The thing I loved most about working in an office were the wonderful friendships I had with co-workers.
As an introvert, I do my best friend-making when the relationship pretty much falls into my lap. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed by the amazing people who have done just that, through school, work, and family.
Transitioning to Work-at-Home Life
Finding time for friends after my first child was born wasn’t easy. I’m a natural homebody, and as I was working in an office most days, I spent most of my off time with my baby and husband.
Luckily for me, I returned to work in an office full of other working moms. We chatted during the work day, ate together, and went for walks at lunch. This fulfilled most of my friendship needs without much effort on my part.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I decided to make my first foray into working from home. After a few months of research and advertising, I started running an in-home daycare. I loved the freedom of being at home. I loved spending more time with my daughter. I loved spending time outdoors playing every day. But I missed my friends.
Getting Out of the House!
Even as an introvert with pretty low social needs, having zero social contact wasn’t cutting it. Fortunately, my problem-solving skills had carried over from my office life and I came up with some ideas to boost my friend time. Here are a few successes that may work for you.
Make it a Regular Thing!
I’ve made several attempts at joining established groups who meet regularly for an activity. Book clubs, writing groups and classes are things that work for many people. And they might work for you. But they didn’t always work for me.
As an introvert and the new person in a group, I tend to be standoffish to the point of total silence. I attended a monthly writing group for over two years when, at a meeting, the president asked me to stand and introduce myself to the group as a new member. I stood up and said, “Hi my name is Liz. I’ve been here at every monthly meeting for the past two years.” This was met with silence. I guess I finally made an impression.
I decided I might be better off in a smaller group. When I couldn’t find one I liked, I formed my own. I gathered a group of ladies I knew to be fellow book lovers and we decided to form a book club. We began meeting on the first Tuesday of every month.
Through seven years of meetings, we’ve had two member weddings, the births of three children and the death of a beloved group member from cancer. This group has been a source of friendship and support for all those years. If you can’t find a group of friends to fit you, build one. It’s worth any effort.
Friends with Kids
When I was having most of my friend time at work, whether or not any of us had kids wasn’t relevant, other than as a topic of conversation. And most of my friends I spent time with outside of work were childless so we would go out to dinner, or drinks, or movies.
Once I had kids, many of these things were not often possible. And when I did do them, it was with my husband.
I was lucky to have many friends start having children around the same time I did. So we found a solution for all of us. We made our get togethers family events! Barbecues or game nights with the whole family mean everyone gets to come, no babysitter required.
These at home events also work great if your friends don’t have kids, but are happy to spend time with yours. Invite them over for dinner! They can hang out with the family while you all eat and you can enjoy some adult conversation after the kids go to bed.
If your friends aren’t kid people, save them for a night out or a coffee date. Everyone needs a break from being “mom” once in awhile. Ask your partner or a friend to watch the kids while you reconnect with your pre-parent self and your old friend at the same time. This can be harder to fit in, but worth it to keep some piece of pre-child self alive.
I love to walk outside. Not hike, not run, just walk. Luckily, walking is something that becomes more enjoyable with friends. During my office career, I spent nearly every lunch hour outside walking. Usually in the company of my co-worker friends.
This hobby was the most easily adaptable to work-at-home life. Whenever I can schedule it, I go for a walk with a friend. We get to exercise and talk. It’s good for you mentally and physically.
Going to the gym with a friend is another great option if that’s more your style. It has the added benefit of childcare in many cases.
Exercising combines everything on the list for seeing friends in your stay-at-home life. You can make it a weekly date. You can bring kids, or go child free, and exercise is something you need to get done anyway.
When You Really Don’t Have Time
There have been seasons of life after kids, illness, postpartum recovery, health issues, where face to face time with friends wasn’t possible. The hard part is, these were often times I needed my friends the most.
We’re so lucky to live in an age where staying in touch is right at our fingertips most of the day. When we aren’t able to make those barbecues or walks, we email or a text, or use Facebook to stay in touch.
Becoming a work-at-home parent is a great option for many moms. But it can make keeping in touch with friends challenging. I’m willing to do the work because friends add so much joy and support to your life. Which is something we all need, especially moms.
What are some things you’ve done to maintain old friendships as your life has changed? Or to make new friends in your current stage of life?