I’m a pretty friendly person. I’ve never struggled with making friends. I’ll chat it up with anyone who’s too polite to walk away. In fact, a huge part of my career before kids involved helping teens connect with each other and growing friendships. And if I can survive regularly making painfully awkward smalltalk with teens, I can pull a conversation out of anyone! But “mom-friending” is like the Olympic version of friending. It’s HARD stuff!
And the first winter after having my daughter made me realized how desperately I needed mom friends. So I campaigned to find mom friends, which led me to be Twin Cities Moms Blog’s Community Involvement Coordinator. I oversee all 15 of our Neighborhood Groups and all 10 of our Community Groups (yes, we have 25 total groups and ways for mamas to connect!). I also oversee our 30+ team of volunteer Mombassadors–the mamas organizing monthly events in the neighborhood groups. We’re not experts, but through our experiences we’ve learned some tips and tricks on how to make mom friends and together we’re sharing those with you. So get ready, because class is in session!
- Commit to making friends. There’s a difference between saying, “I should make friends,” and “I am going to make friends.” “I shoulds” are still at the starting line and “I ams” are those already running. You have to actually do it!
- “Yes, it does take personal motivation, but the more others around you are encouraging and supportive, the better!”–Bonnie J.
- “So I decided I needed to step it up and make my own mom friends!”–Briana P.
- Join a group with similar interests. I love our Neighborhood Groups. They’re FREE and offer regular events. Other awesome groups are MOPS, MOMS Clubs, ECFE classes, Moms on the Run, etc.
- Put Yourself Out There. One thing all the Mombassadors agreed on was that you have to put yourself out there and that it’s HARD to do. It feels awkward, uncomfortable, and unnatural, but five minutes into the conversation, it’s about 95% better! It’s scary at first, but never as bad as you imagine it will be.
- “Once I got over the initial anxiety about it all, it wasn’t hard. You have to put yourself out there if you expect to make connections.”–Michelle L.
- “You have to put yourself out there…I ended up making some lasting connections from joining that play date!”–Bonnie J.
- “For me, the only thing that has worked is putting myself out there…It does seem if [you] wait for others to come to you it won’t happen.”–Tonya O.
- “I think it really takes putting yourself out there and feeling around a bit!”–Briana P.
- “I’ve noticed just forcing yourself to go out…is part of the game.”–Emily R.
- “I have a lot of anxiety so it was definitely nerve wracking to do.”–Rosalind M.
- Ask questions. Share stories. I’ve got an arsenal of questions from my days making conversations with teens. I learned to avoid simple yes or no questions because a teen will give you a simple yes or no. But I found the quickest way to get any teen talking was talking about the opposite sex. Previously silent girls all of the sudden start gushing about Justin Bieber! Moms aren’t all that different. You want to get a mom talking, ask about her kids! Think about how easy it is for you to talk about your kids. Ask questions, but don’t be afraid to talk about yourself either. Any relationship requires give and take. Remember that moms are there to get to know you too.
- “I found a few other moms that I just clicked with and I made sure to invite them to things and get to know them better.”–Michelle L.
- Follow-up/Make a move. This is the most crucial step, and often the step that is most often skipped. Why? Because mom-friending is exactly like dating, and we are all women waiting for the other person to strut across the bar and ask us out. It’s not going to happen. You have to make the first move! If you connect with someone at a Moms Night Out (MNO) or have kids of similar ages at a play date, then follow up with this simple two-step process: 1.) Friend them on Facebook. 2.) Send them a message that says, “Hey So-and-so! Great meeting you at the MNO! I had so much fun. I’m bringing the kids to the park next week and wondering if you’d like to join us!” I have yet to meet a mom who hasn’t been grateful for an invitation. If someone says no to your invitation, don’t feel rejected. Often it’s just because of a scheduling issue. And if someone invites you and you can’t make it, let them know you’d like to another time.
- “Sometimes it can be hard connecting in a big group so if you meet a mom that you think you could really be friends with then try to schedule a lunch or play date.”–Michelle L.
- Repeat rules 4-5. At your follow-up event, continue to ask questions and share stories. If you had fun, say it! Chances are the mom will reply, “Yeah! We should do it again sometime.” Boom, you’re in.
One of the biggest discoveries I’ve made in my adventures mom-friending is how much the “Mommy Wars” idea is bologna. Yes, we all have a story about how we were judged or given the stink eye from someone, but chances are that experience is the rarity and not the norm. Throw a bunch of tired moms around a table, minus kids and plus alcohol, and you’ll see just how much they don’t care that you formula feed and they breastfeed, or that you work and they stay home, you co-sleep and they don’t. We are bound together by motherhood, and though our journeys may be different, many of our struggles are the same. And it’s amazing how quickly moms are ready and willing to open up about that journey–both the good and bad.
“I’ve also made a big effort to include moms I’ve met who feel like they’re alone. Because I was there just a few short years ago.”–Michelle L.
“It can be a little unsettling at first, but sometimes letting your guard down is exactly what it takes to attract the friendships you’re seeking.”–Bonnie J.
“I was lonely in many ways.”–Bonnie J.
“Everyone deserves a friend!”–Dawn L.
“I just had to let my guard down and realize that the other moms who go to those things are there because they, too, want to meet other moms!”–Briana P.
“Owning who you are – quirks and all – makes everything a little easier.”–Emily R.
“But when we come back up for air and back into our own skin – it’s ok to dust off the old hobbies and make friends from ALL over!”–Lindsay H.