How to keep up with old friends when you’re a parent
Even though you might feel your life has changed since becoming a parent, your friends are still part of who you are. They offer shared experiences and understanding. They can help you maintain balance in your life, encourage you and give you a fresh perspective on things.
That’s why it’s important to make time for your old friends. Here are tips.
Planning can make it easier to find time for friends. Set a date to catch up with friends, but don’t worry if you have to change your plans – having a child can make things unpredictable!
Choose the right activities
Think about activities that would suit your friends who don’t have children. You could have coffee at a café, go to an afternoon movie or feed ducks at the park. Or you could take the pram for a walk and talk with a friend.
Keep it simple
Gatherings that are easy to organise can take the stress out of getting together. For example, a lunch, afternoon tea or dinner where everybody brings a dish is a great way to have people over without having to do all the cooking yourself. And it can make it easier for your child to go to bed at the regular time.
Find a babysitter
A regular babysitter can give you the chance to go out with friends and see a movie or have dinner together. Grandparents and extended family and friends might be happy to help with this. You could also organise babysitting ‘swaps’ with friends who have children.
Talk about old and new interests
You might feel like your only identity is as a parent, but to your old friends – especially those without children – you’re just you. So in addition to your baby and life right now, talk about a broad range of things that are of interest to you and your friends.
Making time for old friends helps you stay in touch with the things you and your friends have in common – music, food, sports, your old workplace and other personal interests you probably have less time for now.
How to make new friends as a parent
When you have a child, there are many opportunities to meet people and make new friends. Here are good ways to meet other parents.
In the early weeks and months
- Keep in touch with people from your antenatal classes.
- Join a new parents group at your child and family health clinic or community centre.
- Go to ‘parents and babies’ sessions at your local cinema or story time sessions at your local library.
- Join a reputable online forum where you can chat with other parents.
As your child gets older
- Make the effort to chat at playgroup, preschool, school or sport.
- Go to the park so you can chat while your children play together.
- Volunteer to help at school events, sports clubs, activity groups and so on.
As your child gets older, you might find it gets easier to make time for yourself and things you enjoy. This can be a great opportunity for new friendships too. For example, you could join a book club, a bushwalking group, an exercise class and whatever activity you like.
Building and maintaining a solid support network is really important for single parents. If you’re a single parent, these friendships give you a break from your busy caring role.