My best girlfriends from high school and college have been there for me through so many of the ups and downs of life that I never anticipated that my recent transition into motherhood would have the potential to jeopardize these friendships. But like many new moms, I have found it challenging to maintain these relationships -- especially with friends who don't have children -- while juggling my everyday responsibilities at home and at work.
There are clearly a lot of factors at play: Motherhood places inherent demands on our energy level and time. Spontaneity is more difficult. Extra planning (e.g., child care) is required. Priorities and interests change. And so forth. However, friendships are important. There's even a large body of research that highlights the numerous physiological and psychological benefits of close female friendships. Motherhood -- despite all of the joy it brings -- can often be isolating and stress-producing, and it has long been known that social support can protect against the adverse effects of stress. And reaping all of these positive effects can only come full circle and make us happier in general and as parents. Here are five tips that I have found helpful for maintaining friendships during motherhood:
1. Take advantage of technology. The asynchronous nature of e-mail communication and the convenience of mobile technology make it easier to keep in close contact with girlfriends, even if it's simply virtual. Keep up with what's going on in your friends' lives through Facebook, Twitter, and their personal blogs and encourage them to do the same.
2. Multitask with friends. It can be challenging to regularly devote a couple of hours on a weeknight to get together with a friend, but how about spending time together while also checking things off of your to-do lists? Meet up at the gym and workout together, schedule your manicures for the same time, or run errands together.
3. Curb the baby chatter. When around friends who don't have children, try to talk about things other than babies and motherhood. Not only because it will feel normalizing to talk about something else, but also because motherhood may be a sensitive topic for some friends for various reasons (infertility issues, miscarriage, etc.).
4. Opt for a group setting. If you don't have time to meet up with friends one-on-one each month, opt for small group dinners out or home gatherings so you get to see several friends in one shot. If you opt for rotating home gatherings with a group of friends, be explicit about keeping things (e.g., food) simple so it's not a huge lift for anyone.
5. Put it on your to-do list. The reality is that time flies when you are busy managing a household and juggling other responsibilities. Periodic reminders may serve you well. If you enjoy list-making, put "Schedule a girlfriend outing" on your recurring digital to-do list to help you make your relationship time a priority.
Do you feel as close to your girlfriends since becoming a mother? How do you stay connected with them? If you have other thoughts to share, feel free to do so in the comments!
Image credit: Best friend bracelets by iadornu via Etsy