Play dates, toy shopping, nursery decorating, diaper changing… things that stand in the way between you and a girl’s night out. Your best friend has given birth and, despite your happiness for her, you feel that your importance in her life is diminishing. Women who are left behind in the child bearing process often feel themselves being torn between wanting to be supportive and wanting a little attention themselves. Take a glance at the following tips on how to maintain old friendships with new mothers for a few suggestions on how to balance it all out… for all three of you.
Tip #1: Plan baby-friendly days with her. That is, compromise your need for a girl’s night out by suggesting a venue that is family-friendly. While going to the movies or a chic restaurant may be impossible during the first few years after the child is born, consider a trip to an outdoor venue where an indoor voice won’t be necessary. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an outing that thoroughly amuses the child more so than the adults. Compromise is key. Bring along a few books and toys for the new tot to extend your uninterrupted conversation time.
Tip #2: Offer to remove the burden every now and then. If a new mom feels that she cannot rely on her friends to help her out in her time of need, she’ll likely begin to see spending time with them as a source of stress. Offer to pitch in through babysitting now and then, expecting nothing in return, and the strain of maintaining your friendship will be eased for her immediately. She’ll be less resentful of your time demands later on as a result.
Tip #3: Keep phone calls brief post-birth. Your friend has gone through nine months of hormonal turmoil, given birth, and is now trying to balance her life with nursing, late night screaming, and a crippling new responsibility. Leisurely phone calls won’t be high on her list of priorities. Check in often to keep the friendship alive (and to make sure she’s ok), but keep calls under ten minutes. When she’s ready to talk longer, she’ll let you know. The key is calling regularly to make sure your brief calls aren’t misinterpreted as a sign of your disinterest in longer conversations.
Tip #4: Utilize email. Emailing a new mom lets her know that you care, but also gives her the option of responding when it’s most convenient for her. This option is especially useful when you need more attention than a ten minute phone call will allow.
Tip #5: Let her take part in your freedom. If you’re untethered by any children (or younger children), give your friend a chance to relive that freedom from time to time by inviting her to an event that is in no way kid-friendly. These outings will have to be well planned far in advance, but they’ll give the new mother a chance to remember how much fun being with adults can be every now and then. Knowing that you still view her as a fun-loving person can go a long way toward developing a lasting friendship, despite your differing life stages.
Tip #6: Be mindful of your place. Your friend wouldn’t be normal if she didn’t place her child first in her life. Maintaining your friendship means being happy with your place as a close second. While she’ll always put the child first, she’ll still care deeply about your needs as well.
Tip #7: Remember that the initial shutout is temporary. During those first few weeks post-birth, new moms tend to center every waking moment around their newborns. Give your friend a couple of months to adjust before making any serious demands on her time. For now, it’s all about her.