As a clinical psychologist specializing in the perinatal period and parenting, I spend a lot of my time talking to expecting and new parents. While their concerns are varied, a consistent theme is a sense of isolation and a lack of community. Their concerns are amplified by the complaint that D.C. is a transitional city so it’s hard to invest in friendships with people moving in and out so frequently. And of course, it is intimidating to make new friends as an adult!
But here’s the thing, having “mom friends” is incredibly important to your emotional well-being as a parent.
Countless studies demonstrate that a lack of social support is a risk factor for postpartum depression (PPD) and that improving your support system may prevent PPD and is a critical part of recovery from depression.
So, why are mom friends especially important? Well to start, there is something uniquely beneficial about connecting with others who are simultaneously experiencing the role and identity shift that comes with parenting. Additionally, other moms can offer instrumental support, validation, gentle guidance, and connection in ways that are unique to these relationships. Whatever the reason, finding your tribe of other moms is crucial.
So how do you make “mom friends” in a transitional city like Washington, D.C? Below are my 5 Tips.
1. Shift Your Thinking:
People are moving in and out of D.C. all the time, but that is often framed solely in negative terms. The influx of new people to the area offers great opportunities to connect with new people in different ways. Even if it’s for a limited amount of time, there is value in connecting with other moms.
2. Join an Affiliative Group:
D.C. is a diverse city with meetups and groups for all kinds of families. If you need a place to start check out an LGBTQ family meet up hosted by Rainbow Families, an interfaith family meet up with IFFP, or connect with other moms of color through Mocha Moms.
3. Mom’s Groups:
I recommend joining a moms group. This goes for those of you with older children as well. In D.C. we are lucky to have moms groups for first and second-time moms through P.A.C.E moms, MOPS Groups, Lemon Tree Playgroup.
4. Connect at Work (or with other SAHMs):
Many of my clients find the transition back to the office after having a baby to be especially isolating. Even those with older children often feel alone and disconnected in navigating life as a working mom. Isolation is also common for mom’s who stay home and those that work from home. I always recommend finding connections in your work/SAH community.
5. Blind Dates/Play Dates:
Consider going on some “blind dates” with other moms. Perhaps your colleague wants to introduce you to a friend of hers whose baby is the same age as yours. Maybe you strike up a conversation with another mom at the park who asks for your number. I’d encourage you to say yes, exchange numbers, and meet up. Worst case scenario, you have a cup of coffee and go home.
Bottom line, D.C. is transitional and busy, but it’s also full of wonderful opportunities for connection, community, and support.