For many of us, courting new mom friends can bring back the long-forgotten anxieties of our youth. Will they like me? Am I going to look foolish? Is everyone establishing friendships without me?
Truth be told, nearly all women, particularly mothers, crave connections and friendship.
Having the following tips in your toolbox before school pickup or an afternoon park can give you the confidence you need to put yourself out there.
Smile, Make Eye Contact, Introduce Yourself. The majority of moms, (myself included!) seem to sway on the side of shy when it comes to engaging with new cohorts. Instead of reverting to the nervous ticks of staring at your phone or focusing solely on your children, always try to at a minimum do these three things: make eye contact, smile, introduce yourself. The first two are no brainers. For the third, try something to the effect of “Hi, I’m Tera, Mila’s mom” and if you know their youngsters’ name, add “Your Anna’s mom, right?”
Establish Common Ground. You’ve got introduction out of the way; the hard part’s over! Assuming potential-future mom friend hasn’t ignored you or told you to take a hike, move the conversation to common ground. At a minimum you are both parents finding yourself at the same location—go from there! Do your kids have the same teacher? Are they both playing soccer? Do you live in the same neighborhood? Establishing commonalities can help move your rapport from small talk to friendship.
Give a Compliment. We all enjoy a little boost. Making a sincere compliment to another mom about her or her child not only demonstrates you’re showing a personal interest, it also shows that you are likely a kind and supportive friend. Who doesn’t want that addition to their life?
Ask for an Opinion, Advice or Recommendations. Looking for a reliable babysitter, wondering how to get your kids to eat their lunch? Seeking input from another mom is a great conversation starter. I will generally either lead to enlightenment, or bonding over a similar issue, which are both important components of a friendship. One note of caution here: a great way to make new mom friends is not by giving unsolicited opinions, advice or recommendations. To ask for these things shows vulnerability, which is important to establishing friendships, to project them can lead to some serious side-eye.
Get an update. There’s a difference between shooting the breeze and having a conversation. One fills the time, the other involves listening. When you get the chance to strike up a conversation, do your best to take note. Remember names (both mom and kids) and make the effort to follow-up on your most recent conversation, which allows you to show you’re engaged in establishing a friendship.
Exchange Contact Info. I met a mom this summer pushing our kids on the swings at the park. She had a quiet, sarcastic personality like me, and I loved her immediately. We realized we both had first graders the upcoming school year and left it at, “we’ll totally run into each other soon.” Six months later, I can barely remember what she looks like, let alone her name. What a shame! So please, when you make a connection with someone, swallow your pride and get their contact information.
Breaking the ice with other mothers can be an anxious event. Remind yourself that finding a meaningful friendship with another mom can really make an extraordinary impact on your life.
All Photos by Angela Carlyle