Once you become a parent, you need your friends more than ever. But your little bundle of joy can be an all-consuming drain on your time and sanity, never mind adding your studies into the mix. The truth is, friendships change with time, regardless of whether or not your friends are on the same path at the same time. However, those changes don’t gaurantee the end of friendships. Like any other relationship, maintaining a quality friendships requires work. Here are a few suggestions to help maintain your friendships when you’re the only one with a chlid.
You’re going to miss out. And that’s ok
Best intentions aside, any time outside of your classes are likely needed to be spent with your little ones. That likely leaves no time for study groups, athletic events, or going out on the town with your besties. Your college experience won’t likely reflect the partying portrayed on tv, or what you overhear other students gossiping about. You may show up to classes having barely slept a wink with breast milk on your shirt while your peers giggle about who they hooked up with the night before. You may be unable to commit to volunteer and research opportunities or attend campus events. And you will be ok! Your grades likely won’t suffer from any of these things, and if you’re concerned about childcare needs affecting your education, your academic advisors and professors are there to help. It’s highly unlikely that you’re the only one able to participate in everything your campus has to offer.
Talk it out
Feeling distanced from your friends? TELL THEM! Sometimes all it takes is a sweet reminder that you value the friendship to get things back on track. Also, ask yourself about what topics you’ve been bringing to the conversation. If you’re constantly discussing your toddler’s most recent tantrum, daycare waitlists, and other un-relatable topics to your friends, it may be time to shift your focus back to what they can relate to.
Although you may be the only parent in your friend group, that may change one day. Your loved ones are going through their own transitions and struggles, and likely can’t see things through your perspective. Yet. If your friends eventually become parents themselves, they will be coming to you for advice when they are struggling to find the safest car seat or recommendations for affordable childcare. Perhaps your friendship will take a temporary hiatus while you’re in different life stages, and that’s ok. Your most enduring friendships will kick back up with time.
Embrace new friendships
If things just aren’t working with your existing friend group, you may find solace among other parents. Relationships based on such a significant commonality can flourish into life-long sisterhoods as you support each other through parenting struggles, work and school struggles, and provide insight when attempting to juggle everything that life throws at you.
OR DON’T! Although it may be uncomfortable at first, you don’t need to dedicate yourself to a specific group of friends. It’s normal to feel lonely at times, and is completely normal when you’re transitioning through different life stages ahead of your cohort. Embracing your solidarity will help build your confidence and individual character.