Staying Social with a Baby in Tow
Your social life before baby was filled with coffee dates, brunches, and yoga classes, but now, you find yourself spending more time with diapers, pacifiers, and bottles. While there isn’t anything wrong with that, it’s important that you hold on to the things that make you, you. There are ways you can be the social butterfly you were before and still be the mom you always wanted to be.
Round up support. It’s not news that raising children is hard, and for a new mom, it’s a major life change. Collaborating with and venting to friends and other parents can help normalize the highs and lows of adjusting to your new role as a parent.
“As we bring children into this world, we also birth a new identity as a parent, one who remains the person who existed before she became a mother,” says Samantha Rauber, MA, PLPC, NCC of Legacy Behavioral Health, LLC. “The challenge now becomes how to still be a person with those social needs while balancing a whole new identity as a mother (or father).”
Learning about and balancing your new roles will also mean finding and identifying those connections with others who can help and who you can also relate to. “We need others around–to celebrate our successes, cry with during our losses, and to be validated in our experiences.” adds Rauber.
Find ways to connect. One way to stay social is to find things in the outside world you and your children can do together to interact with other families. You can visit a local museum or attend a mommy and me class, for starters.
Stephanie D., a mom from Zachary, says it’s important for her to still be able to do the things she could before. She finds that even things as small as getting her nails done or browsing a store uninterruptedly can help her to feel centered again.
By getting your kids out of the house, it also provides opportunities for you and your little ones to get out and about each day. Local mom Bridget R. sees the difference in having children who are younger versus school-aged. She shares, “When having a baby, you have to connect and initiate contact with other moms because your baby is small and can’t necessarily socialize. It becomes easier the older they get. You get to talk to other moms through dance class and girl scouts, and the kids becoming friends and having sleepovers. You grow with your kids.”
As our kids connect with other kids, opportunities for connecting with other adults will naturally become more frequent as well.
Be intentional at maintaining relationships. In addition to small social interactions, it is important to build strong connections with others. Rauber emphasizes that we “have a tank that often runs on fumes while managing the mental load of motherhood, and spending time socially is a chance to refill it. Your family will benefit from you spending time with friends.”
Rauber suggests making it a point to plan social events with those you feel most comfortable with. “It could be a coffee date, an afternoon walk and chat, or a full-blown ladies night out. Clearly communicate with your partner and ask for what you need. Then, take turns. Dads, this means you, too!”
It is also vital to be intentional about spending time with your spouse after the baby is born. Hire a babysitter, when possible, and get a chance to refill your cup as couple. Post-baby date nights may mean starting the night a little earlier to make it home before bedtime, but the benefit of having some time alone to strengthen your bond as a couple will be well worth it.
Guard your circle. Be cautious with those who often have negative opinions or whom you may not feel add anything positive to your experience as a new parent or as a parent in general. Bridget explains, “Some parents are not honest on social media, and it’s easy to make you feel like you are a failure. You need to make sure you have ‘real’ people in your group. Value moms who step up and say, ‘This is what I am struggling with.’ Try different things, and make sure you are making authentic connections.”
It is important to know that no one is a perfect parent, nor should anyone make you feel like you aren’t trying to do the best you can. ■