Finding and meeting new people is hard when you are a mom, especially when you are divorced. First, you actually have to find the time and the place and then you have to put yourself in the (potentially) uncomfortable position of actually talking to a stranger. It can be uncomfortable and awkward but it’s important…
Having good friends is essential to our health and happiness. Friends can help you de-stress, be a shoulder to cry on, be honest with you when you need it and supportive when you’re not quite ready for honesty and, because they have similar experiences to you, they just get it.
Unfortunately, we can’t offer you a magic potion to make new friends but we’ve provided seven ingredients that can help you create opportunities to connect with other moms.
- Put yourself out there
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the skies are going to open up and drop a new friend in your lap so you’re going to actually have to put yourself out there and try. It can be intimidating to go to new places, talk to new people and try new things but if you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never meet new people. And, if you just shift your mindset slightly, all of these things can be a fun new adventure!
- Find places the people you want to meet hang out
Figure out the type of friends you want in your life – do you want someone to do things with adult style? Do you want someone with kids that can hang out during the day? Think about the people you want to add to your life and go the places they might go. Looking for a mom who is home during the day with her kids? Local playgrounds or daytime Mommy & Me classes might be a good option. Want someone you can hike with on weekends? Try a hiking Meetup. Looking for someone to learn with? Check out a local class on a topic that interests you.
This one seems basic but, how many times have you made eye contact with someone and they didn’t smile? You immediately move on to the next person. Smiling starts a positive feedback loop and makes you more welcoming and attractive to the other person. The simple act of a genuine smile can open up the door to many conversations.
- Listen for challenges
Be a little cautious on this one as it could come off a little creepy but, if you are in a conversation or overhear a conversation where someone brings up a challenge, offer your empathy or, if you have some, your advice. There’s nothing like bonding over a good problem!
- Use your kids
Yes – kids can be a great way to start a conversation. I met one of my closest friends when we knocked on the door to welcome them to the neighborhood and her then 4-year old son answered the door completely naked! Kids can do entertaining things – use them in a positive way (no judging!) to kick start a conversation and try to find some common ground.
- Put your phone away
When you’re feeling a little out of place, your phone can be a great crutch to hide behind. We’ve pretended to check for important email many times so we didn’t look like the loner in the room but if you hide in your phone, it’s less likely you’ll make a connection (or that people will want to connect with you).
- Have your first ‘dates’ on neutral territory and 1:1
Once you’ve connected with someone, get her contact info and make sure your first ‘date’ is one-on-one. It’s much easier to build a foundation for a friendship when you can get to know each other without too many distractions. And, if kids are involved, make sure you are on neutral territory. There’s nothing that can wreck a budding friendship like kids gone wild in a new friend’s house!
Making friends can be a challenge for most of us but if you keep putting yourself out there and being open to new people and new experiences, you’ll have a great new community of friends in no time.