This is difficult for me to admit, but I have a hard time making friends. As a 40 year-old mom of two school-age kids, you think I’d have it all figured out by now.
But if I’m going to be honest, I just don’t. Sometimes (a lot of time actually), being a mom can be really lonely. I don’t have a mom squad.
We live in a time where it’s becoming easier and easier to to isolate ourselves from the outside world. I can shop online for just about anything I want and never speak to another human being.
I can sit through an entire season of youth sports and never interact with another parent because we’re all staring at our phones. I can have a “life,” on social media and show my “friends” only what I want them to see, never really being honest about what’s really going on.
A person can spend months, even years, never really sharing anything about their lives with anyone who lives outside their home.
According to the internet and every mom movie out there, by this point in my life, I should have a “mom squad.” I should have a large group of life-long friends.
I should be taking girl trips and having crazy, wine-fueled girls nights out, escaping from the exhaustion of my every day life. I should have friends that camp out at my house all the time, that I spend every spare weekend hanging out with.
But to be honest, my life didn’t put me on a path to have those types of relationships. Everyone is in their own little world and it often feels like no one has any extra room for me in their lives.
I know I am just as guilty as anyone else in getting caught up in the minutia of my day to day life. It’s just reality, and I don’t blame people for it.
About 2 years ago, our family left a place we’d lived for quite a while and moved 45 minutes up the road. For the time we’d lived in the old house, I felt like I’d had lots of acquaintances, but precious few close friends.
There were seasons where I spent lots of quality time with one or two people, but I never had anything remotely approaching a “mom squad.”
As we got ready to move, I was determined not to find myself feeling so isolated and alone in this new community.
So I decided to implement a “game plan” of sorts to try and make new friends. I came up with some strategies to keep in mind as we moved to our new hometown.
These are the strategies I used:
Join A Community Group
In my experience, the best way to get to know people is to work alongside them.
From woman’s clubs to nonprofits to churches, there are tons of groups in every community that offer opportunities to serve. For us, it’s been through our local church.
We found one we really liked and started plugging in. I attended every fellowship and event they had. I met some awesome ladies who volunteered with me at several different events.
We developed bonds through common experiences and started to share with each other about common interests. This laid the foundation for some pretty amazing friendships.
Accept Every Invitation
This one was key.
Contrary to what I may seem like, I’m actually pretty introverted, so this was actually pretty tough for me. I deeply desired true friendships, but it was really difficult to put my self out there.
I had to come to terms with the idea that awesome friends weren’t just going to materialize in my living room. It required some effort on my part.
So for the first year we were in our new home, I literally accepted every single invitation I was given, whether or not I was actually interested in the event. I took every opportunity I could to meet new people, and really tried to be open to making new friends.
PTA meetings to direct sales parties, I went to them all. I met a ton of great people, and had a lot more fun than I expected to.
If I’d been choosy about these events, like I had been at our former home, I really would have missed out on some great friends.
Follow Up After Making An Acquaintance
Have you ever met someone at an event and really clicked? Like, you thought, “Hey! I could totally see myself being besties with this person!” One of you says you should get together sometime, but then neither of you ever makes it happen.
I do this ALL. THE. TIME.
I always kinda feel like no one really means it, and that they probably don’t really want to hang out with me. I really do want to set up these events, but I think fear of rejection has kept me from doing it in the past.
So I started actually following up on these comments. I invited one mom for coffee, which turned into a 3 hour chat and shopping trip to Hobby Lobby.
We started showing outdoor movies in our backyard and I literally put an open invitation out to ALL of my local Facebook friends.
We reached beyond our comfortable little box of home, and it really paid off. Some of these interactions have yielded some amazing friendships.
This one is real work and took some planning. After I met a few people I really liked, I started being intentional about following up with them on what they shared with me.
It’s super easy to just get lost in my own worries and concerns and just forget or dismiss things that someone else is struggling with. But in order to have more than just a surface relationship, I needed to be invested in someone else’s life.
For me, this sometimes takes planning. I have literally set alarms on my calendar, reminding me to call and check in on a friend.
That may seem forced or unnatural to some people, but I wanted to make certain I was following up with someone. The execution may seem over planned, but the intention to be a supportive friend is there, and that’s what really counts.
To Have A Good Friend, You Have To Be A Good Friend
This is the most important part. We’ve all heard the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But y’all, this is really really true and pays off big time.
When a friend needed an extra set of hands building props for her daughter’s school play, I showed up, coffee in hand for her.
When a friend needed someone to just sit with her during a custody hearing, I showed up.
When a friend’s daughter passed away, my husband and I stepped up to help with the funeral.
I’m not trying to brag here, or make myself seem awesome. I’m just trying to illustrate real-life ways in which I’ve purposefully tried to be the kind of friend I would want someone to be for me.
This type of time and energy investment in other people doesn’t always pay out equally from some friends, but it certainly does pay out somewhere.
I now have the kind of friends who I can share my struggles with. Just last week, my family just needed a break from some of the situations in our lives.
We literally just showed up at the home of one of these friends. They welcomed us with open arms and we had an evening full of much needed laughs.
Be the one who celebrates when their kids do something awesome. Be the one who remembers birthdays and important anniversaries.
When someone is going through a rough time, be there for them. Don’t shy away from the tough moments, even if you don’t know what to say or how to react.
Most of the time, simply being available is enough.
Three Years Later…
Surprisingly enough, these strategies actually worked. I feel like I have a mom squad now.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve made several awesome friends, who really get me.
They are moms who are in the same stage of life that I’m in, who actually share some of the same values and interests and who genuinely enjoy my company. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.
And I continue to reach out. Maybe I don’t feel the need to accept every single invitation I’m given anymore, but I still try to make new friends when I can.
Every time I enter a new situation, I try to look for the opportunities to connect with people.
This past year those connections have been found at my son’s swim practice. Four days a week, we sit for an hour and a half at a time, waiting for our kids to finish their training. If I didn’t try to connect with people there, I’d probably go nuts!
I also still try to make room for the new people.
I remember all too well what it was like to be the new guy, so when I notice new parents in that YMCA waiting room, I try to say hi and introduce myself.
Our family has met some really GREAT people this way.
The bottom line is, while this strategy works when you’re the new guy in town, it also works after you’ve been around a while. It’s never too late to try and connect with others.
Finding your own mom squad takes work. But when you put in that work, you’ll be all the better for it!
Have any other suggestions or strategies for how to make mom friends? Leave them in the comments!