By Emma Thomas – Full-time mum to a one-year-old, part-time blogger and writer, with a background as a Kindy Teacher/Director
When you become a parent your social life undergoes a dramatic change! I am really enjoying this new stage of my life and making ‘mum friends’ but it has been a big adjustment. As a parent it can be easy for our lives to revolve around our children and catching up with old friends is harder (especially if they are at a different stage of life!). It is important to keep our old friendships going, however, there are great benefits to embracing some new friends who are on the same journey as you. Find your new ‘tribe’ is really important and gives you a broad range of people to turn to. You want other parents in your life who will give you advice, support you and help you to raise your children!
Community Parents Group
When my daughter was a few weeks old I contacted Child Health Services and enrolled in one of their New Parents Groups. I met some other mums at 4 sessions at the Community Health Centre. These were run by a Child Health Nurse and covered the basics of child development. She also facilitated conversation and encouraged us to get to know each other. After the official sessions finished she encouraged us to keep meeting and we did! We would meet each week, initially at a cafe while the babies were little and then moving to a park as they got bigger. Even now, we still catch up every couple of weeks for a play at the park. It has been so good having a group of friends with children the same age, they could sympathise through the sleepless nights, we’d give each other advice on teething and support when we were struggling.
By joining a community parents group you can make friends with people who have children the same age, it is really special to watch your children grow together.
Friends from childcare, school or organised activities
As your child gets older you might start swimming lessons, go to a library group or begin childcare. When this happens you will meet a whole new group of parents! You will probably find your lives run on a similar schedule so this is a great group of people to make friends with. I have really enjoyed getting to know people from my church and the regular catch up each week makes it easy to make friends.
Friends you already know
I was so lucky that people in my social circle already had children. One of my friends had her second baby 3 months before I had my first and she has been such a support to me! We both had babies who didn’t sleep very well so we would message each other in the middle of the night. If I ever need a diary of my early parenting journey I could look back through these messages.
Neighbours and playgrounds
If you watch children at the playgroup they make friends easily and join in with whoever is there. It’s great if we can follow their lead and make friends with our neighbours or people we see regularly at the local park. It’s important to have different friends, you don’t have to do everything together, you can just be park friends or driveways friends who chat together while the kids play!
Being a parent can be isolating at times. It is important to stay connected with old friends but also to make new friends with children of similar ages. Having the friend you see at drop off, the friend you go to the park with, the friend you go to swimming lessons with and the friend that you catch up with kid-free means you have a broad network to support you.