Leading up to the birth of your baby, there are lots of things to plan for and worry about. One thing you may be worried about, especially if you are among some of your first friends having babies, is how being a parent is going to change your relationships with friends who don’t have babies. Whether you are the first to pop or some of your friends just aren’t kid-ready, it can be challenging trying to maintain your friendships after your entire world turns upside down.
If we are lucky, life throws us a friend who will be there with us through thick and thin. These friends are hard to come by and your friendship seems to conquer any adversity. They’ll love your children and even earn the honorary title of “aunt” or “uncle.” Other friends, however, may be more reserved. Especially if your friendship centered around doing activities that are difficult to do once baby is in the picture.
Bringing a baby into the picture changes everything. Your world now revolves around your little bundle. Your baby is what you want to talk about and who you want to be around. When you do get a chance to meet up with your baby-less friends, it can be difficult to understand that they might not be as baby-crazy as you are. (How can someone not be completely obsessed with your amazingly cute offspring?)
Just like your romantic relationship at home, maintaining a good friendship with those in your circle without kids will take some work. This can’t be one-sided though. Your friends need to understand that late-night clubbing and partying and sleeping in till 11 am are things of the past and that you have new responsibilities and priorities now. And you need to understand that your friends may still want to do more than look through five thousand photos of your babies.
Both parties need to make an effort to incorporate the other in this new journey. As time goes on, it will get easier and as your kids get older you will have more freedom to do the things you used to.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are considering social relationships, and how to keep your friendships with friends without babies thriving.
How to Stay in Touch with Friends Who Don’t Have Kids
1. Make an effort.
No matter how exhausted you might be, try and meet the girls for a drink or dinner once the kids are asleep. Dad will be able to handle them just fine. Meeting on neutral territory will help both of you relate back to the friendship you shared before kids.
2. Involve them in your kids’ lives.
Don’t keep your family life and friendships separate. Invite them to family picnics or to your child’s birthday party. This way neither of you will feel like your children are a barrier to your friendship. If they don’t feel like coming to your child’s birthday parth, that’s okay too. It’s good to make sure they know that they are invited though.
3. Understand their life for what it is.
You were busy before you had kids, and you used to get tired before kids as well. Don’t downplay their stress and worries just because they aren’t centered on children. Each one of us has different priorities, all respectively important to us. Whether it seems silly to you or not important compared to your problems, be there when they need your help.
4. Be respectful of their feelings.
Perhaps your friends don’t have children yet, not because they don’t want to have children, but because life hasn’t given them that opportunity yet. Maybe they’re still looking for the right partner or maybe they’re struggling with infertility. Either way, it can be hard for some friends to see you move on to the next chapter of your life while they feel like they’re falling behind. Be respectful of their feelings when you’re hanging out together. Your kids may be a sensitive subject, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a valuable and rewarding friendship.
5. Keep in contact.
There are so many methods of communication nowadays that there is no excuse for silence. Even a “hey, hope you’re having a good day” can go a long way in keeping a friendship alive. Or sending a funny meme that reminds you of them. You may not have time to join them on nights out, but at least make an effort to message now and again.
6. Show interest in what they love.
Whether it is their dog, goldfish or guitar, make sure that you at least seem interested in their passion. How offended would you be if they showed now affection or interest towards your children? No one wants to feel less than just because they don’t have or want the perfect family life.
7. Be open.
Not having kids, they might not understand how demanding motherhood is. Explain why you can’t stay late at the dinner party, and why you can’t have 5 minutes notice to join them for after work drinks.
8. Don’t use your children as an excuse.
However, don’t start using your kids as an excuse for everything. Your friends will be able to pick up on when your excuses aren’t genuine, and may start to resent your children if you’re using them as an excuse to avoid hanging out when in reality you just don’t want to hang out. Be honest. Using your kids as an excuse isn’t fair to any of you.
Communication and honesty will be the key to keeping your friendships alive. Giving yourself the support system of a strong group of understanding friends is priceless.
It Doesn’t Last Forever
Soon the kids will be old enough for you to join in some activities again, but for now, try and help your friends understand the constraints of parenthood. They might even be experiencing it themselves sometime soon.
Having little kids is hard and demanding, but they’re only little for a little while. When they’re grown and more independant, you may regret letting your old friendships flounder and miss the times you used to have with them.
What are your tips for keeping friendships alive with your friends who don’t have kids? Let us know in the comments below.