When I had my son six years ago, none of my friends had kids. None of them. Pregnancy wasn't even on their radar, let alone thoughts of playdates, breastfeeding and diapers. While this didn't phase me during the nine-month in utero period, it hit hard after I brought my baby home.
Spending 10 hours alone with a newborn will make anyone feel a little lonely. Eventually, I realized if I wanted to make it out of the baby phase alive, I needed to find mom friends fast.
Truth be told, I have no shame. Despite my strong introvert tendencies, desperation motivates me. I will talk to anybody. I've approached fellow mothers in grocery stores, airplanes (flying with children builds automatic camaraderie), coffee shops, and doctor's offices.
Over the years, I have discovered a few tried-and-true friend-making methods. Here are my top five.
1. Join a parent-baby class.
Yes, join, even if you are an introvert and hate that kind of thing. You can find family music classes and parenting classes by searching online, checking your local newspaper and library, or asking your pediatrician.
When my son was a couple months old, I joined a nearby mom and baby group, and it was a lifesaver. Having a destination just one morning a week and spending an hour with other parents fumbling through the new baby stage meant I got to talk to someone other than my alternately sleeping and nursing baby. I'm pretty sure this class alone kept me intact.
2. Adventure out to the park.
Approaching strangers at a park may feel eerily similar to meeting someone at a bar, only without the help of liquid courage, cute outfits and flattering lighting. In this scenario, you are likely un-showered and wearing your partner's old t-shirt and it's early.
Though it's nerve-wracking to start up a conversation with someone you don't know, the risk is worth it. I have met several longtime friends this way. Almost every single time I've approached other mothers at local parks, they have been more than eager to talk and exchange contact information. Plus, they likely live near you, which makes it easier to get together again.
3. Head back to school.
Preschool often doesn't start until age three, but when enrollment time does roll around, it's a prime opportunity to meet other parents. I've been known to chat up people during drop off and pick up, as well as the seemingly constant preschool volunteer opportunities. I have even looked up potential friends in the preschool directory to organize playdates.
4. Visit the local library.
Visiting your local library is one of the best activities to do with young children. Not only is it free, but most are now equipped with great children's areas where your child can roam free, pick up board books and play with other littles. There are often parent-baby storytime sessions you can attend. Almost without fail, you will find other parents doing the exact same thing as you—getting out of the house in a free, child-friendly environment.
5. Go online.
You know how online dating is now considered the norm? Online meet-up groups are becoming more mainstream, too. Clubs throughout the country are designed to help new parents meet each other, and they often connect people within the same city. Meetup.com, religious organizations and the International MOMS club site are fantastic places to start.
Raising children is as much an overwhelming feat as it is a gift. The daily ins and outs can be lonely, exhausting and infuriating. Finding your village, or even just one trusted friend, to spend time with can make the job not only more tolerable, but also a lot more fun.