The amount of feelings a new mom can experience in the course of just one afternoon never ceases to astound me. It is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing in a way that few other things can be, and no matter how amazing and supportive your partner is, you will need a bigger support system.
You need a Mom Squad.
We were never meant to mother alone; it really does take a village, and if you haven’t already, you need to start cultivating yours.
During my first few months of motherhood, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I had 12 weeks of maternity leave, but I was exclusively pumping, (which meant I was hooked up to my milk-machine six times a day), and struggling with postpartum anxiety and depression that I hadn’t yet gotten help for. It was hard to reach out when even I didn’t know what I needed, but with the gentle encouragement and support of my husband and family, I slowly started to feel like a human being again and began “putting myself out there” on a regular basis.
Soon, I had started new friendships with some truly extraordinary women who have become such a beautiful and essential part of my life. Here’s how to start creating your squad:
1. Go Where the Mamas Go
Get some fresh air, get out of the house, and find the mamas! Library story times. The Riverbanks Zoo & Waterfall Junction Children’s Garden. EdVenture. Parks. The Riverwalk. Babywearing meetings. Get out there! When you see another mama, strike up a conversation. Don’t be shy. I know it feels a little like dating again, but that’s OK. Lean into the awkwardness and take the leap. She’s probably just as thrilled to see another adult human in the wild as you are.
2. Make the First Move
Met another mom who seems cool? Get her number! Send the first text. Invite her for brunch/coffee/a jog/a glass of wine. Be bold! After meeting some cool chicks at a Richland Library story time, I took a risk and invited them all over to my house for tea. It was only the second time I’d ever met them, but they seemed nice, so I extended the invitation. And you know what? Those girls have become some of the core of my Mom Squad. We share life together, have a constantly-running group text, and throw our babies together for playdates a couple of times a week. We can curl up together in our yoga pants and socks and snatch food from each other’s kitchen’s and do holidays together. It’s beautiful and I don’t know what I would do without them.
3. Be Real
Having a rough day? Call your squad up and vent. Need help? Ask for it. Need a baby-free hour? Drop your little off with a friend and take a breath. Feeling like a less-than-perfect parent? We’ve all been there. Being transparent fosters true friendship. Invite your girls over even when the house is a wreck and the dishes are piled high. Don’t be afraid to hang out minus the makeup and clean hair. When you release yourself to be the real you in front of others, you set those around you free to drop the pretense too. Sharing life is messy, but it’s also beautiful. Be brave enough to be you.
4. Be the Mom YOU Would Want on Your Team
Bring dinner to the new mom in your life. Be a listening ear. Hold a friend’s crying baby so she can go pee in peace. Drop a coffee gift card in front of the frazzled young mama who’s wrestling with a nursing cover and a screaming newborn and tell her she’s doing a great job. Be the friend you want to have. We’re all in this together; pouring encouragement out on other mamas will return back to you in abundance. When I was a shell-shocked brand new mom, it meant everything to me when someone dropped off some food and encouragement. Show some love!
5. Try to Find a Mom or Two Who Shares your Lifestyle (stay-at-home mom, working mom, single mom, etc.)
Obviously, the more diverse your squad, the better. But it’s always great to have a friend or two who really understands the day-to-day struggles that are uniquely yours as you balance motherhood with your own individual lifestyle and circumstances. I work outside the home part time, and it’s been wonderful to have a few friends who know exactly what it’s like to split our time between baby and career.