How can I be the best friend to a new mom?

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Janice from Friends "you're  having a baby" card by Etsy seller DebbieDrawsFunny
Janice from Friends "you're having a baby" card by Etsy seller DebbieDrawsFunny
I'm looking for advice from moms, and those who love them, on how I can be a good friend to my BFF who is having a baby. I need a bit of a rundown on how I can expect our relationship to change.

"Emily" and I have been best friends since high school, supported each other through college, marriages and other big life changes, and had one or two big fights that we worked through. We're very different people who live very different lives. But when shit gets real, she's the person I count on to have my back, and vice versa.

She moved back to the small town we grew up in which is about an hour away, I live in the nearest big city. So our friendship consists mostly of constant texts about politics, jokes or what's going on in our lives, and then we try to get together once or twice a month for brunch or something.

Since she got pregnant I have been doing my best to be a good gestation cheerleader, trying to make her laugh (she's had a rough go of it!) and doing stuff to help her feel normal. And throwing a hell of a baby shower. I've enjoyed being there for her, and am looking forward to meeting the little peanut.

The crux of my question is, while I feel there was a lot I could do to support her from afar with occasional visits throughout her pregnancy, I don't know how to be useful and supportive once baby comes. It's not like I can pop down on the reg to bring over dinner, or take a quick baby snuggling shift so she can shower. I am also a little anxious that our usual rhythm of texting about the news or funny stuff at work or whatever will become annoying, which I certainly don't want to do. While I don't imagine myself writing a Buzzfeed-worthy screed about How My Best Friends Baby Pulled Us Apart

I am a little selfishly sad about the end of an era for us as friends.

So how do I be the best pal to a new mom given our relative distance? And how do I make sure I don't accidentally make her life harder trying to keep our friendship going? -Dani

Here was one brilliant response from Homie Kirsten to this question:

I currently stay at home with my four month old. One of the things that makes the biggest difference is a friend who I text with on and off during the day. Not spending much time with adults can get really lonely. But phone calls can be impractical, if I'm holding a sleeping girl baby, and getting out of the house can be overwhelming. But a text that I can respond to right away, or that I can set sit while I take care of a crying baby is absolutely perfect. This friend and I have had long conversations over text about everything from our babies to the election to the Gilmore Girls revival to our marriages. It's actually really nice to not always talk about the baby — helps me feel like a person.

Also, I'm going to go against what others say… a longer visit after the baby is born would probably be fine. I have a really good friend who lives about an hour away and she's been over to visit for several multi-hour visits that I have really enjoyed, because I don't see her in person very often. Your twice-a-month visits may be less brunch, and more sitting-around-on-the-livingroom-floor-playing-with-baby for a while. But that can be fun too! That said, make sure that she knows that she is in charge of the length of your visit, and that you will leave as soon as she needs you to.

And when you're there, do something tangible for her. Do a load of dishes or fold a load of laundry. Offer to hold the baby while she showers or takes a nap. If you can afford to, order in some takeout and pay for it. Ask what would be actually helpful to her in that moment and then do that for her.

You mentioned feeling sad for the end of an era of your friendship. I can say from experience that I felt the same way while I was pregnant. I was excited for my baby, but some of the changes were sad. There's definitely a chance that your friend feels the same way. Maybe talk about this with her and have some sort of "last hurrah" get together with just the two of you before the baby gets here?

Finally, love that baby. Your friend is going through a huge change that will inevitably change your friendship. But that doesn't mean that it's going to be a bad change. Be excited with her if she sends you a 90 second video of a new sound her kid is making (that is mostly just watching the baby sit around doing nothing). Ask for a picture, if she hasn't sent one in a while. Bring the baby awesome and impractical presents.

Basically, expand your friendship with Emily to include her new baby. It will fee different, but different doesn't mean that this chapter of your life won't also be awesome.

Your turn: How do you be a good friend to a new parent, when you aren't close enough to babysit and you don't want to be a bother?

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  1. Some things which would have really helped me:
    1. Calling is sometimes pretty awkward with a newborn. Phones wake them up, feeding and talking is a skill that needs to be mastered, and frankly, I was in no mood to talk on the phone to anyone for the first month. Texts and emails are great and can be juggled at the same time as a baby! Also, in terms of frequency of such things, keep up the pace you have now, and let your friend tell if if that's not working for her.

    2. Don't give advice unless she has actually asked for for it. I don't give two kahoots about what your sister's kids ate, how your own mum (or fiance's mum) fed you, how you know some kids who didn't sleep. Mums hear enough unsolicited advice from people, their friends don't need to join in on the act.

    3. You've got a great idea about helping out when you can. Feel free to offer specific help when you are there – eg 'I'll hold the baby/entertain the toddler/whatever while you shower/go to the bathroom/look at your phone for five minutes'. Even with close friends and family I always hesitated to ask if they could help me out. Also, if your friend badly needs a nap and you don't really have to be anywhere, don't give her a time limit – she probably won't sleep even if she wants to (chances are she'll wake up when the bubba cries anyway).

    4. Something that super helped me was people offering to take things home from the hospital for me. My daughter was showered with gifts, and my parents and husband did several trips back to my house just with 'stuff'. If you have a big present, it can probably wait until the baby comes home.

    5. You sound like the best BFF in the world, but here are some major doozies I have dealt with (and you could help with if you're there) – other visitors outstaying their welcome (45 minutes tops if it's just for a sit and chat, by that time everyone is over it. Don't feel bad by suggesting it is time for them to leave), sticking to the time your friend suggests you or anyone else come around (my BFF and bf never managed this and it drove us batty), talking about getting 'my fill of baby cuddles' – babies aren't commodities, just tiny people who mostly just like to be with their mums (this also includes randomly taking the baby far away from their parents at a party – feel free to rescue the baby from the overbearing baby cuddler) and please, avoid making jokes about 'the baby is ruining everything' (more likely, stomping on other people for making snide comments).

    If you don't do so already, make yourself at home at your friend's house, and do what you can for yourself – making your own drinks, doing some dishes etc all really helps. I find it is 250% easier if the guests come to my house for dinner, coffees or whatever. This hasn't been any easier since she became a toddler.

    In the first couple of weeks, I found myself showered with food, presents and presence, but it was really after the six weeks passed that I found myself quite alone and people weren't visiting but it was still hard for me to get out with a newborn. This is the best time to be there for your friend.

    Last but not least, everything changes a lot, but include your friend as you would any other time – the baby may have to come along too.

    12 agree
    • "Babies aren't commodities" — YES. I get so frustrated with the idea that people are "owed" time with her. Whether it's the in-laws inviting themselves over because they haven't seen her for a week even though I'm not in the mood to entertain visitors that day, or the coworkers passing her around like a game of hot potato and asking "who hasn't held her yet?", it feels like everybody's waiting for a turn. I love that people love her, and I am happy to introduce her to you and let you hold her if she's in the mood, but she's my daughter, not a toy, and your visits and interactions still need to be respectful of what works well for baby and mom, not your internal "how long has it been since I cuddled your baby" clock.

      2 agree
  2. I lived super far away from friends and family. After the dust settled from our parents visiting, we got a bit lonely. I personally really appreciated friends who emailed and texted, ESPECIALLY not about the baby. It was a welcome distraction at 4 a.m. The difference I would suggest for the letter writer, is not to expect answers (in a timely manner or, at all). Let her know you don't expect her to answer (and then actually don't feel weird when she doesn't). Early on, typing on my phone was a monumental task but also my only link to normalcy.

    7 agree
  3. In addition to the other great advice already posted, be aware that she might "disappear" or decrease communications for a while – I mean like months. I think it took 6+ months for me to feel like we were getting back to "normal" and even then our new normal involved chasing to day care and being home in time for a 6pm bedtime routine, spending endless hours washing bottle parts and doing general small human maintenance tasks. This is part of why the first birthday party is such a big deal, because the first year is so hard, so life changing. Don't give up on your friendship!

    7 agree
  4. I'm mainly here for the comments, as my BNF (best nanny friend) is due in a couple weeks, and I want to continue being helpful to her.
    You didn't ask about gifts, but I will say QuickZip crib sheets have been much loved from the many families I nanny for.
    Does she live in an area that has UberEATS, or another food delivery service? If you can't take dinner you can have it delivered to her.
    My BNF and I have made a "safe word". That way if she gets overwhelmed, isn't ok, but doesn't actually know what's "wrong" or doesn't want to talk to me about it she can text me that, and I'll know it's important I make the time to be there.

    2 agree
  5. What helped me the most was having friends who treated me like something other then a mom. The friends who would talk to me about work, or art, or the news instead of only about the baby. The friend who knew I probably couldn't make the late concert but who would come over for dinner and a drink before she went to the show. The friend who would organize baby friendly adult activities to make sure I was included (starting the party at 5pm as opposed to 10pm to make sure I cold come for a few hours). Those friends are priceless.

    7 agree
  6. I currently stay at home with my 4 month old. One of the things that makes the biggest difference is a friend who I text with on and off during the day. Not spending much time with adults can get really lonely, but phone calls can be impractical if I'm holding a sleeping girl baby and getting out of the house can be overwhelming. But a text that I can respond to right away or that I can set sit while I take care of a crying baby is absolutely perfect. This friend and I have had long conversations over text about everything from our babies to the election to the Gilmore Girls revival to our marriages. It's actually really nice to not always talk about the baby – helps me feel like a person.

    Also, I'm going to go against what another commenter and say that a longer visit after the baby is born would probably be fine. I have a really good friend who lives about an hour away and she's been over to visit for several multi-hour visits that I have really enjoyed because I don't see her in person very often. Your twice a month visits may be less brunch and more sitting-around-on-the-livingroom-floor-playing-with-baby for a while, but that can be fun too! That said, make sure that she knows that *she* is in charge of the length of your visit and that you will leave as soon as she needs you to. And when you're there, do something tangible for her. Do a load of dishes or food a load of laundry. Offer to hold the baby while she showers or takes a nap. If you can afford to, order in some takeout and pay for it. Ask what would be actually helpful to her in that moment and then do that for her.

    You mentioned feeling sad for the end of an era of your friendship. I can say from experience that I felt the same way while I was pregnant. I was excited for my baby, but some of the changes were sad. There's definitely a chance that your friend feels the same way. Maybe talk about this with her and have some sort of "last hurrah" get together with just the two of you before the baby gets here?

    Finally, love that baby. Your friend is going through a huge change that will inevitably change your friendship. But that doesn't mean that it's going to be a bad change. Be excited with her if she sends you a 90 second video of a new sound her kid is making that is mostly just watching the baby sit around doing nothing. Ask for a picture if she hasn't sent one in a while. Bring the baby awesome and impractical presents. Basically, expand your friendship with Emily to include her new baby. It will fee different, but different doesn't mean that this chapter of your life won't also be awesome.

    8 agree
  7. "I am a little selfishly sad about the end of an era for us as friends."

    This is real. I've been on both sides of this. The friendship can keep going, but it will be different.

    What worked for me: be a fan of the kid, be interested in what's going on with him or her, listen to the kid, interact, love. That child is going to dominate your friend's life for awhile. (Besides, he or she will probably be pretty cool and worth interacting with!)

    Don't be discouraged by visits that are largely about caring for the baby and being tired, in which you don't get to interact with your friend on much of an intimate level. During this life point, quantity time (frequency, not duration!) is more important that quality time. Because in five years or so when Mom can emerge from the baby/toddler haze, the quantity time invested through those years will make quality time in the future possible. (Does that make sense…?)

    I guess… don't abandon her, even if she doesn't have the energy for your friendship that she once had. It will come back. And having someone in your life who sticks with you and remains interested through the changes is gold.

    2 agree
    • What would your advice be to someone who doesn't like children though? I think it's a great idea to become a fan of the kid, my mother's best friend was like having another aunt, but not everyone enjoys being around children. I've found that maintaining friendships with friends who become parents is really difficult for that reason.

      5 agree
      • I can see that. This will be case-by-case… but is there someone who can provide baby care for a few hours while you whisk the mother off for a meal or just a little time away? If so, and if mom is ready for it, this could be a huge life saver. Having a baby is all-consuming. Someone who can help you take a little time to be *you* is wonderful. Make it a weekly or monthly ritual if possible.

        (It's also weirdly difficult to leave your kid for long, though, especially at first. Be patient with baby-dominated conversation!)

        • That's what I had been hoping for! I wanted to be the friend who could get her out of the "mom zone" and back into the "I'm an adult with interests outside my home zone" but … it never really worked out. We did a few girls nights that were fun if a little awkward but she's had three children in quick succession so the time between being comfortable leaving them and then having a newborn again was never long enough to establish a good routine. Baby number three is due in February and she's stated that this is definitely the last one so maybe once the third is old enough for her to duck out for a couple hours we can try to establish a monthly girls night again.

          1 agrees
          • That's awesome! It sounds like you haven't given up on the friendship – and that's the most important thing you can do for her!

            Also – kids grow up. So you can still be their fan, even if you don't like children. As they get older and discover their adulthood, you can be the cool aunt who drags them out for awesome experiences, if you want…!

            1 agrees
      • It's genuinely difficult to be friends with someone when you strongly dislike a major element of their life, whether that's religion, smoking, children, spending way more or way less money than you, etc. I think to be a good friend, you have to face that head on, privately mourn the end of the friendship you had (don't be the person who turns your entire friendship into processing a thing that you're unhappy about but your friend thinks is terrific), and start fresh figuring out what kind of friendship you have now.

        2 agree
        • You're absolutely right. It is a major barrier that the biggest part of her life is something that I have never enjoyed. I haven't liked children since I was one myself. I don't think there's anything wrong with either viewpoint, different strokes, but I do know that it means our friendship as it was is over. I feel like once the kids are older, school aged for example, we'll be able to reconnect better than we can at this point.

          1 agrees
          • Well… maybe don't assume that her children are the biggest part of her life, unless she's specifically said that. My kids are a big logistical part of my life because they can't feed themselves and that takes a lot of time, and also they are people I genuinely enjoy spending time with. But, I don't know, maybe ask yourself what you would do if your friend had an adult person in her life who couldn't feed themselves and who she genuinely enjoyed spending time with, but who you did not enjoy spending time with. You have to acknowledge that person is going to take up a big part of her time, but that won't necessarily make her into a different person. It's hard as a mom of young children when my child-free friends try to convince me to avoid spending time with my children, because I have obligations towards my children and also I like them, but it's also been hard when friends don't bother to look for ways to continue our friendship because they assume it's been a personality change, rather than a logistical change.

            4 agree
  8. Oh, and more practically – food, but not too much at once. Coming up with meals during this time is hard. After my baby was born, folks "helpfully" glutted my refrigerator with food that either couldn't be frozen or required work we had no energy for to prep for the freezer, that we just could not eat before it went bad. It was frustrating. We ended up ordering out more than we wanted to.

    As an alternative: the Soup Shop sells a wonderful monthly soup subscription (https://www.thesoupshop.com – I'm not an affiliate, just a fan!). Easy to prepare, easy to store so long as there's freezer space, and since it's a subscription it doesn't overwhelm all at once. And it's a good gift to give when you don't live near the family. I'm sure there are other outfits that provide similar services.

    2 agree
  9. My best friend has 2 kids. She lives about 35 minutes from me. So, while it's pretty close, it's far enough that we need a planning and can't necessarily be spontaneous.

    When she had her second kid, I pre-cooked a TON of food for her and her family. I didn't tell her I was doing it, because I know she would have told me not to. I spaced it out over a couple of weeks as she got closer to her due date, and then I brought it all with me on my first post-baby visit and stuck it in the freezer. I labeled everything and included cooking directions. It was all easy stuff – macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie, baked ziti and sausage, chocolate chip cookies. She told me later that it probably the best thing anyone could have done, because during those first weeks and months, cooking was a serious struggle.

    It's also important to understand that her schedule WILL be different. She might not respond to your texts or emails as quickly or as detailed as she did before. That doesn't mean she doesn't want to be your friend anymore – it means she has a little one who needs her but she doesn't want you to think she's forgotten about you. My bff has told me many times that she reads everything I send her, but often can't respond right away and by the time she CAN respond, she feels silly because it's some number of hours later, so then she doesn't bother.

    When you are able to visit her, ask her what you can do. Maybe she needs you to throw in a load of laundry, maybe wash some dishes, keep her company while she does chores, maybe just pick up a coffee on your way over. I'm sure the baby will be cute and funny and adorable and squishy, but talk to her about something other than that. Does she have fun projects to come back to at work? Are YOU working on anything exciting at work? She's not just a mom, and as her friend, it's important for you to treat her that.

    Be prepared for your friendship to change. You will go through fits and spurts. My bff has made friends with other mom friends, and sometimes I get jealous when I see them doing fun things that *I* want to do with her and her kids – apple picking, going to the zoo, etc. Her kids need friends, too, and sometimes, it's way easier for her to do those types of things with people who understand that it takes an hour just to get out of the house. Just because she's doing something with *those* people doesn't mean she loves me any less.

    Like others have said, definitely widen your friendship circle to include the baby! Those 2 kids are my niece and nephew, and I love them just as much as I love their mother. When she sends me videos of them doing things, whether it's a school performance or riding their bicycle, I get excited and joyful because those are MY friends learning to do new things!

    Your friendship will certainly change. Sometimes, you'll definitely feel like you're doing all the "work" in maintaining the friendship. A changing friendship dynamic doesn't have to be bad – you just have to be willing to roll with it!

    4 agree
    • To counter this, I would have preferred that people DID ask before making/bringing us food, even for the freezer. Even without a large circle of people helping us, we still wound up with lots of food, and it's not as though we were starting from scratch; our fridge and freezer already had things in them from our regular pre-baby life! There were days when it was really wonderful to have a meal brought over or a few things to fill our freezer, and there were other days when it felt like a bit of an imposition for someone to just announce that they were coming by with a casserole/batch of soup/whatever. I really welcomed the help, and the respite from us having to figure out meals, but making sure that the scheduling of it worked for us would have been equally valuable.

      2 agree
  10. My son just turned 9 months, so I've got perspective on a pretty good part of the first year. I'll break it down by time.

    First 2 weeks: These are the most stressful but also the most supported. Generally lots of friends and family will want to help out. If you visit, be sure to *voluntarily* wash your hands before holding the baby so your friend doesn't have to awkwardly ask. Don't ask open-ended questions like "Do you need anything?" or "How can I help?" because those can be completely overwhelming. Instead make specific offers, like "I'm swinging by Trader Joe's; do you need milk or snacks or anything?" or "Mind if I do some dishes for you?" If you're not able to visit, or in between visits, totally keep texting but don't expect prompt responses. A great pick-me-up for a new mom, incidentally, is "I'm having a rough day – do you have any cute pictures of the baby?"

    "Back to normal" time: For me this was at 6 weeks when my husband went back to work and I became a work-at-home mom, but it's really whenever maternity leave ends and things are supposedly normal again. This is a HUGE adjustment time and very stressful because the intense support of the newborn phase is gone, but there are big changes happening in lifestyle. Things can get pretty intense because everything is hard (have you tried vacuuming with a 2-month-old?) and takes longer than before, and it feels like it will never change and you'll turn into one of those sweatpants-wearing hot-mess sitcom moms. The important thing as a friend during this time is to keep chatting (about anything and everything), make sure she knows she can get emotional on you if things are hard, and try to make easy-to-do plans. Something like coming over to watch a movie after the baby goes to bed would be good, or taking a walk in the park after you've picked up coffee for you both.

    Potted plant time: This is when she's adapted to her new life but the baby isn't yet crawling or walking — taking them along somewhere is pretty much like taking along a potted plant that occasionally screams. I really loved this time, which for us was from about 2 to 7 months. My son was cheerful and enjoyed interacting with other people, my body had settled into a fairly normal state (no more leaking boobs, no more bleeding, hormones stabilized), and I could set him on the floor at a friend's house with a couple toys and he'd be entertained and not be able to get into anything because he couldn't crawl yet. This is a great time to invite her over, with or without the baby, or go do things out of the house that you can take a baby along with. The zoo, a museum, the mall… whatever sounds good as long as it can accommodate the occasional nursing session and a stroller. This is also a good time to offer to babysit, if you're up for it.

    In the groove: Routine has been established, confidence in parenting is up, and the baby is rapidly turning into a little kid. This can overlap with the previous phase, and for me started around 6 months and continues today. By this point your friend will hopefully be feeling pretty comfortable with her rearranged life, you'll be able to see the baby's personality developing, and the kid will be getting into all sorts of trouble exploring their environment. This is a great time to invite your friend for slightly more complicated outings, stuff for which she might need to leave the baby with someone else. Babysitting for her will still be very much appreciated, though you may have your hands full with a slightly more willful and stranger-wary baby.

    Beyond that, I don't know! But if you're there for her in the early stages, you'll be doing a wonderful job keeping your friendship strong. The whole thing is a major adjustment, so don't judge the state of your friendship based on the first few months alone. And good luck!

    7 agree
    • As someone with a new baby, I really like the way you've framed it! We're in 'potted plant' stage, and it's neat to think of the upcoming developments in this way

    • Oh gosh, "potted plant" stage is such an amazing descriptor! I died laughing! Thank you for making my day!

      1 agrees
  11. Talk to her. My closest friend had a baby years before I did, and at one point I said "so according to the magazine articles, we're supposed to drift apart." She laughed, but we did have a frank conversation about how to stay connected. We worked together, so we had an ongoing point of connection that didn't involve the baby, and I adored the baby, so we folded him into our social life and all was well. Your story will be different, of course. You can tell her that you want to stay connected and you're not sure how to do that and ask her what would work best for her. Then be considerate and understanding about the changes she'll experience, and see how it goes.

    5 agree
  12. So many great comments above! I think the main thing is to realize that it will change, but she's still the same person, just adding someone new to the picture. My BFF and I have REALLY different lives, but instead of it being difficult, it's quite refreshing to chat about your problems with someone who is in a really different space than you. Besides, if you aren't fond of kids, once the baby is old enough, most moms LOVE to have adult time away from the kids.

    Also that buzzfeed article is terrible! I'm currently struggling to get pregnant, and my BFF doesn't want to have kids, but is SO supportive of me, and SO understanding that this is one of the hardest things to go through. Just because you may not understand or have the desire to have children, doesn't mean you don't empathize with them.

    2 agree
  13. Texting is awesome. Sending funny links is awesome. Making sure your friend knows you're available for randomly timed phone calls that may end abruptly is above and beyond super, super awesome.

    What changes most with a small baby is just logistics. Babies sleep a lot but unpredictably–very young ones up to 20 hours a day, but mostly in 20 minute chunks. So don't take it personally if you're in the middle of a conversation and your friend has to go abruptly. Or if she forgets something because she hasn't had more than 20 minutes of sleep in a row for two weeks.

    Don't:
    -give parenting advice unless asked, no "have you tried…?" or "my mom used to…" If your friend wants to know, she'll ask. Stick to "Ugh, that sounds so rough!" or other empathetic things.
    -ask your friend to change the baby's sleep schedule to meet your schedule. If you're not going to be there at 2am when baby is wide awake, you don't get to say baby can have a later nap this one time.
    -pressure your friend to spend time away from her baby – this includes "go take a shower" as well as "why do you never come to girls night out anymore?" and "I think you'd be happier if you spent less time with your kid." (true story) Offering an option to get away is fine, but it is super not cool to push.

    Do:
    -Reassure your friend that you'll still be there after this season of her life. The kindest thing a child-free friend ever said to me, which still brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it, was when I was apologizing for not being there for her as much as I should have been during a tough breakup, was "You're building taking-care-of-people skills right now, and when I need help in twenty years and don't have kids to take care of me, I know you'll be there for me." Just putting the friendship in a longer context is such a kind thing to do.
    -Suggest low-pressure things. I love it when local friends say, "Hey, I'm going to be at the coffee shop for the next four hours, if you wanna hang out I'd love to see you." Maybe a long distance equivalent would be, "Hey, if you wanna call tonight I'm around any time between 6 and 9."
    -Do the research to scope out baby-friendly spots for get-togethers, especially as the baby gets older and more mobile. My city has recently opened a bunch of restaurants with play areas for the littles, and it is such a RELIEF to go out to eat and not freak out about either a) how everyone else there is super judging me for bringing my baby with, or b) wondering how baby is doing without me and is she hungry and oh hey there goes my letdown and now my shirt is covered in milk. If you go out of your way to find a spot for your regular brunch where your friend can be comfortable bringing her baby too, you win big time.

    1 agrees
  14. First of all, I love you for asking this question, and so does every mom out there. Who wouldn't want to be besties with such a thoughtful person! I have two sons, the oldest of which is almost two and the younger is three months old. My husband and I moved across the country from all of our family and friends three and a half years ago, so both of my sons were born here and I've had to rely on newer friends a lot since we're so away from family. The biggest piece of advice that I can give you is this: communicate and follow through. I know you've already heard from everyone already to ask before you drop by. Stick. to. that. time. If you say you're going to be there at a certain time, be there exactly at that time. Schedules are what makes the parenting world go round, especially as babies inch their way into toddlerhood. If you offer to watch the kids, for the love of all that is good and holy, DO IT. I've had a few really dear friends say things like, "Oh, I LOVE your boys! I would LOVE to watch them ANYTIME!"…and then I never hear anything more about it. Trust me, your friend would love a few hours in the afternoon to get her hair cut. The other piece of advice is to take her out! After my second son was born, I've had a friend who I've gone out with about once a week. I'm a stay-at-home parent, so it's been golden to put on some nice clothes, dangly earrings (I miss those so much!), and go have a drink with an adult. You'll be a great friend-aunt, I just know it!

    1 agrees
  15. I'm not a mom, and have several friends who are. The advice above is awesome. I will reiterate the importance of text. My cousin has twins and she will send WALL OF TEXT level texts to talk about important shit all the time since calling when you have twins just isn't a thing. We also use snapchat a lot, and the girls like to send little videos and stuff to me.

    Marco Polo is another video app that your friend may like since it doesn't have a time limit like snapchat, but you just respond when you have time.

    I've gotten a lot of empathy and insight for parents from the podcast One Bad Mother. You might check it out. It's very real and very funny and all about women supporting women. Specifically in the context of parent-hood, but I've learned a lot.

    As my cousin's girls have gotten older I've become the 'get away' friend. Now that she can leave them with their grandparents for a couple nights, she come visit me (I live an hour-ish away) and we'll go out and have a girls night, or stay in and watch a silly movie or go to the mall and window shop.

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  16. This doesn't relate to the long-distance part of the question, but some people might find it useful. Many of my friends had children around the same time, so when I'd throw a party, I'd build a cardboard box castle in the far corner of the room, and put cushions and toys inside.

    So instead of paying for a babysitter or having to stay home, my friends would bring their kids. The small ones would have a wonderful time wholly occupied with the castle, with their parents reassuringly in line of sight, but not close enough to overhear softly spoken adult conversation. They did not get bored and toddle off to put our child-proofing to the test, nor whine and get clingy. (I remember being a whiny, clingy child–when dragged off to adult events with nothing provided for my amusement!) Eventually they'd get sleepy and topple onto the cushions, where they would contentedly spend the rest of the evening until gathered up again. Granted, a couple times children did destroy the castle in imaginative battles, but hey, I never meant it to last and they had so much fun doing it! (The funniest was watching a four year old girl pretend to be a giant so convincingly that she had her older brother halfway spooked!) Playing at battle is one of the ways that children adjust to the idea of mortality.

    An added bonus is that adults behave better in the presence of children. We never once had anyone wreck the party while we had the castle in the corner.

    Anyone can make a cardboard castle. Get boxes of different sizes and fasten them together in a roughly castle-like shape. You can fasten them safely by punching holes with an awl or a nail stuck through a plastic lid and lacing string through these to tie up. Cut away flaps at the connections so they can crawl from section to section, and use the bent-back flaps to attach the pieces to each other. To make windows, cut an H-shape on its side, and now you've also got shutters that the kids will open and close repeatedly just because they can. To make a door cut an upside-down L straight up from the bottom (assuming that the box is upside down, turning what was formerly the bottom into a roof. To make a tower, attach one box on top of another with the bottoms unfolded. If the kids are old enough to not eat crayons, provide some and let them decorate the castle themselves. Do whatever else your imagination recommends, so long as you don't get too attached, in case they enjoy it to death. Think of it as an exercise in Zen.

    The parents will feel grateful and relaxed, and the children will feel cherished. Some of the children who attended these parties are now mothers themselves, and they STILL talk fondly about my cardboard castles. The memories have lasted much longer than a cardboard box ever could!

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    • This is such a *wonderful* idea! I must find a way to try it! I bet my 2 year old and his cousins would love it – and so would all the parents!

      1 agrees
  17. Great advices. I think you don't have to be so stressful! I'm sure that your friend doesn't feel that hard trying to keep your friendship going.

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