Moms Need Friends is Part II of the “What a Mom Needs Most Series.” (Read the introduction and find links to all of the posts in HERE.)
** This post is a bit lengthy because I tried to touch on *somanythings* about moms and friendship. You can always skim through to find what you need most, but BE SURE TO SCROLL TO BOTTOM to find an ACTION STEP + STARBUCKS GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!
I don’t think I have to convince you that friendship is important in our lives. In all seasons. Maybe more so than ever when we’re navigating the joys, challenges, and daily grind of Motherhood.
Yet, I have also discovered that good friends — like, the true, life-long kind — are rare to find. In fact, I would say that if you have a handful of really good friends in your lifetime, you should count yourself blessed.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘You too? I thought I was the only one. – C.S Lewis
Friendship was one of the topics that came up the most when I first suggested this “What Moms Need Most” series. Then I got curious and searched for: “making mom friends” on Google and found well over 200,000,000 articles! That is two hundred. Million. Clearly, there’s a lot of moms out there searching for friends. (Which, seems a little ironic, considering so many other women are also looking for friends. hehe, just sayin’.)
Indeed, friendships in motherhood can be complicated. I mean, really: female friendships can be tricky at any stage and season of life (anyone remember Jr. High?) but Motherhood adds new challenges to these already complicated relationships.
Here are just a few of the challenges women shared on my recent Facebook post:
Being able to find time to stay close with friends who are not in the same stage of children or do not have children in the same age range.
Scheduling time with friends. Due to work schedules, childcare and everyone being busy, it is hard to have time alone with other girlfriends or time to have our families do things together.
I feel guilty carving out time with friends w/o kids because my husband seems to need so much less friend time, and I feel guilty.
Though friendships may not come easily at any age, I believe with all of my heart that the pursuit of good mom friends is a worthwhile cause. I have gathered a few practical ideas for maintaining old friendships and making new friends in this season of motherhood, but before I dive into that, I want to start with a little dose of…
While it is absolutely normal and healthy to yearn for close friendships when we are raising kids, keep thes following thoughts in mind…
- The struggle…is normal. Just knowing that friendships during the busy season of motherhood is often challenging should help you feel less alone. We often buy into the lie that we are the only one struggling in various ways, and I’m here to tell you that that is not the case with motherhood and friendships It’s hard. It’s ok. You are normal. Perhaps lowering our expectations and appreciating any good we have is a great start.
- Lonely seasons can turn into treasures. I wrote THIS POST a couple years ago, and I really hope you can take a minute to read it. In it I share a snapshot of myself with two young kids in a very lonely season of motherhood. (You might just relate!) I also share how that season turned out to be priceless in both my relationship with God, and my personal character development. And, how I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. If we are in a rush to escape from the difficult moments, the boring, mundane days and kid-filled hours, we just might miss out on some of the real treasures God has for us.
(also this post form the NY Times made me nod and giggle.)
- Your family members can become your best friends. When my kids were young and I didn’t have much of a social life, I decided to embrace the idea that my family would be my crew. These were my people. Without a network of friends to turn to, my husband and I grew deeper in friendship with each other. As my boys grew up, we all became close in a way that I don’t think would have happened if I had a huge friend group available to spend a lot of free time with. Trust me, I still got out on occasion, (and loved every minute of it!) but most days it was just us — the Swanson 6. I love the idea of building what Sally Clarkson refers to as your “family culture” — developing that “flavor” that is all your own. This only grows through spending lots of time together. So, even as you find and grow great friendships, I encourage you to invest the bulk of your time just hanging out with your own family clan!
Keep those ideas on your mind as we now talk about maintaining old friends and making new friends while your raising your kids.
OLD FRIENDS: It can be difficult to maintain old friendships while we’re raising our family. Old friends might live in different locations or have no kids, or kids at different times, or any number of things about our lives may have changed since we were close. But here’s the thing: Old friends are most likely not ever going to forget you or quit loving you. If they loved you in 8th grade, or in college, or on your first day at your new job, they’re most likely in it for the long haul. Sure things may change, but there is a special bond that only time can build. My best advice for dealing with distance in these relationships? Be honest. Give them a call or send them a message letting them know you value them…that this is a season you wish you could be closer. Take advantage of technology to occasionally FaceTime, shoot fun text messages or (like me) carry on occasionally in a Voxer message. It doesn’t have to be frequent; just don’t stop. One day, when the dust of motherhood settles, you are likely to meet up again and find that you can pick up right from where you left off.
^^ With two of my childhood besties last summer at our 30th class reunion. (gulp.)
NEW FRIENDS: Moms often feel overwhelmed by the idea of making new friends in the thick of motherhood. Schedules can seem impossible to coordinate, and then the whole process of getting to know someone can seem to take 800 times longer because you are both constantly interrupted by young kids. Though there is not an easy answer to any of this, I do have a few practical ideas to pass along.
- Keep an open mind! Like most beautiful things in life we cannot predict when a great friend will come along. While you may be blessed to move into an apartment next door to your future bestie (I’ve heard stories like that) you might have to wait longer and look harder. You might find a new friend at the Post Office, the gym, or in an online community. So, while I recommend going places where it’s likely you’ll make friends, my best advice is to always be open and ready.
When we first moved to Hawaii, I was hopeful and eager to find new friends. With a 2 year old and a newborn, it wasn’t long before I realized how hard this would be. I didn’t have a lot of luck at mommy-and-me playgroups (if you read the first two chapters of Boy Mom, you might remember…) and I fell into a very lonely season. I relied on phone calls to far away friends to get my social fix. But that wasn’t enough, and I knew it. My old friends back on the mainland were praying for me to make some real-life friends (what, was I calling too much?)
I finally found my first real friend in Hawaii at a Barnes and Noble kids’ story hour. I was chasing my two young sons around the bookshelves (while missing the entire story hour!) and locked eyes with another woman chasing her her two sons who were about the same age as mine. We simply had to meet. With a very quick introduction, I had a new friend. We chatted as we did laps and somehow managed to grab lattes between diaper changes. There began a fast friendship; one with great understanding about interrupted phone calls, play dates that might be cancelled due to nap challenges and all the rest. This friend’s husband was in the military so between my husband’s residency schedule and her husband’s deployment, we ‘got’ each other. Being a military family, this also meant my friend eventually moved off the island, but I’ll never enter a Barnes and Noble without thinking of the day I finally met my first friend in Hawaii.
Remain open and hopeful and you just might find a good new friend around the next corner.
Playgroups can be a great way to find friends. I highly recommend finding a MOPS group (Mother of Preschoolers) through a local church; not only do they have childcare (Score!) but they bring in great speakers and have crafts, as well as coffee and goodies.
The most important thing is that you do not hole-up in your house; New friends are not likely come knocking on your door seeking your company. Get out with the stroller or a front pack – go to the park, the mall, or just wander your neighborhood, looking for the chance to connect with other humans. (I used to do that almost daily!) Sign up for stuff where you know you’ll meet other moms! If your kids do sports or activities, try to put yourself out there – start conversations with the other moms, rather than hiding in a corner with your phone or a book. Be open, Mom. You need this! We all do.
- Be the friend:
If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere. – Zig Ziglar
My mom used to always say, “You have to be a friend to have a friend.” Now I use that phrase with my own boys, and indeed, it is a good one for all of us. Proverbs 11:25 says that “whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” The truth is, looking for ways to be a good friend – to serve and encourage others, is often the fastest route to making friends. Becky Keife, in her book “No Better Mom for the job” talks a lot about friendships built on serving. When trying to figure out how best to serve a friend, Becky suggests using your natural gifts – “Lean into who you are. Do what works for you! If the thought of taking another four-year-old to the park makes you twitchy, but baking bread is like therapy, don’t feel obligated to offer your extra car seat; give a loaf of bread instead.” Ultimately, she says, “What kind of friend do you long to have? Be her.” If we serve others first, not in a manipulative way, but with a sincere heart, we will likely end up with friends very naturally.
- Don’t forget: The Grass really isn’t greener. When we’re longing for friends it can seem like everyone else has what we do not. When it comes to friendships – and especially what we see on social media — guard your heart. A few minutes of scrolling can leave any of us feeling lonely, jealous, and depressed. Those images you see of groups of women laughing together like soul mates may or may not be authentic (I’d be willing to guess it’s often not) but it won’t change your situation either way. Your friendship story, just like every other part of your story, will be uniquely your own.
- Online Friends Count! Though I think we all need in-real-life, face-to-face friends, we live in a time where we can also meet and bond with women all over the world, thanks to the internet. You might join a Facebook community or other online social network and easily connect with like-minded mom friends. (This article even shares some apps for making mom friends!) Again, I don’t recommend this be a substitute for friends you see in person, but I do believe it can be a real gift for the times we live in!
^^After years of communicating online, Wendy Speake and I met in person and it was as if we’d known each other forever.
- Pray. Rest assured, sweet friend, God knows your heart and your needs. (Matthew 6:8) He cares more about you than you care about yourself. I met one of my now-closest friends the week she moved to Hawaii from Australia. She had three boys who were just a few years ahead of mine, so I scored a friend, and a mom-mentor. This friend has always been a prayer warrior, and recently she told me that the week she moved from Australia she prayed specifically that God would lead her to two things in her new home; Good bread, and a friend. I was so happy to be a part of her answered prayers.
GETTING STRATEGIC: Figuring out how, when, and where to fit in time with friends will be very individual, and will likely change with the seasons. Some of us need more time with friends than others. Some of us can’t get enough of time with friends while others might have to force ourselves out the door. I encourage you to make a plan that is reasonable, talk to your husband about it, and agree on a schedule, even if loose. Perhaps a dinner out with friends each month, or a walk and coffee with a friend every Saturday. Maybe you commit to a weekly Bible study, or an annual girls’ weekend away. Remember to offer the same for your husband, who — if he is like most guys, won’t ask for as much time with friends. (You are likely his best friend, and that is pretty awesome too!) Write your plans into your schedule and be intentional about making it happen. Making time for friends is not selfish, it is part of the self-care needed to be the healthy mom your kids need.
Final words: While sometimes we feel desperate for friends, I encourage us women — just as I encourage my own kids — to choose friends well. There is no denying that we become like the company we keep, and in this season of motherhood, we need to be surrounded by friends who build us up, point us in the right direction, offer encouragement and wisdom. I love this quote —
The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are. – C.S Lewis
If you’re spending time with women who gossip, are full of self-pity, trash talk their husbands (or anyone) or are generally a downer, I suggest you step away. Bad company corrupts good morals ( 1 Corinthians 15:33) and that is NOT “What Moms Need Most” in this season.
AN IDEA AND A STARBUCKS GIVEAWAY!
Here’s a fun way to grow in friendship with someone RIGHT NOW!… Share this post with a friend (new or old) and be sure they check out the INTRODUCTION to the series. Invite them to go through these posts with you over the next few weeks, then set a weekly date to have coffee or FaceTime and chat about the topics! You might gather a few women from the neighborhood, church, or your kids’ school to meet up with to talk about WHAT MOMS NEED MOST! And grow together in friendship in this season!
THEN: Comment below and tell me about your mom friends, or what your action steps will be for building healthy friendships in this season. I’ll enter ALL COMMENTS in a drawing and choose one of you to win a $20 Starbucks card next week! (Giveaway will close on Monday, Feb. 3rd!)
If this post has encouraged you, please share it using the Social Media Share buttons below! I also hope you’ll SUBSCRIBE to this website to receive a weekly email with anything new or exciting I have for you!