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Nurturing relationships with friends with children

By Victoria Fryer 

In 2013, my cousin, one of my best friends, and a close work colleague all confided that they had become pregnant. “It’s the year of the baby!” I joked, thinking to myself that once I got through this spate of pregnancies, maybe they would come more slowly. Then, in 2014, my other best friend and my husband’s only remaining childless sister both announced their plans to have a child—within three months of one another. Ah. Another year of babies.

So, while I was so excited for every single one of those friends, it also occurred to me that the relationships I shared with them were going to have to change. And I no longer had the luxury of just hanging out with the still-childless—I was fresh out of friends without kids. So I came to understand, even if I didn’t like it, that much of the onus would be on me to adjust to the new way of things.

Here are a few ways I’ve found to keep in touch with my friends who are now parents, despite their much busier schedules and new competing priorities.

• Make a lunch date: For the working parent in your life, a lunch date can be a great way to have quick one-on-one time with your friend—and they’ll likely be glad for the adult company that doesn’t take away from time spent with the family.

• Schedule a phone call: My best friend and I used to talk on the phone every day. Now that she’s had a baby, frequent phone calls aren’t as possible. So we schedule our phone calls for when we’ll both be available for a few minutes; for instance, if I’m on my way home during the baby’s regularly scheduled naptime.

• Express an interest: This may seem like the easiest part, but for some of us childless and childfree, and for various reasons, reminding our parent friends that we’re interested in what’s going on with the kiddos isn’t always the most natural of interactions. Send a text, comment on photos through social media, or ask how the little ones are doing in whatever sport or activity they’re signed up for.

• Show up: I’ve written before about how I often feel isolated at gatherings of friends when everyone else there is a parent. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there. The best of friends see each other through everything. For some of us, providing support to our parent friends during the active childrearing years is difficult, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do it. We show up, we go to Little League games and dance recitals, and then we get to go home. (Phew!)

• Host a kid-friendly party of your own: Make it known that your friends’ children are always welcome in your home. For some of us, that makes us nervous. The house isn’t childproofed. What about that delicate vase I have on my China hutch? But welcoming your friends’ entire family is what having a friendship is all about.

How do you nurture and sustain friendships with friends with children?

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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