It seems inevitable to lose friends to fatherhood. Even before the baby arrives, a shift is underway. You go to appointments, build a nursery, take classes. Your time, energy and money now go to this still unseen, possibly nameless person.
“The birth of a child is a turning point,” says Daniel Singley, a San Diego psychologist.
This is the line between pre- and post-baby life, in which nothing will be the same, one is your relationships. This applies to your partner, parents, siblings and especially your friends. You will get closer to some friends. Others will disappear, a natural by-product of a child.
Yes, you will be overwhelmed, scared, excited and “psychotically exhausted”, as Singley says, and it’s easy to think your friends who are still single and have no children will have little interest. It may be, but it is not a given. And you do not have to contribute your anxiety and feeling of isolation by doing unnecessary things to push these caring, well-meaning people out of your life –
Things should look different, but they do not have to disappear completely. Friends are an essential commodity and, if you can help it, one to preserve as well as possible. To do so requires a willingness to come out in front of a few things and be willing to accept the change. It sounds a bit overwhelming, but the overhaul of your life is already in process.
1. Dive into the action
One underlying problem that affects the acquisition of personal time is a parenting imbalance. Guys often hang back and let their peers take the lead. It starts before the baby arrives, and puts dad in a hole of his make-up. “You feel bad you are not doing anymore, but you do not know how to do more,” says Julian Redwood, a San Francisco-licensed psychotherapist.
The answer? There is no one, but be generally involved. Go to appointments, classes and shopping visits. But also be fully there. Ask questions. Write down information. Read crib reviews. All of this helps you bond with the baby and build your confidence, and then there is no turning back to, “Are you going out with your partner ?,” because you have determined that you two are a team, he says.
2. Ask for a Hand
From an early age, guys are encouraged to find out well and not ask for help. This causes you to stay isolated when you are holding new baby hours. “Va’s tend to be father in isolation,” says John C. Carr, a Boston psychotherapist and author of To become a father. When your friends offer, “Let me know what I can do,” you should forget to bother them, keeping in mind a simple truth: They may not know anything about parenting, but they care you, Singley says
Ask them to keep checking in even when there is no answer and to invite you to good, even if you can never make it but want to. It requires them to have a little faith that things will change. It says, I may be underwater, but do not give up on me.
3. Mark it
You may feel that there is no time for anything but the baby, but there is. You need to treat it just like naps and nutrition and put it on a schedule. Singley says filling a calendar with all the must-do, one of which is one hour a week of self-care.
When you get older, you need to become more intentional with everything, or things like friends will be treated as a luxury. Plus, when you make things predictable, stress goes down. You know that Thursday is your night. Your friends do that too.
But there’s another bonus. When you also help your partner get out, you get alone with the baby. It can be scary at first, but as you figure things out, your self-confidence grows even more, as does the parenting balance, which makes it even easier to go out, Redwood says.
4. Bring in your friends
It’s easy to convince yourself that your non-child friends will not care about the baby. You can even push them away. They might surprise you, but be judicious because even parents do not want to see 50 photos. Choose one and link it to your history. The child is crying in a Dolphins shirt, and your caption is: Tradition continues.
Or just send an SMS: “Baby is awake all night. I’m exhausted and not doing okay.” The message is not difficult to decipher, whether the recipient is a parent or not. “You have given a window on how it is for you,” says Singley. “A friend will care.”
5. Be flexible
Two childhood hold-on attitudes weaken the way you think about friends. One is that friendships are just about goals, teams or activities, and when they are gone, so is the relationship. The other is the belief that if you can not play 36 holes or run 10 miles at a time, there is no point, says Singley. But with a baby, flexibility is a must. You have to re-imagine how and where to see friends, like just grabbing coffee or walking.
That means it will look different, and that means asking for something new. The fear of rejection is always a possibility, but you have to push through that initial worry because the alternative is to never get along. “You have to have the friendship,” he says. “You can not be passive about it.”
6. Take advantage of your new emotional state
One benefit of parenting is that it makes you more courageous. Being exhausted also helps lower your inhibitions. You just want to get to the point where you have bigger priorities and less time to waste. Use it when you come with your friends. This does not mean that every conversation should be serious, but it does mean that it should be worthwhile. Maybe show a little vulnerability, then ask how your partner is doing. Some may falter, but some will immediately step in and the friendship will take on additional dimension. “You can have a drink and get going,” Redwood says. Your reward will be deeper relationships.