Five years ago, intending to let our toddler burn off energy before bed, we spent our evenings at a local playground. It was there that we met a handful of other families doing the same and our similarly-aged children quickly became friends. There were pizza dinners on park benches and ice cream cones on the playground bridge. They rode bikes and fought over toys. We blew bubbles and hit tennis balls. The parents discussed everything parents discuss: discipline, school, vacations, and picky eaters. Our children are now in first grade and although they aren’t all in the same school or after-school activities, and they spend less time at the playground than before, they still fall right back into their play together at the park. The parents are friends too and now we spend time together at each other’s homes, birthday parties, and neighborhood block parties. We never knew that a trip to the playground would turn into developing a community of friends.
Parenting can be isolating if you don’t find parent friends sharing your struggles. Making friends as an adult can be challenging though. Here are some ideas that I share with parents looking for their own version of our park friends:
- Join a neighborhood Facebook group to share resources and get tips about upcoming local events.
- Attend a local children’s class, such as music, art, or movement. These age-based classes will help you meet parents in a similar stage. After class, grab some food together or head to the playground.
- Find an indoor play space for those rainy or snowy days, where you can attend play groups, take classes, host parties, or join meet-ups for like-minded parents.
- Find a festival! Block parties, town festivals, and events are happening every weekend if you look hard enough. This can be a good way to broaden your reach beyond your neighborhood.
- Take a class! Since all of your activities shouldn’t involve circle time and nursery rhymes, find something just for you, such as pottery, dance, or sewing. If you don’t have childcare, many yoga studios offer mommy-and-me classes too.
- Meet other new moms at a breastfeeding support group (check out your local LaLeche League).
- Look for a moms meet-up on a site like Meetup.com.
- School meet-ups and fundraisers can be a great way to meet local families, even before your child starts kindergarten. Check out your local public school’s Home & School Association website and look for events that need volunteers.
- Dive into a book club. I have met amazing local moms and found so many new restaurants with my book club. If you don’t have a club yet, go to an author reading at your local independent bookstore or library, then start your own!
- Work out with other parents at local parks. Look for a Fit4Mom group near you.
Bottom line is that you need to get out there. Friendships as an adult, particularly as a parent, look different from when you were younger and in school. While in some ways these acquaintances that are compartmentalized to certain areas of your life seem less intimate, these mom friends are often the ones that you can be most vulnerable with and will show up when you really need a friend.