When you first saw that positive pregnancy test, you probably thought a lot about how your family dynamic was about to change – but family relationships aren’t the only ones that having a child can have an impact on. Relationships with friends, especially childless friends, often go through an evolution as your family grows.
Being a parent of a toddler is all-consuming. From daycare to playdates and everything in between, there’s no question your life revolves around Baby during these early years. While your fellow-parent friends understand these demands, it can be harder to adjust your routines with friends who don’t have children.
Though it can be difficult to stay connected to friends when your little one comes first, it’s not impossible. Here are some tips on rekindling that friendship flame, and finding the right balance between family and friends.
- See it from their perspective: The last thing the parent of a toddler wants is added stress, so when a friend starts griping that you seem unavailable these days, you may immediately go on the defensive. Try to keep in mind the fact that what they’re really saying is that they miss you, because you’re so much fun! Understand that your friends want more time with you, and are probably not trying to make you feel guilty – they just want to see more of you.
- Be honest: People who don’t have children often don’t quite understand the reality of leaving a toddler with a babysitter, and that’s fair – how would they? Still, it’s worth explaining to your friends that it’s a lot of work preparing to leave for just a few hours, and that it can also be pretty expensive. Coupled with a night on the town, hiring a babysitter can be quite a hit to your bank account, so be clear with your friends about that aspect – this isn’t to make them feel guilty, either, but just to let them know it’s not that you don’t want to go out, but rather that there are times when it might not be possible or practical.
- Make it to their events: Maybe you find wedding showers boring, or can’t fathom attending an adult’s birthday party when you’re trying to plan one for your child, but remember these events are important to your friends. Showing up to their big events when you can will help to show that you’re still very much interested in what is going on in their lives.
- Set aside time: Whether it’s once a month or once a year, try to plan a time for everyone to get together. It might be for a movie night in, or a big night out, but in any case, it will be fun for you to get out of parenting-mode for a bit and laugh about grown-up stuff.
- Remember your common ground: Friendships that last are rooted in a strong bond, and remembering where that bond started, or how your friendship has developed over time can help you stay close as you and your friends navigate different paths during life. Send a text recalling a funny story from your school years, or just pick up the phone to check in from time to time. You may not have as much availability as you once did to be physically present, but the occasional check-in will help you stay connected.
Your life is going to keep changing as Baby grows, but no matter what stage his development is at, navigating it will be more fun with your friends by your side.