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Friendships can survive babies!

July 14th, 2021
Friendships can survive babies!
Being a new parent is certainly a challenging time and one of the first things that seems to suffer is pre-baby friendships! New parents find the demands on them are huge and most find that it is their social life that is hit first. This can be particularly difficult for new mums who need the support of their friends as they enter this new phase in their lives.

Parents website suggests that on average, men spend 16 hours a week with their friends before the arrival of their baby and five hours with them as a new parent. The change is similar for new mums too as they spend on average, 14 hours with their friends in pre-baby days and only five hours a week after the birth. 46% of women also felt that they had lost friends since becoming a mum and 38% of men felt they had fewer friends since becoming a dad.

Your interests have changed

Although this is stating the obvious, many people do detect a change in their friends once they become parents. If your friend is also a parent this is not likely to have such a huge impact on them as it does on a friend without children. Unfortunately, it is true that most new parents find their baby absolutely awesome – the trouble is that few of their friends will feel the same! It is important to show your friends that although you have recently become a parent, you are still 'you' and that parenting is only one of your skills! The first times you meet up with them after the birth, try and keep baby talk to an absolute minimum and ask them plenty of questions about what is going on in their lives. You can make it fun as tell them you need a 'baby free zone' with them - this will instantly put them at ease.
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Try and continue a little as before

Some of your single friends will find it hard to adjust to the ‘new you’ and may take a step back from your friendship – especially if you cannot share the activities you used to enjoy together like shopping, meals out etc. Whilst these friendships can be tricky to maintain, if you used to do yoga, meditation or a sport together, it will be well worth trying to continue your regular meetups as you will be keen to get back into shape post-baby. If it is just going to be for a couple of hours every week, your partner will probably be able to ‘hold the reins’ or maybe you have another friend with a baby who is happy to babysit. You will enjoy getting out too because after so many hours alone with your baby, you could be longing for joined up conversation!

Plan times out with your friends

It is important for both of you to continue seeing your friends and having relaxing times with them. Although you will not be able to spend so much time with them as before the birth, you should both be able to catch up with friends once a week for a few hours, while the other parent can ‘man the fort’ This is very import psychologically as it is lovely to have the reason to change into something smart, put on some make-up and to be able to relax.

It is also important that you and your partner get out on a regular date night together and these can work well if you have friends with young children who can babysit and vice versa.
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Start a new interest with your old friends

Although you might not be able to see your friends socially as often as you used to, one way of proving that you still have plenty of interests- besides your new baby- is to find a new interest to share such as going to yoga or Pilates or signing up for a new evening class in a subject that interests you both. Explain how important it is to your partner that you continue to see your friends and ensure that they have the same opportunity. It is hard to establish this routine in the early days, but it is well worth the effort.

Time to make new friends

It can be really good to make new friends with parents who have similar aged babies as you can give each other moral support at the various stages and some clever ideas for dealing with minor problems. Maybe you met some other new mums when you were in hospital and can get in contact with them, parenting groups are good places for meeting other parents as are baby swim sessions, crèches and mother and toddler groups.
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The bonus of modern technology

One huge bonus of being a new mum these days is that communication is so easy using technology. As proven by the recent pandemic, it is possible to continue friendships using social platforms and Apps such as Zoom, Connect and Hangouts. The other great bonus is that it is possible to forge new friendships on line too by joining discussion forums such as www.mumsnet.com and these will prove invaluable contacts when you need moral support or guidance about sleepless nights or teething etc.

Parenthood is a wonderful time, but can also be a lonely one – especially if you used to work in a busy place surrounded by other people and are now at home alone with your baby. It is an important part of keeping yourself healthy to have friends. Other mums are great as they will be your support network on difficult days and your single friends will bring you sunshine after the clouds – the perfect combination!

Chrissie x

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