A Good Mom Friend Is PricelessJun 15, 2023
Have you ever had a bad parenting day? Scratch that: If you're a parent, you've had a bad parenting day. Whether it's troublesome behavior from your kids, chaotic scheduling, conflicts with your own personal To Do list, illness, or what have you, some days are just rough. Having a good support system in place from early in your parenting career is so important to maintaining a happy family.
Social support has many important benefits for protecting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of parents. In addition to all the wonderful things about being a new parent, there is significant stress involved, from fatigue and physical adjustments to daily frustrations and a sometimes pervasive sense of feeling overwhelmed by parenthood. These are tough experiences to face alone. Social support can help buffer against stress, leading to a reduction in psychological distress, depression, and anxiety. This, in turn, protects against physical health issues that can develop from repeated stress. In short, new parents need social support.
Social support fits into my 5 C's parenting framework under the Check Yourself category (see The 5 C's to Amazing Parenting). Check Yourself means staying intentional in your parenting and using tools to help you stay grounded and happy as a parent.
Being a first-time parent often means a huge change in your peer group. Surely you'll maintain friendships from before parenthood, but at every stage of your baby's life, you'll have the opportunity to meet a whole new group of people, from your prenatal classes to play groups to preschool to elementary and so forth. You might find peers in a prenatal or postnatal exercise group, a play group for new parents, at your place of worship, or at local parenting classes. As your child ages into the playground phase, be on the lookout for other parents you connect with and make an effort to share contact information.
From the beginning, identify the one or two people who a) you admire their personality and their parenting style and b) you feel totally comfortable confiding in. Keep those people close at hand for those bad parenting days. We all need support from time to time. A simple phone call or text with one of these people can turn a rough day into a motivational experience and recharge you for whatever parenthood throws at you next.
Ideally, those people live in the same town as you to promote more frequent and in-person interactions. It would be amazing if those people also had children the same age as yours. You may still have a best friend or group of close friends who you socialize with. But having a few Mom Friends (Dad Friends, etc.) to travel through the phases of parenthood with is priceless. They'll get it when you say you were late because of a diaper blow-out that required an immediate bath - for both of you. And empathize with you when you say your baby woke up 5 times last night. And later, they'll hear you without judgment when you get your first call from the principal's office or your child is struggling with something major in high school. Treasure these relationships. It's truly wonderful to have people who innately get the phase of parenting you're in and are going through the same sort of issues themselves.
Be sure to nurture those relationships. They are reciprocal, so be available and supportive when they contact you needing support. And check in on good days too. Periodically acknowledge the critical role they are playing in your life. Today, send a text or DM, give them a call, or pop a little note in the mail letting them know how much you value their friendship and how much their support has meant to you over the years.
Social support falls under the Check Yourself category in my 5 C’s parenting framework (see The 5 C’s to Amazing Parenting), where I review various coping skills for parents. To view more posts in this category, use the category search menu on the right of your screen. Keep up the good work on your amazing parenting journey!
P.S. If that note about your baby waking up 5 times last night rang true for you, be sure to check out my step-by-step sleep training process detailed in my Masterclass: Sleep Training. You'll learn everything you need to know to get your child sleeping through the night!
Also, on my Treasures - Sleep Training page, you’ll find some essential products to simplify the sleep training process.