As we get older, the dynamics of many of our friendships change. Right now I am in a phase where many of my friends have kids and they are absolutely lovely.
But navigating friendships when your friends have kids and you don’t, takes a level of intentionality. With kids in the picture, a lot has changed and if you and your friend are not able to understand and accept your now different levels, there might be a strain on what should be a beautiful relationship.
A major lifestyle change should not put an end to genuine friendships, but it takes a level of ‘willingness to accommodate’ for it to be maintained.
1. Acknowledge and Respect
It is important to acknowledge and respect that you are no longer top in priority where your friend with the kid is concerned. There are more pressing issues for her to attend to than hanging out till late in the night.
Having a kid is not a stroll in the park and the baby’s needs will definitely come first. In-between frequent feeds, diaper changes, loads and loads of laundry, the last thing your friend will want is you complaining that she does not have time for you anymore.
Your friend might need some space to adjust to her new life, give her time to figure things out. Respect is a very important ingredient in any relationship.
2. Offer to help
Your friend will need all the help she can get. Make yourself available, it strengthens the bond of your relationship and shows you care about the things that are important her.
Look for ways you can help. It might be something as little as carrying the baby while she does other things, offering to babysit, helping to do some things around the house or even preparing or buying their favorite dish.
It is your friend not some random acquittance, so if you are not sure what you can do, just ask.
3. Plan ahead and be flexible
Sure you can still spend time together, but it takes a lot of planning in advance.
You should not be surprised if they call in last minute to cancel the plans you have spent weeks or even months planning for.
With kids, I have come to learn that there can be a lot of unpredictability, and your friend might genuinely want to meet up, but can’t because of some last minute issue. A babysitter might cancel, the kid might get sick, and sometimes it might just be the mother that is overwhelmed, so try to give your friend the benefit of doubt.
4) Plan on activities that will carry the kids along
If you are planning an event and you would love your friend with a kid to attend, then you might want to plan an event that will not exclude kids.
This might mean you going out of you way to accommodate kids and the extra things that come along with them. E.g., making sure the environment is kid friendly. If it is an event that kids can absolutely not attend, then you should understand if your friend is not able to attend.
Also you can plan on places to meet up that accommodate kids. For example, a meet up at the park. This way you can have your little chitchat and catch up on all you want while the kids play.
Planning activities that can involve the kids shows that you are willing to accommodate the changes that has come as your friendship has progressed.
You might find yourself planning different ways to meet up with your friends that have kids and those that do not.
5) Embrace the change
It can be quite challenging when there is change, and kid in the picture is huge change. If you are someone who does not see having kids as part of your future, or are not comfortable around kids then this can be even more scary. It would do your friendship a lot of good, if you are able to communicate to them how you feel about kids in a way that is not condescending.
On the other hand, if you love kids, then see it as an opportunity for you to get first hand experience on what it is like to have a kid, while enjoying your current stage of life.
I am absolutely happy to be around my friends and their kids, and even love for them to come around and spend time with me, to give their parents a break, but I am also happy to see them leave at the end of the day.
A good friend of mine had a kid, and we bonded a lot having discussions about kids. If I found an article on kids that was interesting, I would send it to her.
What the baby eats, their little advancements in life…, is all exciting to them, so get excited along with them.
It might seem little to you, but it is a big deal to them.
“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley