There's a trendy name for friends that has taken over the internet. Tribe. This means people who are like you, who get you. A tribe is a powerful idea. But, what if you don't have a "tribe"? Being a SAHM can be lonely. It's lonely because usually making friends takes time and energy. You may not have any to spare if you are raising those cuties that are zapping the life out of you. Bzzzz. It's kinda ironic though, that just as you feel depleted of your resources, it is usually a time where making connections with other people can really help get you through the day. Here are ten things you can try to help you connect, because really, it's important!
#1. Put your phone down (unless you're reading this).
In our society, having a phone in front of our face helps us feel important and honestly, less vulnerable. We can create the illusion that we have something better to do than whatever it is that we are doing, and it gives us a sense of security in situations where we may not know anyone. But looking on our phones constantly can really prevent us from noticing those around us and connecting with others. Remember this tip as we talk about the other ideas on our list.
#2. Smile and make eye contact with those around you.
Be the initiator of conversations. If you're not outgoing, no one knows that about you. Fake it until you make it. In certain places, people can seem more closed off. That might just be the culture. I am living in a place that feels like this sometimes. Try and break those barriers. If you see another mom, it also helps to take a small (and not creepy) interest in their kids! Ask them how old their child is, or if they live close. Try to build on common ground, and lucky for you, your kids make this part pretty easy.
#3. Get outside.
Get outside where you live. Go for walks around your neighborhood. Go to that neighborhood park. Being outside will give you a chance to see other moms that are doing the same thing. You may have kids the same age and see that you live in close proximity. That is a good way to start a friendship, plus it helps break up your day. If you make a habit out of doing something, and you are consistent, you may notice that there are other moms trying to do the same thing at the same time and you already know you have similar schedules.
#4. Be open minded.
As adults, we might have had our clique in high school, or the type of person we liked hanging out with. As we get older, we need to be open minded towards friendships with people we may not have seen ourselves "hanging out' with a few years ago. This is actually a beautiful thing because it opens us up to the possibilities of connecting with people who can enrich our lives in ways we aren't used to. So remember, don't judge a mom by what she wears to the park :)
#5. Go to the library.
The library is a fun place to learn and an inexpensive way to break things up. Most of the time, they usually have a story time or other functions where kids can be entertained, and you can connect with other moms who are in your same stage of life. If you go regularly, you may notice some of the same people there too. And the good thing is, you already have one thing in common!
#6. Go to the gym.
Join a workout class if you can. This will help because you will be taking time for yourself, which is good for your self esteem and your psyche. It will help you be in a good and friendly mindset as your stress levels lower. The other benefit (besides a healthy body) is you will get to know the other people taking that class. Any time that you can join a group in doing something that is good for you and productive, it will help you to connect with others.
#7. Take a class at the community college.
Have you ever wanted to learn photography or maybe a new language? If you can, see if you can fit a class into your schedule. Community colleges usually are inexpensive and offer night classes once a week or so. This will be great for you and help you meet others that share your interests, not to mention the satisfaction that comes from personal development. Also, being vulnerable with others who are also vulnerable is a very fast way of making friends. In study groups or group projects, you are all learning something new and this can be an awesome way to develop friendships.
#8. Encourage your spouse to make friends and do things he enjoys.
Let him go play basketball with the guys or have that guys' night out. Sure, he may pull his hamstring, but at least he is coming away not only with injuries, but with possible friends. It may seem counter intuitive, but as your spouse connects with other people, I see some double dates in your future (after he loads up on ibuprofen, of course). That is like the jackpot when you and your spouse can connect with another couple.
#9. Get involved online!
Facebook has all sorts of groups that you can join. If you live in a certain neighborhood or county, do a search for a Facebook page in that area that will suit your interests or your stage of life. There are so many options. There are playdate groups, park groups, hiking groups, community groups, your city page, a local business that you want to support. After you join some of these groups, start posting. Say something like, "hey everyone, I'm new to the area, can someone help me find some good Chinese takeout around here?" Every time I have seen a similar post to this, the person will get so many responses from friendly neighbors that are happy to reach out and help, and now they know to keep an eye out for you. People want to make friends. If you tell them you want to make friends too, you will get a favorable response!
Also, find an amazing baby boutique (ahem) that loves you and wants to have you come in and to hear from you! The Baby Cubby! We are here and writing this blog to help connect with you, and give you a space to connect with us and other parents! The internet can be an awesome place for interaction if you contribute. Make a comment somewhere! You may just start a dialogue and that's the first step to making friends!
#10. Stay connected to old friends.
Keeping in touch with old friends will help you feel accepted, validated, loved, and most importantly... funny, as you are finding your place in your new environment or under your new circumstances. As you interact with your old friends, you will keep that friend inside you alive so that when you are faced with the opportunity to make a new friend, you will ease into it more comfortably.
Bonus tip: Stay positive and be patient! And remember QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Being new to an area or stage of life and making new friends is very difficult. Making genuine connections and friendships take time! For some, it takes more time than others and that's okay! Remember, it just takes a couple meaningful friendships to feel plugged in, and like you are starting to catch your stride in your new environment. I moved to my current location almost 2 years ago and I am still sowing the seeds of friendship hoping they will blossom. Just trust in who you are, that you are worthwhile, and know that new friends are just around the corner (probably literally)!