Remember all those times you and your BFF spent the day together with manicures, pedicures, shopping, lunch or coffee? How about that 4 a.m. phone call you received when her heart was deeply broken? Or the time she came to your rescue when you were so sick you could barely lift your head, let alone make yourself something to eat?
Now, there’s a little one — or more — in the mix, and you feel as if you’re slowly losing your best friend.
The truth is, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one missing the friendship and companionship. Your bestie’s life has forever changed — hopefully, in a good way — but just know she misses you, too.
According to an online survey conducted by Child, out of 1,000 participants — both mothers and fathers — only 54 percent of women felt satisfied with their level of friendships after having children. Before kids, 69 percent of women were happy with those friendships.
It’s not just new moms who feel this way. Out of the fathers surveyed, only 57 percent felt satisfied with their friendships after starting a family, compared to 67 percent satisfaction before having children in their lives.
That’s not to say new mothers don’t want to hang out with their childless friends. Once that little one enters the world, new parents reprioritize their lives in order to meet the new baby’s needs. This means taking turns changing diapers or feeding the baby every few hours. Your friend, who used to stay up all night partying with you, is now trying to juggle 4 a.m. wake-up calls from a crying baby while operating on two hours of sleep within the last 24 hours.
It’s not that she doesn’t love you anymore. It’s just that she’s a hot mess right now and is still trying to figure out what happened to her life.
The biggest myth about taking care of a newborn is that Mom has time to get everything done while the baby is sleeping. This includes eating, sleeping, showering, doing laundry and cleaning the entire house.
In reality, that baby is not sleeping 16 hours straight while new parents are knocking out the to-do list one item at a time. More than likely, your friend is only finding snippets of time the first few months after the birth of her baby for even the most basic self-care — especially single parents with no support system. Your BFF may feel overwhelmed and disappointed that she can’t “do it all” as she originally envisioned.
Long phone or text conversations and leisurely lunches just aren’t doable right now. Before having children, women often spend upwards of 14 hours with their friends each week. After the addition of the littles, women are lucky to barely find five hours a week to hang.
But babies grow, so this time period won’t last. Raising children is a huge decision and a major lifestyle change for parents. Your friend may not be able to do all your old favorite things with you at a moment’s notice, but there are still things you can do to help maintain the friendship — and your friend’s sanity.
Ways You Can Support Your Friendship
You may need to initiate “girl time” with your friend for the first several years after the birth of a baby. The first few months at home with a newborn are difficult, but once the baby gets a little older, your friend can set routines more easily. Be mindful of her schedule when you meet up.
For example, you can suggest a movie night, where you bring a movie you’ve both been dying to see over to your friend’s house to watch after the kids go to bed. It may take a while after dinner for your friend to get her children wound down from seeing you to go to sleep, so consider arriving either after bedtime or before dinner. I’m sure your friend wouldn’t turn down a night off from cooking if you want to bring takeout. Split the cost if money is an issue.
If the best time for you to meet up is in the afternoon or late morning, suggest talking at the playground with a cup of coffee from the coffee shop. Just don’t get offended if your friend keeps one eye on you and the other on her child to avoid playground injuries. Stay mindful of nap times as well —many children get fussy when they’re overly tired.
If you need to talk to her right away, send her a quick text or private message her on social media. Sometimes parents can’t spare the time on the phone because of a crying baby or toddler tornado, but can reply quickly on social media during an episode of “Little Einsteins.” The good news is that up to 75 percent of parents use social media on a regular basis, so it’s an easy way to stay in touch.
Keep an open mind and remember your friend misses you and wants to spend time with you. Things will probably be easier when her children start school.
A Note to All Moms with Awesome Friends
Friendships are two-way streets. Your childless friend misses you and is trying hard to maintain your friendship. She is more than aware that your children are the focus of your world right now, and will be for a long time.
Try to make some concessions. During that lunch or coffee date, really listen to what she has to say. Your mind might wander off to the meat you left in the freezer that was going to be dinner, but she needs to vent to you about her boss or ask your opinion on an upcoming project.
Even if the two of you became work friends and you’ve chosen to leave that position to parent fulltime or work from home, listen to her tell you about her day. She listens to you talk about your child’s spit-up, the permanent marker artwork your toddler created and the dance recital your first-grader is starring in next weekend.
Make a conscious effort to remember the important events in her life, too. She probably helped you with your wedding and baby showers, purchased gifts on a single-person income and visited you when the baby was born. Remember, a real friend doesn’t care if there is dust on your television or spit-up on your shirt.
Just try to make some time for her, so she will still stand by your side when your children are grown.