I am not a parent but many of my friends are. When friends started having babies, I did all the usual stuff — bringing muffins, offering to help out around the house or at least hold the baby while the parents clean up, and of course cooing over the little ones. I genuinely enjoy kids and I am happy that my friends are bringing them into my life. My efforts went well while the kids were tiny and the parents were adjusting. Now, however, many of my friends are happy parents of happy toddlers, and they mainly socialize with other parents. I get why — other parents have empathy and advice, and provide playmates for their kids. But I miss them — the grownups and the kids!
I know I can’t be included in everything, but I feel so sad when I hear a bunch of people I like talking about an activity that I would’ve enjoyed but wasn’t invited to because they all brought kids. No one seems to think I care, even though I’ve mentioned that I like, say, the zoo or the park, too. I have tried inviting people with their kids to my place and it’s lots of fun, but it’s clearly a grownup apartment and things wrap up pretty quickly.
I feel like my husband and I are in danger of becoming “special occasion friends” — people you need to get a sitter to go see, and then it’s a big formal event — and thus you only see them twice a year. I am not sure how to get around this. How can I gently remind my parent friends that we would still love to be included when they hang out with other parents and their kids? — Rebecca
Most of my close friendships are still with friends who don’t have kids yet. I am an only child, so when I discovered I was pregnant and my husband and I were about to have a son, I talked with some of my friends about being an “uncle” or “aunt.” I left it open and made sure they knew that they could be as invested (or not) in that role as they liked, but I would love for them to have an active part in my kid’s life. You could try having the reverse of this conversation — tell your friends that while you don’t have kids, you would love to be a part of their children’s lives and are always happy to be an extra set of eyes and hands at kids events to help out.
The first thing that came to mind was: throw a potluck picnic at a local park, and invite a whole slew of your friends — include both families with kids and without. If your birthday is coming up, throw yourself a birthday party at a kid friendly place: the zoo, the park, a bowling alley (include on the invite that there will be a lane with bumpers on it for the kiddos if you like), anywhere you know your friends already like to take their kids.
Another thing is, meals and snacks are always welcome, even after the kids are finished being “little.” Do you know if one of the kids is about to get a round of vaccinations? Maybe a child needs to have a surgery or has broken a bone? Offer to bring a comfort meal over for dinner.
Offer to help prepare for a kid’s birthday party (make a pinata! put together grab bags for the kiddos! organize a game! frost some cupcakes!). Let your parent friends know that you want to be a part of their support system because you love them and truly enjoy their kids.