Having children is a life-altering experience…and one that you may or may not have been ready for. The fact is, after you’ve had a baby, your life will likely look a lot different than it did prior.

If you’re a first-time parent, it can be especially difficult to keep up with your old social life, friends, hobbies and activities. While you’ll undoubtedly be busier than you used to be, and have a lot more on your mind, being a parent doesn’t mean you have to totally give up your social life, even if it feels like you might have to at first.

You can still make time for your friends even after you’ve had kids. This short guide will help you understand why that’s important, and offer some quick tips on how to make your friends a priority without impacting your ability to be a great parent to your child.

Make Time for Friends and Socializing

Everyone will warn you and tell you all about how kids change your life, but it’s hard to really imagine this until you hold that new baby in your arms. Suddenly, you aren’t getting as much sleep, and you are emotionally and physically focused on taking care of this precious new life that has found its way into your world and heart. Even as you get into the groove of parenthood, you often find that your perspective on life has changed.

While it’s important to find friends who can support you as a parent, you can still be friends with those in your life who don’t have kids.

These tips can help you make time for friendship and a social life as a new parent. Having a network and outlets to have fun and be yourself is important. You’re a parent, yes, but that’s not all you are, and you don’t have to lose your personal identity. Far from it.

1: Bring Along Your Kids (But, Not Always)

Especially with a young baby, it can be hard to leave your child for more than an hour or two. To make socializing easier when you have a baby, you can look for activities where you can bring your child with you. There are many family-friendly restaurants and coffee shops that are a great way to get out of the house for a few hours while not having to deal with the anxiety of being separated from your child (not to mention the hassle of finding a sitter).

But, remember, it’s also good to be away from your child at times as well. Everyone needs a break, and time away will help your child to manage separation anxiety knowing that you will come back.

So when you can, and as your child gets older, be sure to plan some child-free hangout times with your friends. And, be mutually considerate of your friends and if they want to have your child around (or not) during “adult time”.

2: Set realistic expectations

It’s important that you know what your limits are. You might not be able to attend every event that you would have back when you didn’t have any children. While it might be difficult to miss out on fun events, you don’t want to stress yourself out by figuring out how to take your child to a say, a loud even like a concert. Likewise, you might have to call that night at the club or bar a bit earlier than the “party animal” of times past. And that’s a good thing.

Also, hanging out at home can sometimes be a good idea as well. While it’s good to get out, when life gets busy and you’re stressed, having a friend over to watch a movie or just chat is a great way to connect with another adult without having to deal with finding a sitter or lugging your child in and out of car seats.

3: Make Friends with Other Parents (And Non-Parents, Too)

Having other friends who are parents is definitely important. These friends can be a great support system and you can vent about the frustrations and share in the joys of parenthood with someone that “gets it”. If you don’t have many other friends who are parents, now is a good time to reach out to playgroups and other events where you can meet others in the same phase of life as you.

But, it’s also good to stay connected with your old friends, whether they have kids or not. Your good friends are going to love your kids, too, and they don’t want to be cut out of your life just because you’ve entered a new phase.

Consider incorporating them into family activities like play dates at the park, movie nights at home or family dinners once a week.

4: Be a Good Friend in Return

Friendship isn’t a one-way street. While you might need your friends to be understanding as you figure out the ins and outs of being a new parent, you should also be understanding of your friends’ lives as well.

Don’t forget to support them in what they have going on and be understanding that it might be difficult at times as having a new parent can change your availability.

Closing Thoughts

While becoming a parent does change your life in many ways, it’s important to have a social life and keep in touch with your friends. It might not be as simple as it was before children, but there are ways to keep your friendships going as you adjust to being a parent.

For those new parents also dealing with parental issues with their child’s mother or father, Fennell, Briasco, & Associates can help with co-parenting plans, divorce proceedings, visitation, child support and more.