Susie Verrill tells you how to reconnect with friends who don’t (yet) do children
Do you remember your life pre-children? Probably not, you were probably drunk. But anyway; I bet if an acquaintance had brought along their baby, or a co-worker visited the office with their little one, you did an ‘awww’ and thought nothing of it. Maybe you actually enjoyed having them around. Why is it then, that when it comes to including our babies in the lives of our closest friends we sometimes really worry we’re being a burden? I’m lucky enough to have some of the best non-parent people around me but I’d be lost if I felt like they weren’t so keen to hang out now I’ve got a mini human to look after. If you’re feeling a little disconnected, here’s some ways you can actively encourage creating a relationship between some of the most important people in your life.
- If you bring two friends together who don’t know each other, but both have a mutual friend in you, you wouldn’t just assume they’ll be fine. You’d help them see why each one is so awesome, and you need to do the same here. Obviously your baby won’t give a damn that your mate Louise is really good at French plaiting but let your friend Louise know why your baby’s been fun today. Include her; quick snippets of your day, photos, funny moments. Let her in.
- Don’t, however, bore her to tears. Remember years ago when you were moaning about all the Facebook mums for putting up yet another status. Yeah alright Sarah, we don’t care your daughter blinked. This is how you friend might be feeling. If your lives are at the complete ends of the spectrum, be respectful of that. Pick what to share.
- I think a lot of non-parents worry they’re doing stuff wrong and that, as parents, we’ll judge them. If your pal’s round, leave them to it. Go off and get some jobs done; it’ll show you trust them to do a good job and they’ll hopefully relax. Last time I left my friend Hayley looking after my son while I went for a shower she built a pillow fort and then I was jealous because I really wanted an Aunty Hayley and a pillow fort.
- Try to tell them often that you appreciate their patience now they have to share you. It sounds silly but it might make them feel less as though they’re pushed to one side.
- Little gifts or cards ‘from insert baby’s name’ never go amiss.
- If you can still spend time with your friend and leave your baby with your partner/parents/babysitter then do so; it’s nice to have that one on one and it means you can actually have a conversation without checking mid way through that your toddler hasn’t run off to find a pebble to choke on.
- Baby raves, meals out, picnics, day trips; these are all things you as adults can enjoy and which can entertain a child. Get your mates to go with you and have fun as a group.
- Tell your friends when it sometimes goes wrong. None of us become mothers and are suddenly perfect at parenting, but we might unknowingly give off a smug vibe. If you’ve been having a bad time of it or messed up, speak about it to your friends and don’t think they won’t understand just because they haven’t got a baby. They may not have specific experience but they’ll no doubt be able to cheer you up; after all, they probably know you better than you know yourself.
- TEACH YOUR CHILD TO SAY YOUR FRIENDS’NAMES. Seriously, get that nailed.
- What are they good at? What can your offspring learn from them? We have one friend who loves rugby; he’ll be taking my son to some of the big games. Another one of our friends loves food; she’ll be coming round to do baking. Other friends have particular personality traits I’d love my children to inherit. There’s reasons you love these people; use ’em!
- Be safe in the knowledge that if the time comes when they have children themselves, they’ll get it. And if they choose never to get stuck in to parenthood, then at least they’ll have even more time to be the best darn Aunties and Uncles around.