There is nothing more important to having a successful first year with your new baby than finding a network of women who also have new babies. Ok there are a few things that are more important (critically more important!) than this, such as installing your car seat properly and figuring out how to make your baby sleep. But having friends is up there. It ranks slightly higher than preventing diaper rash and much higher than preventing cradle cap.
I don’t want to say I’m an expert in the field of mom-dating, but pretty much, yeah, I’m an expert. Please refer to this visual from my first mom-date for proof:
As an expert mom-on-mom dater, I’d like to share with you a few tips I’ve picked up in action, from the field. This should save you a little time, particularly if you are expecting a baby and have not yet had a chance to scope out “the scene.”
5 Tips on Making Mom Friends
1. If you’re lucky enough to be reading this before you have a baby, heed this advice: Join a pre-natal class! Who cares if you have any interest in learning about the birth process. That’s not the point. I don’t care if you know you’re going to schedule a c-section or if you’re going to give birth in a tub of scented water surrounded by a team of doulas. I don’t care if you can’t stand hearing the phrase “bag of waters” and if you have zero interest in perineal massage techniques or in learning how to breathe through your nose while listening to a soundtrack of whales performing mating calls. Just take the damn class. You need to position yourself to meet other women who will birth their children very close to when you will birth your child. Take the class. Be sociable. Get some numbers. And then go right ahead and forget all the tips you learned about labor and delivery. That was never the point anyway. (Note: if you already have a baby, join a local mother/baby group. It gives you a good chance to ask questions and meet new moms).
2. If you’re pregnant, loiter in the waiting room of your OBGYN’s office until you spot friendly looking pregnant women who appear to be due around your due date. Do not try this scouting method at other types of offices, say, the dentist or tax attorney, as this can yield inconsistent results. Stomach circumference means different things in different settings, and the OBGYN is your best bet that there’s a baby hiding in there somewhere. Proceed with caution.
If you’ve already had your baby you can still scout potential mom friends at the OBGYN, ideally around the time of your 6 week follow-up. Make sure to wear something frumpy, as you want other moms to see that your body is not yet back in fighting shape, which will make you appear relatable. Do not go so far as to have your maternity underwear showing, this will give the wrong message.
When you sit down, let out a big sigh and make eyes with anyone you can, as if to say, “yes this IS tough, but we are all in the same boat!” You have to raise your eyebrows empathically to convey this message. Don’t wink under any circumstances. You may want to practice this in the mirror before heading out.
3. Throw out lots and lots of feelers! My sister Catherine doesn’t have a baby to use as a prop, but she is very successful at soliciting lady friends, anywhere and everywhere. Why? She just goes for it. No inhibitions. She puts out tons of feelers and sees what she can reel back in. If you throw out enough feelers, even if you’re batting 500 you’ll have a ton of new friends. This can be you, particularly if you have loose standards. It also helps if you are at least a casual drinker.
4. Take your baby to public, child-friendly places, like a park or a coffee shop, and make sure that you’re sporting a look that says, “I used to be cool, but now I’m merely accessible.” Or as my friend likes to say, “approachably hot.” I find that the GAP Fit line of clothes works best for this (well, obviously Lululemon works BEST for this, but that’s a pricey way to look casually fit). You can mess this look up pretty easily; I myself often take it a little too far, wearing Hanes sweatsuits from high school that are lightly coated in baby vomit. This isn’t really the way you want to play it. You’re trying to look relaxed, not dirty. With some trial and error you can get the look down.
Once you’re satisfied on that front, head out and try to position your stroller so that your baby is facing the heaviest flow of traffic at whatever establishment you’ve chosen as your field of play. So, if you’re in a coffee shop, face your stroller toward the door. This allows your baby to do the hard work. People will stop to talk to your baby, not to you. Your baby is your wingman and the pretty boy frontman of your operation. You should pretend to be
reading a book playing on your iPhone, but really you should be looking for potential friends off of the reflection on the face of your phone. When you see a person of interest, play it cool for 10 seconds before reaching into the bottom of your stroller for a Whole Foods reusable bag. I don’t care if you shop at Whole Foods, this is just a prop to say “I respect quality and only like to use the best ingredients for my family!” Don’t worry if you’ve never set foot into Whole Foods, you can probably score a reusable bag if you wait in the parking lot for long enough.
Once you see a fellow mom glance at you, your baby, and your reusable bag, quickly reach for your diaper bag and start digging around as if you’re trying to find something. Then glance right back at the other mom, and say, “I’m always losing something in here! How do you like your diaper bag?” You’ve now opened up a line of conversation that is like catnip to a new mom. Be charming now, I can’t help you from here.
5. Remember to create some brief interview questions that will help you quickly determine if you and a prospective mom-friend are compatible. Make sure to include every hot button issue related to babies and motherhood that you can think of, just to make sure that if you’re not a good match, at least you’ve made the other mom super uncomfortable. If that’s not the goal, what is?
The checklist of compatibility should include “controversial” items such as:
- Are you breastfeeding or bottle-feeding? If breast-feeding, how long will you do it for? The standard 3-12 months or the super long amount of time that makes everyone uncomfortable but also makes you kind of an “I don’t give a shit as long as it’s good for my baby” type of badass?
- Are you co-sleeping? Sleep training? Using CIO? (Make suspicious eyes regardless of the answer)
- Are you going back to work? (Again, make suspicious eyes regardless of the answer)
- Are you attachment parenting? (Suspicious eyes)
- Do you believe in prenatal testing? (ditto)
- Did you have a natural childbirth? If not, why? (ditto)
- Did you do blood cord banking? (Again, suspicious eyes regardless of the answer here, so that the other mom gets the notion that you know something she does not know)
- Did you circumcise your son? What are you, crazy? (Note: this is subjective: so feel free to apply “crazy” to moms who either did or did not circumcise, to suit your personal preference). Don’t bother with this item if you see a mom with a baby girl, it will confuse her and make you appear mentally unstable.
That should about cover it. By now you’ve narrowed it down to only those moms who share your exact philosophies and ideals, or, alternatively, to those moms who don’t understand what you’re talking about, which actually can be a good recipe for friendship. Just be aware that you have also probably alienated some cool women who think a little differently than you do. So yeah, come to think of it, trash this checklist. Throw it out even if you only have a version of it in your head. Toss it! Find some cool friends because they are people you actually like, and don’t judge them on any of the above topics. You’ll make more friends that way because people will actually like you.
What’s worked for you when it comes to making new mom friends?