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Maintaining Friendships After Kids Is Tough—But Not Impossible

4 Nov 2013 – 03:53 PM EST

Having friends who are also parents can be like having no friends at all. Between conflicting schedules, family obligations, and utter lack of quiet for phone conversations, maintaining friendships between parents can be nearly impossible.

But we must try. Research has found that these bonds are actually good for us. Moms who have a hard time maintaining friendships tend to feel more isolated, which can lead to depression. Scheduling time to socialize with old and new friends can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and make for a more relaxed mother.

1. Take a cue from your spouse

In general, guys are much better at maintaing their social lives. How many of our spouses are on softball leagues, bowling teams, or have the 6 am tee time with friends on the weekend? Men often schedule social time into their week so it doesn’t get overlooked. Instead of trying to haphazardly squeeze in “me time,” schedule it! Soon your social activities will become routine and will be less likely to be neglected.

2. Look to your kids’ social circles

Children might seem to make friends easily. If you asked your children’s friends’ parents, they are probably feeling the same sense of isolation so common among mothers. It’s not that hard to foster your children’s friendships and make new friends for yourself with their parents. Scheduling mutual playdates at a park or recreation center gives your children a chance to grow their social skills and you to grow your social network. Plus, activities in whch the kids are included means you don’t need to shell out for a babysitter.

3. Maximize small bits of down time

Sometimes you need to adopt an unconventional approach to maintaining friendships. On your commute to or from work, schedule some phone time to catch up with long-distance friendships. Schedule a movie night for after the kids go to bed.

4. Make it a group effort

It might be hard to find time to see all of your friends individually, so why not get everyone together for one big outing or event? Some mom friends throw monthly parties, like Bunco nights, that focus more on being together in friendship than on winning the game.

Whatever you decide will be the best fit for your lifestyle, just make sure you don’t neglect your need for friendship. Children grow up very quickly, and sooner than you think, you’ll have more time than you know what to do with. You’ll want to have maintained old friendships and grown new ones for a rich and healthy life.