It goes without saying that friendships change in adulthood. You graduate college. You move to different cities and states. You start new careers and new chapters of life. Things simply change. And then, when you throw in becoming parents, friendships definitely take a major turn. Because let’s face it: Motherhood changes friendships.

Things are just not the same when you’ve got a baby on your hip and little ones running around yelling “mommy mommy mommy” all day. Or when you’re overstimulated from the washer and dryer constantly running on top of the kids’ YouTube channel playing on top of you stepping on toys that have been scrambled all across the floor.

In most areas of your life, you’re spread thin and rarely have much of yourself left to give. And unfortunately, some friendships may fall to the wayside because of this—sometimes inadvertently, other times because people just won’t understand or have the patience for this monumental transition that you’re in (and will forever be in because parenthood is full of so many stages and phases). 

My priorities changed, which means the things that I said “yes” to also changed.

I was the first out of my friends to have a kid. Cue the feelings of loneliness, feeling misunderstood and feeling poorly supported—which I know wasn’t intentional. But sometimes you just don’t get it until you’re in it.

It wasn’t that I wanted to neglect my friendships. My priorities changed, which means the things that I said “yes” to also changed. I no longer enjoyed the endless conversations full of drama (though I never truly did), I couldn’t spend hours downtown at the bars (and honestly didn’t want to) and I passed on weekend trips away from my baby. I quickly saw my friendships begin to dwindle.

Related: When you’re the first in your squad to have a baby

Because that’s what happens. Motherhood changes friendships. It completely reworks the entire anatomy of already existing relationships and future ones to come.

I admit that I lost a handful of friends—for a variety of reasons most likely, but mainly because they couldn’t understand the new stage of life that I had entered. 

And who could blame them? I don’t expect anyone to know what it’s like to stay up for hours on end with a wailing child and sore breasts and a recovering postpartum body if they’ve never been there before. I don’t expect anyone to understand what it’s like feeling like you’ve lost your entire identity to one all-consuming title: mother

And so I grappled with extreme loneliness for quite some time.

Of course, I can’t throw all the blame on my then-friends. I was guilty of neglecting others when I was fresh into motherhood. Friendships were a low priority for me. I was wrestling with the newness, trying to find my footing in motherhood and in my marriage while also trying not to lose myself (but losing myself anyway).

I didn’t feel like I had any more of me to give out. And so for a long time, I didn’t

Related: My mom friends are my rock

I said “no” to plans and didn’t attempt to make any. I opted out of the mental load of trying to find a trustable and reliable babysitter and just spent my time at home.

But somewhere along the line, I began to regret not investing effort into my community. And so I tried to change. When I did begin to reinvest time and energy into my friendships, I found myself constantly apologizing for this new stage of life that I was in when, in reality, I wasn’t at all sorry. Because I am proud to be someone’s mother, to be the person that my little one depends on—I just had no idea how to balance it along with everything else.

There is a lot that goes into maintaining friendships after becoming a mama.

A lot of my decisions had to revolve around my child. I had to pass on tacos and margaritas because I was breastfeeding and struggling to pump enough milk to leave behind. If the few people who I trusted to babysit weren’t available, then neither was I. If my husband had to pick up an extra work shift and our only quality time came from sleeping in a couple hours longer on a Saturday morning, then that’s what we were doing. And some moments, I simply didn’t want to do anything but spend time with my child.

Honestly, I didn’t want to spend much time away from him at all when he was just a baby. The world was new for all of us: my son, my husband and me. In this new chapter of our lives, we needed ample time to adjust. We needed time to bond as a family—and to figure out who we were as a family. My husband and I needed time to figure out what parenthood looked like for us and how we would now balance everything around it. 

We needed patience. 

And some people straight-up lacked that. As I said before, who’s to blame them? Sometimes you just don’t get it until you’re in it. 

Because now there’s playing phone tag, or choosing a date and then changing it a million times, or trying to schedule hangouts around nap times and then the all-together cancellations because of sick kiddos or oversleeping parents. 

There is a lot that goes into maintaining friendships after becoming a mama. Sometimes, it all feels like too much. But if there’s one thing that I have learned, it’s that maintaining those connections is important and essential to building your community.

There is no love lost for the friendships that dwindled. They served their purpose in the season that they were meant for. But now, in this new season of life that I am in, I am investing more time and effort into making an attempt to nourish the friendships that have stuck around and the new ones that have formed.

Tips for maintaining your connections:

With your friends without kids:

  1. Be open to meeting each other where you are. Sometimes, that looks like me grabbing a babysitter or leaving the little one with my husband so that my friend and I can enjoy some time by ourselves. Other times, it looks like dinner and a movie night at my house—with my kid aimlessly running around. Either way, we both feel seen and validated in our current stage of life; them as someone without kids and me as a woman with one. The way you spend your time together will change. Accept that and be flexible to trying new things or spending quality time in a different way. 
  2. Be honest with your friends about the challenges you face in motherhood—even when you feel like they won’t understand. And while they may not get it to the T, they may still be able to offer you some type of emotional or physical support.
  3. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed and need some time to recharge, let that be known. I’ve resorted to sending out a simple “I have a lot going on right now. I’m not ignoring you, but I may be less available for a while. I hope you can understand.” 
  4. Be honest about what you both need from each other. I know that my friends don’t always want to have our time interrupted by my kid. And they know that sometimes our plans are going to have to include him. We try to find a healthy balance for both parties.
  5. Understand that they won’t get it. And that’s OK. Because before you became a mama, you didn’t get it either. So give them grace when they don’t understand what you’re dealing with.

With your mom friends:

  1. Also be open to meeting each other where you are. Sometimes that looks like playdates at one of our houses. Other times, it looks like hauling the babies along to Target while we shop around. 
  2. Incorporate quality time that doesn’t always involve the kids. I cannot stress enough how appreciative you will be of a little time away. My best friend and I left our kids with our partners one evening and went out for wine and dinner. It felt like our high school days when we’d spend hours together talking through life—and it was the best thing for our friendship in that moment.
  3. Understand that both of your walks of motherhood won’t always look the same. And be there to support each other, no matter what. I may not agree with every decision that my mom friends make for their child or their family because I wouldn’t do that myself, but that doesn’t mean that I shun them. I simply understand that they know what works best for them. And if they want my advice, I offer it.

With your new friends:

  1. First and foremost, be open to making new friends—even after becoming a mom. I didn’t feel like I needed new friends after having a baby. I was wrong. I needed those mama friends who I could relate to. I also needed those childless friends who could see me beyond just a mother. My community is a balance of both.
  2. Be yourself. Your best friendships will come from those who see you juggling a handful of groceries and a wailing toddler in the middle of the store and still be intrigued to get to know you. Trust me.
  3. Make time. Sure, maintaining older friendships takes some work, but maintaining new ones may take a little more consistency as you get to know each other. Make an effort to check in often and to hang out every once in a while.

Understand that friendships, just like any relationship, thrive on communication and consistent effort. My husband and I have started making it a priority to spend quality time together (with and without our child) and it has done wonders for our marriage. And so I believe that also making it a priority to spend quality time with my friends will elevate the friendships around me.

After having a baby, I honestly didn’t expect friendship to be so hard—or so important. But I am finding that they are equally both. Because after all, they are the structure of my community. So maintaining those connections matters—because motherhood surely takes a village.