When I had my first child six years ago, I pushed my Graco stroller through a blizzard to head to a mom’s group with my then six-week-old in tow. Why? I craved adult conversation; all my girlfriends were at work and to be honest, beyond the eating, sleeping and diaper changing, I couldn’t figure out what to do with my newborn all day. Even though I’d lived in my neighbourhood for a few years already, I hardly knew anyone with children and thought I’d best start my search for some family friends—a mom for me to hang out with and whose child might become my daughter’s friend one day.
While I certainly wasn’t turning my back on my childless gals—after all, they were the ones I hit up for movie dates, sans child—I did need someone to get together with during the day to pass the time and bounce questions off of, such as: How do you get your kid to sleep? How often are they eating? Does this rash on my little girl’s legs look normal to you?
Oh, picking up mom friends. Finding a good mom mate to hang out with is key because while we love our non-mom buddies, our mom friends are the ones we unload on when our kids are driving us crazy. Or the ones we swap gossip with over play dates. Or the ones we share coffees with on the playground. Or the ones we even turn to when our perfect partner doesn’t turn out to be the perfect dad.
So, if you thought your pick-up days were over once you gave birth, think again. Finding a mom or dad buddy can be a tricky business, afterall, they might become your new bestie. (Is that what’s happening with Neil Patrick Harris who seems to have found a playdate partner in Elton John?) And hopefully you won’t have what Beverly Willett had, an ugly little break up with her best mom friend.
So where to get started? How do you pick up other moms?
1. Join mom groups: Think ones through the hospital, community centres and organizations and libraries, says Kathy Buckworth, mom of four children and author of Shut Up & Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children & Chardonnay. “Just go and find out if the group works for you or not,” she says. “They don’t work for everybody but often you can make one or two friends that you can take with you, so to speak.”
2. But think local: That’s what Sharon Donaldson, a Toronto mom of two boys advises. “With my first baby, I went to a special mommy and baby yoga class across town and as a result, I met no one and didn’t form any lasting bonds,” she says. “For baby number 2, I took a baby yoga class at my local community centre and I met a group of neighbourhood moms. Some of those moms even had kids the same age as my oldest son so I was able to meet new people before my big boy even went into junior kindergarten.”
3. Hit the parks: Hanging out in your neighbourhood parks is another good place to meet moms, says Buckworth. Not only are you bumping into neighbouring moms, but you’ll also likely be there with kids on similar schedules, be it after school with school-age kids, or mornings with your toddlers.
4. Put yourself out there: Days alone with a baby can be challenging, so don’t be afraid to invite some moms for coffee to pass the time. “On the last day of my yoga class I announced ‘I have a huge opening in my schedule next Tuesday when our class would normally be on. Who wants to come over for tea?’” says Donaldson. “Eight moms and babies showed up, and they became my core group. I’m probably in touch with two or three of them still.”
5. Look for matching philosophies: Heather Webb Makin, a Toronto mom of two children, learned that the hard way. “The worst place I met moms was at my hospital mom’s group,” she says. “All the other moms in the group were serious breastfeeding advocates and I wasn’t. Since my son had some serious weight problems at birth, our paediatrician suggested a bottle and breastfeeding diet and to some of the moms in the group, formula was unthinkable.” Instead, Webb Makin found some more like-minded friends at a drop-in playgroup she regularly attended.
6. Hit the school playground: While you can form an early circle of mom friends after birth, that might change once the kids head to school—especially if your kids head to different schools. But for people like Shannon Carroll-Wiedener, a Burlington, Ont. mom of three boys, that meant a whole new group of friends. “One of my best friends is the mom of my sons’ best friends,” she says. “And we met seven years ago when our eldest kids were in junior kindergarten together.”
6. Go online: “Now moms can also find each other on Twitter, through websites like Wee Welcome, Yummy Mummy Club and sites like that [which have posted group] events where you can meet other moms,” says Buckworth. When you do find another mom to connect with, treat it like any new relationship. “So moving it too quickly can be creepy—say you’re in line in the grocery store, do you want to have a coffee?” says Buckworth. “Also maybe early on, meet with them in a public place, or find out if you have anything in common. Meeting in a larger setting sometimes is better, which again is why meeting in a moms’ group can be good because you’ve heard them speak a bunch of times before you take that next step.”