Transcript: Tips For Moms to Help Build a Quality Circle of Friends
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Tips For Moms to Help Build a Quality Circle of Friends and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Helen Thompson: When you are a busy mum and often time poor, making and maintaining friendships can be a daunting task. This becomes an even greater challenge when you are living away from family and friends. You’ve got to start over again from scratch, finding new friends, new schools, and community.
Mum of 2, connection mentor, coach, and host of The Connected Mom Life podcast, Emily Siegel has experienced these challenges firsthand, after moving interstate on a number of occasions. This included a move shortly after she gave birth to her first child. Over the years, Emily has learnt how to make friendships in new communities, and she has a thriving community and is on a mission to help moms create more real life friendships.
During our church, you’ll hear Emily talk about the 5 types of connections that every mum needs in their circle of friends and much more.
Hi Emily, and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. I’m delighted to have you here today and talk about ways to help mums expand their circle of friends. Can you please start by telling us about your background and what you do?
Emily Siegel: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. So like you mentioned, my name’s Emily. I currently live in the States in Minnesota and I have a just turned 9 year old and an almost 6 year old, two boys and we have moved around quite a bit over the years. Soon after getting married, over a decade ago, me and my husband moved out to Pennsylvania, a different state in the United States, and then after 5 years of being there, we had our first kiddo, but then promptly moved again this time to Texas and were there for probably 8 years before just now returning again to Minnesota.
Really, it feels like we’re starting all over again with friends, a whole new school, a whole new community. We’ve got our family. Yeah, just a lot of having to build community from scratch over and over, over the last 14 years, I have learned quite a lot about making friends in adulthood, and that has ultimately led me to having my own podcasts where I talk about the importance of friendship and community for moms and really encouraging moms in that.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, is your podcast called the Connected Mom Life podcast?
Emily Siegel: Yeah, it is.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I’ve listened to some of your episodes. It’s interesting.
Emily Siegel: Thank you.
Helen Thompson: I love talking about finding your village because when you move a lot, it’s really hard for any mom to find new friends when they move. That can be a challenge. So you’ve moved a lot of times, so how have you managed to find friends?
Emily Siegel: I’ll say the first time when we moved, again and this was without kids, we were just two young married people who thought, it’ll be easy to make friends and we found that not to be the case and that set me out a little bit on a journey of wait, why isn’t this easy? Is this really me or, what is happening here? Through that time, I really came to learn a lot about how in a lot of ways, we grow up thinking friends just happen but the truth is that school really just happened to us, consistency just happened to us and it actually takes a little bit different effort in adulthood and I just kept thinking, well, everybody else seems set on friends, I think I’m just the weird one in this boat.
I ultimately learned during that first move that that was not true. That people were very much more open to connection than I had initially realized and so when we moved the second time and had a baby, a four month old, that knowledge was so helpful for me because it allowed me to just kind of like put myself out there pretty quickly, once we got to our new spot, with just a lot more confidence than I probably would’ve had if that had been our first move.
I hadn’t fully realized that people were actually open to connection, even if they didn’t seem overly eager or anything like that. So, that’s really what I did this with our second move. I had a baby and so I looked for places that were open to moms and babies, whether that was breastfeeding support groups or new mom meetups or things like that.
A workout group that, you could work out with your stroller. That was the whole premise of the workout, kids were invited and so I just looked for opportunities that I could take a baby to, that other adults might be at, so that I could get some adult connection too because, oh my gosh, we all know babies are just all consuming with their needs. I mean, the smiles are great, but you know, you wanna talk to someone.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, you wanna talk to an adult as well at times. It’s lovely having your baby, but sometimes you feel stuck and you just want to be able to get out and being able to do that and meet new friends is sometimes a little bit harder when you are stuck at the house all the time.
Emily Siegel: Oh yeah, for sure. So I would say that was the best thing I did was I just decided on a few different places that I knew I would be meeting other moms in a similar season to me with young babies and I just committed to showing up most of the time, even when I didn’t want to go and that’s really kind of how I slowly started to build that village.
Helen Thompson: And the question I have on that is how do you transform that from an acquaintance to a friend?
Emily Siegel: That’s the hard part, right? It’s not that hard to meet people. It is definitely harder to then move that to that next level. So what I would say is something that really helped me when I was showing up, particularly to that workout group where it was moms and babies day after day. Honestly, you could have worked out five days a week if you wanted to, and when I first went, I showed up and I say what everyone says. It felt like everybody already knew each other. It just kind of felt like, these moms have all been coming here for a while, they clearly have some inside jokes, they clearly know kind of what’s going on in each other’s lives, and I really felt like an outsider. I’m so glad I had committed to showing up because I was like, you know what, these people feel good to me. They feel like people I could be friends with, I just need some time. So I just committed to keep showing up and to being like, yes, they are interested in knowing who you are and being friends with you, and kind of like moving through that just mindset piece and it was so great. Literally after 2 months, which can feel like a long time for sure, I was like, oh, wait, now I’m the one welcoming new moms. I know what’s going on with people’s lives. I think I actually belong here.
Helen Thompson: I think it’s just as you say, showing up and giving yourself the time for friendship as a new mum, because giving yourself that time is so important. You can get stuck in that rut and going out and meeting people when you’ve got a baby or any child, I think is so important.
Emily Siegel: Yeah, and it’s hard too. You don’t say it so flippantly. Oh, it’s so easy to just go out and put yourself out there. That’s probably why I looked for opportunities that just met me in my current season. One of the other groups I joined when I was a new mom, it was truly called a new mom’s group and it was through like an app called Meetup where like-minded groups would gather. So we would gather, and we all had babies, so we would just get creative like, we’re gonna meet at this park and we’re all gonna walk with our babies in a stroller. We also would meet at malls that had open space and we would bring blankets and just sit around and lay our babies on blankets and that only lasted for probably 3 to 6 months because then our baby started moving and that wasn’t working and so we had to adjust and pivot. It was so helpful just to be with other people who were just in the thick of it and understood what I was going through and could talk to me about breastfeeding for 3 hours nonstop. Where some of my other friends in my life were like, oh yeah, I think I did this and they’re done wanting to talk about it. There’s just something to talking with people who are in the thick of what you’re going through.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, a lot of your friends when you become a mom, if they’re not a mother themselves, they don’t connect. They don’t want to have child activities. They just wanna have time with you without the kid and that’s sometimes not that easy.
Emily Siegel: Yeah, exactly.
Helen Thompson: So what are your 5 types of connection that you feel every mom needs in a village?
Emily Siegel: Yeah, so when I think about my village, I usually tend to place priority on those same seasoned friends, especially if I find myself in a new place and have no one in my village and I need to start from scratch. I tend to place my emphasis there on other people who are very much what I call same season friends. They’re very much going through a similar life experience to me. So for example, when we moved the first time and I had a 4 month old, I looked for other moms that had babies. Now this move, I’ve moved with an 8 and a 5 year old. I’m looking for moms of elementary school kids or primary school kids and so my focus has shifted based on the season I’m in. Like I said earlier, same season friends are great because they’re in the thick of what you’re going through, can just relate on a really different level. So that’s one of the friends I think we need in our village.
The second friend, I call a different season friend and it’s those friends who are in a different season. I used to joke all the time about our first time mom’s group that I was in, that it was the blind leading the blind.
Helen Thompson: That’s a very good point.
Emily Siegel: Yeah, some of the questions we would ask in our group and the advice we would give each other, it wasn’t that it was bad advice, but we were all just kind of like, ah, I don’t know, I think this is working, this other mom told me this. So we’re all just kind of throwing that at each other and so I actually really find having different seasoned friends really helpful. So that could be moms who are ahead of you, with their kid’s years. I find it so helpful to talk to moms who are sometimes just a little bit ahead of me.
I also love being connected to moms who are way further ahead of me and can just help me keep some solid perspective on what I’m freaking out a little bit about whatever season or stage we’re in with the kids. I also deeply, deeply appreciate and value my friends who do not have kids. I have found that they also can provide such good perspective sometimes on, who you are outside of your kids, cuz sometimes that can get a little lost. I have also found my friends who have not had children have been so gracious with me in the sense of, they can come to me after my kids are in bed and hang out with me even though I’m trapped at my house. So they have like a little bit of different flexibility. I always try to be mindful and make sure that it’s not always that one-sided by any means, but different seasoned friends can bring you a lot of really valuable perspective as well.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think that’s true, I definitely get that one.
Emily Siegel: Yeah and I always like to share that one too, because I know so many people without kids think, oh well they don’t wanna invite me anymore and I’m like, oh my gosh, I would love it if you wanna love on my kids, that would make my day and also if you just wanna come over after they go to bed and keep me company, that will make my day in a different way.
The third friend and I’m gonna use friend loosely here, but I would definitely consider this a connection for your village are neighbors. So just having people nearby that you feel like you can trust and support or potentially even ask for help, is just a game changer. Knowing that you’re not fully on your own, wherever you are.
So I always take time to really be intentional when we move, to know the homes around us. This last move was probably the best we’ve ever done. We’ve moved 3 times and I’ve only done this one time, but I will do this again and again if we ever move. We went around at the holidays and we had made these potpourri in a jar and it was stove top potpourri where you could put it on the stove top and simmer it and it would make your house smell lovely and they were so easy to put together, they were inexpensive to put together. We made like 20 of these and I wanna say it took less than 20 minutes. It was so easy, and I’m not crafty, so I always like to tell people that.
Then I made just a little note card that I typed up and it said, we’re new, we’re looking forward to getting to know you and then I wrote our names, our ages, our contact information, like our cell phones and our emails and we went around to all the houses. Most people ended up not being home, the day we went around and it was so cold where we are. So we just dropped ’em on the doorstep. But then I got text messages the next day from everyone saying, oh, this is my name, we’re so happy, we look forward to meeting you when the weather gets nice.
It has been the best thing because I now have all of our neighbors contact information, they have ours. We’re a smallish neighborhood, so people care about kind of knowing who they live with but it has been great. People are already using it to be like, oh hey, I’m out of town and I saw I have a package, could you grab it? So just kind of neighborly things without even knowing each other well and so that’s been really great to have that support system too.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, that’s a nice friendly thing to do. We have some new neighbors at Christmas time, and they came around and gave all the neighbors chocolates, which I thought was really nice.
Emily Siegel: Yeah, it’s lovely. I lead a community of moms who are pursuing in real life friendships and I think they wanted to go around and give cookies at the holidays, but then they were starting to overthink it, what if they’re gluten free or they don’t want to eat sugar, or all the things, and I’m like, you don’t have to worry about that. The gift is in the giving, is kind of what I like to remind people about. You don’t have to worry if they’re gonna eat them or throw them away. The gift has served its purpose. People just love that you thought of them.
Helen Thompson: Yeah. Yeah. I agree.
Emily Siegel: So the 3 so far, same season, different season, neighbors and then the final 2 are, I call them work friends. Whether you have a typical 9 to 5 corporate job or if you are a stay-at-home mom, having people that are doing similar work that you are doing in your life, I think are really helpful. There may be some crossover with same season there, but someone who’s in the thick of it, doing the same job that you are, I think can make a lot of our work feel more fun as well.
Then that last friend I call the same interest friend because at the end of the day, we all have different passions and things we could kind of deep dive and geek out on in life. Honestly, for me, it’s nothing crazy, it’s just different TV shows that I wanna process with other friends. Just having people that like some of the same things you do and there might be crossover with, they also might be in the same season as you.
I find that having kind of that bestie that can deep dive with you on, all the surface level things as well as the deep things can be really fun and you know this too, Helen, as podcasters, I have podcast friends. It’s so nice to have other people that get some of the random things that we’re into and challenges that surfaces for us too.
Helen Thompson: I think you actually learn so much from other podcasters too and you glean so much information from other podcasters and the other one you mentioned was the work friend. I think that is a good one too, even if they don’t have kids. So what are the new rules of making friendships in motherhood?
Emily Siegel: Yeah, so the first one is that I think what so many of us don’t realize initially is that people really are open to connection even if, you know, it doesn’t feel that way all the time. So I talk about one of the new rules that I like to follow in motherhood when it comes to making friends is that it’s okay to be more forward.
We watch our kids run around on a playground and walk up to different kids that look their size and they say, Hey, do you wanna be my friend and they say, yeah, and then they run off and go play on the playground and it’s the most beautiful thing. All of the adults look at each other and we say, oh, I wish it was that easy, for us as adults and I think it can be. I don’t know that you have to go up to a mom that you meet at the playground and say, hi, I’m looking for friends, do you wanna be friends? You can be pretty forward. Some of the conversations I love to have when I meet another mom that has a kid roughly my kid’s age is, I usually open the conversation as I’m running after a toddler and just say, oh my goodness, like these kids are crazy today, kind of smile, just show that I’m open to conversation and then if it works out to have a conversation, I do. If it’s going well, I’ll say, oh, do you have a lot of friends around here? Are you from around here? Just to kind of get a sense that they have a really big village or if they’re newer and a lot of times you can kind of gauge how open someone is to connection. I will often, because I was working pretty heavily when I had my littles that I would often say to people, oh, well, the park is always more fun when there’s other kids here would you like to exchange numbers and I could let you know the next time we’re coming. It’s just a really low pressure way to say, hey, this is always more fun with other kids, if we exchange contact information, I didn’t just sign you up to be my best friend, I signed you up to let you know the next time I’d be at the park if you wanted to come, in a very no pressure way. I will tell you I have collected probably a hundred phone numbers that way and it might feel a little awkward the first time you try it, but it gets so easy and people are always like, oh yeah, sure, great idea. So it’s okay to be forward, is a really, I think, important role.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, you mentioned kids are like that all the time, they’re always chatting to other kids, so why can’t we do it as moms? Or, even if you are a nanny or whatever and you want to meet new friends, if you are at the park with kids, just have a chat to that mom and say, oh, that’s my little kid that your ones run off with.
Emily Siegel: Yeah, for sure and then the second rule is, so I mentioned earlier we always think friends just happen, but really consistency is kind of what happened when we were growing up. So I like to encourage moms to think of phones as the new school playground. So kids get to meet every day at the school playground if they’re in school and we might not have that same set up with how our lives are rolling along, depending upon what we have going on, either with work or staying at home, or how many kids, all the things.
You asked earlier, how do you go from acquaintance to friend? The reality is that sometimes we don’t know when that shift happens, we don’t quite catch it. All of a sudden we’re like, oh my gosh, I think we’re friends. A lot of times, ways that you can nurture that and almost create your own level of consistency is through the phone. So that could be as simple as maybe you follow each other on social media and you comment on their posts or like their posts, even something as simple as that makes someone like you. It makes them feel good about you because you are seeing them, you’re acknowledging, you’re seeing what’s going on in their life. You can obviously text, you can send funny memes, but you can stay kind of in touch in the in between moments, particularly as you’re nurturing a newer connection and that can really help to speed it up, to get to that friend zone. To feel like you’re in that friend zone territory much quicker than relying only on those face-to-face gatherings.
I know we always hear phones and we’re like, okay, well then we got a text and go back and forth or just comment on social media, that in some ways sometimes has that same effect too. So that can be a nice, practical way to get in some kind of nurturing reps without having to figure out a face-to-face when that’s not happening, maybe consistently with however you know, those connections.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think that’s a good one.
Emily Siegel: Yeah and then the final one I like to remind moms about is that the bar is lowered in motherhood around friendship. So many moms that I work with are worried. It’s not that they worry, they don’t have time for friendship, they worry they don’t have time to be a good friend. I think we all come up with these ideas of what a good friend is. In my mind, good friends remember birthdays, they’re really good about checking in and like, those are things that can feel really hard, particularly in new motherhood. That feels like a lot potentially for some people and to be able to do that for multiple friends can feel even more overwhelming.
So then to think about well, if I add new friends, I don’t even have time for my current friends, how am I gonna show up for them in the same way as I’m showing up for my ride or die friendships. So I’d just like to remind moms, one of the questions I encourage them to ask is think about the level of support you have to give today. For me that is, I’m not gonna remember your birthday, I’m not. That’s not my strength in friendship. However, when you are with me, I am with you, I am present, I’m attentive, I’m a good listener, I provide good support, good encouragement. I check in occasionally, I’m not gonna forget about you if you’re not in my face, but I’m not overly attentive when we’re not seeing each other consistently. So when I think about would I want that in a friend right now, I think absolutely, yes.
So sometimes when you flip that and ask yourself that question, would I like a friend that could give that type of support, usually the answer is yes. What we do have to give is often what we’d like to receive to. So it’s okay for that bar to be lowered. In fact, it actually makes us feel, I don’t know, less crazy, like we’re all juggling. We all get it. We all have these babies, many of us have partners, many of us have careers, many of us are managing a home. If my friends don’t get that and don’t get that I’m occasionally not gonna text back right away. I will text you back, but you will not hear from me immediately. I can’t be a part of a friendship that would require that of me at this season in my life.
I need friends who give grace, and I would say most of us are out there giving grace because we need it too. And so have no fear, the bar is lowered, you don’t have to worry about showing up as the friend you were pre-kids because that’s just not going to be sustainable in this season of motherhood.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, and I think being honest with each other too and as you say, letting your friends know where you’re at. If they’re not in that space, well, just text them occasionally. It takes two to tango and it takes time to make a village.
Emily Siegel: Yeah, for sure.
Helen Thompson: Yeah. I could talk to you forever about this topic. I’ve moved a lot but I’ve been in the same place now for 5 years and it takes time to make friends.
Emily Siegel: Yeah, it definitely takes time, but it doesn’t take as much time as we sometimes think. Something I work with moms on too, is just being really clear on where you’re gonna put your limited friendship energy, because you might always feel like you’re constantly putting yourself out there everywhere you go, and it’s exhausting and you don’t feel like you’re getting much traction but if you decide, okay, I’m gonna show up to this workout class once a week, I’m gonna see if this mom is willing to do a play date once a month. If you choose 1 to 3 things. Usually when I move and have to start from scratch, I will force myself to do 3 different things, but at other points in time, it’s like, nah, one thing is fine, or putting energy in one spot and naming that, being super clear about the fact that you’re doing that, can be really freeing because then you can show up to all these other spaces and not stress about talking to everyone or making a friend or making small talk because you know that you’re investing in some other spaces and that’s really helpful, particularly for introverts or for people who are not naturally wanting to constantly engage and use that energy up everywhere, all day, every day.
When you can be mindful about where you’re gonna spend that energy and it will pay off if you just stay committed and keep showing up in that one space and then you can, guilt-free the rest of the time, go shop at the grocery store. Don’t worry about smiling at strangers when you’re there, it’s fine. Grocery store is not the best place to meet people anyway. You’re putting in good time in in other places and that just helps, I think too, with the long game of it and seeing traction faster because you’re focusing in specific areas too.
Helen Thompson: Do you keep in touch with your friends from other areas? Do you still keep in touch with the friends you’ve made in other states?
Emily Siegel: Yes and no. So I definitely am more limited in my communication with my friends from Pennsylvania now. However, we’re gonna go there this summer and we’ll absolutely be reconnecting with them. Right now we’ve just left Texas, that’s pretty new, still, still under a year old. And we just got back from a trip where we stayed with our friends, saw all the other friends Voxer and Marco Polo, those are two apps that I use to stay in communication with my friends who are long distance. So I probably voxer with my Texas friends right now, once a month and so I’m still fairly in communication with them. I also went to college in California, which is a state again, very far away and I Voxer probably weekly with four of those girls.
Then oddly enough three of my really good friends, two of which are here in Minnesota with me, they live really nearby and one of them who has just moved to a different state, the three of us also Voxer weekly. I actually talk to them on this app more than I see them in person, even though they’re local friends.
So I spend a lot of time with my friends every day, even if I don’t see them, because these apps, I call Voxer the best app for moms because you can talk to your friends on your own time and that is what I found so hard personally about the little years, was I had these babies who would sleep a lot, but I never exactly knew when they were gonna sleep and I just felt like my time was never certain, like I wasn’t sure when I would be available for uninterrupted time.
So with Voxer, it allows me to listen to my friends on my own time and allows me to talk to them on my own time and it sounds weird if you’ve never tried it. It’s like, is this just voice messages? It is, but it truly feels like you’re talking to your friends and it’s been a game changer for me. I find it to be so great, particularly on snow days when you’re snowed in and can’t leave the house and can’t see people. It’s so nice to have that human connection with friends.
So that’s a long answer to say yes. I definitely still do talk to them, but it has shifted and changed. I’m not the same support friend for them anymore and they are not that for me anymore, now that we’re not living within five to 10 minutes of each other. But for sure we’re gonna still keep up on each other’s lives.
Yeah, it’s always a little bit of a grieving process of I know this isn’t goodbye, I know this isn’t like, we’re not gonna be friends anymore but the friendship is gonna shift and that’s sad. There’s definitely a sadness to that, for sure.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, but if you still keep in contact that’s good and that’s what I liked about the name of your podcast, The Connected Mom Life podcast, because you’re still connected, even if you are miles away. So if anybody wants to get in touch with you and find out more about you how do they go about doing that?
Emily Siegel: Yeah, so the website, TheConnectedMomLife.com will tell you all the ways that we could connect either through the podcast or if you’re interested in joining our community where we support other moms that are seeking in real life friendships and there’s also where you’ll find a lot of freebies too, to support you. I offer a lot of free support. I mentioned that I ask for phone numbers early on when I meet someone. I have a kind of a free guide where you can get kind of exactly what to say to make it not weird or creepy. So you can get that for free at the website and then I tend to hang out most on Instagram at theconnectedmomlife as well.
Helen Thompson: Well, thank you Emily for being on this podcast. I think you’ve given some some very valuable tips.
Emily Siegel: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.
Helen Thompson: I’ve talked with a number of ladies on first Time Mum’s Chat about the whole finding your village topic, but I really liked what Emily had to share and the way she explained her process of making lasting friendships. I highly recommend checking out Emily’s website, podcast and social media. I’ve included links to these in the show notes as well as to some freebies that Emily offers, including a quiz which will help you find out what’s getting in the way of the friendship circle you crave. You can access these show notes by going to MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/122, that’s MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/122.
Next week I’m chatting with lactation consultant, J’Nel Metherell and topics, including baby’s weight after births and breastfeeding. Be sure to listen to this episode when it comes out, and please subscribe to First Time Mum’s Chat via your favorite platform so that you get quick and easy access to all our episodes when they are live.