk and cereal, stop by the kids zone for some fun while Mom sips on a smoothie. Kids also can have a free apple, orange or banana during shopping or playing.  Win/Win! (More fun on the free while spending a small fortune on one bag of food.)
img_0901

Baby Matinee

This is typically for moms of newborns.  The lights are dimmed, the sound level is baby friendly, and many other parents with crying babies is what you can expect from a baby matinee.  Even though you have a newborn baby you can still catch the most recently released movie in the perfect baby friendly environment.   Check out your local movie theaters for these weekly showings!  

Sadly AMC stopped their baby matinee program. Maybe we should start a petition, bring it back AMC!

Summer Concerts

Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, a lot of towns (at least in Mass) have weekly or monthly concerts with different bands playing in the town center or a grassy area of the town.  Children roam free, picnickers abound, and frolicking dogs.  Perfect during the summer for escaping the house, getting fresh air, and squeezing in some culture! And this activity is completely FREE.

PANO_20140709_184842.jpg

Indoor Playgrounds

There is this crazy world of indoor playgrounds that can become an addiction during the winter months once the baby is 6+ months.  There is a fee with this, but it’s usually minimal.  A typical visit is $10 or you can get a small discount with a 5 punch card or monthly passes, depending on how it’s set up.  If you are also in an area that gets crazy like Boston in the winter this is worth checking out.  

To give you an idea of what these indoor playgrounds are about you’ll find: table toys (trains, legos, etc.), a kitchen room/area (R’s favorite), a smaller indoor swing set, a coloring area, doll/workshop room/area, party rooms, and a small eating area.

There are so many things you can do, these are just a few to get you started.  Going for a walk just outside your own front door is very popular, or to the park.  Tried and true, but these easy options can sometimes be monotonous.  Museums are good as well, but might not be an option for all parent’s area/lifestyle.  Don’t forget to swing by the library and see if they offer discount coupons.

Let me know in the comments if I left out your favorite get out of the house baby activity!