keeping mom friends feminist parenting v1

I did it. I swiped right.

It was just so easy.

So many options. All so close to my house. Most with healthy snack options, similar preschool and nap schedules, and an equally laissez faire attitude toward cleanliness.

Mommy dating is for real. And playdates have never been so convenient.

There’s MomCo. Swipe.

And Hello Mamas. Swipe.

And if Mommy Tinder isn’t for you, there’s Speed Dating for Mom Friends.

It’s never been easier to find new mom friends. But lasting friendships are about more than a shared taste for multigrain snack crackers and a mutual tolerance of messy houses.

Life as a mom is an exhausting balancing act. If it weren’t, mommy dating apps and mommy speed dating wouldn’t be things. Work, home, kids, partners, pets…literally everything seems to come before friendships. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need them.

Some friendships run their course. But others are fruitful and necessary. They satisfy the part of your soul that isn’t a partner or a mom or a caregiver. Those friendships are worth the effort.

Make Her a Priority

Making soul-feeding friendships a priority means that other things inevitably take a back seat, at least every once in a while. Partners can survive without you. Someone else can manage the kids’ bedtime routine. Pretty much anyone else can walk the dog or feed the cat or do whatever it is hamster owners do. A friend who lifts you up deserves more than the leftover place in your schedule after all your priorities have been met. That friend is a priority.

Carving out time in a busy schedule is just half of the priority-making commitment. Friendships that are worth maintaining also need to hold a central place in your awareness. Include an intention for your friendship in your daily meditation or prayer practice. Remember the friendship with a note of thanks in your gratitude journal. Simply take a quick beat from the rest of your day and ask the universe to bring the friendship some positive energy. Do the work you need to do to keep your spirits connected.

Create Interactions

Setting friendships as a priority does not mean that you’re magically able to avoid sick kids or that big work trip or any of the 10 million other necessary life commitments that moms are bombarded with every day. But we still need to interact with each other. Firing off a quick, “Thinking of you” text can feed a friendship for days or weeks. And when the quick text turns into an epic texting vent session about the sick kids or the work trip or the 10 million other things, the friendship is still doing its job.

Accept a New Normal

Maybe you can’t sit on her couch every week to live-tweet “The Bachelor” while sipping chardonnay. Or chat for hours over bottomless mimosas every Sunday morning. Or even get out for dinner or a quick drink as often as you used to. But that doesn’t mean you never have to see each other.

If you can’t sit together to live-tweet guilty-pleasure reality television, tweet at each other from your respective couches. If you can’t chat for hours over mimosas, chat for an hour (with or without the mimosas) while the kids play. If you can’t go out for dinner, have her and her kids over for dinner at your place. The pace of life and friendships is different with kids, but the new normal can be even more satisfying, especially when our friendships spark new friendships in the next generation.

Find New Traditions

Once you find the new things that work, keep them coming. A dear friend and I have five children between us, so getting time together is challenging. We only get to see each other in person a handful of times each year, but they’ve become annual traditions. Every year we go holiday shopping. Every year we go to a concert with our husbands. Every year we take all our kids to the zoo. Our traditions began as an excuse to consistently see each other, but now they connect us and define our friendship. Besides, a once-a-year tradition is way harder to cancel than a sporadic play date.

Model Friendship

Most importantly, moms need to keep those soul-feeding friendships in our lives as a model for our children. They need to see how necessary it is to maintain loving relationships with people who aren’t a partner. They need to see how rewarding it is to be surrounded by people who aren’t related to them, yet still challenge them and bring them joy. They need to see that great friendships can begin through Mommy Tinder and be fueled by juice boxes and snack crackers, but are sustained by a lot of hard work and patience, and an abundance of love.

(Photo credit: Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash)

Rachel is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis. She is a recovering political writer and most recently taught high school English in Baltimore. She is thrilled to now be a full-time mama and writer,...