A Woman's Guide to Mid-Life Friendships
As you approach your forties and fifties, you may find that your friendships have dwindled away. It's a big change from the days when you were attending school or raising young children. Then, you were surrounded by other students and parents eager to get together for study groups and birthday parties.
Now, you may feel like you're on your own, especially if you're transitioning through a divorce or packing your kids off to college. Try these tips for staying in touch with old friends and making new ones.
Tips for Old Friendships
1. Mark your schedule.
Meeting up with friends is just as important as following up with business clients. Pull out your calendar to stay on track.
2. Take a vacation.
Video calls and texting bridge long distances, but can't match sitting around the table together after dinner. Use your personal and business travel to drop in on each other occasionally.
3. Collaborate on a project.
Pursue the same activities even while you're apart. You'll have plenty to talk about if you're both taking gourmet cooking classes or training for a charity run.
4. Accept change.
At the same time, distinguish between relationships worth sustaining and those that have run their course.
You and your old college roommate may no longer have much to talk about even if you used to gab all night.
5. Revive former ties.
On the other hand, maybe you still wonder about a former coworker you haven't seen in years. Take the initiative to be the first to reach out.
Tips for New Friendships
1. Explore common interests.
Look for others like you. Visit the places where you're likely to find other vegetarians or bluegrass music lovers. Sign up for a ceramics workshop or audition for a part in a community theatre production.
2. Use social media.
Adults of all ages congregate on Meetup or LinkedIn. Enjoy the online discussions and invite someone out for coffee if you want to get to know them better.
3. Volunteer in your community.
Working for causes you believe in provides gratification while you extend your network. Call a natural history museum to see if they're accepting new docents. Organize a fundraising dinner for an animal shelter.
4. Branch out.
There are advantages to socializing with men and women of different ages. Chat with someone older or younger when you're eating lunch in the park.
5. Be patient.
It takes time to forge a connection. Stay cheerful and busy so others can see your good qualities without feeling pressured.
Tips for Any Friendship
1. Reveal yourself.
As toddlers or seniors, friendships develop when we allow others to know us. Share more personal information as you become comfortable with each other.
2. Prepare for rejection.
There may be all kinds of reasons why a woman in your yoga class resists hanging out afterwards. Give yourself credit for trying and move on to another prospect.
3. Focus on quality.
Having a few close friends beats having hundreds of followers on Facebook. Focus on meaningful interactions instead of arbitrary definitions of popularity. In later life, you may find yourself happier enjoying more solitude while still treasuring those occasions when you gather with loved ones.
4. Exchange support.
Giving and taking may be the most important sign of a quality friendship. Move into your golden years with a circle of friends who serve as advisors, sounding boards, and cheerleaders.
At midlife, you still have plenty of fascinating years ahead, so find buddies to share them with.
With skillful cultivation, many friendships can last a lifetime. Remember, you're never too old to find new pals!
The Secret to Making Mom Friends
It's easier to face the challenges of motherhood when you have a community behind you.
Even if you love the girlfriends you already have, you'll probably want to extend your circle to include more parents once you start spending more time changing diapers and pushing a stroller.
On the other hand, making new friends can feel as awkward as dating, and you're already pressed for time and energy when you're caring for young children.
Use these tips to make connecting with mom friends more productive and less stressful.
How to Meet Mom Friends:
1. Start early.
Once you bring your baby home from the hospital, you're likely to be short on free time.
Get a headstart on making mom friends by reaching out while you're expecting.
Introduce yourself to other patients in your obstetrician's waiting room and chat with other customers at baby boutiques.
2. Think local.
Focus on finding friends who live nearby so you can maintain regular contact. Research the places in your neighborhood where parents hang out.
3. Spread the word.
Let your family, friends, and coworkers know that you want to meet other parents. They may know a couple with a child the same age as yours.
4. Go online.
Try out the growing number of apps designed for bringing mom friends together. Many of them are free.
You could also browse for local chapters of parenting groups like La Leche League or Stroller Strides.
5. Visit the playground.
Traditional approaches still work too. Pick a time of day when your child tends to be calm, and head out to play on the swings and slides.
Bring interesting toys along to encourage other children and parents to come to you.
6. Work out.
New mothers often flock to gyms and exercise studios. Sign up for prenatal classes and return for Mommy and Me yoga sessions.
How to Make Mom Friends:
1. Take initiative.
Have the courage to make the first move if you see another mother who seems compatible. She'll appreciate your thoughtfulness if she's trying to make new friends too.
2. Become a regular.
Increase your odds of making a lasting connection by frequenting the same spots at the same time of day. Maybe you'll want to visit a popular coffee shop right after the morning rush each weekday.
3. Schedule a playdate.
When you hit it off with another mother, exchange contact information and suggest a play date. That way, you'll have an hour or two to get to know each other better.
4. Arrange solo time.
If you're craving adult conversation, set aside some quiet time to engage. Have a chat over a cup of coffee while your children nap. Go for a walk together while your children lie quietly in their strollers.
5. Be flexible.
Your mom friends may be different from the friends you chose when you were single.
While it's fun to discover you have plenty of common ground, you may just appreciate having someone around to provide companionship during the work week or share leads for day care centers and children's movies.
6. Resist comparisons.
Parents sometimes feel pressured to look flawless, and social media can add to the strain.
Remember that the most fulfilling friendships are those where you can relax and be authentic. Enjoy being yourself instead of trying to keep up with an unrealistic standard.
7. Find a mentor.
You might find it especially valuable to touch base with parents who have more experience or demonstrate a parenting style that you admire. You can learn a lot from such real life examples.
Take the anxiety out of making new mom friends. As you build your community, you'll benefit from having greater validation and support, and you'll be helping other mothers to enjoy the same advantages.
Most importantly, you'll prepare yourself to parent more effectively.
Did you find this post fun, informative and useful? If so, please share it with others!
If you have a comment, question or suggestion, please leave a comment below!
Cheers, Helene Malmsio
Related Reading: How To Build Friendships That Last
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