On parenting and friendships
Natasha explores how parents can try and keep their friendships intact.

I was chatting to friends about, well, friendships the other day. We have a bit of a Whatsapp group going where we get to catch up, rant, share news and support each other. We're all mothers. On this particular day, we were talking about friendships. How our individual friendships with others have moulded, shaped and changed over the years. In particular, we were talking about the fact that some of us had lost friends since becoming mothers.

I'd say that most of my friends, and in particular my best friends - don't have children yet. While I don't get to see them as often as I used to in my single life, our friendships have maintained or even grown in the past six years. I've seen a few articles on "How to be a good friend to a new mom" and so on, but I thought I'd share the other side: How to try and keep your friendships intact as a parent!

3 tips for friendly parenting

Home base

1. Bring your friends into your home. I know that before kids, I'd easily meet up with my friends at clubs (lol), house parties (double lol), restaurants and pubs. We'd be knocking drinks back over loud music in social, public places together. It was awesome. Nowadays, I prefer being at home, on my couch with series, eating dinner in my kitchen or in our garden with the kids, dogs and bunnies.

It's my happiest place. Instead of trying to maintain your social life at the pub, bring it in to your home. The thing is that your bestest, truest friends will love sharing a glass of wine while you pack lunch boxes in the kitchen. They'll put a movie on for your kids, or listen to their silly stories. Some will even read them a bedtime story while you finish filling out (another) form for school. I find that inviting your friends in to your home is a surefire way for them to understand. To understand why you can't answer that Whatsapp straight away, why you can't talk to them between 5pm and 8pm (at all) and why you're too exhausted to meet up for coffee once the bedtime rush is over.

Involved friendships

2. Stay involved. Involve your friends in your life. Let them help you bake the kids' birthday cake, ask for advice on the theme when decorating the kids' room. Let them feel like a part of it all! So many parents exclude their friends because they 'won't get it' or 'won't be interested' but, they are. In the same breath, keep yourself involved in their lives too. Don't be self-involved just because you're crazy busy or preoccupied. They're busy too! Even a quick Whatsapp or email, even if it's a one-liner like "Thinking of you" or "Hope you and so and so are doing well" or "How is the new job going?" lets them know that you still care, and remember what they're going through too.

Any friend of mine is my kid's friend, too

3. Create and nurture a bond between your child and your friends. It's hard for some non-parents to form relationships with kids. They get overwhelmed by the responsibility, don't know what to do or say to kids or how to be a part of their lives. It's important for your friends to have a relationship with your kids, too. When your friends are around, create an activity for them to do together - whether it be colouring a picture or building a quick puzzle together; give them the opportunity to bond and get to know each other too. I find that the friends who feel comfortable around my kids... linger around a little longer and come 'round a bit more often.

I hope these silly little tips are helpful, and make sense! Not everything works for everyone and all our situations are different. I find that by naturally doing little bits of the above over the years, I've somehow maintained close friendships with most of my girlfriends. Some have recently had kids, and it's so special for me to form relationships with their kids too. If any other moms have tips or additional advice and thoughts... let me know so I can add to the post!

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Do you still have the friends you had before becoming a parent?

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