How to keep your non-mum friends once you've had a baby
When one of you has a baby, it can be a testing time for even the strongest of friendships. Here’s how to make sure your relationship survives the storm...
The arrival of your baby turns your world upside down but it’s not just the extra washing and lack of sleep that will take you by surprise – relationships with friends you’ve known for years can be affected, too.
“The basis of friendship is that we pick people who are like us and share our vulnerabilities,” says therapist and relationships expert Marisa Peer. “So, if you have a baby and your friend doesn’t, it can suddenly become difficult to relate to each other.”
It’s common for friendships to go through a rough patch during this transition but it doesn’t have to be the end. “A good friendship can weather any storm,” says Marisa. “All it takes is time, attention and compromise.”
What to do when the first cracks appear
There are many reasons why your relationship with old friends changes: the spare time you used to have for socialising is now reserved for your baby, and some of your childless friends may be envious or feel they have less in common with you now. The only way to resolve the issue is to understand each other’s point of view.
“You’ve just had a baby which is new, exciting and wonderful,” says Marisa. “You are absorbed in what you’ve gained, while your friends are focused on what they’ve lost – your attention. That’s why it’s important to get them involved in this new chapter of your life.”
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Involve them in your new life
The only way your friends will begin to ‘get’ your new life is if you make them an active part of it.
This doesn't mean subjecting them to endless monologues about sleep strategies or baby milestones – it would take a heroic effort from a friend who hasn't had a baby to participate or look engaged.
Instead, invite them round for a heart-to-heart and explain that even though you have new priorities, you need them for support and advice. Showing that they are still important to you will mean a lot.
And trust us, when you're lost in a sea of dirty nappies and late-night feeds, a cup of tea and a chat with an old pal can work wonders on your own confidence and outlook, too.
Keep interested in what they're up to
“Take a minute to think about how your friend is probably feeling,” says Marisa. “Before the baby arrived your friend was high priority and now she’s not, and she knows it.”
It's all the natural course of things – nature floods new mums with hormones that make us want to be around your baby 24/7, not leaving much time for anyone else – but to your friend, the new you appears distant and unavailable.
To preserve the relationship, resist the urge to think she’s being self-centred and lacking in understanding and let her know you’re still (mostly) the same person and you care about more than just the baby stuff.
“Take an interest in her life and what’s she doing and she’ll soon repay the favour and ask about you and your baby,” says Marisa.
You may even find you enjoy living a social life vicariously through her!
The 3 friendship-preserving strategies that can really help
Here are some great tips to keep your friendship on an even keel...
Don't ditch the girls' meet ups. Few of us understand just how much motherhood changes our friendships until it’s actually happening. “Realising you haven’t spoken in months to those who you used to speak to on a daily basis can be difficult but arranging to catch-up can change that,” say Marisa. "Once you feel ready to leave your baby with your partner or a sitter for an afternoon or an evening, dedicate time you to making sure old friendships flourish with regular shopping or coffee trips or even a big group drink and gossip.” A meet-up once every two to three weeks should start to get your friendship back on track.
Understand why your friend may want to see you without your baby. Attending important moments in your friends' lives is vital to strengthening your bond but be aware there will be times when she won’t want your newborn around, like on her wedding day. “If your friend suggests getting a sitter, you need to understand it’s nothing personal," says Marisa. "A baby crying throughout the ceremony isn’t ideal. If you really need to be with your baby – if you’re breastfeeding, for example – try to find a workable compromise with your friend: maybe you promise to leave the service if your baby starts playing up or you enlist your partner to walk your baby round the venue in a pram and only call you if you're needed."
Prepare as much as you can for home visits. Having a chat while your friend bonds with the baby can start to pave the way for a less fractured relationship. “As best friends, it’s natural that you want her to be a part of your baby’s life," says Marisa. "Arrange times she can pop round and have quality time with your little one but choose those times carefully for when your baby is generally most calm and quiet."
About our expert Marisa Peer
Marisa is a best-selling author and therapist., and her clients include Hollywood celebrities, CEOs and sports stars. She studied at the US Proudfoot School of Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy and the Atkinson Ball College of Hypnotherapy and hypnohealing, and now trains therapists in her our Rapid Transformational Therapy. Her programmes are designed to release common blocks people face in every area of their life, from self-confidence to relationships and more.
Pic: Getty Images
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