Whatever did you do with your time before you had a baby? Oh yeah. You spent time with friends.
But now you’re a parent and life is consumed by dirty diapers, day care and naps. All the people in your life before a baby may still be in the picture, but in a different (that is, limited) capacity.
This is especially true of those friends who have yet to bite the parenthood bullet and keeping in touch with them is yet another challenge facing new parents. Those childless friends are at another stage in their lives and you may not have the same passions anymore – that is, you now care more about Dora the Explorer’s latest adventure than the adventures your friend Susan met with last Saturday night at a club downtown.
So how does the shift between friendship and long-lost pals happen and why? Hear from these new parents on how they’re coping with parenthood and maintaining friendships with kid-free chums.
An early start
Read how these parents are dealing with their childless friends as the only moms and dads in their friend group…
Rachel Thompson, 26, hairstylist, and sons Jaiden Dallas, 2 years, and Tobey Dade, 4 months
Rachel was just 23 when she had her first son – a lot younger than most modern parents. With most friends still in school or travelling the world, Rachel and husband Charles entered parenthood with most of their buddies still living the carefree life that comes with being kid-free.
“It has definitely become a struggle to maintain friendships since becoming a mom. My friends that don’t have children don’t seem to understand that having a baby is an all consuming job – in an amazing way, of course,” Rachel says. “Even though you have times when you’re able to go out…you always have that little person in the back of your mind.”
Having tried to maintain friendships with friends who didn’t seem to want to make an effort to spend time together or meet her children, Rachel feels that when it comes to maintaining a friendship there are just some friends that just aren’t as supportive or understanding as others – a fact that new parents just have to deal with.
“[There are] those people who are going to be there to support you no matter how often you to talk or seem them,” says Rachel. “Those are true friendships.”
Chris Large, 30, tech support expert,and son, Lenny, 2 years and daughter, Nancie, 6 weeks
Chris and his wife, Jocelyn, are surrounded by childless friends. In fact, only one of their mutual friends have children. Nonetheless, the family has been lucky in maintaining their long-lasting friendships.
“Out of our circle of friends, we were the first to slow down and start building a family,” says Chris. “Our friends know what to expect from us socially.”
But as a dad amongst childless singles and couples, the struggle for Chris comes when he is around those that aren’t as kid-friendly as he is.
“As a proud father, it’s sometimes hard not to push the fact down people’s throats when I first start talking to someone,” says Chris. “But don’t push your kids on people. Some people just aren’t comfortable around children, [but]…it is possible to keep friendships with people who don’t want to be around kids…not mine, of course, because they are beautiful…other kids.”
In the middle?
Get to know how new parents who have some parent-friend support along with childless chums deal with their diverse social circle…
Lisa Goller, 32, communications pro, and daughter Sophie, 1 year
“I never expected to feel so deliriously joyful despite all the sleepless nights, poop, and spit-up,” says Lisa about being a mommy. While over half of Lisa’s friends are not yet parents, most of them are looking to have a baby in a year or so. That said, maintaining friendships since becoming a mom has been a fairly easy transition for Lisa.
“Parenthood has improved my friendships. Although I don’t stay out late anymore, I have used my maternity leave as an opportunity to connect with friends and family more than ever,” she says.
Nonetheless, Lisa’s met with some adversity. For one, she has yet to see a single, kid-free friend for six months despite plans to meet up a few weeks later. But, Lisa attributes part of this separation to her new lifestyle.
“Perhaps I need to expand my conversational topics beyond baby playdates, teething and lack of sleep,” says Lisa. “Whether your friends have children or not, don’t be like Kathy Lee Gifford (or me) and bore them by obsessively raving about your glorious child.
Sarah Charuk, 33, public affairs senior manager, and son Jack Robert Brand, 4.5 months
Sarah and her husband, Jamie Brand, have ushered in parenthood with about half of their friends following suit. Sarah confirms that her “world has been turned upside down” by her new responsibility and in return, it’s become a challenge to maintain friendships with the other half of her social circle who are still kid-free.
“Many of our childless friends are still into going out for dinner and drinks downtown, and less into dinner parties and hanging out at our place,” says Sarah. “As a result, we usually have to split up – [that is] either my husband or I stay home while the other goes out.”
Sarah notes a key solution to this problem, though – bribe kid-free friends with dinner at your home and they will come for the free food and, of course, the company.
On the band wagon
Get to know if it gets easier to be social when most of your friends are parents, too…
John Ainslie, 34, writer and carpenter, proud father to a 3 month old and 15 year old son, and wife Rechna Varma, 34 (“but really 29”), freelance producer, proud mom (3 month old) and step-mom (15 year old)
With most of their friends already on board the parent train, John and Rechna haven’t experienced major friendship struggles.
However, social outings like dinner plans have become a bit harder since becoming a mom, explains Rechna – especially when your childless friends are running late and you’re starving and breast feeding and need to get to bed a certain time.
“Personally, I think the problem is that a lot of people never seem to understand that most nights I would rather stay home by myself and work or just relax with my family than go out,” says John. “Having a kid is great because it’s a solid excuse to stay home.”
“But I know I wasn’t the best friend when a friend of mine had a kid,” says Rechna. “So I try not to get disappointed when some of my friends aren’t as consumed with my son as I am.”
So how do you get your friends to understand that life has changed for you? Well, you have to be frank and tell them.
“[Just] let everyone know that you are going to be jerks for about three years,” says Rechna jokingly.
Recap: Top 5 Tips for New Parents to Maintain Relationships with Kid-Free Friends
1. Connect with friends while on maternal or paternal leave: Take the extra time you have away from the office and in between feedings to set the stage for the new phase in your friendship that involves your new baby.
2. Make it easy on both you and your friends: Invite them over so you can stay with your newborn but still catch up with your chums.
3. Ensure that you let your friends know that things have changed for you since becoming a parent: Be frank and open with friends whenever possible.
4. Don’t expect everyone to be understanding of your new status as mommy or daddy : There are some friendships that will not be able to withstand such dramatic
5. Make sure you let your childless friends get in a word or two when hanging out: You might feel that life is all about little Jonny or Janie, but your kid-free friends have things going on in their lives that require attention, too.
Tell WhereParentsTalk.com how you maintain relationships with your childless, kid-free friends!