The energy it takes to raise little ones is intense. Parents and caregivers NEED friends because this is not a job you should have to go about alone.
Today’s guest is Emily Siegel. She is a friendship coach, mentor, podcast host of The Connected Mom Life, and a working mom of two little boys. In this episode, we cover the realities of mom friendship.
We discuss how to make building and maintaining friendships easier during this hectic stage of life, and Emily shares great advice for what has worked for her. If you’re a parent, try out some of her tips! As she says in this episode, life feels so much lighter with people by your side.
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- Being forward about wanting and desiring friends – and how sometimes people, especially parents, are grateful for forwardness
- Building the friendship muscle – the more you invest in a new relationship, over time, it will feel less like work
- Friendship between friends with kids and friends without kids, and friendship between people who are in different seasons of life
- Emily’s “moms’ night out” weekly open door which has no barriers for entry (sweatpants, no planning to be done, no RSVP required)
- Three things Emily tells moms who are trying to make new friends – plus, using phones and social media to actually ACCELERATE friendships
- Lowering the bar for what friendship means and finding new ways to be friends while going through life’s transitions
Do you have any friends who are parents? What are ways in which you can make friendship easier for the both of you?
Notable Quotes from Alex:
“I personally have benefited so much from having life-giving, authentic friends, and I just hate seeing moms do life alone. Motherhood is one of the loneliest times despite the fact that like you literally never have a minute alone. And I have found having connections, having community, and having friends to come alongside that motherhood walk has just been life-changing for me.”
“Life feels so much lighter with people by your side, whether you have children or not. Yes, one can maybe make an argument that kids bring additional stress into your life, and that’s probably true. But that’s not to say that people without children don’t have a lot of stressors. There’s a lot in life to stress about without children. And, man, it’s just so much easier to navigate. We know the research on our health, around connection and friendship.”
Resources & Links
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Until next time…
Take the conversation beyond the new podcast on friendship! Follow Alex on Instagram (@itsalexalexander) or Tiktok (@itsalexalexander), or send her a voice message directly with all your friendship thoughts, problems, and triumphs by heading to AlexAlex.chat and hitting record.
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Podcast Intro/Outro 00:02
Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family. Cheers!
Podcast Intro/Outro 00:18
Hello, Hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends… They would tell you; I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you, too.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 00:50
Who is ready to talk about mom friends? I am so thrilled that we have an episode today focusing on making friends as moms, the realities, what it looks like, what it feels like, what movies and books and TV tell us it’s going to look like versus probably what a lot of people have experienced. It is so important to me that moms, dads, parents, caregivers, have support because raising little ones is intense. So anything we can do to not have to do it alone, is what I want to talk about. I’m really excited to have our guest today Emily Siegel on here to talk about this because her entire platform is focused on helping busy moms create the circle of friends that they crave. You see, Emily is a friendship coach and mentor, a podcast host, a working mom of two adorable little boys and a lover of all things Broadway musicals. I have a friend I should introduce her to. She firmly believes that we aren’t made to mom alone. And she’s on a mission to see that we all stop trying. So with that, let’s dive into today’s episode.
Alex Alexander 02:13
Hi, Emily, how are you?
Emily Siegel 02:14
Good. How are you doing?
Alex Alexander 02:16
I’m good. I’m good. I’m excited to chat with you. I’ve been following you on Instagram for quite some time. So this is so fun to get to talk in person and record a podcast episode with you.
Emily Siegel 02:30
Yeah, I love when Instagram friends… like in real life connections can happen. So, it’s great.
Alex Alexander 02:37
Agreed. Agreed. So for anyone that hasn’t volunteer on Instagram yet, they probably will after this episode. Can you tell us a little bit about your platform, your business, what you talk about?
Emily Siegel 02:50
Yeah, so I am all about helping moms make friends and make space for friendship. I just have found myself as a mom that friendship can sometimes go down the priority list after kids come along. And I personally have just benefited so much from having life-giving authentic friends and I just hate seeing moms do life alone. Motherhood is one of the most… I always describe it as like one of the most loneliest times despite the fact that like you literally never have a minute alone. And I have found having connections, having community, having friends to come alongside that motherhood walk has just been life changing for me. And so I’m essentially, you know, my soapbox platform is all about helping moms realize they need this too even if life already feels so overwhelming and busy and they’re not sure where to fit it in. I tell them it’s worth it and possible.
Alex Alexander 03:54
I mean, why I do this is I want people to see friendship is possible. Love that you said that and I especially love that you’re doing that for moms because what an overwhelming time in life. I have not experienced that myself, but watching so many friends go through this, I just… my heart aches for them, because it’s just such a big transition. And even as a friend, you can see that and you’re trying to, you know, be aware of that and like tiptoe around. Like, I can’t solve that for them. But I have so much compassion for them trying to navigate that transition in life.
Emily Siegel 04:35
Yeah, yeah. It’s a really big identity shift in a lot of ways. And so it’s… it’s a big time to kind of transition through a lot of things, including some of our relationships.
Alex Alexander 04:46
Yeah. And there’s so much out there about, like when you have kids, meeting mom friends, or you’re gonna find this whole new set of friends to do life with. You’re gonna join these, maybe play groups or classes or your kids’ school and like you’ll just find friends there. Like, I kind of feel like the idea of mom friend sometimes is really romanticized, given this kind of like vision of how it will happen, and how supported you’ll feel, and I think that a lot of people, it doesn’t play out that way.
Emily Siegel 05:25
Yeah, for sure. It’s interesting. You say, you know, it’s kind of idealized or romanticized. When we moved away from our hometown, kind of right after we got married to a city where we knew no one, we always said, we don’t have kids or a dog. So it’s impossible to make friends. We just kept seeing like people go to dog parks, and they would make friends there. Or, you know, we were assuming people were having these babies and just going on walks or going to play dates and making friends. And so for a while, it took us some time to be like, how are we going to make friends without these tools? And then, you know, fast forward five years, we ended up moving again, when we… right after having our first baby, he was four months old at the time when we moved. And I was like, cool. I’ve got the tool now. So, I’ll be good. And yeah, it definitely wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would have been, and maybe had given it credit for before when I was like, man, if I just had a baby. This would be so much easier.
Alex Alexander 06:25
What was your experience like? You said you moved four months… Like what was it like to make those friends after becoming a mom? How did it shuffle things for you?
Emily Siegel 06:35
Yeah, you know, I think in some ways, I felt like I did have an advantage from maybe other moms in the sense that I had just spent five years earlier, I had just been plopped in a city and had to make friends without a kid. And so I feel like I worked through a lot of the mindset gunk that can come up about pursuing friends and adulthood at that time. So then once I had a kid, it was easier for me to put myself out there and to maybe be a little bit more vulnerable more quickly with other moms. And to be a little bit more like, “Hey, I’m, you know, looking for friends, I’m new.” I do feel like that was an advantage. Ultimately, what I kept noticing with other moms was they were almost like, so grateful for my forwardness. Almost like, oh, we can do that? And I’m like, oh, yeah. Five years ago, I learned that it’s okay to be more forward about, you know, wanting and desiring friends. But, you know, had I not had that experience, I imagine it would have taken me a lot longer to put myself out there. That didn’t necessarily mean that making friends was just like, easy, by any means with the baby, or at least it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be despite like putting myself out there, you know, with more confidence than maybe your average person.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 08:01
You know what I heard in there? I heard Emily saying something that I talked about all the time, which is that friendship, community, connection, this is a skill set. These are habits. This is a muscle that you build, where you’re used to being just a little uncomfortable when you admit out loud, “I’m looking to make friends”, or “Do you want to get it together?” That muscle is that forwardness, that risk, taking that vulnerability, navigating some of those awkward initial conversations. And I’m just pointing that out. Because I hear this especially from people who are about to maybe decide to be new parents. I’ve had people tell me straight up before, “I don’t really have any friends, but it’s okay. I’ll just wait until <insert next marker> until I’m a mom, telling my dad, until we move, until I go back to school.” There’s no better time to start developing this muscle than now. Because then when you do hit this next milestone, when you make that move, expand your family, get the new job, you have the skill set. You’re ready to go.
Emily Siegel 09:18
I definitely put myself out there but hit some other hurdles, I guess I should say. Like, I would say the biggest one that really shocked me that I just didn’t see coming was I had this vision and I ended up staying home with our first for the first 15 months. So I was like, oh my gosh, well as a stay at home mom, I’ve gotten an extra advantage here because I’ve got like more time to make these friends. But what I soon found out was like all of our babies or all of our kids were on like wildly different schedules. And we were just like less willing to mess up our kids schedule to get together for a play date or like, do life together. It was just… it took way more planning than I anticipated. Even just like the process of like, continuing the momentum.
Alex Alexander 10:13
I’ve heard that from a lot of my friends who are moms that they had a similar thought, like, well, I’m home all day. You know, park dates and meetups and hangouts, and it’s all going to be great and fine. And they’ve mentioned the schedule thing. The other thing they mentioned is, you know, then your focus is in two places, right? You’re trying to listen to the conversation. But you’re also trying to make sure your kid doesn’t fall and hurt themselves or get the snack that they’re asking for. And it’s hard enough to just do that with another person. But then when the other person also has their attention in two places. I’ve heard them say like, it just kind of feels like you’re existing there together. And at least you’re in it together. But you also leave realizing that you really didn’t talk about anything because you couldn’t have the focus.
Emily Siegel 11:04
Yeah, for sure. I always would describe those conversations as super choppy. And like, it was hard to go deep at times, because the environment just didn’t really allow for vulnerability in the sense that it might, you know, if you are both distraction free… and so yeah, I like how your friends describe it as two places at once. Because you are truly juggling the needs of your kiddo and then also trying to get to know this person. And then sometimes even there are additional layers of nervousness in those scenarios, too, because of like, just even parenting philosophy, parenting approaches, and just like, oh my gosh, it’s the worst when the kids are fighting or have some sort of like tussle, especially if you just are still getting to know the other mom in that scenario, because you’re like, not like… you want to clearly act like you are handling the situation. But also, we are all still learning. At this point, I have a nine year old and a six year old. And I still don’t fully know how to parent some situations, they find themselves in. Parenting in general can be very anxiety inducing. I’m like, oh my gosh, you have to think on your feet so much. And you’re always like second guessing yourself. And then to have to do that in front of someone else who’s likely going to be judging you as a person and potential friend based on how you handle this situation that you’re already like, I don’t really know how to handle this. There’s so many layers that can make some of those interactions, especially the early interactions really. A little complicated.
Alex Alexander 12:47
Yeah, I mean, I listen to you say that, and I’m like, well, on one hand, so part of my thing is, I think that so much, especially female friendship, right? So mom’s, we really hung our hat on this idea of like disclosure and vulnerability and open honest conversations. And I think that’s important. I do. I’m not saying it’s not. But I think we’re missing the layer of like part of vulnerability is just existing together. So you are kind of getting this cool opportunity with a new mom, to like, be in the moment together with how intense this is and how hard it is. And quite often, I don’t think acknowledging the vulnerability that is from just being together and like a less controlled, curated way, like letting each other in to the realities of our life. That is not easy aso, right? Like you’re seeing the anxiety like allowing yourself to be seen and your attention to be all over and you’re having to make these in the moment, parenting decisions, like all of that is on our ability, whether you’re talking about it or not. But then the lack of conversation makes it hard because you can’t really talk to figure out what the other person felt. So you’re just left with this anxiety of, did they think I was a bad mom? Like you never get that reassurance? It is very difficult. I’m not… this is a very difficult conversation or situation.
Emily Siegel 14:21
No, but I totally agree with you, all these things are hard. And also, I do think they’re a gift. You know, when it comes to friendship, and when it comes to even accelerating it, you think about like having a hard conversation with your partner or a friend. And it can be such a stressful situation. And also you can come out so much stronger on the other side. And so, yes, while these things can feel so tricky, they are a gift. I do think kids and parenting together and that space is a gift for accelerating some of those connections because it really does solidify you as like, you know, being in the thick of it together. I even think of like right now… even today, like I don’t even have babies anymore. Now we’re like parenting these nine and six-year-olds, and we’re meeting our neighbors down the street and feeling each other out a little bit. Our kids are hanging out. And even just this weekend, like, my kid had to freak out. And the other parent had to address it, and then wanted to tell me about it. We’re doing this on text, which I gotta tell you is even harder. Like it’d be way easier to do this in person. And like, “Oh, yeah, that’s kind of a pattern. We’re working on it.” And, you know, the other mom was so gracious, she was like, “Parenting. So grand, right?” And I’m like, “The best.” You like just kind of bonding over like, thank you for dealing with this. Yeah, like this hard thing with my kid, me being vulnerable and being like, yeah, yeah, like did he just ruin our friendship? We got to see, let me try to explain this a little. And like the gift of, we’ve been there, we get this. Like, maybe that’s not the thing we’re dealing with with our kid, but that we’re dealing with something else. So, you know, it’s very helpful.
Alex Alexander 16:15
We’re just so used to talking about the conversation vulnerability and kind of getting that back and forth and acknowledgment, but there is something so beautiful about just existing in this, we’re both in this together, this is the most beautiful experience some days and other days, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I mean, honestly, not even days, maybe five minute segments, right? That even during so many meetups of that like, choppy, friendship style, at a certain point, as maybe kids get a little bit older and a little more breathing room for a little bit longer conversation, like, you might come to find that all of that has built up into this beautiful friendship, if you can just kind of like wade through it long enough to get there and acknowledge that you’ve both been cheering each other on in doing the thing together.
Emily Siegel 17:08
I always love… like, one of my favorite things to think about is, you know, when I think about friends in my life, if I have tried to go back and pinpoint when we became friends, it’s nearly impossible. You know? Like, it’s not like I can say, oh, it was that conversation or it was that walk or that experience we did together. And like, sure, maybe, you know, you can pinpoint something that felt really good at the time. But it is… it’s these small moments that add up and continue to build trust. And, you know, sometimes it can feel like, it’s such a sacrifice to show up to something or like, oh my gosh, like, I don’t feel like going, especially when you’re in the early stages of a connection or friendship, it just… it doesn’t feel easy. It doesn’t feel fun, because it still feels like work. But the whole point is we’re trying to get to that space of like, oh, like I can just be me, this can feel easy. But there’s no like, oh, well, if you do this, it will then start feeling like this. It’s those little moments that add up. And if you can invest and make yourself show up to some of those times where it still feels a little bit like work, one day, it’s gonna stop feeling like we’re. It really well.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 18:23
I love, love, love, love, love that Emily just talked about how she can’t pinpoint when somebody was her friend. I don’t know if I’ve ever phrased it that way. But I might start using that promise to credit you, Emily. I have talked about this idea before that, as adults, when we have all this history with certain friends, when we built up years and years of connection, sometimes it can be hard to remember that at one point, our closest people were just people in a room. We weren’t flooded with memories when we saw them. We didn’t know things about them. We didn’t pick their face out of a crowd. And over time, we went on this journey that was messy, and funny, and sad and happy and we did things together. Sometimes they were memorable, and sometimes they kind of just melted in to the overall fabric of our friendship. But that was that journey that brought you there. And I think a lot of adults want to just be at that point. Those kind of pick up where we left off friends. But the way you got to those friendships was by just simply existing in them. So the next time that you’re meeting a new friend, maybe you’re having an awkward conversation, you’re trying to navigate the uncertain waters of a new parenting problem. Just remember that these are the types of things that, down the line, you’ll look back fondly on.
Alex Alexander 20:01
So I’m very curious on your take on this. I have had a variety of people, just like in my personal life, but also with this podcast and, you know, talking about friendship on the internet, say something to me. Because it’s no secret that a lot of people kind of in that post-college life, when you’re figuring it out, and you don’t have that daily proximity, some people end up with kind of like no friends left, or a lot of people who just feel like past friends, people that aren’t as close to. And I’ve talked to people, and they’re kind of in this limbo where they’re not moms yet. And I’ve, you know, encouraged like, “We’ll go out there and make some new friends or find some connections.” And I’ve had a lot of people say to me, like, “Well, I’m just going to tough this out until I can make mom friends.” I have thoughts on this. I have thoughts on this, one of which I’m just going to tell you the one and then let you go is like what you were saying earlier about how you in that first move you made, you know, kind of leaned in and developed the habits and the skills and the intentionality to build friendships. So you felt like you had a leg up when you had kids. So by not doing this, they’re missing out on that. But what other thoughts do you have on anybody who’s out there saying, like, “I’ll just wait until…”?
Emily Siegel 21:30
Yeah. Well, I mean, you can. I always tell people that. Even like some moms will say this too. Like, I’m just gonna deal. I’m gonna deal with friends when these kids are 18. That’s actually what I hear the most often these days, because it’s so interesting that on the other side, like, oh, well, once I have kids, this will work well. And yet, I run into moms all the time that are like, “I will deal with this when they are out of the house, because there’s just so much on our plates.” And what I say to them, and when I would say to those that are saying, I’m just going to wait till I have kids, like, life feels so much lighter with people by your side, whether you have children or not. Like, yes, one can maybe make an argument that kids bring additional stress into your life, that’s probably true. But that’s not to say that people without children don’t have a lot of stressors. There’s a lot in life to stress about without children. And, man, it’s just so much easier to navigate. We know the research on our health, around connection and friendship. And it’s just for that reason alone, I wouldn’t wait. I personally also found… so we did have our kiddo in the city where we had developed friendships, pre-kids. And when I did have our kid, I had a few friends who had children. And I had quite a few who did not. And I have to tell you, I was so particularly grateful for my friends who didn’t have kids at that point, because babies, in particular, can be a very lonely and isolating time. And the demands from a parenting perspective are very time-consuming with babies and… they aren’t with children as they age, just aren’t the same. And, gosh, having people that had more flexibility than I did, because they didn’t have children. And that my friends could come over. Honestly, those were the friends I missed the most when I did move, and like I had to prioritize what friends I was going to make. And I focused only on mom friends. But then they just never had that same level. Like we couldn’t hang out at night, because we were all trapped in our homes, keeping these little humans like alive/CPS doesn’t really want you to leave your home. Like, without them. So yeah, I personally like… I love my friends that don’t have kids. And I think I only had a good handful of them because I had made them, you know, pre-kids.
Alex Alexander 24:08
Yeah, I mean, I’m very grateful to you for saying that. Like, you know, I’m a childless person. I love our friends in general. I love their kiddos, like auntie life is my best life. I care about these people so much, that it is definitely a shift in our friendship. You know, things that we did before together may not happen all the time. And now in order to keep our friendship going, I have to be a little more thoughtful about them as my friend and a parent. Like how I can show up and not add additional burden. You do have to maybe be the more flexible one and say like, “It’s okay if it’s a window you want me to show up this afternoon. Just give me 30 minutes morning”, or something like that. Like it’s for sure an adjustment, want to take a lot of time to think about. I don’t think there are enough conversations. There are just a lot of conversations out there about moms making mom friends, and parents making parent friends. And maybe not enough about how rich the friendship can be between parents, new parents, and… like, don’t have kids, whether that’s right now, or they have made a life choice to remain childless.
Emily Siegel 25:30
Yeah, I just find the assumptions in general, we all have about who would want to be friends with us, very interesting.
Alex Alexander 25:37
This is so true. I haven’t really said that before. But you’re very right.
Emily Siegel 25:40
Yeah. Like, I mean, this is getting like slightly off-topic. But I think it’s interesting, because when we moved to Philly, some of our good friends were in their late 40s. And we were in our, like, mid-20s. And so on paper, that’s… I mean, that’s probably weird. Like, you don’t think, oh, I’m gonna go make friends. Let me go make friends with someone 20 years older, or they’re not thinking, let me go make friends with people 20 years younger. But they happen to be childless, and found that a lot of people their own age weren’t necessarily like, available in the same… to do like some of the activities that we were at, you know, aged 20 somethings. And there were actually quite a few of us, like, ranging from 20 to 40 that ended up becoming friends. And some would have kids, some would not. And it was really fun to see… like, as people had kids, just because they weren’t available to do maybe some of the… like things we had done historically, that didn’t mean all of us were ready to just say goodbye to that friendship, we adjusted. And I remember even when we moved that next time, and I had a baby, I would see people… there was a couple at church actually, that were in their 50s. And I really wanted to be friends with them. But like, I don’t think they thought that would be normal. I think they just thought we were being nice. And we would be like, how do you think we could do this? Like, should we invite them over for dinner? Should we just be more forward about like, “Hey, we think we have a lot in common, and it’s gonna be fun. And yeah, there’s just something about like, people make assumptions. So like, when you see me, you know, strolling the neighborhood with a baby, as a single person or a childless couple, you’re like, well, they’re probably only interested in being friends with people that also have babies, or also have kids. We all go around with these assumptions about the types of friends each of us are looking for. And I think that creates a whole other layer when it comes to making new friends, particularly outside of your current season.
Alex Alexander 27:53
Yeah. I’ve had a lot of people tell me, especially people with kids, like, I just want to make friends with people who are in the same season of life. And, sure, there’s beauty in that. There’s also some difficulty, right? Because you’re making like the same choices about parenting and whatever you’re preparing. Versus if you make friends who are in a different season, you know, you’re not comparing because you aren’t having to make those same decisions. They can just listen. There might be more flexibility, there might be different relationship dynamics. Like, I think you’re so right, that there’s so much more possibility out there, then we like allow ourselves to believe as possible. It’s funny, we talked about, we want people to believe friendship as possible, like more is possible than just meeting friends who in your same season, in your same neighborhood and your same life situation.
Emily Siegel 28:53
Yeah. And you know, that’s probably like a great additional soapbox philosophy, because I will say most of my DMs, the people that are really struggling are often moms who feel like they’re outliers in some way. Either they’re like, the first of their friends to have kids, or maybe they ended up having kids really young, or maybe they ended up having kids on the older side. And they just feel additionally isolated because they’re like, okay, I’m a mom. I made it to this point. And I’m told there’s mom friends out there for me. But none of these mom friends feel right. And often it’s because they just… they don’t feel like they have enough in common. They’re just like slightly out. Like they’re not in maybe what we think of as that typical age range for having kids, which funny enough too, in my DMs, is often so geographical. They’re like, I mean, I’m an old mom here, but I would have been fine back in New York or you know, wherever, you know, they say that they’re living. And so I think that also… by having that like, okay, mom, friends, same season. Looks like me. And then you can’t find you and it can feel very isolating. And so if we can open up this, like, how we think about friendship in motherhood, I think that would honestly make us all feel a lot better about what we do have.
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Alex Alexander 30:23
I mean, I agree, and I think it would make moms that are… I think it would make people feel better in general, like, I’m just thinking to myself, you know, you’re talking about the expectations of who we might be friends with and kind of it’s like romanticized, ideal version of mom friends. Like, I guess when I think of mom friends, I think of the playground meetups and seeing each other at school functions together, the neighborhood bike dates, the walks with the store, and those can totally happen. And they’re all beautiful. Like, where are we getting those from? Probably movies, and books and social media, because that’s like what’s acceptable to show. But I just aired an episode about a mom, two families, and they knew each other in college, but not… they weren’t like friends. They would say hi, at parties, they weren’t close. They ended up moving an hour and a half apart in Denver, saw each other on Facebook, met up at the aquarium. On their second meetup, they proposed doing family slumber parties, where they drive their whole family, dog and all and then once a month, go and stay, and they swap houses. And that’s like so outside the box, nobody’s sharing that story. So then we don’t even think that that’s possible. Like the other example I have is actually a personal example. Here we’re talking about like the first mom, the first friend in the group to have a baby. Now, our friend group has quite a few babies at this moment. But of the people that still live in the Seattle area, there aren’t as many people… kind of like scattered all over the country. So there was kind of like one friend who was here had, let’s see, he was too, and she was pregnant with her second. And her husband was going out of town for the weekend. And she texted all of us girls, like all the aunties, there’s no kids. And she said, “Hey, do you all want to come for a slumber party in the burbs? Because most of us are still in the city. So we packed it up. We loaded in her minivan when we got there, we went to Trader Joe’s, we all made an agreement that our exciting activity of the night was just to buy anything we’ve ever wanted to try, which led to a very wild Trader Joe’s cart. And then we all just hung out at her house. We played with her daughter, put her bed, sat around in the living room in our sweatpants, woke up, had breakfast, went home. Again, like another example of that’s so not as vision that’s painted, but it was so much fun. And we can’t wait to do it again.
Emily Siegel 33:09
Yeah, I love that. I can share kind of the wild thing that I did. I feel like people are like, “You can do that?” It’s like, people won’t look at you with three heads. And that was when… you know, my husband traveled all the time, literally all the time. I was stay at home mom. And you know, our kids would go to bed at like, 7:00, 7:30. And so it wasn’t that I wasn’t… I didn’t have time. Didn’t have like… my time wasn’t always super predictable, unless it was the evening. But even then I was trapped unless I got a sitter, which… because we didn’t have family in that city. And so what I saw happening in my first year of motherhood, like I had all these kind of like friends I was picking up and then we would try to do these mom night outs because that’s what media shows us we do. We go to mom nights out. Like we go to dinner. We take a group picture, we put it on social media, everyone thinks we have this great crew, even though we really only like met a couple of times, you know, whatever. And so I was like, this stinks. Like I don’t even like… you know, once I put my kid to bed, I have just essentially run a marathon all day. I do not want to go out. It’s just not my way to hang out. I really just want to sit on the couch in sweatpants and have a conversation with like, one other mom, maybe two. And I was like, you know what? My husband’s gone every Wednesday night, like for sure. What if I just said every Wednesday was mom’s night and like, anyone could come over and the door would be open. And I thought ahead. I don’t know if you know Glennon Doyle, but she’s like the one who’s like gets all stressed out when having people over. She’s like, “I tell them to bring their own chair and I tell them when they’re going to leave.”
Alex Alexander 35:00
… too stressed out by having people over. That puts stress on me.
Emily Siegel 35:02
Yeah. But she’s like, I get ahead of like all the things that make me feel anxious. And so I’m like, okay, things we get anxious about. We get anxious about getting ready. So I was like, look, I will be in yoga pants, no makeup. Okay, so check like you don’t have to get presentable. You do not need to stop and get wine, chocolate. I have enough in this house to keep us stocked on mom’s night for a year. Just come. You don’t have to RSVP. Literally, the door is gonna be open. If all of a sudden, you’re like, oh, I think I can make a break tonight, great. Do it. Are you worried there’s going to be 13 of us at one time? Me too. I say we risk it. I think it’s gonna work out. And so I like try to think of all those things. I sent the email. And so like 12 moms total. So 13 was a little exaggerated, I guess. 13 with me. And everyone’s like, oh my gosh, this is kind of brilliant. Like I got ahead of all the objections that like hold us back. And so, it was great. I was able to do it for six months total, some like something in our schedule ended up changing and how to adjust but had one to two moms every week. It was great. I didn’t have to do any planning. I just had like mom friends weekly without any planning. It was amazing.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 36:30
I just want to pop in and say I’m inspired. I’m inspired by these examples. And I think it goes to show that just getting a little creative and thinking outside the box of those moms night out meetups with a photo can really serve us. Emily says six months of Wednesday night mom’s nights. But so many opportunities for connection. A couple things to point out here, when Emily was talking about, you know, getting ahead of it, I love this idea. I’ve talked about it before. This idea of removing barriers. You know, she said getting ready is like a stressor. Great. Make it normal that nobody gets ready. This is actually how my house operates. When we have people over at our house, the default is sweatpants. If it’s not sweatpants, I’ll tell you. So, feel free to steal that. The other thing I love is that she set up a recurring pattern. So this can be so helpful. Because it means you don’t have to remember to text everyone, you don’t have to figure out who’s going to host. You just know that between certain hours on Wednesday nights, you can show up there. Do you have something like this as a parent? Because I think there’s so much value in sharing what’s working. So send me a DM, send me an email, I will compile these all together, we can share these resources. And maybe one of them will feel right if you don’t have one and you’re looking for ideas.
Alex Alexander 38:11
I love that. I think so much about… I talked about this like, right, you create a reoccurring gathering, all the barriers that are getting ready and bringing something like you know, we don’t need any of that. And then quite often, there’s a… there’s a lot of conversation like hosting people or entertains the people, there’s something so great just about creating space. And that’s what you did, was just like create a space where people can be in a world where most of what we do has to be scheduled or pre-planned or back and forth. You’re just like, I am here, join when you can. And that sounds kind of maybe wild, some people listening hopefully, not at this point and listening to my podcasts, because we tell a lot of stories like that. And like the setup is something you have to formulate the message and send it out but then it’s just done. You’re just like they’re, on Wednesdays, excited to see if somebody shows up. And you got to the end like, did that help maybe like deepen friendships? Do people bring their kids ? Are they in bed at home? What was like the reality, the experience?
Emily Siegel 39:20
Yeah, the reality was that no kids came, because it was usually like eight o’clock. And oh… and I think I also said like, I’m going to be in bed by 10. So like, don’t stress. We’re not having a rager. We’re just like, you know, a little bit of conversation. But for sure. Yeah, you know, I will say the first week I probably had six moms come and that felt the most like, whoa, this is the mom’s night out. Like it truly had that kind of vibe to it. But I was so glad because there were actually two friends I had that I just really… they had so much in common. I was like, “If you two ever met, you would like become BFFs.” And so I was able to have them And finally meet at that first like, six person gathering. And yes, to this day, they are BFFs. I’m like, I knew it. I knew you too were gonna hit it off. And so, that was super fun to see. But yeah, for the most part, like, I actually hate gatherings of more than four. That’s too strong. Not hate gatherings of more than four people that, but my happy place is four of us total, or less. Two to four is my happy place. And yeah, I would say for the most part, that’s ultimately what ended up happening. And because of that, all of those relationships deepened significantly. And all 12 of those moms, they did not necessarily all know each other. I was the common denater for most. And no, like, we didn’t walk away with like a new friend group. None of that emerged, but I walked away with like, much stronger connections with all of them. And that really mattered. We ended up actually moving 15 minutes away, like two years later, or something like that. And I don’t think I would have been able to keep half of those friendships if those nights hadn’t been there. So yeah, no, it did wonders for essentially accelerating, deepening, without making me feel like I always say, without making me feel like I was moonlighting as an event planner all the time.
Alex Alexander 41:28
Yeah. Quote, unquote, like “entertaining” and “hosting” and doing all… it’s a lot of work. So, I feel for anybody that’s overwhelmed by that idea.
Emily Siegel 41:40
You know, you’re asked about the reality of it. I don’t know. You’re in Seattle. So, you have Costco. They have these like amazing dark chocolate, salted caramel situations. So I bought a thing of that, because you can only have like one or two. Like they’re just so rich. So I was like, okay, I’ll put this out. Every week. It was one thing I had on hand that I felt like… felt right for eight o’clock at night.
Alex Alexander 42:07
Most people should have eaten dinner by eight, probably… they could stop and pick something up that they want, but their family wouldn’t eat and they can eat it on your couch while they hang out.
Emily Siegel 42:18
Yeah, so it’s super easy. I just poured those into a little dish every Wednesday. And I wasn’t buying those every week, that tub lasted forever. Like in general, I keep water, like Lacroix and like red wine on hand. So…
Alex Alexander 42:34
depending on how everyone was feeling that night, yeah.
Emily Siegel 42:36
Yeah. Tea, whatever. So, it’s super simple from a hosting perspective. So there was just nothing very stressful about it other than like, oh, did I remember to unlock the door? And some people would text just to be like, “This is your house, right?” Like it was literally open? Because again, we were trying not to get the doorbell, the kids sleeping, all the
Alex Alexander 42:56
Yeah, but you made it happen. I mean, like you decided you were going to do a follow through. And that little couple hours, whenever people started to show up, like added up to build those friendships. I think that’s such a great example for people to hear. And I honestly think I would not be shocked if your DMs, my DMs are filled with people saying they’re going to try that out. Because it seems like such a simple way once you set it up to maybe help… friendships.
Emily Siegel 43:28
You know, and I have saved that email and I share it with people. So if you want that template, I would give it to you.
Alex Alexander 43:34
Let’s direct people to come find it on your website. Yeah, we’ll put it in the show notes. All right. So I want to close out this episode. But I know you’ve mentioned that you have maybe three rules, three things you tell moms who are trying to make new friends. Do you mind sharing those with anybody who is feeling that call to put some energy into this as a new mom, or as a mom in general?
Emily Siegel 44:03
Yeah, for sure. I have found these three new rules have been like… have had the biggest impact on me being able to make and accelerate friends in motherhood. And the first is that it is safer than you think. To make friends, the research around how many of us are wanting connection and wanting more from our friendships is huge. And you talk about that. And so it truly is safe to essentially be like, “Hey, you do you want to be friends?” And it’s safe to say, “Yeah, you know, I’m just looking to connect with more moms.” You know, we just moved back, done a lot of moves to our hometown, and we’ve moved into a community that we don’t have a ton of roots in. And so I went to the first PTA meeting, PTO, parents association at the school. And I was so proud of the President and how she ran that meeting. And she opened with… I’d like everyone to go around in it and introduce themselves and share why they’re here. And literally, every parent said, I’m here to meet other parents. And I was just like, so blown away that people lead with that. I thought everybody was gonna go with, “I want to support the school and I want to support my kid.” And I was like, yes, thank you. That is why we are here. We just… we want to know who our community yes and who these other parents are. And we want to make connections. And so I love that, like, in general, I’m also just seeing that people use this role. And so…
Alex Alexander 45:35
Broke down barriers, now suddenly, everyone is like, it’s okay to talk to you. You’re interested in that. Yeah.
Emily Siegel 45:40
Yeah. And it was like, okay, I can strike up a conversation with them after because they literally just said, “I want to know their parents and meet them.” The second rule is I tell moms, or parents that phones are the new playground. You talk about this all the time, like consistency is truly like how we build friendship. And that can feel really overwhelming in parenthood. And so, I like to use my phone in between gatherings, to accelerate things even just like commenting on social media posts for someone, it’s like, they will literally love you. They’ll love you.
Alex Alexander 46:21
Not even just like… like an acknowledgement of a detail. Like that dress looks cute on you, her, whatever. Yeah, like being social on social media with like, a personal touch can make a huge difference. You’re so right. I always say like technology is a tool. Right? It’s not a replacement for that in-person interaction. But it can be like these touch points that make us more likely to actually set up time together or walk up to each other or show up. Yeah, I love that.
Emily Siegel 46:55
Yeah, I know, because we get so overwhelmed with thinking, oh, my gosh, I’ve got to put in all this FaceTime, and it’s like, actually, you can accelerate so much in a comment. You know, it’s really crazy. So yes, phones are the new playground, you don’t have to see each other every day to make friends, to keep things… keep the momentum going. You don’t have to graduate to like texting and funny memes right away. Like, get there. But my favorite rule is that the bar is lower. I mean, I don’t want to encourage people to be bad friends, I get it. Like I’m not out there being like, it’s fine to be a bad friend. But I do think we all have these ideas of what a good friend looks like. That’s maybe like a little not realistic. And particularly in motherhood, like, you know, when we’re working through mind junk in our community. A lot of times, we’re like, oh, we don’t have time for friendship. And what that usually ends up meaning is ultimately they don’t feel like they have time to be a good friend right now. And so that’s why they’re like, oh, I don’t have much to give. So an exercise I really encourage our moms to think through is like okay, well, like what do you have to give? Like for me, I’m not the friend that’s gonna remember your birthday. I’m just not. Honestly, I wasn’t that friend before kids. Like I was a bad friend in that way. If what we think of as a good friend is one who remembers, like, all the important moments, I don’t. I don’t remember those things. But if you are with me, I am so present. My phone is not around, like I am in it with you. I am asking questions. I am like validating your feelings. If you text me, I’m not going to text back right away. I’m not good with that right now. I will most likely text you back eventually. So like, I just try to help moms understand that like, what does really being a good friend mean? Like, if I could offer you empathy, support, quality face-to-face time? It’s not gonna be every day. It might be like, once every couple weeks, it might be once a month. Would you want that? I’d want that. So yeah, maybe you can be a good friend right now.
Alex Alexander 49:09
I don’t know if you’ve heard me talk about this. But I talked about all the time, like what is a friend? Because most people don’t have a definition. And if they do, it’s this like idealized peak best friend super close. Whatever we’ve seen on social media, or movies or books, or maybe heard from someone who has really great friendships that they talk so much about it and we’re like, focused on when we make new friends, especially how far away they are from that ideal friend point. And if you’re so focused on how far away you are, you miss focusing on all the value that that is providing in your life. So you’re less likely… like one, you’re just not appreciating that. Two, you’re less likely to engage or keep connecting because you’re I’m so focused on the lack, not what is there. I really focus on it as like, what is the friendship? And I was listening to you just now thinking, oh my gosh, this goes the same way. But you’re right, what is a good friend, you’re so focused on what you lack to be that that you aren’t focusing on what you do bring in that. You don’t have to be at all, that even just being you in small ways can be meaningful to people. I love that. And that’s so important, especially when I talk about parents, like, especially people who are becoming new parents, I talked about this on episode four. I think a lot about how my friend’s capacity changes for our friendship. And like small actions that they take that before when their capacity wasn’t so limited, maybe wouldn’t have been as meaningful. But when they have kids, I really have to take the little things they do and see them as bigger. Because their time is so limited. So if before getting together on a Saturday night was just like a casual thing we did all the time, now that their priorities have shifted, and they’re very focused on taking care of their children. If they want to spend a Saturday that they have a babysitter with us, I really appreciate that. On the rare weekend, they have a babysitter, they’re now asking us to get together, they could be doing so many other things with that time. If you are a parent, like giving yourself that grace too. I think it’s really important. Like we’re trying to be the perfect friend and be the perfect mom and be the perfect partner and be the model citizen and just showing up in all those roles is hard. Or like, whatever you can give is what you can give and that’s worth it. That’s all your… right?
Emily Siegel 51:59
Yeah, for sure. And this is easier said than done. I know, you probably talked about this too about like, the healthier you are in general, the easier friendship feels. And I do feel like I’m overall a generous friend. I can acknowledge places where like, oh, gosh, that’s not my strong suit as a friend, or it’s just as a person. Yeah, you know, like, I’m not a person who is always showing up with food when things, you know, are going wrong in your life. I’m going to support in a slightly different way. But I’ve… you know, I’m I am aware that I am still being supportive in some way, in a way that plays to my strengths. And I… personally, I don’t have a lot of time in my life for people who can’t see that. You know, if that makes sense. I know that we can hurt each other. And I think it’s important, you know, for my friends to tell me, gosh, it really hurt that you didn’t maybe sign up for our meal train or something like that. And, you know, that’s helpful for me to be aware. Okay, that’s something that, you know, matters to her. And I can be more mindful of that next time. But that does get to a point where, with some people who, sometimes their expectations of you, as a friend are unreasonable. And they’re not taking into account your season or some of your own needs. You know, I get it. It’s not like it… this isn’t black and white, we’re getting into gray territory. But I know for me, I tend to not have a lot of time for people who are not at least understandable of some of the things I’m juggling too, and give grace for that. I feel like I give my friends lots of grace, I’m not asking for them to be perfect. I am hoping to be friends with people that don’t expect me to be perfect. And, you know, you will find people in life who have unreasonable expectations for you, and you get to decide what to do with that relationship. And so, these rules have been helpful for me, but I know sometimes like navigating them is not always as like, cut and dry, I guess. Especially that one where the bar is lower. You know, some people are gonna have a harder time with what you do have to give and you also want to be sure you’re still showing up as a decent friend. That part can get tricky for some of us but I do find the healthier we are, the most boundaries we have, you know? The more we can be communicative with our hurts in a direct and honest way, all helps with all of that.
Alex Alexander 54:27
Yeah, and hopefully approaching it more as a, you know, you and I as friends against the problem. Like okay, you were hurt. I’ve been shoved through your meal train. What can I do that feels right, like instead of, you’re wrong, and I’m hurt, like this thing hurts. How can we find a way through it instead of, you know, just they talk about that in romantic relationships a lot and I don’t think we’re talking about it in friendships enough that part of this is just deciding that you’re on the same side, you want this friendship to work. It’s you two against the problem, not you against each other. And like you’re saying, if you can’t get your friend on that page, that’s a lot of energy. And it may not work out. But hopefully, approaching it that way might help some people rethink some of this because it’s becoming a parent. Again, I’m not a parent, but watching my friends go through the transition, everything in life changes. And I can give my friends so much grace for that. I can only imagine what it’s like to balance the total identity shift at becoming a new mom, and these other components of your life, like your friendships. So yeah, like looking at it as this totally a transition period. And hopefully, on the other side, at some point, we will find a new kind of normal.
Emily Siegel 55:53
Yeah. I know we’re wrapping up. I’m just thinking about some of the moms who reach out and say to me, like, they keep inviting me to go out late at night, or like… to me, I’m not the fun friend anymore. Like, I used to be our fun friend. And now I’m not showing up and I fear the invites are gonna stop. But I also like, don’t want to go out late at night, and really kind of coaching those moms through. Yeah, like, this is a lot what you’ve taken on, you know, do you feel comfortable having an open conversation with them about like, hey, I really love our friendship. And also, I’m realizing the things we used to do together, don’t fit into my life as well anymore. Yeah, I’m not up for them right now. But I still want to be friends. Like, do you think that’s possible? Like, can we find some new ground? And there’s a lot to navigate.
Alex Alexander 56:47
If you don’t have ways that you’re comfortable spending time together, it’s really hard to get together. So by that, I mean, like, you might have had a friend where the way you were comfortable getting together was bar hopping, you shared a lot with each other, you got ready together, and you told each other all your deepest secrets. But then if this transition happens when you become a new mom, you don’t want to go out bar hopping. And you kind of have to decide, I think, I call it like grow a new route, you have to be uncomfortable and build a new way to spend time together that feels comfortable. But you have to both be on board to do that. And you kind of have to decide, are they my bar hopping friend? Like, are they my friend because I just had somebody to go out with on the weekends? And that might be okay. That’s fine. You guys wanted to go do something together? You did it. Or you have to decide like, are they my friend and I will work to build new ways in a new season of life. Neither one is wrong. Like we don’t really have any awareness of this. And I think it gets really confusing for people when you don’t have this language, or this way to understand it. Because then you just feel hurt because you’re like, well, my friend didn’t like me. That’s like, well, they might have really… they might care about you. They might… whatever, you just don’t have a way to spend time you’re comfortable right now.
Emily Siegel 58:13
I love that framework. That’s great. The more language we have to talk through those things, it’s so helpful. You
Alex Alexander 58:19
You know, for as many friendships as we have, there’s very little language. So I think that’s a huge barrier for people. It’s hard to discuss. Emily, I’m so excited about this. And I know I’m positive, people who listen to this podcast, who are just waiting for me to drop an episode on moms making friends, because this is such a big topic. And moms, parents people need that support. Anything we can do to help them find that.
Emily Siegel 58:53
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This has been great. Thanks for being here.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 1:00:13
I know that we only touched the surface today in this episode. Talking about moms, dads, parents, caregivers and friendship is very important to me. The energy it takes to be raising little ones is immense. And I care very deeply about the people who are doing that work, having the support that they need, which includes among many things, nourishing friendships. So I promise that this is a topic we will be revisiting over and over again on this podcast in a variety of ways with a variety of people. In the meantime, if you want to go deeper about friendship as a mom, go give Emily a follow. She shares so many great resources and conversations. She has support groups, one-on-one clients. You can find her on Instagram. Her handle is @theconnectedmomlife. You can also go to the show notes. You’ll find all of her information there.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here. Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you. You can find it at alexalex.chat. You can also find me on Instagram. My handle, @itsalexalexander. Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Now if you want to take this conversation a step further, send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary Goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.