I knew I was officially a mom-dater when, sitting on the couch after the kids were asleep, I squealed after hearing the ding on my cell phone, alerting me that my new — dare I say friend? — had texted me back.
We had met earlier that day at my daughter’s softball practice. She was the coach and, I was sure, the one who could be my new mom friend. I just had to get her number. I stayed after practice, helping her clean up orange cones and plastic bases and, with hopeful anticipation, uttered, “We should get our kids together for a playdate.”
Then, I waited. She nodded enthusiastically and we exchanged numbers.
This whole mom-dating experience was new to me, and to be honest, hard work. We used to live in St. Louis Park, a city packed with moms of young kids. I had access to multiple libraries, a McDonald’s with an indoor playground and dozens of parks — not to mention lots of neighborhood mom groups and community education offerings. I hardly even had time to mom-date!
But, when we moved out of the metro area to a small Minnesota town of 2,500, I knew the day we moved in, I needed to start looking for mom friends, grow my circle and find my village.
Here is what I’ve learned so far:
Don’t be afraid to chat with other moms at the playground, library or carpool line at school. Some of the best conversations I’ve had throughout the past year have started with me simply introducing myself. I keep a couple conversation-starters in my back pocket to break the ice: How old are your kids? Are you reading any good books? What are you watching on Netflix?
Being a mom of young kids is hard. It can be exhausting, isolating work. Sometimes just being truthful — with ourselves and others — can spark relatable, engaging conversations.
Something as simple as, “This morning has been pretty emotional for everyone in our house,” or “Our kids slept horribly last night,” can create an authentic foundation for a friendship.
Give yourself grace
Whether you’re home on maternity leave, working full-time or chasing a side hustle, growing your circle of friends for this stage — when our kids are young — is hard.
You have your friends from childhood, college and work, sure. But mom friends are those available for midweek playdates, those who completely understand what you mean when you say your kid had a meltdown at Target, and those who who are willing to grab your snacks while you’re breastfeeding your newborn. Mom friends are important.
Find a go-to meeting spot
Playdates are great. Just not at my house. Half a dozen kids under the age of 6 running in and out of bedrooms, dumping out bins of LEGOs and unwinding rolls of toilet paper is not my idea of fun.
Instead, find a neutral spot where you can meet prospective mom friends and their kids, like the library, a public park or a kid-friendly coffee shop.
Check out Peanut
These ideas have helped me as I’ve ventured into mom-dating. But, if all else fails, look into Peanut, a community-building app that makes it easier to meet moms near you. Yep, it’s just like Tinder, except for moms.
Maggie Sonnek, a wife and mom of three, stays busy exploring her new home in the Driftless Area of southeastern Minnesota. Learn about her work and her blog spotlighting entrepreneurial women at millcitycreativempls.com.