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School Friendships Out For Summer

Jun08

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesAmalah is currently on maternity leave. In her absence, however, she’s just as tethered to the computer as ever, and will be using this space to ask you — our intrepid Advice Smackdown Commenter Crew — questions. What’s been baffling her, as a parent, you may wonder? Why, she’s so glad you asked!

Dear Internet-Wan Kenobi,

Okay, I feel like this is probably not technically a question, but more like a plea to hear that I’m Not The Only One. Noah is graduating from preschool this month. Next fall, he and all his classmates begin kindergarten, and with the exception of ONE little girl who will attend the same school as Noah, they are all being scattered to the wind and to different schools in the area. It’s sad, I suppose, but obviously to be expected.

And it’s not really NOAH I’m worried about here. It’s me. I’m afraid I’m going to lose all the mom friends I’ve made during the past two years of preschool, and I could really use some tips on how to make sure that doesn’t happen. Because it’s happened before — I have a truly WRETCHED track record of keeping in touch with moms and playmates once our children move on from the programs (kiddie gym class, preschool, summer camp, etc.) where we originally met (and where we generally saw each other every day, or at least with some regularity).

I’m pretty good at long-distance friendships, thanks to hundreds of online-only blogging friends, but I feel like the rules are different for the Local Mom Friends. They only email for playdate planning purposes rather than OMG I SAW THE FUNNIEST THING EVER AND THOUGHT OF YOU. They aren’t into Facebook or get a little weirded out after they friend me and see the whole Amalah/online personality schtick thing, they’re phone people and I’m NOT…or else we really do try and try to keep up and in touch and get together… But in the summer schedules verge off in wildly different directions thanks to work, camp, NEW BABIES AND STUFF, it gets harder to get together in person as often as we like and sooner or later it occurs to me that wow, I haven’t seen/heard from so-and-so in a really long time.

As a result, I can name a good half-dozen dormant mom-friend relationships that have eventually ended the same way: No reason, no fight, no drama, just…neglect via impossibly busy schedules and being unsure about where the boundary between our CHILDREN’S friendship ends and our own mom-friendship begins. If Noah isn’t begging to get together with so-and-so-number-one but really wants to play with so-and-so-number-two and we only have time for maybe one playdate a week, well…I might like so-and-so-number-one’s mom better but will probably make more of an effort to get him together with so-and-so-number-two, who arrives with a nanny in tow or gets dropped off solo or ETC.

So…is there some kind of magic trick to keeping mom friendships alive, once your children move on to new schools, new schedules, new friends? (Don’t even get me started on how shockingly early the whole “no girls/boys allowed” thing is starting among Noah’s peer group, which is killing me because MY MOM FRIENDS ARE ALL THE ONES WITH GIRLS.) Or is it just an inevitable part of these early, transitive years and I should just pin my hopes on meeting someone really, really awesome next fall in the kindergarten drop off line?

Thank you,
Amalah

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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16 Responses to “School Friendships Out For Summer”

  1. Michelle Jun 08 at 4:30 pm Reply Reply

    Well my secret is to do stuff with mom friends that don’t involve the kids. My son attended district preschool at his home elementary school and I made friends with 3 of the other moms. I don’t particularly care for one of the mom’s son and another mom has indicated that her son is going to a private kindergarten in the fall. So we all traded e-mails and have had one mom’s night out for dinner with plans for more this summer. Granted, I think it is kind of silly that I’m the only working mom (I work at home) and yet nothing gets planned unless I suggest but whatever.

    And I have a couple of dear moms friends that I met in now defunct mom’s groups. All of our kids get along fine but go to different schools in different neighborhoods and we do stuff together with the kids on occasion if it works into the schedule but more often than not, we meet sans kiddos for drinks, dinner, whatever we have time for. But frankly both of them are on Facebook and we coordinate EVERYTHING either via text or e-mail/FB message.

    i will say that summer is insanely hard…even more so with a new baby. There are summer camps, and swim lessons and t-ball and and and….well you get the picture.

  2. tasterspoon Jun 08 at 4:55 pm Reply Reply

    Caveat that I am the worst friendship-maintainer in the history of mankind. Not for lack of good intentions or even for lack of thinking about how much I like them, just – so easy to get caught up in everyday urgencies. But a few things occur to me:

    1. It’s so hard to make new friends as adults, especially as our free time disappears, that when you find people who have already been willing to make time for you and vice versa, odds are they are in the same boat and are receptive to the straightforward approach: “I have a new baby and I haven’t seen you in months! Can you come by Tuesday to meet Ike?”
    2. Before Noah, you had friends of your own irrespective of Jason’s interest in their partner, right? You just got together without them. Same here: can’t you get together while your kids are at school/camp/activities? Everybody has errands to run: “Hey, I’m going to Target for contact solution, want to meet me there?” “Hey, I’m going to the garden center in your neighborhood – come look at mulch with me.” or exercise “I’m hiking the stairs at 2 pm tomorrow, want to join me?” (I’ve been doing this recently and people are totally up for it.)
    I’m also noticing several of the women I know organizing regular Girls’ Nights events. Pencil something like that in for once a month. I don’t love group events as much for heart-to-hearts, but you can touch a lot of bases. 3. The kids I spent most time with as a little kid were defined more by my mom’s friend preferences than mine, but I think it did me good to play with kids I wouldn’t necessarily have sought out. So, no guilt. But you could consider activities where the kids don’t *have* to play together directly, e.g. take the families to the pool.

    4. Would texting be a good 1/2way between emailing and phoning? I hate the phone, but I’m finding it does seem to be my mode of preference among moms because I don’t have a smartphone so I check email only irregularly and Facebook even less often so for spur of the moment activities (like I’m on my way to Safeway), I phone/text.

  3. Vivian Jun 08 at 5:15 pm Reply Reply

    I think it’s going to be a bit rougher now that you have Ike, as well as Ezra and Noah. But I second the previous suggestion where you meet somewhere that the kids don’t HAVE to play together, like the park or whatever.

    Also, when I was growing up, my mom and some friends would pool money to get a baby sitter (or two), usually someone’s older daughter, dump us kids in a living room with pizza, popcorn, and a movie and go out together for a girl’s night. Fun for us because hey pizza and a movie and permission to stay up late and yaaaaaaaaaaay *falls asleep at eight pm anyway*. Your kids are probably too young for that, but something to consider.

  4. Sally Jun 08 at 6:56 pm Reply Reply

    I arrange playground play dates quite frequently. I pick a park and a date/time and then invite everyone my kids know, usually by e-mail. Then we see who shows up. It’s usually qute surprising who shows up! I think more people want to keep up friendships than actually know how to go about it, so all people need is an opportunity. Doing it at a park is great because nobody has to deal with cleaning house or rsvping or providing snacks.

  5. Laura Jun 08 at 7:09 pm Reply Reply

    I am very bad about initiating things outside of the kids, so I hold play dates.  I invite a bunch of people, and whomever shows comes.  If it’s just 2 moms, great!  If it’s 10, also great!  A new one is Happy Hour play dates.  Have a drink, let the kids play during that post nap, pre-daddy home period.  Also, if you go anywhere (children’s museum, bounce houses, etc), send out an email to everyone to let them know where and when so they can attend if they are free.  

  6. Carrie Jun 08 at 7:26 pm Reply Reply

    The other commenters have all said what I was going to say. I made a concerted effort to keep in touch with the people I really like. That meant some rejection, but it also meant a lot of fun. Before I had my fussy baby, it meant I was sending out e-mails for Girls Night Outs on a regular basis and some of my friends took that idea and ran with it. I will also post on FB or send out e-mails when we are going somewhere fun and invite others to join us. I have never been much of one for keeping in touch, but we have no family in the area and I have found it is so, so important to cultivate friendships with people I actually like instead of people that just happen to be in my sphere.

  7. HereWeGoAJen Jun 08 at 7:47 pm Reply Reply

    I move a lot. Which means I keep having to make new friends. And here is the thing- you have to be the one who makes all the effort. Otherwise no one will. I just got home from a group playdate (joined the local mom’s club to try to make friends) and I emailed every single person I talked to with something, like “hey, here’s that website I mentioned.” And I did this just to try and forge some deeper relationships. Because just like you said, everyone is unsure of where the boundaries are and if you aren’t the one to walk over them, no one will. I have only had one activity in the last four months that someone else initiated. If I didn’t plan and schedule it, it didn’t happen. Now that I have been fighting to make some of these deeper connections though, it is starting to pay off.

    (Side note. I am also not a phone person. And I’ve found that if I just keep emailing people, it eventually works.)

  8. Whozat Jun 08 at 8:14 pm Reply Reply

    This won’t help with keeping up with Noah’s previous classmates’ moms, but have you considered joining some sort of moms group? If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have rolled my eyes and thought “oh, how MOMLY!” but when my daugher (a couple of weeks younger than Ezra) was a few months old, I joined the local MOMS Club (google it – it’s an international organization) but it took about 8 months before I actually got active, for a variety of reasons (we run a 2nd shift schedule and activities are in the morning, but mostly “but I don’t know anybody” – well, duh, because I haven’t gone to anything and met anybody!)

    Once I started going, I got my partner involved (oh yeah, we are the token dykes in the small-conservative-central-pa-town’s MOMS Club. But most of the members are also from elsewhere and have been nothing but 100% accepting and supportive and many have reported that their kids have told them “I want two mommies like Peeper has!” – but I digress)

    Anyway, the upshot is that now, 2 years later, I’m going to be installed as president in a few weeks! I guess I decided I liked it :-)
    We do mom-centric activities (book club, coffee) (inluding a few mom-only things, including a monthly moms’ night out) and kid-centric things, monthly service projects, provide meals for families with new babies, illness, etc, and so on.

    Kids in attendance range from birth to almost K during the school year, plus the school-aged kids in the summer.
    You can check out a couple of activities before joining, so there’s nothing to lose by going to lunch or coffee and seeing if you click with the local group.

  9. Kira Jun 08 at 9:21 pm Reply Reply

    My friends and I get together once a month to play bunco (a mindless dice game that requires no skill). We eat and drink and usually end up talking about our kids. We organize the events through a facebook group.

  10. Erin Jun 08 at 9:32 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t really have anything to contribute that everyone else hasn’t said already except that two of my prenatal water aerobics friends and I joined the same gym, so we do a water aerobics class there once a week, and we do a monthly pedicure date. For a couple weeks all our babies were enrolled in a baby learning games class thing at the community center so we saw each other there — maybe there’s some sort of community center activity that would work for all your kids’ ages and you can send out an email or start a phone tree to see who else is interested? (Like, a one-time art class, or music class, or, hell, host your own art class — tape a bunch of butcher paper to your floor and pass out crayons.)

    That said, anyone have recommendations for how to make SAHM friends after all your other mom friends have gone back to work (I will be looking into the MOMS group, thakns Whozat!)? Slash hey Amy, I’m localish to you, wanna get together and let Noah and Ezra draw on butcher paper while Ike and Lorelai stare blankly at the ceiling fan?

  11. Erin Jun 08 at 9:33 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t really have anything to contribute that everyone else hasn’t said already except that two of my prenatal water aerobics friends and I joined the same gym, so we do a water aerobics class there once a week, and we do a monthly pedicure date. For a couple weeks all our babies were enrolled in a baby learning games class thing at the community center so we saw each other there — maybe there’s some sort of community center activity that would work for all your kids’ ages and you can send out an email or start a phone tree to see who else is interested? (Like, a one-time art class, or music class, or, hell, host your own art class — tape a bunch of butcher paper to your floor and pass out crayons.)

    That said, anyone have recommendations for how to make SAHM friends after all your other mom friends have gone back to work (I will be looking into the MOMS group, thanks Whozat!)? Slash hey Amy, I’m localish to you, wanna get together and let Noah and Ezra draw on butcher paper while Ike and Lorelai stare blankly at the ceiling fan?

  12. bethany actually Jun 08 at 9:58 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with tasterspoon. Make time for the playdates with the mom friends you want to stay in touch with, even if they’re not Noah’s first choice of friends (as long as the kids aren’t actively antagonistic towards each other). He gets to see his friends at school, and it won’t hurt him to play with different kids once in a while if it helps keep you sane. Maybe make park playdates or library dates with those moms, stuff you’d be doing anyway.

  13. Michelle M. Jun 08 at 10:45 pm Reply Reply

    I recently formed what I call “The Park Posse” and created a group for it on Facebook. It’s sort of like a Moms’ Group, I suppose, but with moms that I hand-picked because I like them. The multiple person park play-date takes some of the pressure off the kids, too. Seems my boys will play with just about anyone if a park is involved.

    At first I worried about the ones who didn’t already know what A GIANT DORKWAD I am actually figuring out my level of dorkitude once they saw what I say on Facebook (and do on Foursquare) but then I figured if they don’t like who I am THERE then they probably aren’t going to, y’know, like ME.

    And the ones who really seem to enjoy all the craziness that is me also enjoy spending time with me without the kids (going to the gym together or to get pedicures or see a movie or whatever floats our boat in the moment).

  14. Minka Jun 09 at 5:45 am Reply Reply

    I think some good suggestions were made already, ie: try to join something together — A class for yourselves, something that requires a regular commitment. By that same token, sign your KIDS up for something together. That’s one of the best ways I stayed in touch. Since we were already good at emailing about school-related stuff, it was just an extension of that. I even looked around at summer activities and let them know which ones we were doing and we all ended up doing some together. We may not have had lunch a lot, but we car-pooled our kids and/or saw one another at drop-offs, etc.

    But some of this is just… life. Sigh. When you’re busy, it really is hard to maintain friendships when there isn’t that automatic way/reason to get together. And you admit that you’re not good at it. Maybe you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it and just accept that you get too busy and acknowledge that you’ll make a whole new set of friends in the elementary school. And you’ll have those friends for quite a while. Go out of your way to be friendly, volunteer at school if/when you can.

    ANd realize, you’re not the only one! It happens to so many of us. It’s not like you suck at friendships, seriously! This is a very typical story. If there are one or two moms you REALLY adore, then set up a once-a-month dinner/lunch/drinks commitment. But my advice? Keep this group small. I’ve tried doing the bunco thing with a bunch of women… but the more there are, the more difficult it becomes trying to get everyone’s schedules to coordinate.

    If you can restrict it to you and a couple friends, you’ll be more likely to find a date/time that works.

    Good luck! ANd don’t be afraid of the new moms. I’ve been through this two or three times now because we’ve moved around. And it’s really worked out okay. I’ve found that if I’m assertive, it really helps. And doing stuff at the school has really made a difference.

    You’ll be fine. It’s okay to make new friends. Sometimes we just have different friends at different times in our lives :)

  15. jane Jun 09 at 6:06 am Reply Reply

    It was my daughter (and my help) who set up a ‘reunion’ for her kindergarten friends! She kept saying she hadn’t seen them – so she (and I of course) sent emails to the class and met up again. She was so happy (and I was too of course). Writring this reminds me time to do it again as Kindergarten ends….

  16. elizabeth Jun 09 at 3:03 pm Reply Reply

    Hi~
    I send text messages to my mom friends and work out play dates that way and they in turn text me. Now when we text its sometimes a funny thing that made me think of them or their child and others its to make plans, but text is like email but more instant. you might be surprised that they text more than you think! Try that! 

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