By Whitney C. Harris
Being a new mom can feel isolating. Suddenly, you’re no longer able to pick up and go anywhere, your schedule revolves around naps, and your social life—especially if it used to involve going out at night—can take a real hit. But having a baby is also a great way to make new friends. You immediately have something major in your life in common with other parents, and that connection can bridge almost any divide, whether it’s your taste in music or political beliefs.
Since having my now-8-month-old daughter, I’ve immediately struck up friendships with people I wouldn’t otherwise have come in contact with. I see these parents multiple times a week in our homes, at restaurants, at the library, and the bonds over bottles and diapers are strong. But, along the way, I’ve had to remind myself to keep close with my non-mom friends. Here’s how I’m doing it.
1. Set reminders to check in. I didn’t used to have an iPhone full of beeping alerts to ask my non-mom friends how their jobs, significant others, and hobbies are doing, but it’s the only way I’ll remember to reach out on a consistent basis now that I have an 8-month-old to look after. (Of course, I never forget to text a mom friend because we are in constant contact, furiously messaging each other day and night for advice, sympathy, and support.)
2. Plan baby-free outings. Many of my friends are pregnant or have babies and are game for a play date with the peanuts, but a good portion of my pals are more interested in non-baby-friendly stuff like wine bars and art galleries. It’s important to take time for those kinds of adult outings with friends who don’t have kids.
3. Don’t always talk about the baby. I’ve had to privately promise myself not to bring up my daughter unless asked by a non-parent pal, and to let the friend initiate any kind of baby talk whatsoever. I’ve also tried to keep my gushing and picture-sharing to a minimum. Even if your bud loves babies, she probably doesn’t want to hear about every poop and giggle.
4. Invite friends over when the little one is out of the house. On weekends, my husband will take the baby for walks and on errands, leaving me at home to host my single or baby-free friends. It’s a great idea to make this arrangement with your partner so your place doesn’t become a baby-only zone. The next step will be having our daughter sleepover at her grandparents’ and hosting a dinner party without risking any interruptions.
5. Stay up-to-date on news and pop culture. Chances are, you bonded with your former besties over political and celebrity news, reality TV, and viral YouTube videos. Don’t let yourself become “that mom” who has no idea what’s going on in the outside world. Try to enjoy the media and culture that you used to and you’ll still be a vibrant part of the conversation with your non-mom group.
Whitney C. Harris is a freelance writer who had her first child, a daughter named Rowan, last summer. Find her at whitneycharris.com.