Everyone is different. We have different situations, different strengths, different ways of communicating and showing love. That’s part of what makes a village so beautiful. While some of you are outgoing, others are more introverted. Whoever you are, you need a village, a support system, people to do life with! I’m not going to pretend to know it all, but I am going to share some of the things that seem to have worked for me when it comes down to building authentic relationships and a village of your own; even after twins.
I’ve used the term village a lot in my last couple of articles in this series. Be sure to check them out, It Takes a Village & Finding a Village of My Own. These are what mine and my mom’s village looked like, but everyone’s village is going to look a little different. Before I jump into my list of tips, take a minute to reflect on who is in your village. This can include family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even friends via social media. It can include anyone who helps support you AND brings joy to your life.
Now let’s jump in to my tips for making real, genuine, life-changing friends:
Stop and smell the roses
First of all, just live your life! I’m not some weirdo that thought about how to make friends and create a village as I approached each day. It happened naturally through my simple everyday interaction. While going about your life, make sure you don’t lose sight of those around you. Stop and smell the roses. You most likely have neighbors, co-workers, or will run into people at the grocery store. Everyone has a story and you never know what a simple conversation can lead to.
Being a mom can feel isolating at times. If you are a working mom, it can be easy to feel like you don’t have a life outside of work and home. If you are a stay-at-home mom it can feel like all you do is talk to little people. That’s why either way, I encourage you to get out of your house! I know that at times that can seem especially daunting, but a change of scenery will help lift your mood and often the kids’ moods as well. Go to the park, walk around your neighborhood, meet up with a friend, even make a trip to the grocery store, library or zoo. You are bound to run into someone. Plus, if you have twins you know you will get stopped at least 8 times on every trip!
Getting out of the house is the first step, then initiate an interaction. If you are at the park, put yourself out there and say hi to another mom with kids. Roll down your window and say hi to neighbors as you pull into your driveway. I will mention neighbors a lot because they are going to be around you, so you might as well get to know them. Plus, if you do really hit it off and become close friends, it makes hanging out really easy. Speaking of neighbors, be sure to say hi and welcome new people as they move into the neighborhood.
This is obviously a great rule of thumb for all aspects of life. Kindness can be as easy as a smile or a wave. It can be taking your new neighbor a bottle of wine. It can be asking a coworker how they are doing or even offering a hug to someone that looks down. Plus, you can’t give kindness without having some sort of ripple effect.
Offer to help
We are all busy, but even the simplest act of kindness/generosity can mean a lot to someone and can help forge a great friendship. One of my dearest friends was my neighbor for a while before our friendship really blossomed. We would exchange cookies at Christmas and always say hi, but because we were both so busy, we hadn’t really had a heart-to-heart or bonded on a deeper level until after her son was born. I had stepped down from my corporate job just a couple weeks prior and had a little extra time on my hands. I’d texted her to see if I could share some delicious roasted veggies and to see if she needed anything. When she accepted this invitation, I was so excited for an opportunity to see them and to meet the new little guy. When I went over, I found out they were running short on burp rags since he had much worse reflux than their first baby, so I ran home to get a basket full of them. It wasn’t a heroic act by any means, but it allowed us to connect and realize that we could be there for each other for more than a cup of flour or a wave & smile. We could be there for one another when we were sleep deprived, pulling our hair out, and even for support on the days we felt like we weren’t the moms we wanted to be.
Stay in touch
Just because people don’t live near you, doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of your village. As I mentioned in my last article, I have a lot of friends that aren’t particularly close to me. Some at the coast, some in Arizona, even a couple overseas. Even if it’s just a text or a visit every couple of years, moments with those you love are worth it and they matter.
Use social media to connect
I’ve only been doing this mom blog thing for a few months but already I am so thankful for some of the friendships I’ve forged over social media. Just because someone doesn’t live near you or you haven’t met in person doesn’t mean you can’t have a genuine connection and become a support system. I love cheering moms on as they approach potty training or sleep training. I love sharing gift ideas. And I love when their posts offer encouragement or brighten my day with a funny video or meme.
This is the most important step to authentic relationships and it’s a two-way street. Vulnerability is sharing the hard stuff while also listening to others and allowing them to share what’s on their mind. It’s providing a safe place to speak without judgement or fear of it being spread to others. Everyone has their own comfort level with vulnerability, however, opening up to others is not weakness, it’s an opportunity to share a real deeper connection. I encourage you to have a friend or 2 or even 3 that you can trust enough to really open up your heart. This won’t go perfectly and you might get burned along the way, but if you are the type of person that others can trust and confide in, and you open yourself up as the relationship grows, you will find your people. People that you can share your struggles with, celebrate with, laugh and cry with. People that build you up, help to halt the self-doubt, & bring you comfort and joy.
As great as motherhood is, some days are hard, some days seem lonely, sometimes you worry that you aren’t enough or you hover too much. Obviously, you need your girlfriends on the more challenging days like these. But you also need them on the great days, to share your joy, the pictures, the laughs, and sometimes even glasses of wine!
I hope you all have a wonderful day and continue to love and be loved by those around you.
Cheers to the sisterhood of motherhood!