It comes as no surprise that life after having a baby can get quite hectic. The first few months of your baby’s life can be particularly demanding with your baby needing to be fed, changed and held at all hours of the day and night. While this presents fantastic bonding opportunities for you and your new baby, it can take a toll on many other areas of your life.
Some of these are obvious and others unexpected. One that sits somewhere in the middle is the effect new parenthood has on your adult friendships. The friendships that get hit the hardest are usually with people who don’t have kids themselves. Softening the blow to these relationships can be as simple as following a few basic steps.
Your friends who don’t have their own children have little way of knowing what you’re going through. You’ll remember from your own pre-parenthood days that there is a general understanding that kids change life in big ways. But as you have now learned, it’s a little like The Matrix: no-one can truly tell you what it is, you have to see it for yourself. This applies to friends without kids too, so don’t expect them to just know. Reach out and bring them into this brave new world of yours. Some friends will be reluctant, but you might find a hugely valuable support system in others.
Make time for socialising
This can be very difficult and comes with a built-in reliance on family or other trusted support systems. If you can leave your partner or a close family member to supervise baby, you will find the bit of time spent with friends wonderfully rejuvenating. When spending this time with friends, don’t be afraid to talk about your new beloved, but also remember that this is a perfect opportunity to maintain contact with some of your interests that are not child related. Making the most of both of these things will show your friends that while you have evolved into this new super-parent (even if you don’t see yourself this way, there’s a good chance that they do), their friendship and the mutual common ground is still there.
Value your friendships
The plunge into parenthood can be all-consuming. Free time becomes scarcer than gold, money can become tight and your emotional capacity for dealing with anything but the most important matters can wane at infuriatingly unexpected times. This why valuing friendships – and saying that you do – is incredibly important. Your friends have, on some level or another, an appreciation for the magnitude of the changes in your life that come with parenthood. So, taking the time to share, express that you care or even just phoning to say “hi” can go a long way to maintaining your adult friendships. And as much as new parents can feel like parenting has taken over the world, it is important to remember that the lives of your friends have also carried on. They still have struggles, joys and changes of their own to stay on top of. Maintaining even basic involvement in this will not only help keep your friendships going but can be deeply rewarding too.
Navigating this new life as a parent has many challenges and the value of looking after your adult friendships can provide you with anything from a simple recreational outlet to a powerful support system.