The biggest transition in a friendship is the adjustment that has to happen when your friends start having kids. If your friends are starting families, their embarkment into the world of Pack ‘n Plays and debates on co-sleeping versus crib-sleeping may leave you feeling out of the loop.
Their priorities have shifted now that their main gig is keeping another human alive, but at the end of the day, they’re still the same person you’ve shared countless memories with. You might feel uncertain about how to love your friends when it feels like things have changed. And that’s OK.
Adding kids to the mix is an adjustment for everyone but especially for your friend which is why there are a few things to remember when it comes to loving them along the journey:
Time is the biggest gift you could give them.
Getting used to taking care of a little life is a lot of work and takes some adjustment. This is your opportunity to reach out to them and make face time happen. Whether it’s catching up over the box of doughnuts you’ve just delivered or watching the kids while they take the first shower they’ve had in days, you can’t minimize how important the gift of time is at this point in their lives.
Anything you can do to free up their hours, like bringing over a few frozen meals or giving them a Seamless gift card that will ensure dinner is accounted for, is a good idea. Stay flexible and willing to make new memories in their world. This may mean that your weekly catch ups now take place at the neighborhood playground where they can keep an eye on their kid or it may mean that you’re spending time with them in the kitchen as they prepare lunch but either way, being present shows you care.
Remember they’re still the same person.
The friend you shared sleepovers with or played basketball with every Tuesday is still the same person. Their new identity as a mom or dad doesn’t cancel out their identity as your friend. They still want to be remembered when you invite a group to the movies or lunch. And not inviting them would be rude. It may take a little more calendar guesswork and you might have a little guest joining you from time to time but don’t forget to make the effort.
It may sometimes feel like your friend is caught in a loophole of parent talk but it may also surprise both of you how easy it is to swing back to bonding over rumors about season two of Stranger Things or sharing new jokes about diaper-changing disasters. Don’t underestimate the depth of your friendship by feeling like you have to shift your expectation for new experiences together. These experiences are going to be different, but different can be good.
Remember their life has changed.
The more you can do to help your friends adjust to their new role, the better. Notes of encouragement can help, more frequent phone calls, anything that communicates, “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”
Your friends are probably experiencing a high wave of emotion that comes in the postpartum stage and transitioning into a new domestic lifestyle. Remember to be proactive in your approach as passivity may leave room for time and space to make you grow apart. Your presence in their life may just be the constant they need.