When you decide to have children everything changes and it’s really easy to assume that because your life has changed everything around you will as well. You sort of expect your work to adapt to you, your friends to understand that you won’t be at the pub every night anymore and your bank to understand that your savings account is about to be depleted in quite a rapid fashion!
But just because your life has changed that doesn’t mean other people’s will and it’s unreasonable to expect others to change just because you have.
As soon as that baby arrives there will be a flurry of congratulations and visitors but then over the next few months you’ll notice you don’t hear from some people as often as you used it. At first you’ll get cross about that, then you’ll feel hurt that it feels like they aren’t supporting you but then further down the line you’ll realise you are being entirely ridiculous and it’s unfair to ask people to change because you have.
It’s easy to feel quietly jealous when they have photos on Facebook of all their lovely holidays, sunny days spent at the pub or awards ceremonies at their jobs. It’s easy begrudge them their time and forget that you had plenty of those days before you brought your little sleep thief into the world.
It’s time to be realistic.
You’ll be spending more time at home now and not quite as much as the pub, at festivals, at gigs or going out to dinner. Given a bit of time you’ll find some balance and find a way to keep your social life active – probably dinner and drinks at your place while your tiny human sleeps in another room. We have a couple of friends who pop over every couple of months for a bad movie night and a few drinks (Zombeaver tonight and Sharknado 3 next month!) and another who also don’t have children who not only come over for food and drinks but were crazy enough to recently spend a week on holiday with us!
You’ll need send more texts, emails and messages on Facebook messenger as your free time won’t necessarily match up to theirs – when your little one is napping they are probably at work and won’t be able to answer the phone. Even then some people might still drop entirely off the radar and you have to respect that – having children isn’t that different to when you go to a different school. You are all going to make new friends and move onto different things but when you do see each other it’ll be fine – it won’t be the same as it was but then nothing is now is it?
It’s actually harder to maintain relationships with people who already have children as suddenly neither of you can be flexible as you are bound by mealtimes, naptimes and bedtimes. They’ll understand the gaps in communication though as they’ve been there and remember how strange these first few years are! You’ll see them less often but neither of you will ever need to apologise for not getting in touch because you’ll both understand the challenges you are both facing.Your meeting will either involve copious amounts of tea or wine drunk out of party cups.
But you can make most friendships work – It just takes a lot more work and probably more from your side than theirs. They’ll just assume you will call when you are free or won’t want to call and bother you and you won’t call them because you’ll assume they have more interesting things to do than listen to you talk about kids. But you will need your friends for the tough times and the fun times so please make sure you put in that extra effort with your friends who already have children and those who don’t. The ones who already do will be a bundle of useful words, helpful advice and support and the ones who don’t have children will be best at reminding you of the person you were before you had a baby which you’ll need just as much.
Just because you’ve had a baby it doesn’t mean all the fun times are over and you have to stop now. You just need to find a slightly different way of doing it and make sure you work that little bit harder on your friendships. It’s worth it though – you’ll find some friendships get stronger and you’ll bond with people who you weren’t necessarily as close with before.
So whether you are the person with children who’s let a friendship slide or the person without children who thinks your friend won’t be interested in your drunken escapades anymore or the person who already has children and wants to reconnect with your friends – just get in touch. Pick up your phone and make that first step.