Once children arrive, time spent with friends diminishes. This is especially true when some of your friends are childless and you now have a little in common. Your "friend for life" might unexpectedly be on the sidelines of your life as the immense responsibilities of parenthood take hold. Here are some ways to cope.
Don't take it personally. If your friends don't seem to enjoy your company quite as much while you're interrupted with parenting duties, no need to feel hurt. Your lifestyle has changed drastically while theirs hasn't. Your children are a main focus of your life and occupy much of your "free" time, so your friends who don't have children will have to adapt to a social life that doesn't include you quite so much. When they do get a chance to see you, they might be yearning for some alone-time with you—time that is understandably rare.
Connect with them in smaller, "bite-size" doses. When your busy schedule allows you no time for friends, the tendency is to try to arrange a big, special get-together. But, especially if your kids are young, those get-togethers can easily get postponed or interrupted due to normal and expected demands of parenthood. Make a point to talk on the phone more frequently. Email or stop by for 10 minutes after work. Ask them over for a late night (after the kids are asleep) movie or glass of wine. The idea is to touch base as often as possible in order to maintain the connection while adjusting to the fact that opportunities are necessarily less frequent than they were before the kids arrived.
Arrange some non-children times together. It's more likely you can say yes to an invitation if the kids can tag along, too—especially if a babysitter isn't always easy to arrange. But you need some time with your friends that are all adult-focused, as well. Be willing to have a spouse stay back while you attend a barbecue or visit once in awhile if it allows you to have some kid-free moments with your friends. Even if your spouse (or you) misses out on a social event so one of you can attend without the kids in tow, it makes it more likely that visits with friends can happen more often (and it's nice for the spouse to have alone-time with kids, too).
See friends in bulk. An after-work get-together, a barbecue, a pool party—anything where many friends can be invited—allows you to connect with many friends at once. Of course, quality time with each friend is now limited. Still, it's better than no time at all.
Make sure you talk about their lives and limit discussions about children. If your friend only talked about her job or her husband, you'd get bored. Make sure your main focus when talking with childless friends is on their lives, not your children's activities and accomplishments (no matter how extraordinary they are). You'll have plenty of time to talk about what's going on in your life, but take extra time to get more details about what is happening in their lives.
Take a picture. Get a recent photo of your friend—better yet, one with you and your friend together. Frame it and put it in a prominent place. Email a copy to your friend. It's a nice reminder of your friendship.report abuse