HOW TO MAKE PARENT FRIENDS
Parenting can be lonely so here's how to find your squad...
Who needs more parent friends? Well, if you have four kids, if you’re juggling kid a, b, c and d’s extracurricular activities, and already have a list of 100 people you are due a catch up with, then maybe not you. But for the majority of us, writes mush co-founder Katie Massie-Taylor, new friends are the lifeline to share the highs and lows of parenthood with.
And let’s face it, the mates who you (used to) dance in a bar with until 4am on a Saturday may not be the people who want to have a playground session with you on a Sunday.
Enter the parent friend realm. They are the ones who do stuff with you, while their kids do stuff with your kids.
As a mum who has moved three times with small children, I have learnt a lot about making parent friends. Here are my 7 dos and don’ts…
1. DO let your kids be the chat-up line
Whether you’re in a playground, at a playgroup, by the pool, or even in the supermarket, a comment about your kids’ behavior (self-deprecating) or their kid’s behavior (complimentary) is a great way to start that first conversation. Better still, if the kids have eyed each other up already, you will naturally start chatting about it. Some of the best parent buddies have come from that chance meeting.
2. DON’T judge a potential parent friend on their parenting style
It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a whole load of parents to raise a parent. You can learn a lot from the people who do stuff differently to you. And let’s face it, even if that alpha mum is discreetly turning up her nose at the state of your kitchen, l bet if the kids are getting on well then you will find some common ground and have a laugh. Which brings me on to the next point:
3. DON’T expect your kids to like your friends’ kids
We all remember being forced to interact with that kid who didn’t like anything you liked. Parents ushered us off to their room where we would stare at a wall and make small talk, whilst they chatted about grown up stuff and drank wine. The kids will be all right, of course, just don’t expect them to like it, and let them choose your parent friends occasionally.
4. DO be kind: it’s cool
True friendships need some skin in the game. Bake them a cake when it’s their birthday/someone was sad at nursery pick-up/just because you can. Help a parent out when they clearly can’t handle one kid making a dash for a road while the other lies spread-eagled on the pavement. Make a habit of doing something nice for a mate every day. It feels good, and they will like you all the more.
5. DON’T just talk kids
It’s a great opener to talk colour of poos/nursery choices/eating habits/tantrum causes because they are all an easy point of reference. But make the effort to ask questions about the other parts of their existence too. Their work, their extended families, where they have travelled, what they would do if they won the lottery. The fun stuff. The stuff that would give you a far better measure of who they are, and that leads to the lasting friendships.
6. DO make them local
If you have ticked all the other boxes, this is quite frankly the clincher. If you are anywhere on the scale of the busy parent (we all are), then adding in a car ride is going to kill the buzz. Not being around the corner for the spontaneous plans (have you tried to plan ahead with small kids?!) is going to be the fire extinguisher. The once-a-year parent friends and the never-see-but-hang-out-online parent friends have their place, of course, but if you want people who can push a swing next to you while you talk beyond the ‘what have you been up to?’ chat, locality is crucial.
7. DO use mush
Sometimes we all need that extra help to get started. Sometimes our small kids prevent us from loitering by the playground gates (not recommended, this is creepy). We created mush so that you can easily find parents who live around the corner, who have kids the same ages as yours, and who you have shared interests with. It’s an entirely free app and comes with some great (if we say so ourselves) extra features that help make parenting more brilliant. You can download it in the App Store and in Google Play.