Are you a new stay-at-home parent? Not sure where to find other stay-at-home parents? Not sure how to make friends with other stay-at-home parents? I was in this position a year ago, and hope that this article will help some of you in finding and making connections with other stay-at-home parents.
One year ago, I made a huge decision to become a stay-at-home mom to our then one year old son, Myles. Never in a million years did I ever think I would leave my IT career of 13 years to be with my son full-time. But after a huge work re-org, things got really chaotic. The hours were getting longer and I would rush to spend one hour a day with my son. What made things worse was that I was bringing stress and anxiety home from work as well. Things got so bad that I’d wake up in the middle of the night panicking about work and sobbing back to sleep. I didn’t know it at the time, but some of my co-workers were going through the same thing. Something had to change.
So after much deliberation with my husband and cranking spreadsheets and “stay at home calculators“, we figured we could make it work. The best gift of all was that my first day as a stay-at-home mom happened on my son’s first birthday. I was so ecstatic to have so much time with my son. We could go to story time, the train park, the zoo – nothing could stop us! But we were….alone. The one thing that I overlooked was the fact that I had no friends that were also stay-at-home parents. I would meet former co-workers for lunch, but didn’t feel like they could relate to my daily life. I felt alone and isolated and knew I needed to befriend some stay-at-home parents. It was when I was at the zoo and saw my son’s fascination in watching other kids playing, that I realized I wanted him to have that opportunity too.
I just had to find ways to create those opportunities for him. And this is where I really struggled. Everyone thinks that I’m this crazy outgoing person, and I’m not! I get seriously shy in new environments, meeting new people, etc. So meeting new people wasn’t very easy for me at first. Here’s a couple of steps that helped me:
- Locate Other Parents
- Go to the library story time. It’s seriously as much for the parents as it is for the kids. Christy, the head librarian at Fountain Hills Library, incorporates music and dance, singing, arts and crafts, and play into the hour long story time which keeps the kiddos engaged and gives parents an opportunity to connect. I’ve made so many wonderful friends through story time, and I can’t imagine our lives without it.
- Look for local parents’ groups like the Fountain Hills Moms Group on Meetup. They always have regular events to meet new moms. My husband wants to start up a Dads Hiking Group, who wants in?
- Find events and activities on iheartfountainhills.com. We are working hard to be the one-stop source for all family events and activities in and around Fountain Hills. We will be announcing a bi-weekly Bring Your Own Picnic (BYOP) at Golden Eagle Park soon. This is a great opportunity for the kids to get out and play and parents to connect.
- Make Your Move! Step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to engage. Making friends with your kid is almost like dating all over again. If you find your child making a friend at a playground, go ahead and strike a conversation with his or her parent. I usually start with something like, “how old is your daughter?” or “what’s her name?” If the conversation goes well, don’t be afraid to ask for his or her phone number for a play date. It seriously took me months to work up the courage to ask for my friend Trish’s phone number at story time, and she is now one of my closest friends.
- Follow through. Yup, even after I exchanged info with Trish, I never followed through. It was she who initiated our first get together and I’m so glad that she did.
- Keep it Simple. I think I didn’t contact Trish because I had no idea what to propose. No need to stress about what to do, just make a play date at the park.
- Smile! Nothing makes a person more approachable than a warm, authentic smile.
It was a huge hurdle not only making the transition to being a stay-at-home mom, but making friends in a totally different environment. My social butterfly of a son now has a “toddler crew” that he hangs with regularly and I have made wonderful friends in the process. So don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone to make a connection that could last a lifetime. We’re all in this together.