At a certain point in your adult life, something life-changing will happen to you and your friends in the form of tiny, adorable, screaming humans. Your best friends will start having babies, and you’ll find that keeping your friends as close as they once were will suddenly be struggle. Maintaining close friendships as you get older can be tough enough as it is, and once you add a baby into the mix, it’s even more difficult. This is especially true if you aren’t a parent and your BFF is.
As someone who is going through this right now, I can confidently say that being in two different places in your lives can be challenging for your friendship. About a year ago, some of my closest friends started getting pregnant. My other friends and I were thrilled for them, of course. When the babies were born, I begged to come over for visits, I brought presents, I affectionately called myself an honorary “aunt,” and I proudly shared photos of them with my parents as if they were my own.
But as the happy haze of a newborn faded for me, I realized that my friends who were new moms now had different priorities (as they should), and planning girls’ night wasn’t exactly at the top of their lists.
Of course, these things are completely understandable and expected. I have never felt angry with my “mom friends” for picking their families over me (obviously!), and I absolutely adore their little ones. Still, it’s kind of sad to think about how much time we once spent together, and how little we see each other and talk now.
I know a lot of women go through this, so I spoke with some experts about how to keep friendships close even when we’re on such different paths. Here are a few tips on how to stay close with your besties, even when babies get involved.
1. Remember that it’s okay to feel jealous.
When your best friend has a baby, she’s obviously going to want to be with her newborn and her family all the time. It’s not that you’re jealous of an innocent baby, of course, it’s just that…well, yeah, you’re a little bit jealous of that baby who is getting all of your BFF’s attention. And even if that sounds awful and selfish to admit, it’s okay to do so.
Mental health clinician Celeste Viciere told HelloGiggles, “Your mind may go to a negative place where you will feel like you are no longer important. Any time your friend can’t do something or cancels, you may feel replaced. Keep in mind that these are very normal emotions. You can deal with your emotions by accepting and processing them. The reason why we grow apart during these life events is because we tend to suppress these difficult emotions rather than face them.”
In other words, just admit it to yourself: You’re a little jealous. Find someone to vent to about it to and just let yourself feel it when you need to.
2. Expect things to change.
The arrival of a baby doesn’t mean that your friendship is going to end. This is still a person you can call, be honest with, and have a good time with — they aren’t a new person! However, it’s silly to assume that things aren’t going to change, because they will.
Also, don’t assume these changes mean she doesn’t want you around. Viciere said, “While it’s easy for us to take things personally when the dynamics change, keep in mind that this has nothing to do with you. If we are able to remain mindful as things change, we can continue having a healthy friendship.”
3. Consider things from her perspective.
Even if you know things are going to change and you’re trying to accept it, you might still sometimes find yourself annoyed with your friend for never being around (or something like that). In those moments, you have to try to consider things from her perspective.
Psychotherapist Emily Roberts (also known as The Guidance Girl) told HG, “You’ve got to check the facts: She just went through a significant life change. Her hormones are all over the place, she likely has a baby attached to her 24/7 and doesn’t even recognize her own body, she isn’t herself right now. If your friendship is solid, it will be solid, but understand that her brain and body are recovering and it’s not her fault that she’s taking days to respond.”
Instead of getting annoyed, try to be there for her. Roberts advises friends to reach out and say you’re thinking of the new mom, and offer to be there if she just wants to talk or vent. You could even offer to go over and watch the baby while she showers, naps, or does some other self-care thing she’s been neglecting.
“Just be mindful of how much she has gone through rather than how much you miss her and how much your feelings hurt,” said Roberts. “Right now she can’t show up for you like she used to — she will again, but right now she has a lot going on.”
4. Try. Hard.
If you want to stay close when your friend has a baby, it requires a lot of effort. You can’t just try to make plans one, two, or even four times. You’ll probably need to keep making plans and rescheduling several times, and you’ll likely need to be the one getting in touch. You might start to think you’re being annoying, but making this much of an effort is necessary.
Said Viciere, “People tend to say they grew apart because life got in the way. The reality is that we allow life to get in the way because we are not intentional about our friendships. Just like any other relationship in our life, they require intentional effort.” Don’t feel weird about trying hard! If you don’t, you could lose your friend.
5. Don’t put too much pressure on her.
No matter how hard you try, though, chances are good that your friend isn’t going to have as much time for you as she used to, and that might not change for a very long time (if ever). It sounds negative, but you can’t expect too much out of her.
Roberts advised, “Realize that it’s an opportunity for you to cultivate some new friends too, and lower your expectations of her for the time being. It doesn’t mean you’re letting her take advantage of you, it means you understand she doesn’t have as much time these days, and that’s okay.”
6. Be honest about your feelings.
Should you send your friend a long text telling her how upset she’s making you? No, that’s not fair. But you can be honest about how much you miss her. Roberts says that telling her you’re sad is okay because it’s important to honor your feelings, but you should also acknowledge how much her life has changed and say you hope you’ll find a way to stay close.
Being honest in that way is a better option because if you aren’t, you’re more likely to be passive-aggressive later on…and that’s how friendships die.
7. Let her vent to you.
Having a baby is an exciting event full of love, but as you probably know, it can also be extremely stressful. Your friend might be going through a lot, and many new moms feel pressure to keep everything inside and only express happiness about her baby out of fear of judgement. Show her that you’re there to listen to everything, whether she wants to gush about the baby or vent about something silly. Just listen, don’t offer advice — she’ll appreciate it a lot.
8. Remember she’ll need a night out soon enough.
You might be overwhelmed with your own feelings about your friendship, but try to remember that your friend might feel like she’s missing out sometimes, too.
Roberts said, “Remember she misses you too, and if she can’t make your birthday dinner that starts later than the baby’s bedtime, it’s not because she doesn’t love you. In fact, she’s probably having major FOMO, it’s just that this little life comes first. It’s not to say she won’t need a night out like the days before baby — she will, and she will need her best friends to let loose with her.”
9. Plan things around the baby.
If all else fails, invite the baby along. Yes, the baby might grab away some attention from your conversation, but your friend might not want to leave the baby or might not have a sitter — so why not have the little one join you two? At least you get to see her, too. Roberts advised, “Be mindful of her schedule — when does her partner come home, does she need to bring babe…try to ask how you can see her in a way that works for her with ease.”
At the end of the day, remember this: Your friend loves you, but you can’t be her top priority anymore. As sad as that sounds, it’s one of the unfortunate parts of growing up. It doesn’t mean you guys can’t continue to be friends, it just means you need to be more understanding and mindful. Good luck!