It’s no secret that your life will turn topsy-turvy once your tyke arrives. The good news is that you’ll have plenty of resources to help you deal with the big changes. Unfortunately, the one change many parents-to-be overlook is how baby’s arrival is going to change the lifelong friendships that took years to nurture.
This is also an area that affects mums more than dads, since women make deeper and more meaningful connections with their friends. Friendships are also important to women especially after they become mothers, because their support helps them get through issues like postnatal depression.
Some friendships strengthen, while others disappear slowly until they are completely fade from your life. Then there are those surprising new connections you make with other parents simply because you both have kids the same age.
While friendships will never be the same again after your baby arrives, you have ways to make them work, as long as both parties are willing to. Here are five post-baby connections you can expect to make, plus, tips on how to navigate them.
Friendship Type #1 The child-free chicas
PRE-BABY FRIENDSHIP: You spent most of your 20s with this lot, travelling, watching the latest blockbuster movies and catching up into the wee hours of the morning.
POST-BABY FRIENDSHIP: Your late-night “parties” are still happening post-baby, but in a way your child-free friends will never understand. Life for you at the moment is all about coping with sleep deprivation and a colicky baby, while sorting out your breastfeeding snags. Friends who haven’t jumped on the baby train, or who don’t intend to will never understand what that feels like. “I was one of the first to have a baby in my circle of friends, and as understanding as they were, it was hard to talk to them about what I was going through with my baby,” says Suzanne Chia, mum to Aiden, 2. “I feared my childless friends would no longer find anything in common with me and that would be the end of my friendships.”
FUTURE FRIENDSHIP: It’s true that many friendships fall apart when one party has a kid and the other doesn’t. However, it’s also about compromise. Child-free friends have to try to find ways to connect with their newly-minted mummy mate by reading up about babies, asking questions or even just offering an ear a listening ear. Mums, on the other hand, have to realise that your friends’ lives don’t revolve around you and your baby. As much as you want to chat about your cutie all day, your childless friends probably don’t. Also, isn’t it great to have child-free friends who can update you on all things non-baby related and remind you of the person you once used to be?
“Even if we didn’t share the same parenting philosophies, my mummy friends are still very supportive and understanding. I wouldn’t have survived my first year with baby without them.”
Friendship Type #2 The mummy mates
PRE-BABY FRIENDSHIP: Some of these ladies are friends you’ve been close to forever who got pregnant around the same time as you. Others are just acquaintances, but have now grown closer, thanks to motherhood.
POST-BABY FRIENDSHIP: You are now thick as thieves because she totally gets you when you’re say things like, “I am so tired I could fall asleep standing up.” She’s your sounding board, your go-to playdate person and overall confidant. You can send her pics of bubba’s poop because you are worried and she will gladly have an hour-long conversation about it. In short, she’s your mummy BFF and you wouldn’t know how to navigate motherhood without her. “I couldn’t have been more blessed than to have two very close friends who became mums around the same time as me,” notes Shazeen Begum. “Even if we didn’t share the same parenting philosophies, my mummy friends are still very supportive and understanding. I wouldn’t have survived my first year with baby without them.”
FUTURE FRIENDSHIP: It’s very likely that this relationship will succeed for now, since you will always have motherhood to keep you guys tight. These women need you as much as you need them. However, everyone has their own way of doing things when it comes to parenting. So, just make sure you steer clear of any kind of mum shaming, forcing your friends to adopt your parenting pointers, or comparing your kids. It’s a recipe for the mummy wars, and we all know how badly those can end.
Friendship Type #3 The “been-there-done-that” pals
PRE-BABY FRIENDSHIP: These folks became parents before you and you have enjoyed being an “aunt” or “uncle” to their kids. You never understood why they had to run home so that junior could take a nap, or what they meant when they said babies were a handful. Honestly, how hard could it be?
POST-BABY FRIENDSHIP: Now you know exactly what your friends-with-kids have been lamenting about and have newfound respect for them. “When I was pregnant, my brother who was already a dad, told me to invest in blackout curtains to help baby sleep better,” recalls Kelly Ann Pereira, mum to Denise, 2, and Dylan, 5. “I scoffed and said I’ll train my son to sleep wherever I’m at. Took me just a few months to realise that was not going to happen and that my baby needed a cosy, dark room to snooze. My brother had been right all along.”
FUTURE FRIENDSHIP: These guys have been there and done that, so keep them close. Since they’ve had a head start in the parenting department, their insights will come in very handy. Not only have they experienced the problems you’re facing right now, they’ve also solved it and know that this, too, shall pass. And when you’re in the middle of another baby drama, you’ll need their wisdom.
You may not have met most of these women face-to-face before, but you’ve swapped life stories, baby food recipes and complained incessantly about your mother-in-law.
Friendship Type #4 The online support group
PRE-BABY FRIENDSHIP: Practically non-existent, since you’ve never had a reason to make these online connections before you had a baby. Some of them might be friends who live in a different country whom you had exchanged e-mails or Facebook messages with every now and then.
POST-BABY FRIENDSHIP: With baby stuck to your hip, there’s not much time to head out for a leisurely coffee with your friends. So every “free” minute that you get, you jump on the World Wide Web to eagerly check what your online friends have been up to, or if you’ve gotten an e-mail from that mummy friend who lives in another continent. You may not have met most of these women face-to-face before, but you’ve swapped life stories, baby food recipes and complained incessantly about your mother-in-law. And you do all this while lying in bed in your PJs as junior nurses or takes a nap next to you.
FUTURE FRIENDSHIP: The symbiotic nature of these friendships means you’ll get in touch only when you need someone who can offer a sympathetic ear, unwavering support, as well as love and encouragement. They require minimal maintenance, so they are good in the long run.
Friendship Type #5 The nursery-school network
PRE-BABY FRIENDSHIP: Another previously non-existent group of friends, which pretty much only started because life threw you together. In other words, your kids ended up in the same kindergarten.
POST-BABY FRIENDSHIP: You will probably first meet each other during school pick-up and drop offs and exchange pleasantries. There’s also a chance you’re in the same WhatsApp group chat that some kiasu parent started, so everyone stays updated on their child’s performance in school or swap ideas for the next charity drive. Soon, you find out that your kids are best mates and start scheduling playdates outside of school. At some point, you will also invite them over for junior’s birthday party.
FUTURE FRIENDSHIP: You may never completely hit it off with some of these mums and that’s fine. But if you’re lucky, one or two might end up becoming your soul sister. If your school runs are in in sync, you might start scheduling in a coffee date after that while the kids play. Who knows, this friendship might even go beyond kindergarten!
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