Inside: Now that you know what a Mom Tribe is and why you need one to thrive as a stay at home mom, let’s dig in and figure out the how. How to find new Mom Friends. How you’ll know if they’re Mom Tribe worthy.
If you’re an outgoing extrovert, I’m sure this is stuff you’re already doing. It might be painfully obvious to you and you’re wondering why I even bothered to write it down. That’s because for most of us, finding and making Mom Friends is hard. In fact, Mom Friends can be the hardest friends to make. And for us introverts of the world, it can be extra challenging to reach out to people. We have to step so far out of our comfort zone, it can be scary and extremely uncomfortable.
Here are 10 steps that I use to find and make new Mom Friends:
1. Look to your neighbors first
This is the first place to start because the close proximity makes life so much easier. You’ll see each other more often and the spontaneous get togethers can be more frequent and simpler. You don’t need to cart all of your kids’ stuff to someone else’s house for a dinner. If we forget something, we run home. And now that the kids are older, we make them run home.
To meet new neighbors and potential Mom Friends, be outside more and linger. Don’t pull your car into the garage and shut it. Put some comfortable patio furniture in your front yard and take a book out there. Encourage your kids to play outside and then stay with them. Stand outside in the morning with your coffee. Stand outside in the evening with your drink of choice. On my street it’s vodka and Gatorade or a beer with a sparkling water thrown in for some balance.
Go for walks around your neighborhood to meet people. Introduce yourself. Get to know the kids in the neighborhood. Let your kids host a lemonade stand and meet neighbors as they make their purchases.
When you see neighbors getting in their car, do more than just say ‘hi.’
What are you guys up to today?
How was the baseball game yesterday?
Are you feeling better?
I saw your daughter riding her bike. What’s your trick to finally getting her moving?
It’s the grown up version of “Do you want to play with me?”
2. Meet other moms
With the younger crowd, try Mommy and Me classes and playgroups. Our first class was when my daughter was 6 months old. There was one other kiddo in that class and the mom and I are still friends.
Try music classes or park and rec classes. Look to your church or temple or mosque for playgroups.
When your kiddo is ready for pre-school, or a pre-pre-school, sign up! Linger at drop off and pick up so you can meet the other parents. Get to know the kids so you have something to talk about with the parents, other than small talk about the weather. “Katie was telling me about the park near your house. We’d love to meet you there one day for an easy playdate.”
If you have school-aged kids, join the PTA and volunteer. Being a credentialed teacher, I prefer to volunteer in the classrooms. But that’s not going to introduce you to other moms. For this, you have to volunteer in more social settings. The Book Fair Committee. The Bake Sale Committee. Room Moms by default have to get to know all the other moms in the class. It might be worth the extra work to meet some awesome friends.
If you’re looking to shed some pent up energy and maybe some baby weight, join a mom workout group like Stroller Fit or Stroller Strides. After signing up, I began to see the other moms in the group every day. Besides the accountability and the fact that I wasn’t sitting on my tush anymore, I made Mom Friends. We’d go out for dinners and had parties together and got the kids together for playdates at the library and pool.
3. Say ‘yes’ to invites
As an introvert, big parties with a lot of strangers stretch me. They drain me of all my energy. But I almost always say yes to invites. Yes to block parties and dinner parties and skin care, oil, jewelry, and make up parties.
You will always meet someone new and interesting. You will forge deeper relationships with people you kind of know. Even if you buy nothing, you will probably meet someone you can become friends with.
My new neighbor invited me to a skin care party her friend was hosting. I stayed until midnight meeting the women who became my Boston Mom Tribe. All because I said ‘yes’ to a skin care party. I walked away with lotion and the start of amazing friendships.
4. Organize a mom’s night out
No party invites coming your way? Create the party. Be the party. Organize a mom’s night out for all the moms in your kid’s preschool class or Mommy and Me class. They’re probably just as desperate as you are to get out of the house and meet some new friends. I now know our preschool mom crowd prefers rom com movies at a theater that serves pitcher margaritas. All because I said, “Heh, want to sneak out one night and catch a movie?”
5. Meet your kid’s friends’ moms
This is another solid, “easy” way to make Mom Friends. If the kids are friends and want to spend time together, it’s easier to sit and have an adult conversation without the “I’m bored and have no one to play with” whine interrupting you.
And since your kids will run in the same social circles, so will you and their mom. You’ll see each other at birthday parties, group playdates, school activities, and sporting games. It’s a treasure trove of moms looking to make new friends that you’ll see consistently.
And if you like the kid, chances are, you’ll like the mom. Someone had to teach him his manners and kindness. Someone had to teach him to be awesome. It was probably his awesome mom.
6. Sign your kiddos up for sports teams or park and rec classes
While your kids are playing or learning, or creating, strike up conversations with the other moms. Be on the look out for moms you click with. Moms who easily make you laugh. Moms who are as sarcastic as you or as exhausted as you are.
If you don’t hit it off, next time bring a book to pass the time, but if the small talk turns into something promising, you might have found a new Mom Friend. Extend it. Ask if they want to let the kids play in the park after the class or if they want to meet for coffee next week before class.
7. Offer to carpool
The benefits of carpooling are numerous. But one of the biggest advantages is it turns friendly faces and “hi, bye friends” into real life Mom Friends.
In fact, my best friend started out as just a convenient carpool buddy. Meeting her and figuring out a carpool system that worked for both of us was crucial to our budding friendship. We saw each other twice a day, every day. We knew each other’s kids really well. We started to get to know each other better. And as we got closer, she introduced me to three other new friends and boom, we were a Mom Tribe. And those ladies changed everything for me.
Social media can be a great tool to get to know other moms.
You can search your town name and the word “moms” and see what come up. Most towns have very active mom groups. I joined one when we got to our new town. I literally read a post that said: “I need a friend. I have a toddler this age and we live near this part of town. Does anyone want to meet at the park for coffee?” Awesome that she put herself out there. Even better that a bunch of moms jumped at the chance to meet someone. They wanted to find a new mom friend too.
And if you already know people from the neighborhood or your kid’s school, friending them on Facebook really helps to match names to faces…it’s honestly like virtual name tags for the next time you see them. I’m terrible at remembering names and this was a lifesaver.
Plus, you can ask them how their kid’s baseball game was or how their dog is feeling now or get details from their Disney trip.
It’s also a great window into who they are. Most people post “perfect” social media posts. But even with the ‘My Perfect Life Filter’ on, you can still figure out what kind of mom they are, what kind of things interest them, and what they find funny. It’s easier to filter people into three categories once you know them better: people you need to distance yourself from, people you are going to be friendly and social with, and people you can actually be good friends with.
We can unlearn what Kindergarten taught us: We don’t in fact need to be friends with everyone. Kind and friendly, yes. Friends, no.
Pay attention for the deal breakers and walk away if the relationship isn’t going to work for you.
9. Some Deal Breakers:
There are some deal breakers to look out for when you’re searching for Mom Friends. Not every friendly mom you meet is right for you. Even if they’re super nice.
And not all Mom Friends will morph into a Mom Tribe. That’s okay. Here are some of my personal deal breakers:
1 Make sure they parent similarly to you
Listen, to each their own. But you need to find people that you can relate to. You can’t be true friends with a mom who spanks her child if you’re morally against it. You can’t be friends with a mom who only serves her kids only organic vegan homemade food when you eat fast food all the time. It’s impossible to be friends with a mom who can’t stand toys on the floor when you let the kids make creative messes. It can be super tricky if you enjoy cocktails and they refuse to touch the stuff. It’s just not going to work long term. Someone is going to get annoyed. One of you is going to try to “fix” the other.
Someone is judging someone. No thanks.
2 You have to be able to let your hair down around them
You shouldn’t need to apologize when your kid spills on their floor. You just help clean it up and remind your kid to apologize.
You shouldn’t need to make excuses when your kids are acting like wild terrors. You scoop them up, head home, and take a rain check.
You need to find a friend who can plop on your couch in their pajamas and just chat with their feet on your coffee table.
3 Have a similar number of kids
The chaos that ensues when my three kids are playing is excruciatingly overwhelming to my friends who only have one kid. I often spend our time together apologizing or explaining to them why siblings don’t actually need to share and that it’s okay if they figure out their own drama.
Friends who have one more or one less kid than you is a perfect balance. The same number of kids is even better. I am drawn to Mom Friends who have 3 kids like me. It requires zero apologies. And zero explanations.
4 Kids are similar ages
If you have a pre-teen and your friend’s oldest is a toddler, your friendship might struggle. You’re dealing with different issues. Bullying vs. tantrums. Friendship issues vs. sleep training. One friend will inevitably take on more of a mentor roll than a true friend. It’s easier if you’r eon the same parenting page, dealing with the same shite. Your kids don’t need to be the exact ages, but it really, really helps.
This is one of the reasons my very first Mom Tribe clicked so fast. All of our kids were within a few months of each other. We had older kids that were in the same grade. We had middle kids that were in similar grades and our youngest ones were all supposed to head off to Kindergarten the same year. It made for easy get togethers. Every kid had at least 5 friends to play with when we were all around. The downside is that when we are all together, we are sorely outnumbered. 15 kids in one backyard is a lot of frickin kids.
10. One last important note to when you are trying to find new Mom Friends and a Mom Tribe
Once you find a Mom Tribe, it’s super easy to be cliquey. It’s super easy to junior high, Mean Girl it and not include the new mom. But as the lonely mom who has had to be a “new girl” twice, it was the moms who invited me in who saved me. It was the moms who introduced me to others who saved me. Be those ladies.
Be an includer.
Reach out to the mom standing by herself on the playground. Introduce her to your friends. Make sure you invite her to your parties. Ask her if she wants to join in on your carpool. Tell her about the soccer team that’s starting up.
Who knows? They may end up becoming your best friend. And they may just be the perfect addition to your Mom Tribe.
Do you have other tricks to find new mom friends? I’m sure others would love to hear about them! I would too! I’m always on the hunt for new mom friends.