Somewhere soon after our 30th birthdays, the conversations about children turned from someday into, “I’m thinking of going off birth control…”. Or, at least it did for my friends. I’m still hanging on as one of the childless few, not quite sure whether or when a baby will seem like the right idea.
And as my social circle has seen a split into those with kids and those without, it’s been tough at times to figure out how to create a bridge between the two. Endless brunches and spontaneous weekend trips are no longer a given and, at times, it seems as if we live in different worlds. But, friendships can grow together, standing the test of time and changing dynamics and, with a bit of effort, there are ways to bridge the kids-no kids gap.
Here are 5 of the ways I’ve been able to continue to cultivate friendships with the mothers who used to be my go-to girls for a night out and who are now just a bit busy keeping their little people healthy and happy. And, FYI, these tips are for both the non-moms and the moms!
Be open to understanding, quick to forgive, and eager to include
You two lead very different lives right now, but that doesn’t mean one person’s life choices are more important or more significant than the other –– we’re all busy! Don’t take it personally when your mom friend has to cancel brunch last minute because her baby has a stomach bug. And, for the moms, don’t assume your childless friend doesn’t want to be included in your Saturday cookout just because she doesn’t have a little one in tow.
It’s a fact: parents require a bit more coordination to get out of the house. There are snacks to pack, babysitters to book – last-minute plans aren’t always feasible once kids are involved. So, plan ahead, even if it feels silly to make dinner plans a month out.
Of course, back to the inclusion point, that doesn’t mean you should stop extending the invite if there’s a spontaneous happy hour! Let them be the one to say no – you never know whether the baby is up for an afternoon at the brewery or the nanny is able to stay late!
Give your mom friends the opportunity to multi-task
When childless plans are hard to come by, the moms in your life are probably eager to do as much as they can with a free afternoon. So, rather than just going out for coffee or drinks, book a workout class, a pedicure, or anything else that they can cross off their to-do list while catching up.
Meet each other on the other’s turf
Often, it’s easier for the childless friend to head over to their mom friend’s home for dinner than it is for a parent to squeeze in a night out. But, both parties should make an effort to meet in the middle on occasion. There’s no better way for a mom to remember she’s an individual, not just a parent, than to get an evening out with friends.
Technology is your friend
While there’s no substitute for real, live face time, technology does wonders for keeping us connected when life gets in the way. A quick text or a video message on Marco Polo takes just a second but it reminds your friend that you’re thinking of her.
Remember, you two were friends before kids – and you’ll be friends long after the nests are empty (anyone else already looking forward to crazy trips and nights out in our 60s?!). Things will be different for a while, yes, but think about the amazing example you and your friends are setting for the next generation, showing them that understanding and friendship can evolve through the decades.
Any other kidless people or moms have ideas on bridging the gap? Would love to read them!