Friendship with other women isn’t always easy to come by and navigate, but if you do partake in this journey we call motherhood, then you know the value of mom friendships and the necessity of finding the right mom friends for your mom tribe.
As women, we are so often made to feel like we need to be in competition with each other, but when I think about all of the amazing women in my life, what comes to the forefront of my mind is actually how we find ways to support each other time and time again.
This is never so apparent as when you become a mother. You quickly realize how crucial for your survival it is to find camaraderie with mom friends, but it’s not always so easy to find a mom tribe that fits your personality and will last for the long haul.
Why You Need Your Mom Tribe
I remember when my first son was born and I was suddenly thrust into the world of motherhood.
I thought I was prepared. I had taken all the classes, read the books, talked to friends who had recently become first-time moms, but none of that prepared me for the sudden rush of emotions that washed over me.
It was an overwhelming feeling of the purest and most all-consuming love that I had ever felt coupled with intense feelings of fear that I was now responsible for keeping this little human safe for the rest of my life. My husband, on the other hand, was super comfortable with our baby son. He could easily quiet him when he cried and seemed completely unfazed when changing his diaper and bathing him in those early days.
Not me. I thought that my caring and sensitive nature would make me a natural mother and it has, but it took time. Those first few weeks and months are really hard and you need a lot of support. I called my own mother multiple times a day and she was definitely a huge help, but some of her advice was old school and what I really needed was to be in the company of my peers who were going through everything I was.
I needed mom friends! I desperately needed to find a mom tribe to lean on and commiserate with ASAP.
Finding your mom tribe in the early days is easy.
In the early days of motherhood, all you may need is to find other moms who are in a similar phase as you, that can empathize and offer understanding and support because they’re going through all the same stuff. Let’s face it, between feeding and nap schedules, you don’t have much time or energy to spend on much more than this type of new mom kinship.
This early mom tribe is actually not that difficult to find. Moms are everywhere. You can find mom friends at the library story hour, the playground, mommy-and-me classes, etc. Once you meet, you immediately bond over endless discussions about sleep routines, nipple creams, and stories about diaper blow-outs happening in the most unfortunate situations.
In my opinion, the mom tribe you form during the baby phase is the easy part. It’s the natural part. You are so consumed with your baby and the adjustment to being a new mom, that all you need is that surface-level commonality with other new moms to make this season of motherhood a little gentler and less isolating.
I found my early mom tribe pretty easily and spent much of my maternity leave meeting up at the park with those mom friends, commiserating over how many times per night our babies were waking and swapping opinions on which was better for baby-wearing, the Moby or Boba wraps or the Ergo carrier.
However, once I returned to work full-time, I saw these friendships fade. They hadn’t been based on anything more than the convenience of similar routines and babies of the same age.
As my son got a little older and we transitioned into the next stage of motherhood, I quickly realized that I still needed a mom tribe, but now I needed one that fit my personality and lifestyle better. This wasn’t as easy to come by.
The next phase is not about simply finding a mom tribe. It’s more about how to make friends as a mom.
There’s a difference. As I said in the intro, friendship with other women isn’t always easy. It can be hard to find people you truly connect with outside of just having motherhood in common. However, once you find it, you realize the importance of being surrounded by a supportive and loving sisterhood of women.
Sure, I had friends before becoming a mom and I maintained many of those friendships. However, most of my pre-baby friends also now had babies of their own and we all had different priorities and work schedules that didn’t always allow for us to see each other regularly.
Also, I had moved while I was pregnant so I found myself in a new neighborhood and I wanted to find my mom tribe that was close by. Neighborhood mom friends I could count on for walks in the park and coffee meetups, but with women I actually liked spending time with, women with whom I could talk about other things besides motherhood and who valued me for my true self.
Why “mom friends” and not just friends?
I may get some heat for saying this, but once I became a mother, I pretty much only sought out new friendships with other women who were also mothers. For me personally, being a mother is such a huge part of my identity, that a potential friend who is not a mother, is never going to truly get what 90% of my life revolves around. So it just feels like a huge piece of my self-identity has no place in the friendship.
Also, I think because I’m somewhat of an introvert, seeking out friendship with other moms felt safer in a way. Making new friends takes vulnerability, knowing that I could be rejected, and having the bond of motherhood as a starting point, makes it feel like I’m not starting from scratch. There is already a foundation on which to build, the question is whether we can take the mom friendship to the next level.
So how do you get beyond mom friendships to true friendship?
This is the tricky part. As I learned through the years, if you want to take your mom friendships beyond the “baby talk” and ultimately find your lasting mom tribe, then there’s a lot more to making a mom friend than just finding someone else with a kid.
1.) Look for mom friends with similar values
Finding real mom friends is almost like dating. You may have to weed through a lot of potential friends in order to find ones with whom you have the right chemistry.
One of the most important factors in finding your mom tribe is to look for people with similar values. Not only is the fact that you are both moms a solid foundation from which to start, it also gives you a good vantage point into someone’s values.
When you meet another mom on the playground or at a mommy-and-me class, one of the first things you may notice is her parenting style. If it seems similar to yours then this is a good indication that many of your other values may align as well.
I remember meeting other moms when my kids were babies and toddlers and after a little conversation, there were definitely certain indicators that would tell me if we shared similar values. If she talked about plans of breastfeeding little Phoenix until he’s 5yrs old or not feeding him an ounce of anything other than her own homemade organic baby food as my kid munched on Cheerios, then she’s probably not for me.
No judgment on any of those things, but someone’s parenting choices can be your first level of screening for similar values. If you are on completely different ends of the spectrum, you’re probably not going to vibe on other things either.
2.) Consider lifestyle choices
Lifestyle choices like if you are a stay-at-home mom and the other mom works full-time is going to matter as well. The obvious reason is because you will have completely different schedules and priorities.
I’ve been both a SAHM and a working mom and my priorities were different at each of those times. As a SAHM, I am eager for a weeknight meetup with a group of mom friends because I’ve been at home with my kids all day. Whereas, when I worked full-time, I couldn’t wait to leave the office and come home straight away so I could spend as much time as possible with my kids in the evening.
Also, your lifestyle choices say something about your values and personality. When I first moved to where I’m currently living, I became friendly with another mom from my son’s class at school. The boys were obsessed with each other, and I was new to the area, so it seemed natural that we should try to be friends.
However, our lifestyle choices were totally opposite. She had gotten married and started a family at a young age. She’d never had a career and seemed really happy being a full-time mom, revolving her life around her kids’ activities. We hung out a few times with the kids, but our conversations never got beyond the kid stuff because up until that point, we’d had very different life experiences and we literally had nothing else in common besides that we had kids of similar ages.
Neither of our lifestyle choices were better or worse than the other, but they were totally different and the friendship quickly faded.
3.) Go beyond the playground or school yard
Although it can be easiest to meet other mom friends at the tried and true mom stomping grounds like the playground or school activities, you will have the best chance of finding mom friends you really click with if you look for those who have shared interests and/or hobbies.
Making friends as adults is not easy, so we have to remember how we did it when we were kids. We looked for friends who liked the same things we did. So, if yoga is something you’re really into, scope out your local yoga studio for mom friends. If you’re a book nerd, try joining a book club with other moms from your area.
Whatever it is that you love doing, look for groups or organizations you can join where you can connect with other women who are interested in it too.
4.) Be intentional
If you meet another mom and you feel a connection with her, don’t hesitate to make the next move. It doesn’t have to be like dating where you play the game of waiting a few days to text so you don’t appear too eager. Us moms don’t have time for that bullsh*t. If you vibe with another mom, ask if she wants to exchange numbers so you can meet up for a playdate or coffee and then follow through and actually text her to hang out.
So many people say they want to have more friends, but they don’t put any effort into actually having them. I’ve learned that if I meet someone I like and l see the potential of a friendship, I just need to make the first move. Even if I find myself initiating our first few meetups, that’s ok with me as long as she is receptive and seems genuine in our exchanges.
You never know what someone else has going on behind the scenes. Maybe she is just super busy or overwhelmed at home and doesn’t think about reaching out, but when you do, she’s incredibly grateful and psyched to get together for a mental break.
On the other hand, if you reach out and the other mom blows you off, then move on. She wasn’t the right friend for you.
5.) It won’t always be a match and that’s ok
Sometimes you establish the beginning of a mom friendship and you think everything is going great. You’ve found a friend you can see having in your mom tribe for the long haul.
You meet up for a couple of play dates at the park, have her and her kids over for pizza and swap stories about your husbands over glasses of red wine, you even go on an outing to the zoo with the kids together. You think this new mom friendship has real potential, until one day things just seem to fade. She becomes non-committal when you try to initiate plans and she stops reaching out to you.
You don’t know why or what you did, but this mom friend has moved on for one reason or another and you can’t take it personally. It’s likely you didn’t do anything at all, she just wasn’t feeling the same way about the budding friendship as you were.
I’ve been on both sides of this situation. I’ve had new mom friends who have just kind of “dropped” me after some time and I’ve also been the one to move on from certain friends who I decided I didn’t really enjoy spending time with after all.
It’s important not to take things personally in these situations and to know when to let it go and move on. Like any relationship, some mom friendships are just not meant to be.
6.) Good things come to those who wait
You have to be patient when it comes to building your mom tribe. Honestly, my kids are well past the baby phase and it wasn’t until recently that I finally felt like I found the right mom friends. These are women with whom I share similar values and interests, as well as children around the same ages. We just seem to “fit” and I can see us being friends for many years to come.
I may not have found that until recently, however that’s not to say that I have been completely tribeless until now! After all, having a mom tribe is absolutely crucial to your survival as a mom! It’s ok to have different mom tribes along the way until you find the one that sticks.
Different friends for different reasons and seasons, you know?
Have you found your mom tribe?
I want to hear all about your mom tribe! How did you all meet? How do you keep your mom friendship going?
Let me know in the comments!
Carly is a wife, mom, and former fashion industry executive turned blogger, who is on a journey to live life as the best version of herself. Through her website, littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice and heartfelt insights to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life.