You need your friends more than ever when you become a parent – to share a laugh with, provide encouragement and perspective, and to help maintain some balance in your life.
It can be hard to find time for your friends when you become a parent, but it’s important to make some, so:
- make plans ahead of time, but don’t stress if you have to change them
- invite friends to join in kid-friendly activities with you
- find a reliable and trustworthy babysitter
- keep it simple – things like pot luck dinners can work well because they’re at your home, and you don’t have to prepare too much food.
- remember to ask about your friends’ lives, and those of mutual friends. When you’re in the parenting bubble – especially when you have a young baby – it’s easy to forget there’s life outside your home. This will help you stay connected with the things you and your friends have in common – people, food, music, sports, work, etc.
You may find you spend more time with old friends who have children than you spend with friends without children. You’re likely to have more in common with them at this stage in your life, and that’s okay. Old friendships often cycle – you’ll find each other again.
Connecting with other parents
Becoming a parent and raising children can be a huge change in your life. If you’re used to being in a work environment, or surrounded by people, being at home with your baby can feel lonely. It can be good to connect with others sharing similar experiences.
And when you have children, you end up meeting a new group of people – other parents. You may already have met some at antenatal class, and there are lots of other places you can meet other parents.
Join a parent group, where parents/caregivers gather with their children to meet other parents and share information on parenting. Parent groups are also a great way to help children interact with each other and begin to develop their social skills.
There are lots of different ways you can meet other parents in your community. Around the country you can find:
- your local Plunket PIN (Plunket In the Neighbourhood) parent group
- whānau groups
- mothers' groups
- coffee groups
- young mums groups
- dads' groups
- single parent groups
- storytime groups at your local library
- dance, movement or music groups
- walking groups
- online forums.
Your Plunket nurse will be able to tell you what’s available in your area, or search online.
Parent and baby activities
- Local playgrounds are a great place to meet other parents
- Parent and baby movies – search online to find local participating cinemas
- Parent and baby fitness classes
Mums tend to be more likely to join parent groups, and sometimes stay-at-home dads can be more isolated. Dads can still:
- arrange to meet old friends
- join a parent group
- join local playgroups
- join a dads’ playgroup
- join local sports clubs
- join local family-friendly hobby groups.
Building and maintaining a solid support network is really important for single parents, too. Life can be pretty full-on when you’re parenting without a partner, and friendships can give you a break.