How I mom-date (yup, that's a thing ;))

Are you laughing? I hope so, because I am ;) 

But seriously, I know how difficult it is to make new friends when you have kids and most of your "old" friends don't have children yet.

A fellow mom once asked me with a dreaded look on her face "Ughh... do we really have to start dating all over again?" and honestly, the answer is that you don't HAVE to, but your life as a mama will be so much easier and more fun if you have a good community to share your experiences with, ask questions, and celebrate milestones together.

In the first 15 months of Felix's life, we moved twice; from NYC to Austin and then to San Francisco, so let me just say: I mom-dated a lot and practically across the country ;)

Here is how I started my initial mom community in NYC:
This one was the easiest, because I went to prenatal yoga regularly. One day, I intentionally sat next to a woman who looked about as pregnant as myself and who had this kind, gentle, loving face. I started a casual conversation about pregnancy, due dates, etc. Turns out, she was awesome and we lived close together, so we wabbled our pregnant selves back to our neighborhood. Since our due dates were close together, we continued going to postnatal classes together once our fresh baby boys had arrived and eventually started our own little mom group in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 
 

Here is what was key when I started mom-dating: 


a. get out of the house and if possible to the same class or the same playground so that you feel comfortable and faces begin to be familiar to you.
b. give yourself a nudge and strike up casual conversations with women who have similar due dates/ similarly aged-babies by asking them questions. You'll quickly notice if you vibe or not.
c. tune into your intuition to recognize "your kinda-mama." There is no guilt in not wanting to be friends with everybody. 

When we moved to Austin: 
Neither my husband nor I knew anyone there, when the three of us (Felix was about 7 months) rolled into town. Because I know how important community is to me and how much my husband and I thrive when we are around other people, I did something that felt really vulnerable to me: I ended up emailing some friends and posting something on facebook asking for connections. I was so positively surprised by how helpful and supportive people were in making introductions. It really reconfirmed my faith in humanity lol

I ended up meeting a bunch of great women and fellow entrepreneurs that way and made two amazing mama friends who had the time, space, and desire to meet up regularly. It was also my first time making a mom friend whose husband and my husband got along super well, so we often met up for family outings, including sunset happy hours, which was so fun and felt so novel as a new parent.
 

Here is what was key to mom-dating, in a totally new environment: 


a. use your network: ask the friends you already have to introduce you to like-minded women or families in your position. 
b. because I no longer had the convenience of living in NYC, where all the moms I met lived in my neighborhood, it was important to me to meet mamas who were happy to make a plan, be flexible, and just kind of roll with different situations without losing their sense of humor (because it can be frustrating when your schedule is unpredictable, which, with kids, it always is).

When we moved to San Francisco: 
This was a hard move for me for some reason and I felt pretty lonely for a while until I finally realized how disconnected I felt and once again, set out, to do it again: back to mom-dating from scratch for the third time. 

Because I was back into my part-time work routine and Felix was already about 15 months and I knew his schedule, it was really about 3 things:

a. meeting moms who were available when Felix and I were free.
b. meeting moms in my neighborhood because parking in SF is the worst.
b. meeting the right kind of new friend because at this stage I knew myself and what kind of mom I am pretty well and so I knew that certain things were key for me in any new friendship I would invest into (laughter, easy-going, good listening, no judgment or perfectionism, advice is welcome but righteousness isn't, and all my close friends must be kind, loving mamas to their little ones).

With that in mind, I resumed a playground routine with Felix and once again, scanned the playground for who might be my kind of mama friend. I struck up casual chit-chats with a few women and it was nice, but not "wow, I could have chatted with this woman forever" experiences until a few weeks in, when Felix and I finally met a mommy-toddler girl duo who seemed super sweet and awesome. Before Felix and I left the playground, I went in for the kill and asked for her number :) Haha, do I sound creepy yet? 
 

Here's what was key to creating long-term mom friends:

 
a. get clear on what's important to you in a friendship you're going to invest into
b. have patience and don't give up
c. remember that most moms feel like you: they are most likely also looking for community.

I hope this was a fun, helpful, and encouraging read. I know that putting yourself out there like that isn't always super easy and can feel insanely vulnerable, but you know what mama: having good, loving friends and a community of sister mamas is invaluable! 

xox, 
Caroline