“Your social life will completely change” is one of those classic nuggets of advice that can feel difficult for expecting parents to think about. You know there will be fundamental life changes after the birth of your child, but the thought of losing quality time with close friends? That can weigh heavily on new moms and dads. Thankfully, there are ways new parents can adapt to sudden shifts in their social life.
A Common Early Parenthood Experience
While losing touch with friends after the birth of your child may feel like a unique experience, it’s actually incredibly common. The Action for Children organization surveyed 2,000 new parents about their relationships and 68% stated that they felt “cut off” from close friends and social ties after their baby arrived.
We know that both moms and dads struggle with a dwindling social life in early parenthood, but it appears that a younger mother’s experience is particularly tough. This study, conducted in the UK, found that a staggering 82% of moms under the age of 30 experienced loneliness after childbirth. To really drive the point home, this global study stated that a common theme amongst mothers who have positive post-birth experiences is “the ability to cope with changes in close relationships.”
All of this data paints a clear picture: Changes in friendships in early parenthood is a common issue for both mothers and fathers, but learning to cope with it can make a difference.
Tips for Dealing with Changes in Close Relationships
Every new parent can easily point to the typical culprits that affect their existing relationships: Lack of free time, stretched finances, and new perspectives are just a few things that make Happy Hours a lot less accessible. While some friendships might grow and thrive with the addition of your baby, others might not survive the shift in priorities. Regardless of what drives these changes, there are things new parents can do to make the transition a little easier.
Nurture Your Existing Relationships
Many new moms and dads naturally spend more time on their own at home with their baby. They’re tired, feeding around the clock, and protecting baby’s still-sensitive immune system. What’s more, they may have forgotten how to talk about anything other than the many faces their newborn makes, or the shock of what they find during diaper changes. But it’s important to fight through these feelings and reach out to friends and family when you need support, or when you just want to share something exciting. While most of your attention will be aimed at your new baby, it’s okay to take a minute to chat with an old friend about your new experiences. Most importantly, it’s okay to ask for help! You might be surprised to see how many friends or family members will jump at a chance to buy you diapers or drop off some leftovers.
Accept that Quality Time Looks Different
Chances are, having coffee with a friend won’t look or feel the same as it did before baby. When new parents can accept that, it can make their new social life a lot easier to digest. Your focus is on completely different things now, so a carefree chat about the latest reality TV show might suddenly feel like a waste of time. Nonetheless, adult time is important! Just because socializing will feel different, it doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a lunch date here and there. You may be checking your watch a lot more, but spending a few minutes connecting with a friend is healthy for new parents.
Be Open to Making New Friends
Whether it’s through an online group, a parenting class, or just a casual chat at the playground, there are lots of different ways to make other new-parent friends. Shared experiences are a great pathway to forming new relationships. So when your single friend can’t wrap her head around your struggles with breastfeeding, talk to other new mothers who can lend an ear or offer advice. Having children not only expands our worlds, it also expands our friendship circles.
Making new friends, and possibly losing old ones, is natural when you have a baby. Accepting that, and taking time to adjust to a “new social normal” can help you cope with this shift.