Did you ever say, “When I become a mom I’m not going to be that mom who abandons her friends”? “I’m still going to figure out how I can still meet up with my friends Sex And The City style”?” However, once you become a mom, you realize that meeting up with friends may not be your reality anymore. You are focused on trying to find sleep, work, and taking care of your new baby or babies. The reality is that you can’t do what you used to. It may be hard for you to understand and you may wish that you could see your friends more. It may even be hard for your friends who wonder if they did something wrong and if you still like them.
I recently had this conversation with a friend of mine. Every time this person called to see if we could make plans or to check in I wasn’t available because I was either working or on mommy duty. One day, I received a text from this person asking if they did something wrong and if I was upset at them. That’s when I realized that my actions of not being available were interpreted as a way that I never intended. I felt bad because we were never available at the same time to connect and I explained that maintaining my friendships is an area that I struggle with. Although I want to be able to maintain certain relationships with my friends, it is challenging. My life outside of my children exists of developing a deeper relationship with God and building FNPhenomenal and outside of my family I rarely talk to my friends on a regular basis. The only people who I see regularly attend church with me. More recently, I realized that being a single mom and a work from home mom can lead to isolation; therefore, I’ve been getting better about being intentional with keeping in touch with my friends. I also started to focus on scheduling time to do something outside of motherhood, work, and church. Monthly, my friends and I get together where we do a group dinner and it is a ton of fun. It really becomes something that I look forward to every month.
However, although I have made strides in being a human outside of being a mom and entrepreneur it still remains a challenge to find the time to get together with friends. At this stage in my life, it’s just not a reality. The funny thing is that I originally listed this as a 2017 goal, but after taking a look at everything that I listed as 2017 goals, I realized that the putting a focus on my friends had to be delayed. This doesn’t mean that I don’t do outreach, connect, or occasionally grab dinner. It just means that I cannot prioritize it and although I felt bad I had to be okay with it. This conversation with my friend, however, made me realize that because I valued this person’s friendship that I needed to explain that at this point, I cannot do the same things that I did pre-motherhood. I can’t just decide that I want to go to dinner or happy hour. I can’t hop on the phone and chat for a while. I can’t do the same things that I did before. However, in that discussion, I also reiterated that I valued this person and their friendship and we suggested different opportunities to connect in the future. The interesting this is they understood and were relieved that there was no animosity or anger. I was relieved because there were no assumptions made. That’s the thing about communication and setting expectations. It allows people to be transparent and honest and not risk miscommunication.
I share this story with you to let you know that if you are a mom and you are struggling with maintaining your friendships that you are not alone. There is a season for everything and maybe this season for you is pouring into your children or wherever else God is telling you to spend your time right now. Your job is to be the best mom you can be and to be obedient to God. That means that you have to be okay with what that means for your ability to spend time with your friends at this point in time. I’m not saying abandon your friendships, but what I am saying is to do what you can and then be okay with it. Release yourself from your own expectations and the expectations of others and do what you can. For example, I had to be okay with sending a quick “hi” text or spending a few minutes on the phone or on text checking in and seeing how my friends are. I had to be okay with the knowledge that I was doing my best and I also learned to be upfront with my friends about what I could do and what I couldn’t.
There are some other things that you should also consider as well that we will discuss in this post.
Evaluate what friendship means to you
This one is critical, and I had to learn this myself. Years ago, when I stopped going out to the club, I noticed that I stopped seeing and speaking to most of the people that I saw weekly at the club. What I realized is that our “friendship” was contingent on me partying at the club, but when I decided that wasn’t what I wanted anymore then those people disappeared. What I realized is that friendship wasn’t just about shared interests or shared activities. It was important to have a genuine connection and a care and concern for the other person. It was about being there for the ups and the downs, and it was about being supportive. Sometimes the best way to determine who your true friends are is to grow as a person and start doing new things that are more closely aligned with God and His purpose for your life. When you do that, you will see who leaves and who stays.
Assess whether you want to or should even maintain certain friendships
If we are honest, then we know that some people aren’t good for us. Some people are toxic and drama-filled and have no place as associates let alone an inner circle. I strongly encourage everyone to evaluate who they allow in their lives; however, I especially encourage all moms to evaluate who is in your circle. The Bible tells us some powerful things about friendship.
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” – Proverbs 13:20
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” – Proverbs 12:26
I share these with you to implore you to evaluate the company that you keep. The people you surround yourself with can either uplift you or take you down. As a mother, especially a single mother, this can either help your children or devastate them. I don’t mean to sound bleak, but it is so true. Your children look up to you, they are watching your every move, and they are learning how to behave and interact with the world by watching you. If you keep bad company and you mimic their behavior, then that is the example you are setting for your children. If you allow people who aren’t good people interact with your children, then you are putting them at risk of seeing bad examples and at worst you are putting them at risk of physical or emotional harm. Therefore, choose your friends wisely. If there is anyone who you know isn’t good or you have doubts about whether they are good, then cut them off. Let me be clear: If you decide that they aren’t good, it may not mean that they are bad or immoral people. It just means that they aren’t healthy or good for you, and they don’t need to come along as you move into your new phase.
Evaluate what you can do and what you can’t
Once you evaluate what friendship means to you and whether you should even be continuing certain friendships, you need to understand what you can do and what you can’t. I recently had a conversation with another single mom and she told me that one thing that she did was stop overcommitting herself and then feeling guilty when she had to cancel on her friends. Before she says “yes” to doing something with her friends, she really has to evaluate her time and her life realities to understand if she could even say “yes.” Being more careful about what she committed herself to helped reduce the disappointment from her friends when they were canceled on and it also helped to reduce the guilt that she felt from having to back out at the last minute.
In addition, when you are evaluating what you can do and what you can’t, you must also make sure that God, you and your children are priorities. Don’t shortchange any of those 3 things so that you can maintain a healthy social life. You must first engage in prayer to understand where God has you at this particular stage and what your children need at this life stage. If your children are younger then maybe you can’t do as much as moms with teenagers or tweens. You must be comfortable and find joy in the life stage that you are at. You can’t do everything or be everything to everyone. Plus, you can’t compare your life now to life before kids, because there is so much joy in motherhood and fully living this chapter of your life.
The last thing that I want to say about evaluating your time is to understand what free time looks like for you. For example, when I have free time, sometimes I just want me-time. All I want to do is to get a massage, go somewhere quiet to read a book, or even watch a favorite television show. Sometimes I just want to be by myself. Therefore, think about the balance between me-time and friend-time and what will work best for you. Seek guidance in prayer and ask God for guidance.
Let people that you care about know what is going on. For example, I kept trying to connect with my best friend and I couldn’t get in touch with her. This lasted for weeks and it was very unusual for us not to chat frequently even if it was just a quick “hi” text. Finally, when she called me she let me know that she would have less time to chat when she gets off work because she is working on her side hustle. When I heard that it was cool and then we quickly talked about how she was doing and how the project is going. It was totally normal. As I mentioned earlier, I had to tell my other friend that I still valued their friendship but between raising my kids and working I don’t have much extra time. When you communicate, let them know what you can do and how you can stay connected even if you can’t talk to them or see them as often. People who love you understand when you communicate with them.
Busyness can quickly turn into isolation if left unchecked. Therefore, carve out time for yourself. This is free time away from your children, work, errands, etc. Find time for you. If you don’t you will start to feel isolated and like a partial person. I’ve talked to many moms who have said that they lost themselves in motherhood, work, marriage, etc. and once their children were grown, their marriage failed, or a career change/layoff happened and they realized they no longer knew who they were, what they wanted, or what they liked. Even if they interacted with family or people from work, they didn’t find the time to distinguish between the things that they had to do or even loved to do versus things that they could do for themselves. It’s not selfish, but rather a part of maintaining your own identity in Christ outside of your children, your job, your church, or whatever else your identity may be tied to.
The reality of life is there are different phases. If you are in the phase where you aren’t able to spend as much time with your friends, it doesn’t mean that there is any less love it just means that the realities of your life are different. Take comfort in where you are and truly spend this time evaluating what you want from your friends and who you want to surround you. Remember, your friends should build you up and not tear you down. They should keep your confidence and they should be there for you. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Therefore, life is a balance. You may be at a stage where you can’t invest as much time in your friendships. However, don’t isolate yourself. You don’t want to be in a position where you fall and have no one to help you up. With that being said, take the time to evaluate who you call as a friend because you also don’t want to think that you have friends, and then fall and still have no one to help you up. Seek God’s council and ask Him to guide you on how to maintain your friendships and who to maintain those friendships with.
If you want more tips and resources, then check out this FREE grocery reduction challenge to help you to cut your grocery and takeout bill so you can have more money for the things you love! Click here to join the challenge!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!
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