Hmm…that mom looks nice, and her kid looks about the same age as Adalynn. I should go talk to her.
Long pause, trying to work up courage to go start a conversation.
Maybe I can get Adalynn to go over there first and start playing with her kid, so I don’t seem weird just walking up to her.
Gently nudges daughter toward said child.
Yes! I’m glad my girl isn’t as shy as me! Okay, please don’t steal his toy. Give it back—good. Don’t want mom thinking my child is rude to hers.
“Is that your boy? How old is he? Two? So is my daughter!” No, I’m not already planning their wedding; please don’t think I’m weird. Though they DO look cute together…
Small talk, chitchat, monitor and police children when needed.
This mom is really nice! Crap…what was her name again? She JUST told me! I’ll have to ask again as we leave or something. Hopefully she’s like me and is terrible with names, too.
Kids keep playing, chitchat continues, find out we have a lot in common.
Okay, our kids enjoy each other; we have stuff in common so awkward silences are kept to a minimum…I’m going to do it. I’m going to ask her for a follow up date. Play date, that is.
“It was really nice getting to know you. Our kids seem to really like playing together. We should get together for a play date sometime!”
Wait, where are you going? Don’t you want to get my number? You “hope to see me around the park again?” We could make that happen! Okay…bye. Darn, I must have been too vague with my invitation for a play date. Next mom.
Does any part of the above situation sound a little familiar to you? That’s because trying to find play dates for your kids or mommy friends for you is a lot like the dating world again. The curiosity in a new person, the insecurities of how you (or your kid) comes across, the bold step to making plans after your first meeting, and then following up with more outings together…it all sounds so reminiscent of when I was dating my husband. Lucky for me, my husband did most of the chasing in that scenario and I reaped the benefits of catching myself a great man. But now that we have kids, and he’s off to work every day, it’s up to me to find friends for our 2 year old and mommy friends for me.
Since finding new friends who are also parents can feel a lot like dating again, maybe we can use what we learned from our single life to help us find friends easier:
Attend events or take your kid places where you know there will be other kids and parents. When the weather is nice, the park is our go-to place to friend-shop. I mean…socialize. We are all just sitting around watching our kids and praying that they don’t fall off the twisty slide. Church is another place where my toddler gets to play with kids her own age. Just like when you were dating and you had to put yourself out there, it’s the same as parents. You won’t make any friends for yourself or your kid by staying inside watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse all day, every day.
Don’t be shy. When I was dating, I would pretty much let any interested guy start up a conversation with me, but I was generally too shy to pursue someone I found attractive by making the first move. This resulted in very few date nights. It’s the same with meeting new parent friends. I can easily sit back at the park and watch my kid run around while I scroll through my phone, but that means missed opportunities for adult interaction. Instead, I can be brave and introduce myself to the mom sitting on the other side of my bench and strike up a conversation.
Ask the other mom about her interests. I dated a guy once who only ever talked about himself. It made our few and far between dates very boring. While I enjoyed getting to know him, the fact that he never really asked me about myself made it a no brainer why he did not become my husband. When you’ve worked up the courage to start a conversation with a potential mom friend, it’s always a good start to ask about her and her kid(s). You already have one thing in common you can focus on: you’re both parents! Finding something sincere to compliment her on goes a long way as well. Chances are, she will reciprocate, and you’ve started a friendly interaction.
Get past the “acquaintance” stage and move into something more. I still remember how excited I was, for days, when my husband asked me on our first date. We had had a few great conversations before that, and I knew once we went on that date, we’d know if we could start a relationship or if we’d be better moving on. So take the leap with your new potential mommy friend! I always seem to make the mistake of being too vague with my invitations to host a play date when talking to new people. I tend to use phrases like, “We should get together sometime.” or “I bet our kids would love to play some more eventually.” If you want to get past just being random friendly strangers who talk at the park a few times, be bold: “My daughter really seems to love playing with yours. Could I get your number so we can set up a play date for them? I can host, and I’ll provide us treats!” And then follow up!
Don’t let rejection get you down. How many people did you date before you found “the one?” It’s okay when things don’t work out because you never know who is coming around the next corner. And just to prove the very real possibility that you can be rejected when trying to make new mommy friends, enjoy a personal story: Having moved to a new neighborhood recently, I’ve been eager to meet my neighbors and find myself and my daughter some friends. I thought I stumbled into the perfect situation when a fellow mom made a blanket statement on our neighborhood Facebook page that she and her toddler would love to have a play date with someone soon! Jackpot! We messaged a few times promising to get together “sometime;” I tried to play it cool. After all, I didn’t want to scare her off with my over-eagerness to finally have a friend. Then, she made what I felt like was the “first move.” She hilariously admitted to having face-stalked my profile a little and found a few things we had in common. This is totally something I would have done (and do) so I responded as enthusiastically as I felt about her confession. I basically told her we were ready for a play date later THAT SAME DAY if she wanted! “We can have you over today if you’re free? Or tomorrow. Or whenever works best for you!” were my exact words. Because isn’t every stay-at-home-mom just as bored and lonely as I am and have no other plans already made? Well…her response was less than eager, basically saying she would check her calendar and let me know a time the following week that might work. And then we didn’t talk again for quite a while. After telling my husband of this, he still teases me to this day about how I scared her off. Embarrassing? Yeah. But will it keep me from trying to make other friends? Nope. And this story has a happy ending! She gave me another shot and I’d now consider us mommy friends.
When you find a friendship that mutually seems to work out, keep it up. If I didn’t feel any kind of connection with a guy I went on a date with, I wouldn’t accept or offer another one. After my first date with my husband, however, I couldn’t wait for our next one! When you find someone you enjoy spending time with, make plans to hang out again. This is how you really solidify friendships. And the more you and Sally’s mom hang out, the more Sally and your own kid can play and form their own bond.
While there are many ways trying to find new mommy friends feels a lot like dating again, luckily there are other things you don’t have to worry about affecting your newly forming friendships. Like making sure to shave your legs all. the. time. I want a friend who shares my opinion that we are moms—ain’t nobody got time for dat! And if my kid and I come over for a play date and your kitchen still has dishes on the table from dinner the night before, we’ve just become best friends. So pick and choose what you learned from your dating world to use for your advantage and get out there and make some mommy friends!