Updated: Feb 15, 2019
Being a mom is tough, whether you work outside the home or stay at home with your kids. Being a stay-at-home mom presents special challenges that you can only relate to if you've done it. You are surrounded by children. All. Day. Sometimes you just need an hour or two with some other adults to remind you that there is more to life than reading the same story 20 times, answering a million questions from toddlers and young children, getting spit up on, and listening to every episode of Dora the Explorer or Super Why. Well, here are a few tips to help you get and stay connected so you can socialize... and so can your kids!
1) Play dates - Even if you just have one child, and that child is still an infant, you can still go to play dates! When they're young, it's really just a play date for you, so bring your coffee and make some new friends while your babies play on the floor near each other (they don't really start playing together until they're a few years old). If you find a good group that meets fairly regularly, it can be fun to watch everyone's kids grow up together... and you might even get to witness a few milestones! My daughter finally figured out how to crawl at a play date, and it was so awesome to have friends there cheering her on.
If you already have a few mom friends, you could even host your own play date. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, you can just invite them over to your house (and they won't judge the mess because, let's be real, their house probably looks similar) and chill on the couch while the kids play. If you want, you could put out a few easy snacks like fruit or pretzels that moms and kids can enjoy, but don't feel obligated! Moms often carry around snacks in their Mary Poppins diaper bags. If the weather is nice, go to the park or go for a walk together. The sunshine will do everyone some good, and you won't have to worry about cleaning anything before or after.
Don't know where to find play dates? Keep reading to find out!
2) Facebook moms groups - You can find local ones that plan regular play dates, or maybe start up your own play date schedule and invite all those mamas. There are also some more widespread groups (national or international) that are great for getting advice because the more moms there are in the group, the more opinions and experiences you'll be able to read. It can be helpful when you have big questions about things like potty training, weaning, sleep routines, etc. The local ones are good for meeting moms in your area, getting recommendations for pediatricians or schools, or finding good parks to check out when there's nice weather.
If you're in the Austin/Kyle/Buda area, look up South Austin Moms & Minis! It's a great group that is full of friendly moms answering questions and concerns for each other or arranging meetups (with or without kids).
3) Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) - If you're looking for a group that meets regularly and gives you some time to socialize with other moms without having to wrangle your kids, look up MOPS! There are groups all over the world, and they are fantastic. If you go to the MOPS International website, you can find one nearby that has meetings at a time that works for you. Some meet on Tuesdays, some on Fridays, some in the morning, some around dinnertime... and they often have food!
I have been in the group at Austin Oaks Church for about 3 years, and I love it. We meet every other Friday morning, the kids get to go to "class" and play and color, and we get to enjoy a delicious brunch and socialize or listen to a speaker talk about different topics mothers are interested in (makeup, organizing the house, dealing with strong-willed children). Not every MOPS group works the same way, so try out a couple and see which one is a good fit for you. If you contact the group, you should be able to visit for one meeting to get a feel for the group and the time of day.
And I can't talk about MOPS without shamelessly plugging the ABC SALE that my group is hosting NEXT WEEK! It is a huge consignment sale that offers kids' clothes up to size 14, shoes, toys, books, costumes, maternity items, strollers, play pens, and more. I like to stock up on clothes in the next size or two up from what my kids are currently wearing so they have stuff to grow into. Plus, you'll get some amazing bargains, especially since the last 2 hours of the sale are Half Price! The sale is open to anyone, and anyone can sign up to sell their own stuff (you get 65% of the profit, and the rest goes to support our MOPS group), but it's coming up fast, so put it in your calendars and 'Like' the ABC Sale Facebook page to enter contests for pre-sale passes.
The sale is Friday, February 22nd 10am-3pm and Saturday, February 23rd 9am-3pm (1-3pm is the Half Price sale). Come check it out!
4) Stay in touch with non-mom friends - While it's true that someone who is not a parent won't be able to relate to everything you are going through as a mom, that doesn’t mean they don't still have things in common with you or that their friendship isn't valuable.
I've come to realize that none of my 3 closest friends are parents, and while I have a decent number of mom friends, the people I have connected with the most easily have been non-parents. It can sometimes make it easier to hang out with them, in fact, because they don't have to work around nap times (unless it's their own) or wrestle toddlers out the door. A downside though is that you'll usually want them to come visit you instead of vice versa, both because they only have to bring themselves and because their houses most likely aren't baby-proofed, which can be exhausting. Hanging out at a non-baby-proofed house then becomes constantly wrangling your child, keeping their fingers out of outlets and stopping them from pulling down tea cup decorations and televisions.
However, it can be such a relief to hang out with people and talk about things other than your kids, to remember that there are other things in the world of interest besides the details of potty training and the latest mess your child has gotten into. So cherish the non-parent friends. Keep them close and don't overwhelm them by constantly talking about parenting woes and fiascoes. If you don't scare them away from becoming parents, eventually they could be your future mom friends... and you'll become their go-to parenting expert!
5) Homeschool co-ops - If you are a homeschooling mama, try looking up local co-ops. I was in one as a kid, and every Friday, we'd spend the day with other homeschool families in "classes" taught by other parents, such as French, guitar, and art. We got to make friends instead of only being around our siblings like most school days, and we got to take more diverse classes that what our own parents could offer. When my kids are older, I'm definitely going to join one!
6) Go to the park - If none of the above options has worked, try just taking your kids to the park on a sunny day, and strike up a conversation with a mom or two while you're there. Now, this is probably the most intimidating option on this list, especially if you are shy or introverted, but if you meet a mom you really "click" with, it will be worth it! Try asking things like "How old are your kids?" or "Is this your favorite park in the area?" Kids are an easy thing to talk about, so it should spark a natural, easy-flowing conversation... and you might even get some recommendations on other fun, kid-friendly places in the area that you can check out. Also, if your kids are similar ages and enjoy playing together, that's even better! Who knows, you could meet your future mom best friend at the park one day. You'll never know if you don't try.
Bonus Tip: Join your local Buy Nothing Facebook group - These groups are great for getting rid of stuff around your house or for asking for things you need. And the best part is that everything is free! And on top of that, you get to connect with people in your community who you might not have interacted with otherwise. I know it’s been a huge blessing for us.
No matter what stage of motherhood you’re in (or even fatherhood), there are many ways to stay connected and to make new friends. You just have to be willing to take the leap.