Having children should be considered an act of heroism. You forgo sleep, privacy and sanity in your mission to preserve the human race. But being a parent isn’t all that bad. There are moments of unimaginable pride, the almost impossibly cute pictures and an abundance of cuddles. And the perks of the job don’t stop there. What you might not realise is that being a parent can open doors for you. No, I don’t just mean the heights of YouTube fame or a career as a holiday-touting influencer. I’m talking about making friends with other parents.
Think about it. Making friends is a whole lot easier when you’re younger, care-free and have time to while away at social gatherings. So why not let your little ones do it for you? It’s so easy for them (most of the time), and your children’s friends will have mums and dads who are probably in the same boat as you. Sure, there’s bound to be some parents who you can’t get along with, but there could be some friends for life too.
Honestly, using your kids’ connections as a way of making friends with other parents is only fair. You have to deal with bedtime tantrums and food-flinging mealtimes, and that’s only the beginning. So, how can you unlock the hidden perk of having children? Well, the first step is to get the ball rolling before your little one is even born…
making friends with other parents before baby arrives
When you find out that you’re expecting, your priorities are likely to change. Suddenly stroller shopping and baby-proofing may seem more important than cocktail evenings or footie matches. That’s not to say that you’ll lose your social life though, not at all! That’s what mocktails and catch-up tv are for. But you might want the added support of someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. Hence making friends with other parents.
That’s where antenatal classes and expectant parent groups come in. Your little one may not have made their grand entrance yet but they’re still giving you a hand making friends with other parents. Whether you’re supporting the growing bundle literally or figuratively, you’ll find a sympathetic ear. And you’ll learn lots about parenting too.
With any luck, the friends you make at the start of your journey will stay with you through the double-digit years and beyond. But if they’re more like acquaintances than friends, all is not lost. Each stage of your child’s development brings new opportunities for making friends with other parents who are more your cup of tea (or coffee).
stretch your social skills with baby yoga
Once you’ve taken your new addition home and adjusted to the sleep deprivation, you’ll benefit from getting out. Of course, there’s strolls to coffee shops for that much-needed energy boost but what about baby-centred classes? It doesn’t have to be yoga if that’s not your thing. There’s signing or baby sensory, music or massage. Find one that suits you, and your precious bundle too of course, then get ready to stretch your social skills.
Really, going to baby-centred classes is a guilt-free way of making friends with other parents through your children. It’s beneficial for them and you get to have adult conversations alongside all the baby talk. While you bond with your little one, you can also be bonding with other equally proud but frazzled parents over the good, the bad and the ugly (solid food nappies, I mean you!).
Once you’re friendly enough to swap numbers, why not create a group chat? Not only is it a good place for a quick rant when someone (be it child or partner) has been a nuisance, it makes organising meet-ups easier. Whether you’re heading out to a funfair or open play session, let everyone know so they can join you. It takes the pressure off a more arranged gathering and group settings are great when you’re just getting to know people.
go back to school and get involved
As your little one gets older, there will be new chances for making friends with other parents. Like when they reach school years where there’s bake sales, PTA meetings and daytrips galore, all of which need volunteers. If you have time to spare, lending a hand can be a great chance to meet other mums and dads.
It can be daunting volunteering for the first time, especially if the other parents seem to get along already. But they all had to have that awkward first conversation at some point. You may not be able to bond over a favourite toy like your children do, but introducing yourself and taking an interest in their family is a good place to start. Hopefully you’ll then find you have more than just kids in common, like a shared love of movies or shopping.
At this point, it’s easy just to leave things there. You’ve got someone to chat to at school events and birthday parties, but there’s more to making friends with other parents than that. What about taking it away from the school grounds and getting the kids involved for a day out? If you’re all sporty, head off for a cycle ride and a picnic. Or if peddle power isn’t your thing, catch a movie followed by board games at home. Whatever you enjoy, finding those shared interests helps to create a friendship that goes beyond being a parent.
from compliment tennis to true friendships
So there you have it, our guide to making friends with other parents and finding a sympathetic ear. Don’t feel bad about using your children for their connections or as a conversation starter; they’re an easy way in! Then it’s just a case of finding the similarities (and the confidence) to turn a friendly acquaintance into a friend.
With any luck, you’ll find someone to be a confidant, comforter and celebrator through the ups and downs of parenting. Or many someones even! And when the kids know that all their parents hang out together? Well, it might just help keep them on their best behaviour at the next playdate or birthday party.