06 September 2011

The Quest to make Playdates

One of the biggest challenges that I've come across as a new mom is having time for and relating to friends. Most of my most local friends aren't parents, and my friends who are parents live enough of a distance away that coordinating schedules can be difficult.

And so I have decided to embark on a quest to try to find some local "mommy friends" with whom I can get together with on the weekends sometimes (or maybe in the evenings during the week occasionally). Friends that I can talk about "mommy things" with without worrying about boring them, while also giving my son the opportunity to be social with other babies.

Fortunately, I live in an area where there are lots of babies. Which means lots of potential mommy friends.

Unfortunately, despite being fairly outgoing and vocal with people that I know well, I can be painfully shy and socially awkward sometimes with new people, and I often fight against anxiety when I arrange to meet new people. In addition to this, is the added problem that many of the mommy groups, social activities, or single postings within groups that I'm a member of seem to be from or geared towards Stay-at-Home-Moms (SAHM, for short), and are scheduled or looking to schedule things during the hours of 9-5 Monday through Friday.

While I can't speak to how it feels to be a SAHM, I can certainly say that sometimes I feel really isolated being a working mom. Especially since within my job, the people I interact with regularly are not people that it would be appropriate for me to have a casual relationship with outside of work (nor are most of them parents AND local to me).

Even in my quest to find groups to join, I have encountered MANY groups that were specific to single parents and stay-at-home parents. I even found groups for moms working from home (vs. working outside the home), and even an active group specifically for fathers.

I have been searching every place that I can think of to find some variety of activities that might get my son and I out on Saturdays, while my husband is working, and allow us to both be a little social with other moms and their little ones. Often, the activities are during the week, prohibitively costly, not very local, or some combination of the above. We did eventually manage to find a free music hour that a nearby business does on most Saturdays, and one of my local parenting mailing groups had another mom who was also looking for playdates for their child.

After several weeks despairing that my son was going to not have many chances to be social until he was off to a school program, I am finally starting to feel a bit more optimistic. And I even came away from this weekend feeling like I made a friends with another working mama who understands how frustrating finding social time for both you and your little one can be.

If you're also looking to find parents to connect with, here are a few tips for starting your search:
  • Search online for local mailing lists. A Google search for something like "parent groups [location]" (without the quotation marks) can help get you started. Check places like Yahoo Groups and Meetup.com
  • Check your local libraries; sometimes they will have weekend events. Advice that I've received is also to just spend time in the children's section of the library, even if there aren't any events, and you'll likely run into other parents with small children there that you can connect with.
  • If cost isn't an issue, check with your local "baby" businesses to see if they offer classes (examples: Isis Parenting, Gymboree)
  • One more suggestion that I received, but was unable to use (being that I'm not religious), was to attend church and possibly meet people there, or through church-related events.
REMINDER: When meeting others for the first time, you should always meet in a public location for the safety of you and your child.

Oh, and for the record, the playdate we managed to make through our local mailing list was fantastic. We're hoping to get together again sometime this month, schedules permitting.

And I'm even almost feeling brave enough to contact one of the other moms that responded to the playdate thread to see if she's available to meet.

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