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Ask a Single Woman: How Do I Keep Friendships as a Mom?

Conventional Wisdom is a different kind of advice column. Your questions will be answered by people from all walks of life rather than by advice experts. This week, a single woman tries to help out a mom looking to stay connected with her friends. If you have a question you'd like answered on Conventional Wisdom, you can submit it here.

Today's Question:

I got married when I was 25, which was before most of my friends. I'm now 30 and have two children ages three and six months. My husband is very successful and works relatively long hours, so I stay home and take care of the kids. I have my complaints, but I am overall happy with the situation. My problem is that I'm having a hard time relating to my girlfriends and I feel like a few of them look down on me for not working. One of my friends has a kid but she works, and the others are either single or haven't had children yet. Do you have any advice on how I can save my friendships?

Signed,
Home Alone

To see the advice,

.

Dear Home Alone,

Always remember: different strokes for different folks. One thing I’ve learned as a non-mother with many friends with kids is that each mom does things her own way. Everyone has an opinion about breast-feeding, feeding their kids organic food, hiring a nanny so they can go back to work, or choosing to stay home with the kids. Becoming a mom, and everything that goes with it, can sometimes feel more competitive than high school, but try not to worry too much about what other people might think. You have to do what feels right.

With that said, I’m a huge proponent of keeping the lines of communication open. If you’re feeling distant from these women, talk to them about it — you might even find that they feel the exact same way! If you wish to spend more time with them, initiate the plans. Be proactive.

As we settle into our adult lives, having the time to do as we please becomes more of a luxury than a given (especially with a new baby!). But if these friendships are worth salvaging — on both ends — I have faith that with a little communication and understanding, everything will work itself out.

Good luck to you.

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MissSushi MissSushi 6 years
lol, mixtape.. It amuses me when people assume that anyone who stays at home just sits on their butt all day long, relaxing. If that were true, we wouldn't have people who are employed as housekeepers and nannys...That being said, I was told several years ago that I needed to get used to friendships just not making it, moving on, growing up, etc etc. At the time, it pissed me off. I thought, why can't you just keep being friends no matter what? But, now, over the years as I've lost the majority of my friends, I realized it is definitely a sad reality. People go through life at their own pace, and it isn't going to match yours very often. I knew pretty early on, in highschool, that what most of my peers liked at the time, and right now actually, drinking, partying, then drinking and clubbing and hanging out around fires drinking.. lol. It just wasn't for me. So for now, I talk to the few people I've kept in touch with, mostly older then I am met at different jobs, and keep any new friendships that may prosper in mind. I dont think it should automatically be assumed that she talks constantly about her kids, and its actually kind of insulting. I have a child, am expecting another, and even with my friends who are other moms, we actually don't talk about our kids much. There are people who i DO talk about them with a lot, like my mother, my mother in law, etc but it's becuase they ask about them. When I'm talking to another adult friend, I'm MUCH more likely to talk about a new book/movie/game etc that i saw/is coming out, whatever because its a nice break. It kind of isn't anything that needs to be said. If she were single and looking for friends, no one would be reminding her not to obsess over whatever she was into latest, her job, etc, it would just be assumed that she would be across the board. Everything in moderation. I agree with the people that tell you to be proactive. Figure out what you want in your friendships and actively pursue those avenues.
MissSushi MissSushi 6 years
lol, mixtape.. It amuses me when people assume that anyone who stays at home just sits on their butt all day long, relaxing. If that were true, we wouldn't have people who are employed as housekeepers and nannys... That being said, I was told several years ago that I needed to get used to friendships just not making it, moving on, growing up, etc etc. At the time, it pissed me off. I thought, why can't you just keep being friends no matter what? But, now, over the years as I've lost the majority of my friends, I realized it is definitely a sad reality. People go through life at their own pace, and it isn't going to match yours very often. I knew pretty early on, in highschool, that what most of my peers liked at the time, and right now actually, drinking, partying, then drinking and clubbing and hanging out around fires drinking.. lol. It just wasn't for me. So for now, I talk to the few people I've kept in touch with, mostly older then I am met at different jobs, and keep any new friendships that may prosper in mind. I dont think it should automatically be assumed that she talks constantly about her kids, and its actually kind of insulting. I have a child, am expecting another, and even with my friends who are other moms, we actually don't talk about our kids much. There are people who i DO talk about them with a lot, like my mother, my mother in law, etc but it's becuase they ask about them. When I'm talking to another adult friend, I'm MUCH more likely to talk about a new book/movie/game etc that i saw/is coming out, whatever because its a nice break. It kind of isn't anything that needs to be said. If she were single and looking for friends, no one would be reminding her not to obsess over whatever she was into latest, her job, etc, it would just be assumed that she would be across the board. Everything in moderation. I agree with the people that tell you to be proactive. Figure out what you want in your friendships and actively pursue those avenues.
mix-tape mix-tape 6 years
Ok, I know being a stay at home mother is difficult and all, my mom did it for a few years, but really, your friends are probably just resentful of the fact that you get to relax at home with your children while they balance time with theirs AND work. When my sister in law, who is also a stay at home mother, complains about ANYTHING with her life I get annoyed because she has it so easy doing nothing at home all day. While your circumstances may differ from hers (I hope you contribute more to your family than she does lol!!) and you have more responsibilities at home, you should try to discuss things that are not related to family, but rather make time to just go out with them. Unfortunately though, they may judge you for having it all regardless of what you try to do to appease them. Maybe it's just time to make friends with similar circumstances as yourself?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
Oh, I don't doubt that some mothers become self-involved, but my experience has been the exact opposite of yours. I've found that my friends who are mothers talk less about themselves/their children than my childless friends talk about themselves/their jobs.
starbucks2 starbucks2 6 years
Thanks for the point, lilkimbo. I instantly knew everyone was gonna tell her that it was her fault because she probably didn't have anything else to talk about. Especially those who don't get tired of pointing out how they don't want kids. Seriously, I am a stay-at-home mom right now, and I don't only talk about my kid. But I think my friends should at least show some interest. I don't wanna listen to stories about their new boyfriends or last one-night-stand all night either. But I'm a good friend and I wanna know what's up with them. So they tell me how they hooked up with that hot dude (which I can't relate to) and I tell them how Romy kept my up all night. Geez, people get so judgemental on here
smangtalk smangtalk 6 years
My bff and I are in similar situations - I'm the working mom and she's the stay at home mom. I think eventually we'll be in a similar place again but until then, we just don't talk as often as used to. Keep the friendships you value by staying in touch once in a while (FB or invite a friend to get a mani/pedi with you if you can steal a couple hours on the weekend away from the kids), at some point when you have more time to focus on yourself again (hard with 2 little ones) you'll find you have things in common with your friends again. Instead of always just talking about our kids, my bff and I will bond on stupid things like celebrity gossip or just current events... not very deep but it keeps us laughing together. good luck!
nikkisoda nikkisoda 6 years
I agree lilkimbo
nikkisoda nikkisoda 6 years
I agree lilkimbo
kulikuli kulikuli 6 years
I agree with a lot of the other posters on here. Make sure you have something you can talk to your friends about besides your kids. We want to know how they are doing, but not every little thing they did that day. Also try and have your man take the kid one night so you can go out with your friends. This has been a big problem with a friend of mine recently who now has two kids. The only way she'll hang out, is if i go to her house with her and the kids. No coming out for my birthday, no casual girls nights to talk, but i should be there for her and her kids birthdays. I find it to be more one sided now. I don't have kids, and i certainly did not sign up to babysit her kids and their cousins every time i want to see my friend. Set some time aside for your friends or you may end up drifting apart. Nothing wrong with it if it's your choice, but if you want to keep your friends, you need to keep being a friend, listening to them as well, and spending time with just them like you did before you had a kid. Mom's get busy, its understandable, but remember they didn't have kids or become all parental all of the sudden just because you did. Schedule some time to re-kindle some of those friendships one on one.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 6 years
This is a toughie. As a married woman who is child-free by choice, I have very little in common with woman who have children. Raising children becomes a big part of their world (as it should be), and it's something I do not identify with.Aside from stories about their kids, I have a low threshold about graphic details about their changing/changed bodies. In my opinion, much of the information should be kept with their husbands and doctors, not shared with friends. I guess I've had too many mothers over-share about their bodies.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 6 years
This is a toughie. As a married woman who is child-free by choice, I have very little in common with woman who have children. Raising children becomes a big part of their world (as it should be), and it's something I do not identify with. Aside from stories about their kids, I have a low threshold about graphic details about their changing/changed bodies. In my opinion, much of the information should be kept with their husbands and doctors, not shared with friends. I guess I've had too many mothers over-share about their bodies.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
I have a few friends who are stay-at-home moms and they actually all talk about a much wider variety of topics than many of my other friends, who focus their discussions mostly on work. I think it's interesting (for lack of a better word) that so many people think the person asking the original question needs to be told that she should talk about things other than her kids. I'm sure she realizes that! It seems as if many posters assumed that she's the one at fault in this situation. Did anyone consider that it could be possible that her friends are only talking about their jobs and showing no interest whatsoever in what she does with her days?
Beauty Beauty 6 years
A good friend of mine is a stay-at-home mom. I love her to death but whenever we hang out or talk, all she discusses are her kids. Stuff like potty training, that sort of thing. I like her children and I enjoy hearing about them to an extent, but after an hour of "Johnny said the CUTEST thing! He said 'pasketti'!" I go nuts. So my advice would be to make sure you have interests outside of child-rearing — more for your own balance than anything else. And if you feel like your friends look down on you for not working outside the home, ask them if they do. Could be that you're reading something into it, or it could be that they are — in which case, who wants those kinds of friends anyway?
Beauty Beauty 6 years
A good friend of mine is a stay-at-home mom. I love her to death but whenever we hang out or talk, all she discusses are her kids. Stuff like potty training, that sort of thing. I like her children and I enjoy hearing about them to an extent, but after an hour of "Johnny said the CUTEST thing! He said 'pasketti'!" I go nuts. So my advice would be to make sure you have interests outside of child-rearing — more for your own balance than anything else. And if you feel like your friends look down on you for not working outside the home, ask them if they do. Could be that you're reading something into it, or it could be that they are — in which case, who wants those kinds of friends anyway?
Pistil Pistil 6 years
I think it's possible to keep those friendships, even though you may be at different points in your life. You must have interests other than your kids, as your friends must also have interests outside of work. Make your husband stay at home once in a while so you can go out for coffee or dinner with your friends.If you've made an effort and the friendship is still faltering, it probably wasn't worth keeping anyway. Friends who look down on you because you decided to be a stay at home mom? Not worth it.Developing friendships with other moms might be the way to go, not that you'll automatically be best friends with every mom, but you'll have that as a common ground.
Pistil Pistil 6 years
I think it's possible to keep those friendships, even though you may be at different points in your life. You must have interests other than your kids, as your friends must also have interests outside of work. Make your husband stay at home once in a while so you can go out for coffee or dinner with your friends. If you've made an effort and the friendship is still faltering, it probably wasn't worth keeping anyway. Friends who look down on you because you decided to be a stay at home mom? Not worth it. Developing friendships with other moms might be the way to go, not that you'll automatically be best friends with every mom, but you'll have that as a common ground.
lemamike lemamike 6 years
Your friends who look down on you are most likely doing so because they feel guilty that they work. Moms who work feel guilty that they are missing quailty time with their kids and moms who don't work feel guilty that they aren't working when other moms are.That being said - MAKE PLANS. Sitting home dwelling on the issue isn't going to solve your problems. Find friends you want to spend time with and set a date - if you don't it won't happen.As people said above make sure that the conversations w/ those friends are two way and not dominated by kid talk.
lemamike lemamike 6 years
Your friends who look down on you are most likely doing so because they feel guilty that they work. Moms who work feel guilty that they are missing quailty time with their kids and moms who don't work feel guilty that they aren't working when other moms are. That being said - MAKE PLANS. Sitting home dwelling on the issue isn't going to solve your problems. Find friends you want to spend time with and set a date - if you don't it won't happen. As people said above make sure that the conversations w/ those friends are two way and not dominated by kid talk.
xgreenfairyx xgreenfairyx 6 years
Welcome to the part of your life where you lose a lot of friends. I don't know if you ever went to high school, college, or whatever, but if you did, then you realize that once you graduated, your friend base during those times suddenly shifted. You continued talking to people, some you didn't. But it definitely changed. This is just one of those changes.I think its harder for you (and anyone else) to cope with that idea now because a) you're now alone and the majority of your time is spent with your kids and b) there is no real cultural, social 'next step', like moving from high school to college. People (including your friends) either agree with your situation, or they don't. You'll naturally have the urge to gravitate towards the people that do, and start leaving the other by the wayside. But you can't convince someone who doesn't have kids and is single that you're still 'cool' if the only conversation you can offer is about diaper rash, or you keep bailing on nights out because your kid is sick or didn't do her homework.It sucks to be the person no one can relate to anymore, but YOU chose to make these decisions, and (hopefully) not because you needed validation from the people you knew.
xgreenfairyx xgreenfairyx 6 years
Welcome to the part of your life where you lose a lot of friends. I don't know if you ever went to high school, college, or whatever, but if you did, then you realize that once you graduated, your friend base during those times suddenly shifted. You continued talking to people, some you didn't. But it definitely changed. This is just one of those changes. I think its harder for you (and anyone else) to cope with that idea now because a) you're now alone and the majority of your time is spent with your kids and b) there is no real cultural, social 'next step', like moving from high school to college. People (including your friends) either agree with your situation, or they don't. You'll naturally have the urge to gravitate towards the people that do, and start leaving the other by the wayside. But you can't convince someone who doesn't have kids and is single that you're still 'cool' if the only conversation you can offer is about diaper rash, or you keep bailing on nights out because your kid is sick or didn't do her homework. It sucks to be the person no one can relate to anymore, but YOU chose to make these decisions, and (hopefully) not because you needed validation from the people you knew.
Zivanod Zivanod 6 years
You may also wish to enroll your children in different programs that will allow parental participation. This way, you will get out of the house and you may meet other mothers in similar a similar situation.
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