Did you lose your Friday night drinking buddy? Has your nail salon trip with the ladies become a solo mission without someone to banter? If so, this might be an indicator that your friends have recently started having babies. Do not worry; these new parents are still hankering for your company. These babies do not have to be a mote in your friendship, but a bridge to new opportunities to be creative in your bonding time.
The relationship is just not the same. However, it does not have to be over. What a single friend needs to keep in mind is that there are ways to capitalize on a friend’s parenting. Parents need a black-belt in structure and scheduling; these people are time management experts. If you’re a planner, these friends are much more likely to be able to make plans and structure the outing. If you are not sure when they can meet, call them. It has been my experience that my friends with kids feel excluded because people assume they cannot come because of the child. This is not always the case. Your friends are still social creatures, and they do still need you in their lives. My rule of thumb is that everyone eats sometime during the day. If you know your friend is not up for a late night, because bath time is at seven, offer to meet for lunch or dinner.
A huge bonus to your friend’s new lifestyle is that parents are always prepared. No one knows how to pack a car or a bag full of goodies more than an experienced parent. A car trip with a hungry baby is enough of a lesson. If you get hungry, snack on the kid’s crackers and steal a sip of his or her milk from the sippy cup and keep on going. Chances are if you spill, there are baby wipes and a change of clothes in the car for you too. No, I am not saying take from children, but depending on the child’s age, Mom or Dad might have an extra granola bar stashed nearby.
There are things babies do not care about, that you and your friends might. Sunday football can still be a treasured, yet modified event. Instead of going to a bar and screaming at the television, you can dress the sleeping kid in your favorite team’s jersey and order pizza, and possibly throw back a beer or two if the moment is appropriate. The same goes for activities like hiking, shopping, watching television, games and other normal activities you used to bond with your friends over. These activities do not have to end, but allow them to be more family-friendly.
If you don’t like little bundles of joy, because they sometimes smell like dirty diapers, cannot communicate with you outside of crying and have a face that looks like they have too much gas, I want you to remember that at some point you may be in their parent’s shoes. If you try to avoid children, understand that you do this at risk of losing friendships. For those of you who do not like kids, you might need to plan with your friends a time they can get a babysitter. If this agreement is not okay for some reason or another, you might need to make concessions if you want to continue the meaningful friendship. In addition, remember that your feelings about children are clearly not the same as the parent’s. It is always nice to be sensitive to one another and come from a point of friendship, not haste.
Remember, your friend is not asking you to parent the child, just to interact with the parent and if you can connect to the kiddo naturally, that helps. Always remember that this child is part of the community and will eventually grow to be an adult. The way we welcome and treat kids is hopefully the way they will eventually grow to be kind and social individuals.
The real key factor for staying friends with friends who are parents is that you need to communicate and know these people still need relationships outside their families. It is not that people with kids intend or even try to stop going out with single friends; it is just that both parties have different demands on their personal lives. Being single does not mean you don’t get to enjoy your friends; it means structuring time and valuing this stage of your life as well as your friend’s.