I remember it so well, the longing to be part of a tight-knit group. But this time it wasn’t high school, and I wasn’t eying the popular girls eating together in the cafeteria.
Instead, my longing to belong came from watching gaggles of mommies talking, giggling and hanging out in the park or pushing their strollers in tandem down the street. They seemed so in sync with each other, so confident.
And there I was: a new mommy, home on maternity leave and feeling lonely and unsure of my every move. I desperately wanted to find a community of other mothers to chat, vent, laugh and cry with about our new lives with our bundles of joy.
Luckily, I soon found what I was looking for. I joined a mother’s group in my neighborhood made up of moms who all had babies within a few weeks of each other. It may sound crazy, but as a new mom, someone who has a baby even three months older than yours can seem like they’re from another planet since babies change by the minute. They were my saving grace and helped me through the ups and downs of motherhood as we stumbled forward together.
“It’s very important for new moms to socialize so they don’t feel isolated, and they can ask questions and learn from each other,” says Lyss Stern, founder and CEO of Divamoms.com, an events-based on and offline social network for expecting, new moms and their families. “I encourage moms to get out there and talk to other moms everywhere. You and your baby will make lifelong friends that way.”
But, in the process of finding a new community, don’t forget those who have been there for you in the past, advises Stern. After all, as the Girl Scout saying goes, "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold!"
“It’s just as important to carve out some special time to keep up with your old friends, even if you can’t see them often,” she says. Through three pregnancies and a busy life running a business, Stern has always managed to call and Skype with her best friend on the opposite coast on a regular basis. She also advises, “If your old friends don’t have babies yet, don’t just talk about your kids the whole time.”
Save that for your mommy group. While at first it may seem difficult to make new mom friends, it just takes a little work. These days there are so many resources to help. Here are some suggestions to get started:
- Pick up neighborhood parenting papers, search online for mommy groups and check out local parenting blogs to find get-togethers in your area.
- Organize a Lamaze, birthing or breastfeeding class reunion. You’ve all been through a lot together so keep the connection going.
- Form your own group with good old-fashioned networking. Start by asking your friends and family and you'll be surprised how quickly other moms come out of the woodwork.
- Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to walk up to another new mom and hand her a card with your contact info. She’ll probably welcome your initiative.
- Sign up for baby movement or music classes and meet other like-minded moms. “I took an infant massage class,” says Stern. “It wasn’t as much about the massage as meeting other moms.”
Before long you’ll have a network of moms to keep you company – and sane – along your journey, and create real, lasting friendships for both you and your child.