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Why Parent Friends Are Important

Why You Should Skip Google and Phone a Parent Friend Instead

We've all been there — it's 2 a.m., your baby is coughing, crying, or tossing and turning, and you grab your phone to frantically search for an answer. Sometimes, you'll find a result that offers a real explanation or solution. But more often than not, you'll find a bevy of scary (and highly unlikely) possibilities that put you into a heightened state of anxiety.

What you really need is a suggestion from an actual human being who's been there — maybe as recently as this week; someone who can tell you to relax rather than offering a new reason to stress; someone who can make you laugh, and remind you that "this too shall pass." Enter, the invaluable, irreplaceable parent friend.

The early days of parenthood can feel surprisingly isolating and overwhelming. No matter how much prep work has gone into gearing up for the arrival of your new baby, there's little that can prepare you for the all-encompassing life shift that you will undergo. This is where you need a unique kind of support that doesn't come from a medical expert, a parenting expert, a blog, or a book — it comes from a friend whose interest isn't just in answering your specific query, it's in making sure that you're doing OK.

For me, entering parenthood around the same time as some of my best friends from college and my early 20s was an unexpected blessing that I'll never take for granted. Our long-standing text chain evolved from weekend plans and outfit ideas to newborn woes and recommendations for an infinite number of baby products, newborn mishaps, and postpartum surprises. It's remained a daily support net as our babies have grown into toddlers, from toddlers into preschoolers, and from preschoolers into full-on "kids."

This group has been there as new babies entered the scene, through tough pregnancies and medical scares, international moves, unexpected losses, and unexpected joys. It's been a resource not just for our specific one-off "SOS!" moments, but for everything in between.

I've been lucky in having this group that already existed, and as we entered motherhood — some together, some years apart — the conversation evolved organically. For those in search of a "mom squad" (or any kind of parent squad), don't get down on yourself if it isn't right there in front of you. Whether it's a new friend or friend group, or reconnecting with someone who's already in your life in a new way, here are some ideas on whom to embrace as your 2 a.m. crew.

Don't undervalue the pregnancy or new-baby group.

Even if your initial meetings take place doing labor exercises or in a circle of nursing women, this is where bonds can form. If another mom in your group seems to be "your speed," be bold and get her number! You'll be in the same phase of motherhood (or a similar one) for the foreseeable future.

Not in a group yet? Find one!

Depending on where you live, a Stroller Strides class, postpartum yoga, or a lactation support group will connect you with women with whom you have a built-in commonality. Same thing goes for same-sex parents, single parents, or adoptive parents (or any kind of new parent under the sun!) — there are likely a few groups in your local area.

Don't be afraid to reconnect.

Maybe there's a friend, former colleague, or cousin whom you've lost touch with, but you know had (or is having) a new baby around the same time as you. Reach out and suggest a walk or coffee if they're local, or pick up the phone and call if they're at a distance. You're not asking for any sort of formal commitment, just testing the waters to see if you can find common ground during this new phase.

One important thing to remember in navigating this new phase of adult friendships is to give yourself, and those in your circle, grace. With all that parenthood has to give, it takes away the ability to be as flexible and spontaneous with plans as you perhaps once were. Some weeks, you may talk every day. Then a month may pass when you're totally out of touch. Roll with it, and be there when they need you. You'll likely get the exact same in return.

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