Mommin’ ain’t easy. It truly takes a village to raise children. The same can be said for taking care of mothers.
None of us wants to feel like we’re a burden on the people we love, so we often keep our stress and our personal needs to ourselves. As much as your mom friend needs to feel heard, she also wants to be there for her friends, too. Help maintain the mom friendships in your life by fostering connections built on grace and understanding — and reminding your friends of the awesome women they are outside of being “mom.”
Here are five ways you can encourage and be there for the mom friends in your life.
1. Invite Her Out — With the Kids and Without
She wants to spend more time with you. She also has to coordinate her schedule with her partner or arrange for babysitting. Maybe this isn’t a good time of the month to spring for babysitting expenses. Then again, maybe a girls night out is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Invite her out and give her two options: One option includes a kid-friendly place like the trampoline park or an arcade, and the other option includes an adults-only scene. The most important thing is that giving the option takes the pressure off. What’s even better is letting her know that if she can’t make it this time, you’ll plan again in a couple of weeks.
2. Let Her Know It’s OK Not To Do It All
Moms have plenty to do in a day, and many of us feel the need to take it all on ourselves. Remind your mom friend that sometimes it’s OK to let go and let someone else do it. Slip her the business card of your local cleaning company. On the back of the card, write, “You’re awesome, and you deserve a break.” Tag her in a Facebook post for a meal-planning service or subscription kids clothing box.
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3. Take Her Kids Out To Play
Yes, she needs a break. If you’re a mom as well, so do you. This doesn’t have to be a one-sided gesture. Take turns taking the kids to the park or somewhere else fun. Not only does this give your mom friend a break once in a while, but there’s nothing more encouraging than knowing your own kids can go out in public without you and come back in one piece and without causing any major property damage.
Look for positive interactions her children have with each other or other children and report back. Saying, “Your kids are really good at sharing with others!” really does go a long way to the mom who feels like she’s never going to get this parenting thing right.
4. Allow Her To Bring Her Entire Self to the Conversation
“How are the kids?” my coworkers, friends, and people everywhere would ask. “Great!” The kids were always great. Me? I was sleeping less than four hours a night, burned out, and wishing I had someone to talk to about it. One of the major ways we know to connect with people is over our kids, but moms are, in fact, people too.
Remind your friend, and maybe even yourself, of the interests, passions, and goals that were there long before there was a little one or two in the picture. Instead of questions about the kids, ask questions about the friend that you love and care about.
5. Keep in Touch With Handwritten Notes
Do your texts to your mom friend sometimes seem to fall into a black hole? They didn’t. They were read, smiled at, and maybe even responded to in her head. Then, one of the kids either got too loud or too quiet, and your text took a back seat to some investigative work. Nevertheless, that interaction was meaningful. That lack of response, however, can start to feel like a one-way relationship for you.
Something about a handwritten note or a card changes the game, though. Your friend has a visual reminder of your thoughtfulness and the time it took to communicate with her via snail mail, which may spur her to respond in kind. If you’re feeling extra loving, include a few sticky notes with affirmations written and signed by you. When those notes end up on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator, your friend can’t help but remember exactly who has been encouraging her all along.