May 17, 2013

The Elusive Art of Making Mommy Friends (or any friends!)

By Amy
Ladies, we need friends.  We love our husbands/boyfriends, but we still need time with girls.  However, this is not always easy.  We gotta have strategies, ya know?  A gameplan.  Or at least an idea or two!

SO...First of all, have you read Tracy's "Make Some Friends" post?  I highly recommend it, cause I love, love, LOVE Tracy's ideas.  (She's super cool, folks.)

I want to share a couple ideas of my own.  They are a bit more basic, like "How the heck do I start a conversation?"  Cause...I think I forgot how after I had a baby.  Seriously!  For the first couple weeks after he was born, I was a recluse.  Once I decided I'd had enough of being a spit-up covered hermit, I emerged from my hole, feeling extremely awkward after not being around adults for a while.  I wondered, "Where the crap did my social skills run off to?"  All I could talk about were my nursing woes and how freaking tired I was.  REAL fun conversation for any sorry person I was talking to! Ha!

I think everybody has their timid moments when it's scary to meet people and make friends.  The first couple days in a new job, moving to a new town... and there are those days when you just don't feel very confident.  These moments often produce "the Shys" even in outgoing people.  I've never really considered myself shy, (Since kindergarten, I was always in trouble for talking...I even got yelled at in the middle of a college lecture class!  Freakin embarrassing.)  But still... I get nervous. I fret, "What if they don't like me?" It can be hard.

Don't settle for stuffed animals...YOU can make REAL, human friends!  I believe in you! *source:
Growing up, I always lived in the same small town, so I already knew everybody and had many friends.  Then, college was a social HAYDAY cause there were so many people to meet...roommates, friends of roommates, roommates of friends, roommates of siblings (I always seemed to have a crush on at least one of my brother's roommates...haha!) people in my classes and people who shared my major, co-workers, girls in my apartment building, etc. 

But that was then, this is now.  And, for whatever reason, it isn't as easy to find new chums as it used to be.  And, this weird friend-making difficulty isn't exclusive to new moms or even can be intimidating when you're single, too!  Then, when you get married it becomes tricky to find couple friends: you have to find TWO people that you both like (or at least can stand).  We met a lot of couples that we both liked, but to find a couple you both love?  That's tricky...having 4 people end up as kindred spirits is rare.  (We have several couples like that, and we cherish them and try to stay in touch!) 

As I've gotten used to being married, then being a mom, it's gotten a bit easier to make friends.  But, I still have aome pretty awkward moments.  It happens to us all, ladies.  You know what I'm talking about, when you think, "Oh. This is not going well."  It's like treading water, trying not to sink down in the awkwardness.  Let me tell you, I am not always smooth!  Nope.  But, I keep trying!

It happens to the best of us.

So here's what I've learned about making mommy friends, or any friends.  Some of these are realllly basic, but, man, sometimes the basics can be hard.

1. Be PROACTIVE!  Don't wait for people to come to you!

Say you're at the library for story time, sitting in the lobby at the pediatrician's office, or at a church activity.  Everyone's sitting there thinking, "Ugh, nobody's talked to me.  These people are SO unfriendly."  Um, Hello!?  What is stopping YOU?  Start the conversation!  If everyone in the room is feeling shy and waiting for someone to approach them and nobody is doing the get an awkwardly silent group of lonely people. 

So you take the first step, even if you're scared.  Start small.  Talk to the person sitting next to you.  And, I know it's fun to sit next to someone already know, but try sitting next to someone you don't!  Make a goal to talk to one new person every time you go to an activity.  You will meet amazing people!  Oh, and having a baby=instant ice breaker.  I love it.  I walk down the aisle at the grocery store and he waves at everyone.  Suddenly strangers are smiling and talking to me!  I've become popular by association!  Mommas, USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.  He can be the brave one, you just follow up!  Don't chicken out.  Being friendly will only make you happier and the other person feel noticed.  WIN WIN! 

And a word to the SAHMS, like me: If you're a stay at home mom, you GOTTA be proactive!  Cause you don't have co-workers or classmates anymore.  Actively look for friends: neighbors, ladies at church, in an exercise class or at story time, at the park, other parents at school, parents of your kids' friends...You gotta go get 'em!  Ha...Not in a nab-them-in-a-big-white-van creepy way, I just mean take the first step.  Don't wait for others!


And, by all means, when you get invited by someone else to something, say YES!  Go, even if you're nervous!  I was invited by a neighbor to a backyard dutch-oven dinner soon after we moved in to our current house, and at that dinner, Patrick and I met some awesome families!  I was invited to the ladies' book club, and it is amazing.  We only meet every six weeks, but we go to a local resurant, laugh our heads off, tell ridiculous stories about psycho co-workers and our crazy kids, enjoy yummy eats, ...oh, and discuss books! :)  I love these ladies.  Some have one kid, some 4, one lady is a grandma, but we care so much about each other, and support each other through everything.  Thank goodness Amber invited me and thanks goodness I didn't chicken out!

L-R Tamara, Kira, Alicia, Amber, Kim, me, Julie...we were missing a few ladies that night; we love you too!

2. Game plan for great conversation: SAY SOMETHING!  Ha, ok, that's not all: THEN ASK QUESTIONS, LISTEN, REPLY.

Start with a plan of attack.  What can you say?  What question can you ask? 

I love this line, "I don't think I've met you yet.  I'm Amy."  Bingo.  So simple.  And it works.  They always introduce themselves after that!  You don't always have to have so great intro line or clever observation to bring up.  Then follow up with a continuer question: "Have you guys lived in this area long?" or "Have you been to his class before?" etc.  If they're totin a baby, you could ask the classic, "How old is your baby?"  Cliche?  Sure.  But everyone feels comfortable starting out with the familar.  Just get it started, then when you listen to their answer, you'll have something to respond to!  Asking questions is great cause it gets THEM talking.  You want them to know you're interested in what THEY have to say.  Don't open your mouth and start talking all about yourself!  The goal is a converstion, not a monologue!

And, if you don't really "click" it's ok!  It's always good to be friendly, but not everyone will end up as your bosom friend.

You will encounter the moment when you find out that the person you're talking to is into something you have NO clue about.  "Oh yeah, I'm a cartographer"..and your mind is blank.  Shoot, just ask!  "Wow, I don't even know what that word means!  What do you do?" then "How did you get in to that?"  It's fun to hear people's stories, and you'll feel closer afterwards.  The cool thing?  Most people reciprocate questions, so VOILA!  Conversation! :)

The only place I would hesitate to start a conversation is in the bathroom.  No talking between stalls, unless you are VERY good friends.  Oh, and, the mother's room...If I walk in and a mom is nursing, I briefly give a little smile, then go about changing my son's diaper.  Some might feel awkward meeting for the first time with their shirt down, so I'd say let them decide if they want to strike up conversation.  Actually, I've met some really cool ladies' in my church's mother's lounge.  It's a place where your first conversation with someone will probably include boobs or nipples.  Weird--but strangely bonding.

3. Make others feel comfortable and appreciated. 

Put others at ease and smile!  We all love people who are "easy to talk to."  Show that you're interested in what they're saying.  Compliments are always a good icebreaker:  "I love your haircut!" or "Your flats are so cute!"  As you become better friends, observe their good qualities so you can give more meaningful compliments, and don't feel cheesy, just tell them!  My Shandee is SO good at this.  She called me the other day just to tell me how much I mean to her and how proud she is of me.  Isn't that cool? 

Another way to help someone feel comfortable is to match their demeanor.  Do they talk slowly or quietly?  Are they a bit more timid?  Don't get all "HEY GIRLFRIEND!"-crazy on a person like that, they will run!  And personal space.  That's a big one for me.  Even though I am social, I feel SO uncomfortable when somebody's up in my grill.  I can't even concentrate on the conversation, my brain is no longer functioning...I'm just panicking, "OH my gosh.  They're so close.  I bet they can see every pore.  Can they smell my breath?  Is it bad?"  I keep backing up and they keep stepping forward.  It's like some kind of horrible dance!  I can only think at that point, "RETREAT! RETREAT!"

Haha...ok, I'm crazy.  Just don't stand so super close directly in front of someone when you talk, ok?  (Wouldn't it be nice if we could handle these situations like my toddler son does?  If someone is too close, he just palms their face and pushes them away...I'll try that one next time.)

And, please...don't try to shake another lady's hand when you meet unless it's a business meeting or she's interviewing you for a job.  Thank you.

4. Don't limit yourself or pre-judge other ladies, cause pretty often, you'll be wrong. 

First of all, it's really fun to make friends who are in similar life stage.  (It helps if your kids are the same age, cause it's easier to hang out!)  But, don't limit yourself!  Older ladies are experienced and cool!  Single ladies are fun and can tell hilarious blind date stories!  Seriously, a kindred spirit may be someone you didn't expect.  Try reaching out to people who are different than you!

Example: I saw my neighbor out several times smoking on her front porch.  Now, I don't smoke, but just because two people have differences in lifestyle choices, doesn't mean they can't be friends! (Obviously, within reason...if the college students next-door are always sending off wafts of pot smoke in your direction, you don't need to invite them to your son's birthday party.)  As for my neighbor across the street, she is SO nice and cool!  I found out that she is new to the area too!  I ended up talking to her for a while, and we've talked a few other times.  She is sweet and friendly, and has a baby close to Hayden's age.  I'm excited to keep getting to know her.  Could be a kindred spirit in the making! :)

Also, beware of the high school phenomenon: when we expect someone to like us or dislike us, based on what group they would have been in during high school.  LAME.  That is SO yesterday.  (Wise words from that Lizzie McGuire girl.)  I do this a lot.  If some girl has awesome clothes and looks super trendy, I think, "Um no, she's too fancy to want to hang out with me."  Ha, what the heck?  Or even worse, "She looks snobby."

So basically, I assume she's judging me.  But who's really the one judging?  ME.

If someone isn't outgoing-ly friendly, I have often judged her as snobby when really, she was just shy!  Two different times, girls I saw at church and thought, "Oh she looks way fancy.  She's probably not very friendly." have become my closest friends in the ward. (mormon word for a local congregation)  Judging is so stupid.  Why do I do it?

Now and then I run into people from high school.  I've notice that even if they were "more popular" or "less popular" in high school, becoming adults is a great equalizer.  Most people grow up and move on with life.  Some girls who were quiet and unnoticed in high school, are freakin gorgeous.  And, lots of nerds become rich.  There are so many people we probably wouldn't have been friends with in high school who are super cool and would make great friends!  We all need to let go of high school attitudes--I fall into it too.  Like I said before, I tend to get intimated.  I was not part of the small, elite athletic crowd (which, by the way, many of those kids were actually very nice).  Anyway, I still have this complex that certain people are cooler than me and I'm scared to talk to them.  Usually, it's because of their clothes. 

And that is STU-PED.

My friend (we'll call her Sally) recently saw a girl who she really wasn't friends with in high school.  This girl was in the popular, jock crowd (sports are everything in a small town), Sally had some drama with this girl's cousin back in high school.  So, Sally didn't approach her, thinking that the other girl wouldn't care to talk to her.  Then that girl walked right up to Sally, asking how she was doing and how old her little girl was, all friendly and sincere!  My friend was blown away and admittedly ashamed that the one who she assumed would be "snobby" was the one who approached her.

So, if you're intimidated by a lady, give her a chance.  She probably is super cool!  But, even if she turns out to be, not very nice after all...oh well, at least you tried! :)

Which leads me to the next tip...

5. Please, NO high school meanness!  

No thinking others are beneath you or above you.  Either way sucks.  We're adults, and we are all equal!  Everyone has worth.  Don't get caught up on judging based on things like clothes, money, looks.  These NEVER show a person's worth.

I like the saying, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."  So be inclusive, not exclusive.  It's a good thing to have a group of friends, but it's not good if you ONLY associate with them and won't talk with anyone else.  That is cliquey and SO high school.  Get to know lots of people...It doesn't mean you have to be everyone's best friend.  But, the more friends, the better!

Also, include new people.  Reach out to those who are quirky.  Seriously, it sucks to feel lonely or left out.  We've all been there, right?  I never want to be the one who excludes others.  (I love Stephanie's thoughts on this...)

6. Don't try to keep the old idea of girlfriends. 

Sleepovers, movie nights, seeing each other every day, hang out in each others doesn't quite work like that anymore.  Girl friendships are different when you're older.  We are busy adults with families and we don't see our friends as often, but it's ok!  A great friendship can thrive on hanging out/talking a couple times a week or even a month.

7. Keep old friends, but always make new ones.

It's so nice when you've been in a area for a while and you have friends and feel comfortable.  Then you move and have to start over.  But, everywhere you go, there are amazing people to meet!  You can keep your old friends--just add more.  Always cherish your bosom friends--your kindred spirits.  (The ones that you could talk to about anything--you just "get" each other.)  It can be hard to stay in touch with them when you're moving around a lot, but it's worth it.  (I love Facebook for that!) 

It's so fun to keep friends from different stages of your life.  Childhood, high school, college, etc.  Some of my old friends are now moms--we swap blow-out stories and laugh about every crazy mommy trait.  It's fun to hang out with my married-with-no-kids friends and single friends, too.

So once you meet someone you click with, and you've become acquaintances, time for the next step (man, this is sounding like dating! Ha!)  Plan something!  Try a low-pressure activity: go for a walk to the park or invite them over for the kids to run through the sprinklers.  Meet at the library for story time, check out a new store, go walking at the mall with the old people when it's too cold to walk outside. (um, in Idaho that's October to May.)

When at the park with your mom friends, be sure to wear coordinating outfits and burst into spontaneous yoga. *source:

Ha...And this is what a park hangout REALLY looks like.  Notice the kid cling-ons.  Then the mom on the left is like, "Oh crap, where did my kid go!?"  Ha...I'm that mom. *source: unknown

Then you're ready to go for a bigger step: a playdate or have their family over for dinner.  For those of us that stress about dinner (I am a really crappy cook) just make a desert (or buy oreos! Ha!)  I'm excited for summer so that we can barbecue outside since it's pretty hard to mess up hotdogs.

So, at this point, you have a good Mommy Friend!  Wooo!  It's so cool to get to the point where you're comfortable. 

My mommy friend, Kim, and I just discussed our affection for each other last night at Book Club.  I feel like our relationship has moved to the next level.  Ha!  She's even met some of my family!  Too bad she's moving to freaking Canada.  (It's ok Kim, we'll never break up as mommy friends as long as there's facebook.) 

In closing...YOU CAN DO IT!  You gotta get outside of your comfort level.

Playdate with Katelyn and Peter!  Yeah...babies don't really play well together--at this age, the playdate is more for moms.

So son's getting whomped and I look oblivious!  Ha, Peter is 4 months younger than my son, too!

I believe in your friend, YOU can do it!

Introverts can learn to be openly friendly.  And extroverts can learn to close their mouths and listen.  (Ha, I can say that cause I am one.)

My dad is a great example.  He was really shy growing up.  I can barely believe that, cause we were always the last ones out of church, he'd be chatting with anyone and everyone.  Seriously, you could go home, make a sandwich and drive back to pick him up and he's still shootin the breeze. When I was younger, I was annoyed.  But now, I aprpeciate it!  He was making sure everyone felt noticed and wanted.  Good man.

My new goal?  I am going to brave-up and set-up some play dates!  I always fear it feel like an awkward first date...Ohhhh how I dreaded those.  In the next couple months I will report on my play-date progress.

Ok, well, those are my tips and tricks for mommy friend bliss! 
Let's see if I can take my own advice.  :)  

If you liked this post, share it with your friends! 

Ps.  I'd love to hear about your mommy-friends endeavors!  What other tips do you have?  Which of my tips spoke to you?  Any you disagree with? 


  1. I loved this post! I have such a hard time making new friends. I am not out going at all and I always feel so awkward and don't know what to say in a conversation. Of course after it's over I come up with the best comments. It's good to be reminded that other people feel this way too so you just need to make the move even if you feel stupid.

    1. Haha, I oh my HECK I do that too--think up 20 responses that I COULD have said! ha! Yeah, I think people are pretty forgiving of a little awkwardness--they will remember you more for being friendly! (And most the time, we think we think we were more awkward than we really were.)

  2. Great post, Amy! Friends are super important to me. I have been able to make a lot of new friends through church and through blogging. I don't get to have girls nights too often, but when I do, they are awesome! I haven't explored the world of play dates yet, but I really want to. Lorin and I like to have friends over or go over to other people's houses fairly often. It is nice to have fun with other couples and hang out.

    1. Yes, I LOVE couple hang-outs, too. Yeah, it's super nice that I can always count on meeting people at church wherever we move! That's cool that you've made friends through blogging...I have to! Just not ones I ever really see, I just talk to them online. :) Good luck with the playdates! :)

  3. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)

  4. Some of these things are just important for making friends in general! Great job and I will remember these for later!

  5. This is great! I definitely need to branch out and make more friends. Don't get me wrong, I love LOVE the friends that I have now but there are just so many people out there that could teach me so many things if I would just say hi and get to know them.

  6. Yet again, you totally rock! Great tips and great writing too :)

  7. Great read!!!! You always have such great articles!!

  8. So agree with what you've said! We've moved so many times over the last 6 years that it's painful and it is always so hard to make new friends. It was hard for me not to become socially paranoid (always worried about making the right impression, etc.). For me, the greatest tip was your "don't judge." In my new area, I totally judged all these ladies as being too done-up and "fancy" like you said. Thought they'd be uninterested in me or shallow or something. Super crazy wrong! Like you, as I've gotten to know them, they're so great and have so much depth of character. I hope I someday learn to stop pre-judging and worrying about being judged as well.


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