PARENTING

Maintaining your friendships — how do you prioritise your friends?

A longtime reader (seven years she said!) recently sent an email asking for advice on maintaining friendships and making new ones.  She shared that she already feels pulled in so many directions (kids, husband, work, life in general!) and that she admittedly hasn’t been able to focus on her own friendships. She wondered if we have thoughts or advice.

Her question really resonated with me, as I have, over the last couple years, witnessed the enormous benefit of having good, strong, nurturing friendships in my life. In the last couple years, I feel like I have had such enormous leaps in my overall mindset — my confidence higher, my relationship with my husband more in sync, my parenting more solid — all thanks to the closeness I have with my girlfriends.

Like having a good diet and getting enough exercise, I really feel like good friendships are vital for our overall mental health and happiness. Being able to share openly, to feel encouraged and uplifted, to be able to admit to your shortcomings without worrying about judgement, to seek advice, to be able to talk about your sex life, to be silly and goofy and honest and raw…etc., etc.  All these things enable us to grow and learn and be better humans. It’s like getting free counselling!

Of course I’ve had close friends over the years, all of whom I am SO thankful for — friends from my childhood who I see every time I go back to my home town, or college friends who keep in touch over email and send annual Christmas cards, even dear friends in London who I would meet up with for coffee or the occasional dinner dates when I lived there, whom I miss. And of course I’ve had longtime friendships with Esther and Emilie! But, it is so important to have friends within your community who you see regularly. In the last couple years I have really found a tribe of women who are like sisters, women who I feel completely at ease with, and because we are all here in the same small town, our bonds feel stronger than anything I’ve experienced before. These friends are like family!

Perhaps it’s circumstantial, or perhaps it’s cultural, or perhaps I’ve just found a place on this planet with such like-minded people that making connections is that much easier, but whatever it is, it’s something I value wholeheartedly, and I encourage other mums to seek those connections, to make it a priority to grow and nurture friendships within your community — friends you see regularly, weekly, if not more. Here are some simple ways to connect and strengthen friendships:

  • Start a group text with a group of mum friends and check in with each other regularly — ask questions, share insights, send random images of your kids doing something silly, send a message out when you happen to have a spare hour in your day to see if anyone else is near and happens to also be free for a coffee or lunch (it’s easier to be brave and ask to meet up with people when it’s in a group text!)
  • Don’t be shy! If there’s a mum at the school gates, or someone you keep bumping into at your local bakery (anywhere!) who you think looks like someone you want to be friends with, say hello! Ask if they want to grab a coffee or come for tea. I know this could be a cultural thing, as I have witnessed people being more reserved in England than they are here in Australia, but despite what is ‘normal’, don’t be afraid to be the first one to say hello and reach out.
  • Grab coffee with a friend after school drop-off, even if you have toddlers in tow. Make it a regular thing.
  • Find a friend who enjoys the same exercise and do it together (for me it’s surfing or doing the lighthouse walk — some of my best ‘counselling’ sessions have been on that walk up to the lighthouse here in Byron!)
  • Organise girl’s nights out — drink cocktails and get silly (sometimes we don’t even go out to restaurants — we’ll just organise chocolate and wine nights in our homes).
  • Go and see a chic-flick together — grab a quick dinner before or after.  (Tuesday nights are half-price at our nearest cinema, so every once in a while I’ll go see a movie with girlfriends on a random Tuesday evening.)
  • Sign your kids up for the same after school activity and sit together while they’re doing it. (My kids do tennis every Monday afternoon with my friend Aimee’s kids, and we sit for two hours and talk the entire time. Mondays are my favourite days!)
  • Organise potluck dinners on the weekends so husbands and kids get in on the fun — they’re easy because everyone brings a share plate and their own drinks.
  • Start a book club amongst your friends — or with your neighbours or class parents at your children’s school, etc.  My sister-in-law, who lives in LA, has been a part of a book club with her neighbours for years and years now, and her meetings always sound so interesting — of course they end up chatting more about life than the book they’re reading, which is the fun of it, really.  If you’re not into books, you can start a craft club, a knitting club, etc.  (I don’t know if she still does it, but Esther used to host craft nights at her house every Monday night and her living room would fill with women all with their own craft project to keep them busy! How fun!)
  • Be a good friend.  Drop off food when a friend is sick, offer to bake a cake for a friend’s birthday, offer to pick up your friends’ children from school if they’re busy/sick/stressed, etc. At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Often these sorts of things strengthen friendships!

Please share your thoughts and tips. It would be great to hear how other mothers have found new friends. Please also share where you live, as I think it’s always interesting to see the cultural differences.

Courtney x


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Comments (12)

Karrie, London
February 12, 2019

I love this post! I think this is so close my heart! I am a Canadian living in London and I have found having my close group of friends really important. I could not agree more with your advice.
When I first moved to London 8 years ago I met my dear friends through my first job and although I’ve changed jobs am still very close with them today. Since then I’ve had my 2.5 year son and through NCT I connected with amazing women (and their husbands) and our friendships have grown stronger in the short years I’ve known them. These friendships have been easy to sustain as our children are best friends too, some go to the same nursery. We regularly meet for coffees, museums, parks, dinners, pizza nights, etc.
Nursery (which is practically on our doorstep) and local parks and museums is where I have connected with other mums. Your words reminded me though that I need to make a more conscious effort of connecting more with my pre-mum friends. Those first friendships that got me through my first years as a new Londoner before my weekends were filled with playdates and early bedtimes! Thank you for the nudge Courtney! X


Bori, Budapest, Hungary
February 12, 2019

We made creative diy club, and now starting a farmer’s market, sometimes we make a market to ourselfs and changeing our child dresses, games, etc. Somebody bake a pie, coffee or tea, good place for a laughing!


Sara
February 12, 2019

Very great advice Courtney, thanks 🥰
I’ve been living in London for 17 years. I find it difficult in here to
make long lasting friendships! People move a lot and where I live, in Fulham, people are not approachable, specially with foreigners. Funny enough that when I lived in South Kensington, I had people stopping me in the street to compliment me on my shoes! More international post code I guess! I live on the wrong place! However, I have a few good friends abroad and I keep in touch with them. Sometimes, you just have to accept that maybe the problem is ourselves and focus on being really carrying with your children and family. I always keep a smile and do what I love: painting and now I am learning playing piano! You make your days not the other way around!


Annie from Brimful
February 12, 2019

Yay for group texts! The group text I have with all my girl cousins is one of the best things ever. We make each other laugh so hard! And when there’s hard things going on within our big family, we can lean on each other…even though we are spread out all over the world. Great post C – and what a wonderful tribe of sisters you’ve got there!


Emilie in Paris
February 12, 2019

I am all for strong female friendships!!! I remember first moving to Paris and I felt like I was almost dating, I had to reach out to people I did not know, make the first step and persist. But it was totally worth it!!!


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Michelle
February 13, 2019

We moved to Gold Caost Australia 2 years ago form South Africa. We immediately joined a church we love and I got connected to a mums group. We meet up fortnightly and also have a WhatsApp chat group…so every one stays connected and support each other. These girls have become the best of friends and I am so thankful to have made such good friendships in such a short time.
I so agree that friendships play a major role in your mental health. We were not created to do life alone!


Gwen
February 13, 2019

I recently moved from the Netherlands to Brooklyn, New York. I keep in contact with all my friends from the Netherlands but don’t have friends over here and find it difficult to connect to other women/moms. But you’re message and the comments make me realize I just have to go for it, because I miss the real life conversations and laughter!


Mishka
February 13, 2019

Crucial question, how did you meet your community of like-minded women? I’m in a new area with a 17 month old and am struggling to find friends in the community who broadly share my outlook on life, let alone parenting!


Rebekka
February 14, 2019

Thank you Courtney! I loved this post and your advice. I am German and my best friends are now mostly living in other cities or countries even! But we moved into a really nice little neighbourhood and your idea with group texts really resonated with me. I think i’ll Start a group text with all the moms in my street! Thanks a lot


Shannon
February 16, 2019

Courtney, I love this post! I am getting ready to move to London from America and I’m so nervous about making friends. I know Babyccino does the ShopUp but would you ever consider facilitating meet-ups? I feel like I’m kindred spirits with anyone who reads this blog and site!


Jennifer
February 17, 2019

Thank you Courtney for all your thoughtful and smart recomendations! You are so fortunate to have such a group of friends as you do. In college I had such a tight, loving, supportive group of friends and we were such an integral part of each other’s lives, but that was over 20 years ago and we all went our separate ways to other states or countries. I honestly haven’t formed friendships like that since. I live on the East Coast in the US and people here really keep to themselves. It is very hard form friendships, especially the kind where you actually get together in person on a regular basis. I have nothing like that here. The other mothers I meet are all busy with their own lives and really don’t have a desire to have girlfriends in their lives like the way you describe it is where you live. I am rarely without a child so it’s not like I could go out with just the girls, but even get togethers with the kids doesn’t realy happen on a regular basis. But I totally agree, women and especially mothers need that time spent with their close friends to bring them back, or help them get back a little closer to who they really are! xox


Isabell from Germany
April 9, 2019

Hi Cortney, though this article was published a little while ago I felt the wish to comment and thank you for your insight. I do not have a child but friends of mine have and your tips work equally well in my situation – both to find and grow friendship as well as understanding what it’s like to be “on the other side”. thanks a lot xoxo from Germany


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