Being a parent is a peculiar mix of never being alone, yet frequently being lonely. While it’s incredibly rewarding to raise children, it’s also isolating and, let’s face it, a little boring at times. I love Play-Doh as much as anybody else, but there comes a point (usually 45-60 minutes in) where I want to have an adult conversation.
Enter other parents. They can relate to you, hold your kid while you pee, not care when your toddler throws a tantrum, and offer some much-needed social interaction. But how do you meet other parents? Where do you start? Well, it’s always nice to meet people in the same life stage as you (read: your kids are the same age), so I’ve broken it down by children’s stages.
Infants: Babies are difficult, because they don’t really interact with each other at all. The best thing to do with infants is to enroll them in a baby class such as music or swimming and talk to the other parents while you’re there. Also look for local baby stores and even hospitals– many offer a support group for new parents that is a great way to meet other new moms and dads. Bonus: they probably didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, either, and nobody cares if you have spit up or drool on your shirt.
Toddlers: Once the babies get a little older and start doing things, it’s easier to take them places to play and meet other parents there. Playgrounds are the obvious choice, but indoor bounce house parks, jungle gyms, and children’s museums are also good options. Another great place to meet local parents is a Mom’s Club or parenting group on Meetup, which frequently post playdates and get togethers for the express purpose of forming friendships between fellow parents.
Preschool and beyond: Once the kids are in school, their classroom is the natural place to meet other parents. Ask your child who they like to play with, and reach out to the parents to invite them to your house or to a birthday party. Set it up at school pick-up or use the contact list provided by the school.
For all kids, look online! I am a member of a few online groups of moms (both local and national) that are incomparable for quick access to others. I’ve even managed to turn some online relationships to real life relationships. If people can meet their spouses online, why not friends? Facebook is a great place to start, as many communities now have private parenting facebook groups.
Finally, don’t be shy! If you see a neighbor with a stroller, stop and introduce yourself. If your coworker is talking about preschools, offer your input. Invite people to do things – everyone is busy and it’s work to form new relationships. If you chat with a mom at the playground, get her phone number or become facebook friends to continue contact. Don’t take it personally if it doesn’t work out, and keep trying! It takes a lot of effort, but it’s worth it.
So reach out! Since I started this post, I’ve texted 2 friends to make plans and RSVPed to a playdate with my Mom’s Club. Now it’s your turn. You never know who could be your next best friend.
Check out some of the free groups and classes our stores offer. These are great opportunities to branch out and connect with other parents who are in the same boat as you.