The Friends You Want to Have Once You Have Kids

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When your child is active in a lot of extracurriculars, you will come across all types of parents. There are all kinds of moms at skating, softball fields, scout troops, school events etc. Navigating your way through the groups and finding one to hang with isn't always an easy task. It's takes thought and some investigative work. You can't just start hanging with every mom you encounter at kids activities, or you may end up in a crowd you're not comfortable with or can't relate to. It sounds high school-ish, but compatibility in your relationships and like-minded people are necessary to fulfilling your needs at any stage of life, not just when you're a teenager. You want to find people who have the same goals and lifestyle as you do.

Just as in high school, the workplace or any other social grouping, there are different cliques and groups. There are the yoga/athletic moms who spend a lot of time doing fitness classes. There are arts and crafts moms who are into scrapbooking and other crafts. You've got moms who love the farmers' market and won't feed their kids chicken nuggets. There are high energy moms who shop the same stores as their daughters, moms who are beauty queens in high heels and full makeup at after-school events, working moms, all types.

It doesn't mean you can't be friendly or spend some time with people who are different than you. That mom who is always working out can be just what you need to kick start your fitness commitment, and moms who might seem "all organic" can be a great resource should your child have allergies or other food sensitivities. But, if you are completely different in multiple ways, you may have a hard time connecting and relating to each other, or understanding and supporting each other's choices, way of life and decisions. You could feel left out or a little outcast in your social circle, or feel criticized or looked down on for not being similar to the group you are in.

I don't expect my friends to me on all fronts, but it helps if we enjoy similar hobbies, and these are the moms that I find I develop the tightest bonds with, who I feel support me and with whom I spend most of my time. In my group, I have a balance of friends who aren't over the top in any of these categories. We don't get crazy getting ready in the morning, but try not to leave house without some simple makeup. None of us claim to be super moms, nor do we ever last on a fitness plan longer than a month at a time. We try to be good moms and put our kids first, but our parenting styles are often different than other moms' and you have to also learn how to be comfortable with this.

You also need to know who you are connecting with. This is one I try to avoid: I don't open up my personal life with every mom I meet on Gigi's adventures. I need to know who I'm dealing with first. I need to know if I speak in confidence that it won't be all over the school the next day, because this absolutely happens. Kids overhear parents talking about other parents, and that same gossip can end up being gossiped among kids later. Be careful what you share and with whom, especially when it comes to personal topics.

The whole goal is to find a group that you are comfortable with, that you can trust, and that you can count on in tough times. If you have those things the rest is just icing.