Sometimes, even when you are surrounded by people, you can feel completely alone. You can go to church, school, work, and parties with a large amount of people, people you know, but sometimes it feels like all of these relationships are fake, as you realize that none of these people really, truly, intimately care about you. Because, there is a difference between having lots of friends and having a best friend. But, for some reason it is hard for many to make best friends as an adult. Really, it is just hard for us to make friends in the first place. This is especially true for stay at home moms, who spend much of their time, at home, with little people, who aren’t selfless enough to serve as a best friend.
In fact, I believe this feeling of loneliness, feeling of isolation, is an epidemic among Stay-at-home moms (though it affects all mothers). I hear constantly from women, whether they directly say it or imply it, that they need more. That they crave friendship, adult interaction, something more to do, than just be a mother. They desperately seek someone to call upon in times of need, in times of boredom, and even times of excitement. They desire someone who just calls or texts to say “Hi” and see how their day or night went. They desire a companion on their trips to the parks, and maybe even to Target. They want a best friend. A fellow blogger friend of mine just wrote all about her struggle in her new normal while living rather isolated, especially as a new stay at home mom.
I’ve felt it too
In my life, I felt most alone and isolated in the first year of my motherhood. The day before I gave birth I was a full-time student, something I had been for 16 years straight. And despite not working during my last year of college due to pregnancy and my schedule, I had previously held a job almost consistently since I was 12 years old, working as a paper girl. I was a hard working young woman, who was smart, talented, and had a large group of friends. But, after I gave birth to twins, via planned C-section, I found myself and my husband with our 6-week old twins, moving from Utah to Indiana. After two months living with my in-laws, we moved into our own apartment as my husband procured his first teaching position in Indianapolis. And that’s when the real isolation and loneliness began.
We only had one vehicle, and my husband’s commute time was about 25 minutes. This meant I was at home all day with newborn twin babies by myself. We also had debt, and little money coming in. We didn’t even have some basic necessities like a dining table and chairs, as well as washer/dryer. Money was very tight, so even if I had wanted to go somewhere (and found the means to do so), we didn’t have any money to pay for many of the attractions in town, or to go to lunch with someone. But, I didn’t know many people anyway. I knew a few people at church in our new area, but that was it, and many of them were busy with their own lives and several kids. It was also logistically harder for me to get a ride (and I had to remember to remove the car seats from our vehicle before my husband left for work) from others with two baby car seats to install along their children’s car seats.
But, over time, and through various activities, finally getting a second vehicle, and a move to a different place in the city, I started to see through the haze of myself and my bitter loneliness. I consistently had a group of friends again. But, I never did feel in the four years I lived in Indiana that I had made that awesome, last-forever, best friend, despite often associating with many women.
This friendship thing is tricky for us moms, isn’t it?
I’m still working hard on develop close, personal, friendships in my life, now as our family recently moved to Texas. So, I honestly don’t have all the answers. I wish I did. But, I’m just like many of you. I have been affected by this epidemic more than once, to varying levels, and I know every stay at home mother has.
The Top Reasons Why You Feel Alone or Isolated as a Stay at Home Mom
- You only have one vehicle, or a lack of transportation, inadequate sidewalks and crosswalks, etc
- You are a military family who moves around a lot
- Your husband is deployed, so you are full-time parent all the time.
- Your husband is in a demanding school program like medical school, law school, or an advanced degree program
- Your husband is gone a lot as he travels for work
- You are brand new to the area and far away from family and friends
- You or the people in your town are very transient (see many of the above points), coming and going in only a few short years
- Your friends aren’t mothers yet or they work a lot, or work during the day
- You have lost friends through becoming a mother or from moving far away
- You don’t know your neighbors (despite many of us living in large apartment complexes, townhomes, and cramped subdivisions)
- You live far out in the country, away from anyone (and anything really)
- People have stopped calling you or checking in on you (for whatever reason)
- All of your friends live very busy lives with families and work of their own
- You don’t have money to hang out with friends and they always want to eat out or go to the salon (or whatever it is that costs money)
The Top Ways We Are Isolating Ourselves as Stay at Home Moms
All of the above are more situational reasons why we feel alone or isolated. Not having our spouses home a lot can be not only lonely, but tiring, so that we don’t really care about other people because we don’t have much left of ourselves to give to someone else. But, if we really do crave friendships, then we need to remember that friendships are two-way streets, and we can’t just expect some best friend to magically appear on our door stop, and to keep showing up, if we aren’t doing anything to develop the friendship back. That’s why as stay at home moms we need to stop doing the following:
- Being so family-focused that we put all of our energy into our home and family, and claim we are too busy for friendships
- Fearing being judged by other women
- Judging ourselves and our situation, family, home, clothes, financial situation, etc
- Letting our introverted tendencies prevent us from being social
- Fearing meeting new people and never talk to strangers
- Relying only on family nearby to meet all of our needs
- Playing the martyr and blame our season of life, our children, our situation, and claim not having friends is just part of the sacrifice of being a great mom
- Blaming our limited means and living situation
- Letting our transient state be the reason we don’t seek out friendships
- Being so comfy in our own homes and our own lives
- Pretending to be perfect
- Keeping our guards and our walls up because we’re afraid of being embarrassed, hurt, or unliked
- Having a low self-esteem, thinking that no one would like someone like you, or they wouldn’t like the true you
- Avoiding taking the first initiative of inviting people over to our homes (yes, even when we have small apartments)
- Staying at home the vast majority of the time
- Relying too much on connecting with other women virtually through Facebook, blogs, Instagram, and texting.
- Giving up, because making friends is just too hard.
Ladies, let me be frank with you. You need friends outside of your family. You need to stop downgrading your value and worth. You are awesome. So, please, let down those guards, humble yourself, and get over your limitations, whether those appear in the form of money, living quarters, fashion-sense, nutrition, craftiness, education, weight, etc. Everyone has issues they are self-conscious about. But, it doesn’t mean you are unworthy of having a friend.
Where to “Find” Friends
One of the biggest questions many moms have, is where exactly do you find people who can become your friend? It’s kind of a funny question in someways, or perhaps just a sad realization of how selfish we’ve all become, as many of us see people every single day, or several times a week. We see neighbors come and go. We run into people over and over again at the grocery store, library, post office, and parks. People (potential friends) are everywhere. But, for some reason, we don’t think about these people as our future BFFs.
It’s a little frustrating that this is the way things seem to work now, but, I understand that’s the case for myself, and vast majority of people in America (I’ve never lived in a small town though!). But, many of us stay at home moms seem to crave others like us, not the grandma we saw shopping at Kohls, who we often deem so out of touch, or just unrelatable. But, I do want to remind us all that people of all shapes, sizes, races, religions, ages, stages of life, and situations, can become our friends.
With that said, if you still crave other young mothers (or older mothers, depending on where you are at), here are some ideas on where you can meet those potential, have-something-in-common, friends:
- Bible Study Groups
- Book Clubs (libraries often host them or you can start your own)
- Story time at the Library
- Fitness Classes at the local recreation center or gym.
- Mothers Of Preschoolers (MOPS)
- The Local chapter of CityMoms (if there is one). They often have Moms Nights Out. If you live in Indianapolis, TheCityMoms.org is a fantastic group.
- Meetup.com – Many cities have parenting groups regularly meeting up, or other groups that may interest you
- Homeschooling Co-Ops
- Playgroups (if there aren’t any running in your area, think about starting one) and Playdates
- Craft Night (at a local craft store, or perhaps start your own)
- Volunteer Organizations
- School Drop-Off and Pick-Up Lines
- School Volunteer Organizations and Functions
- Exercise Clubs (like a local running club or biking club)
- Military Spouses organizations and get-togethers
All of the above things involve you actually getting out of your house. However, if your means really are limited, Facebook groups and blogging can be a great way to connect with others. This can be especially helpful for moms who have children with certain special needs, for them to connect with others in a similar situation as you (whatever that may be). There are millions of Facebook groups on about every topic imaginable, and many blogs that discuss certain life situations. They can be great way to at least connect with other women, and sometimes even develop real friendships with them, chatting with them online every week, or maybe even eventually in person. There are also many Facebook groups dedicated to specific cities. They can help you connect with others who are looking for friendships. You likely set up a playdate or playgroup pretty quickly this way.
Many of my best friends today are virtual friends who I have met through being a virtual blogger, reading blogs, and connecting with them through messages and emails. While I do not think virtual friends should be your own source of friendship, as they can’t bring you over that homecooked meal after you’ve had that new baby, or be there physically for you in other ways, it is a huge blessing to many of us to at least have someone to talk to and connect with each day or week or month.
How to Make a Friend
Okay, that probably seems like a ridiculous heading – how to make a friend? Do we really not know this? Perhaps we don’t as many of us used to make friends very easily in grade school and college (like I did!). But, when you don’t interact with other peers on a regular basis, and your world gets turned upside down by the addition of little people, you turn into someone else, at least to a degree. And this new person can often be more reserved than her former non-mother self. (Or am I the only that’s done this?) Well, if you are like this, or have never been great at crossing over from “seeing someone” to “becoming friends” here are some important things to do or remember:
- Sit next to people at gatherings and introduce yourself. Sit next to a new family at church, or someone sitting by themselves at the park.
- Knock on a neighbor’s door. Bring a treat. Introduce yourself and your family.
- Open your mouth. You have to talk to people to get to know them, and for them to get to know you. You can’t really be friends if you don’t actually talk. (Only exception is if you are deaf, but then, you need to “open your hands.”)
- Get their Phone number or email. You can spend an hour chatting with a new person at the park, but never see them again, because you failed to be brave and ask for their phone number or at least an email address. If you like this person, and want to see about a future playdate or to invite them to some club, church function, or other organization, you have to have a way to contact them. And just getting their name, and hoping to find them on Facebook, is not the best way, as you can misspell their name, forget it ten minutes later, or not be able to figure out which Kathleen Jones they are (as many people’s profiles have privacy settings on them).
- Befriend them on Social Networks. As important as it is to get phone numbers and emails, it’s also great to friend your new friends on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (or whatever you use). Now you can see if they have needs, what they believe perhaps, and generally get to stalk, er, I mean, know them better. Be sure to not just thumbs up or favorite things either – COMMENT! And maybe even message them, just to say hi or to set a get-together up soon.
- Ask REAL questions. Small talk is great for cracking the friendship doors, but it won’t get you too far. You need to just jump in and ask some more serious questions. Listen for something they say in their small talk to ask a bigger question. Did they mention a church? Ask which one they go to, if they like, etc (even if you aren’t religious – part of being a friend is listening as well as trying to understand all aspects of a person’s life). Did they mention long hours at home as their husband is gone a lot? Then ask how they are coping or if they aren’t very well. Ask about their children, their brothers and sister, parents, husband, where they went to college, why they chose the major they did.
- Answer HONESTLY. Now that you are asking real questions, if you receive some real questions back, be honest. Don’t sugarcoat things, or keep those walls up. Tell them how you feel about different things. And try to express some emotions if applicable too. Get excited about your own life – it will make it easier for the other person to care more about it too.
- Remember the details and be observant. With all the questions and honesty, pay attention, and try to remember all the details. If you are a journaling person, write it down there. And then be observant about their needs, and perhaps to what they aren’t saying.
- Treat them as you would want to be treated. Don’t steamroller them in a conversation and be so dominant in sharing (honestly) how to feel about everything under the sun, so much so that the person hasn’t really told you anything about themselves. Make sure there is a balance to the give and take in the conversation. And don’t put down their parenting (or other) choices, even if you disagree. Don’t one-up their birth stories or heartaches.
- Serve them. Offer to give them a hand if they have more children or bags then you do when leaving. Offer to bring them a meal, cover your lunch date bill, let them borrow your maternity clothes you’re not currently using, or give them a hand with their latest home improvement project. Offer to babysit when they need help. However you can, serve them.
- Ask for help. Sometimes one the best way to break down barriers, is to open yourself up and ask for help. Maybe you need help packing for an upcoming move. Maybe you really need someone to watch your kids. Maybe you would love help learning a new skill, like cooking, gardening, or sewing, and this person has some knowledge in that area. Whatever it is, ask for help! Maybe it’s as simple as asking a neighbor for a few eggs (I totally did this two months ago).
- Pray for them and your friendship. If you are a praying individual, considering praying that you will find and develop that friendship that you so desparately crave. Pray that you’ll be open to the inspiration of the spirit, and follow its promptings. Ask for blessings on your new friend and any trials they are facing. Ask for help being a better friend, for help humbling yourself, for help bringing down your personal walls.
- Set up a playdate. If you do meet a potential new friend, get their number, and set up a playdate. You can keep it at a neutral area (aka outside of your home) if you have safety concerns (or your husband does). You can also think about inviting them to a party or activity coming up. Invite them to join you when you run errands, when you go to the library, the park, the zoo, the movies, the playground. However, if your children are in school during the day, you can also set up a lunch date, or get together for some other reason (wandering around Target totally counts).
- Set aside a day for friends. Perhaps you want to make a really big goal of making friends. May I suggest then setting aside one day of your week (at least) for doing so? Maybe every Monday will be your day to host a playdate at your home, or to make a lunch date, or to invite someone to join you on an errand, just because. You can invite the same person every week, or switch up who you invite, in order to test those friendship waters, and how you get along one-on-one (and how your kids do too). A great reason for doing this is also to give you something to look forward to each week, as being a stay-at-home mom can be monotonous, without something regularly on the calendar.
- Consider meeting their spouses, and invite their whole family over to your home, or going out on a double date. Or perhaps host a game night or movie night.
- Throw a party just for the heck of it.
- Invite them over one-on-one after the kids are asleep. Work on a craft together, host a book club, watch a movie, play a game, do your nails, whatever. But, invite them over just for you and her time minus the kids (even if they are actually just asleep in the other room).
For some more ideas on how to make friends, and the nature of friendship, you can read about how 13 different moms have (or haven’t) made friends.
If this post resonated with you and the season of motherhood that you are currently in, please click HERE or on the image below and check out Amanda of Dirt and Boogers‘ post that discusses even more seasons of motherhood and our need to embrace each of them.
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