Leading up to the birth of your baby, there are lots of things to plan for and worry about. The last thing on your mind is how a new baby is going to change your relationships with friends who don’t have babies. Whether you are the first to pop or some of your friends just aren’t kid-ready, it can be challenging trying to maintain your friendship.
If we are lucky, life throws us a friend who will be there with us through thick and thin. These friends are hard to come by and your friendship seems to conquer any adversity. Except, when one of you have a baby. Bringing a baby into the picture changes everything. Your world now revolves around your little bundle, your baby is what you want to talk about and who you want to be around. When you do get a chance to meet up with your baby-less friends, it can be difficult to understand that they might not be as baby-crazy as you are. (How can someone not be completely obsessed with your amazingly cute offspring?)
Just like your romantic relationship at home, maintaining a good friendship with those in your circle without kids will take some work. This can’t be one-sided though. Your friends need to understand that late-night joyrides and sleeping in till 11 am are things of the past, and that you have new responsibilities and priorities now. Both parties need to make an effort to incorporate the other in this new journey. As time goes on, it will get easier and as your kids get older you will have more freedom to do the things you used to.
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There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are considering social relationships, and how to keep your friendships with friends without babies thriving:
- Make an effort. No matter how exhausted you might be, try and meet the girls for a drink or dinner once the kids are asleep. Dad will be able to handle them just fine. Meeting on neutral territory will help both of you relate back to the friendship you shared before kids.
- Involve them in your kids’ lives. Don’t keep your family life and friendships separate. Invite them to family picnics or to your child’s birthday party. This way neither of you will feel like your children are a barrier to your friendship.
- Understand their life for what it is. You were busy before you had kids, and you used to get tired before kids as well. Don’t downplay their stress and worries just because they aren’t centered on children. Each one of us has different priorities, all respectively important to us.
- Listen to them. If they offer you advice, whether you want it or not, say thank you and move along. They are trying to be helpful in an area that they don’t understand. This may be the only way they feel like they can add value, don’t turn them down.
- Give them the time of day. Listen and give advice. Whether it seems silly to you or not important compared to your problems, be there when they need your help.
- Keep in contact. There are so many methods of communication nowadays that there is no excuse for silence. Even a “hey, hope you’re having a good day” can go a long way in keeping a friendship alive. You may not have time to join them on nights out, but at least make an effort to message now and again.
- Show interest in what they love. Whether it is their dog, goldfish or guitar, make sure that you at least seem interested in their passion. How offended would you be if they showed now affection or interest towards your children?
- Be open. Not having kids, they might not understand how demanding motherhood is. Explain why you can’t stay late at the dinner party, and why you can’t have 5 minutes notice to join them for after work drinks.
Communication and honesty will be the key to keeping your friendships alive. Giving yourself the support system of a strong group of understanding friends is priceless. Soon the kids will be old enough for you to join in some activities again, but for now, try and help your friends understand the constraints of parenthood. They will probably be experiencing it themselves sometime soon.