This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on May 8, 2019 by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine
Question: Hello. Thanks for taking questions from families in need of help. I just love Macaroni Kid and have told all my co-workers about it. Here is my dilemma. I have trouble making mom friends. I am fairly shy and not comfortable approaching people. I have brought my kids to a lot of Macaroni Kid suggested events but can never work up the nerve to approach other moms. I’ve found they don’t approach me either. Usually, moms are with a partner or have brought a friend along. I have now lived here for two years and still only have co-worker “friends.” How do I break out of my comfort zone to approach moms?
Answer: First of all, I want you to know you are not alone, many feel as you do. When this isn’t second nature, it is good to have a few “openers” for conversation ready. Your questions should be open ended, meaning they can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. That gives you more to hook into the conversation. Here are some examples:
- “I couldn’t help but notice how cute your daughter is in that hat”. Where do you shop?
- “This is the first time I have come to this kind of event, have you come before? How often are they offered? Are there any other events or activities that you like?”
- “I’m looking for ways to meet more moms; do you have any places that are good to go?”
You can also break the ice with some nametag fun (in the event you are given a nametag). Write something like Hi I’m Carrie (I’m superman’s mom). This will make people curious and want to know which child he is.
One mom told me that she found that it was easier to make friends with other moms during children’s lessons or practices. Talking is easier because another adult is with your child and everyone is a kind of captive audience. Small talk and conversation is a natural outcome.
When you notice your child gravitating toward another child, comment about it to that child’s mom. If the two seem to hit it off, mention a playdate. One mom also said it is important to follow-up any play date offers.
There are also several apps that can also be a help in meeting other moms. There are several which will give you the groups in your area. Try Meetup.com for Moms, and try to explore others. These apps arrange for mom and baby/child activities and play dates. You might also enjoy chat which can develop into a friendship offline. They are also a great source of things happening in the community to do with kids.
One of the keys to making friends is to keep going back. Eventually, you will begin to know people. It takes at least three times to begin to feel comfortable with the people and the routine of a new activity. Studies have shown that friendships form from the length of time people spend together and the experiences they share.
Don’t let “coupled” friends stop you from interacting. You may end up with two new friends.
I have been in this place before and I have tried something new. I had an outgoing friend I admired, who could start a conversation with just about anybody. In situations where I am uncomfortable, I think of her, and what would she do in this circumstance? Sometimes it has given me the words and the courage to be like her, and step out of my comfort zone. I have experimented with this in the quiet of an elevator. It always surprises me how friendly people actually are when you joke and talk with them.
Lastly, volunteering to help out is one of the best ways to meet people. It will give you something to do, which is helpful when shy, and you will meet the other moms who are volunteering. I wish you lots of courage and fun!
Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com and click on “Referrals.”