Keeping your friendships in the face of a new baby
When you have a baby everything changes. Instantly. Your priorities change, your expectations change and your relationships change. It is unavoidable and it is natural. You suddenly have a whole new person to worry about, and caring for them takes up all of your time, energy and concentration.
It is understandable that the relationships in your life can suffer a little. You don’t have much free time anymore, you’re exhausted, and you are consumed with thinking about, worrying about and talking about, your baby. Friendships can often fade into the background because your little one takes over every aspect of your life.
If you have friends who are not at the same life stage as you, your relationship can become strained. They may not want to hear about what your baby did today, they might not want to discuss how sore your nipples are and you can be pretty certain they don’t want to weigh in on the contents of your baby’s nappy, and whether you should be worried about the colour.
On the other hand, their wild night out, office romance or trip abroad might not seem as interesting to you as it once did. So, what should you do? Should you move on, find some friends who are at the same stage in life as you? Or should you confront them, make them see that once they have a baby they’ll understand? Or is there another way?
When it comes to friendship it is quality, not quantity, that counts. Did you know that in a recent study they discovered that the secret to a long and healthy life comes down to having a relationship that you can count on. Someone who you know will always have your back, no matter what. This could be your partner or your sister, but it is often your best friend. The person who stood by you through all those broken hearts, the one who held your hair back through all those overindulgent nights out, the friend who you called first when you got the promotion, said yes or saw that plus sign on the pregnancy test. That person has been with you through thick and thin, and they could be the key to your future happiness, so should you move on from them, just because they don’t want to look at yet another picture of your baby smiling?
No, of course not. But on the other hand, they need to understand that your life has changed and as a mother your relationship with your child comes first. This baby is not just a distraction that needs to be dealt with before you get back to helping them with their problems, your child is not something that can be set aside when they decide that they want a night out. There is a balance to be struck and it is at moments like these that you find out who your true friends really are.
Yes, forming new friendships with other mums who are facing the same issues as you is a great idea. Having someone who understands how you’re feeling when things get tough or can offer advice when you need it, or who doesn’t mind when you hang up mid conversation to tend to your baby, is great. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up your old friend in exchange for someone more in tune with you at this moment.
Your friendship needs to evolve with your life and right now, it’s okay for it to take a more back seat role. But don’t let it die completely. Try to understand your friend’s point of view; they didn’t choose for you to have this baby and while they are no doubt delighted for you, they probably didn’t foresee how big a change it would make to your friendship. So, make an effort to keep your friendship alive. Try to set aside time that is just for your friend. Even if it’s only a half an hour a week. Make it a time when your partner is home, so you can focus all your attention on your conversation, rather than having to stop every two minutes to tend to your little one. Take an interest in what’s going on in their lives and accept that not everyone is as excited about your baby as you are.
On the other hand, your friend needs to understand that you are not at their beck and call anymore and your baby comes first. If that becomes an issue, it’s time to sit down and have a chat, explain that your life has changed and while you’re still their friend, you now have a little person who needs you more than they do.
As your children grow, your friendships will get back to a more even keel. And by then your friends will probably have babies of their own and you’ll be the one wondering when you’ll next have a night out. But for now, just accept that while friendships change the best ones are always there when you need them.