By Emma Thomas – Full-time mum to a one-year-old, part-time blogger and writer, with a background as a Kindy Teacher/Director
Little kids and a social life – do these things really go together?? When you’ve got a young baby it is easy to feel like you will never leave the house again, but children grow and things change and you will get your social life back! I know I am looking forward to the time I can easily hang out with my ‘pre-kids’ friends, but I have found embracing the changes in my social life has had unexpected rewards! I have made some wonderful new ‘mum friends’ and enjoy having people in my life who are going through the same things as me. I have maintained my old friendships but have also found community groups, organised activities and my neighbourhood to be great places to connect.
Community Parents Group
I was very fortunate to meet a group of like-minded mums at my community parents group. I contacted Child Health Services and was placed in a month-long group at the Community Health Centre. This was facilitated by a Child Health Nurse, she covered the basics of child development in these sessions but her main focus was on helping us get to know each other and encouraging us to stay connected. We continued meeting once the official sessions were over and more than a year later we still catch up regularly. Two of these friends have just announced that they are pregnant and it’s very exciting to see the journey beginning again!
Making friends with people with children so close in age has been very helpful! We have supported each other through sleepless nights, teething and figuring things out. At one and a half, our babies are now recognising each other and enjoy playing together.
Friends at playgroup, childcare, school or organised activities
It’s easy to make friends when you see someone regularly in the same setting. You can start a conversation during daycare drop off or make a friend at a playgroup. The parents that you see regularly are likely to be working to a similar schedule to you and will live in your area. As your child gets older they may start swimming lessons, dance, or sport and this is a great time for you to sit and talk to other parents while waiting. I have made some great friends at my church playgroup and knowing that I will see them each week is good for my mental health!
I have been really lucky that some of my ‘pre-kid’ friends are now my ‘post-kid’ friends! Having people in your social circle who have children a bit older than yours can be a real lifesaver. It’s great to have someone who can relate to what you are going through and offer advice when you need it. I was very lucky that one of my good friends had her second baby three months before I had my daughter. Neither of our babies really understood sleeping so we were able to support each other through the long dark nights, it’s very comforting to find a message on your phone when you get up to the baby at 2 am and know that someone else has been awake in the night!
Neighbours and playgrounds
We had new neighbours move in when my daughter was 9 months old, they had a 2-year-old and the girls have become good friends! Most of our conversations take place either over the back fence, or on the driveway while getting groceries out of the car or taking the rubbish bins out, but we have also been to the park and the library together. When you are at a local playground you will notice that children are happy to go up and play with anyone who is there. As parents, we can learn from this and chat with other families, even if it’s just for an afternoon.
Being a parent can be hard, but it is made easier when you are surrounded by good friends. It is important to make new friends who will support you in your parenting journey while also staying connected with old friends.