How Friendships Change When You Become a Parent and What to do about it

For my entire life, I have valued relationships deeply. I’ve had life-long childhood friends I’ve kept in contact with, college friends who I did most of my personal growth with, graduate school friends I’ve commiserated with, work friends, friends to drink beer with, and above-all else—new mom friends that understand the struggles I experience in a way that I perhaps thought my former friends could not.

None of these friends receive(d) equal time from me. Instead, I found myself wandering between friendships because each one gave me something I needed in a moment of time.

Something shifted recently and that has all changed. A friend I cherish the most reached out and said he felt like I had cut him out of my life.

Did I?

Through the process of becoming a mother, balancing being a supportive wife, and hard working employee, I had unintentionally cut him out of my life.

Which is to say my precious time was spent for me instead of by me.

Instead of meaningfully choosing what I did with my time, I spent it going grocery shopping, putting Ivy to bed, showing up at work early for a training, putting toys into a bin just to be pulled out again, doing laundry when I didn’t need to, complaining about it, staring at my phone mindlessly until minutes passed without me realizing. This

He sent me a podcast that encouraged me to think differently about my time and relationships, and I want to share it below because it changed me.

With the ever-increasing online persona we manager and decreasing in-person contact, it is harder than ever to be in control of how we spend our time and energy and with whom. It’s exponentially harder when you have a newborn and people don't realize in what ways your priorities have shifted.

So I have a few tips below I have summarized from the podcast.

  1. Decide how much time you have

    How much time do you have between feeding baby and putting baby down? How much time do you have to yourself after work (whatever it is you do besides being a mother) and putting the baby to sleep? Do you have three hours at night or in the morning or one?

  2. Who are the most important people to you and what are the most important activities?

    This can be family and friends or maybe just friends, if you have cut toxic family members out of your life. Who are the top ten people in your life? Why are they there? Do a little introspection and ask yourself, “how much time am I giving the ones I love and it is enough?” As an example, I decided on three people I most love and have been neglecting, and I decided how I wanted to communicate with them going forward.

  3. Set boundaries

    Great, I know who I want to spend time with. Now what? STOP overextending yourself by doing a lot of extra activities you don’t want to. Feel obligated to go to every single birthday party, happy hour, work event? Stop. Reclaim your time. Plan that trip with your sister. Ask your college friend over for dinner. The rest can go on hold.

  4. Communicate those boundaries

    Y’all. I’m not going to lie—this part is hard as hell. Most of us hate conflict and don’t know what to do when it happens. Hello, hi, this is me. Share those boundaries with the people you are prioritizing and those you are not. This could be as simple as, “Hi, Sara. I'm sorry I’ve not communicated better. Parenting a newborn has been hard in a way I wasn’t anticipating. Can we get together and talk about what our friendship looks like now that I’m a mom?” OR "Kennedy, we haven’t talked in a while, and I think that’s going to continue. I am prioritizing what’s important to me right now, and I want to spend the few moments I have with my family more. Can we talk about this?” These conversations are best in person, as the podcast suggests.

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