Exactly one week after learning I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I made a cross country move from Seattle, Washington to Athens, Georgia. Every time we’ve made a major move (4 times in 5 years), I’ve prioritized meeting people and making friends in our new home. This time, without knowing a soul in Athens and having a baby on board, I knew it was especially critical to establish a strong community as soon as possible. Self-care is really important and support from other moms is immensely helpful.
While it was daunting to put myself out there at first, I quickly learned to make new friends as a mom was so much easier than I’d anticipated. This is my tried and true approach to make mom friends.
Use the Internet
After arriving in Athens, I had no clue where to start. It’s really hard to meet people in a small town, especially when you work from home. So naturally, I consulted my trusty advisor: the Internet.
It didn’t take long to stumble upon the Athens Mother’s Center Facebook Group. I was immediately drawn to the organization’s mission to connect and support other women on their motherhood journeys. I read through some of the conversations and observed other people just like me: new to town and looking for mom friends (for themselves as well as for their offspring).
In addition to meeting twice a week, offering drop-in childcare, and exploring parks and activities around town, they also hosted a monthly Moms Night Out event. The established members were very welcoming, encouraging others to attend the next meeting. This was exactly the kind of group I was hoping to find.
Get outside your comfort zone and show up
I was excited to find the Athens Mothers Center, but I also started to squirm in my seat. The group was hosting an open house for new moms to check out their organization, and it was the very next day. On one hand, I was convinced this was fateful timing. On the other hand, I was terrified. If I was really going to go, I’d have to face my fears head on to show up alone and mingle with a bunch of moms who already knew each other. Cue: nerves.
I couldn’t ignore another factor adding to my anxiety: at 19 weeks, I really didn’t look pregnant yet. Would it be weird to show up to a mom’s event sans kid and sans bump? These women might wonder what on earth I was doing there. Swallowing my fears, I bravely showed up the next morning to meet a bunch of random new moms.
I won’t lie to you. It was definitely uncomfortable at first. As I entered the large room, several groups had already broken off into their own private conversations. There didn’t appear to be a clear “leader” of the group to officially welcome newcomers like me, nor show me the ropes. Also… I felt like the only newcomer.
You can approach another mom
Feeling incredibly awkward, I approached a few moms chatting as their children danced underfoot. I’m glad I tolerated that temporary discomfort because it soon melted away. I immediately met Erin, a friendly, laid back mom of two, and learned she went to college in Texas (where I’m from).
One by one, I introduced myself to other moms in the room. Everyone was very nice and welcoming and thrilled that I was expecting my first baby. During the Q&A portion of the event, I asked if it was weird to become a member before my baby was born. Everyone laughed and said no, it was smart to join while pregnant. One of the members piped up to say, “Please join now! That way we’ll be friends and can bring you food after the baby is born.” I think my heart grew two sizes that day.
Strike up conversation
In addition to seeking playgroup opportunities, I take daily walks with my daughter. I strap her into her stroller, clip the leash on our family dog, and hit the streets of my neighborhood. I often see other moms wearing or pushing their little bundles, or coaxing a small walker to keep up at a faster pace.
As I pass these women in my similar life stage, I look for opportunities to introduce myself. Of course, if it appears she doesn’t want to be bothered, I just give a quick smile and keep moving. However, if I smile and say hello, and she responds with a greeting or small talk, I take it as a sign she might be open to chatting for a minute. Just the other week I saw someone pushing a tiny newborn baby girl in a stroller. After striking up a conversation, we quickly exchanged phone numbers.
You don’t have to be on a walk to befriend someone new. I’ve had these chance encounters at the grocery store, the park, and recently even met a friend I follow on Instagram but hadn’t yet met in person. Motherhood can be isolating and I believe it’s crucial to be friendly to others in the same boat. In my experience, it seems that when I’m searching for mom friends, the other mom probably is too. And, there’s never such a thing as having “enough” or “too many” friends.
Be proactive and reach out
A phone number is great, but it’s even better if you make an effort to get in touch. Don’t be afraid to send a quick text asking how she’s doing, invite her to attend a playgroup, or suggest meeting up for a walk or coffee (or both). Sometimes these efforts won’t be reciprocated, and that’s okay. The only way you can give a new friendship a chance to blossom is to reach out and give it a try!
We moved again when my daughter was six months old. Although we only lived in Athens for a year, I cried and cried when we left. I didn’t want to leave this tribe of supportive, kind, loving women. Their friendship meant everything to me as I carried my first baby, gave birth to her, and navigated the new world of becoming a mom.
Thankfully, this experience taught me the key steps to make new mom friends. After a successful run in Athens, I’m happy to tell you after using the same approach, I’ve also found a wonderful group of mom friends here in Texas. I hope these suggestions bring you the same success.
Katie McCall is a lifestyle portrait photographer, content strategist, and producer based in San Antonio, Texas. When she isn’t behind a camera or laptop, she's exploring the world with her husband, darling one-year-old daughter and tiny pup. If you’d like, please follow their adventures on Instagram (@hersideproject)!