This was it. The beginning of a new chapter. We walked into the building wide-eyed and feeling very lost. It was the first day of school. I didn’t recognize anyone and I was scanning the room for a friendly face. We were new here. Everything was new. We were excited for a fresh start, for possibilities and new beginnings. But we knew we’d have to make new friends, too…
Making friends is hard: Being the new person. Walking into a room full of people you’ve never met. Standing there, introducing yourself, trying to remember everyone’s name. Just writing it makes me a little nervous and a little exhausted. It can feel discouraging to be there trying to make a connection. Searching for common ground. Sometimes it feels like it’s not even worth it. Like you’ll never find that great friendship you’ve been searching for.
In these years of motherhood, there have been so many different phases and opportunities for this scenario. Every new stage seems to bring a new group of people to meet. A new room full of strangers to get to know. This can be exciting and daunting all at the same time.
The beginning of the school year has a whole new set of activities. New teachers, students, parents. It kicks off a whole slew of new activities, like sports, music or dance lessons, bible studies and other educational enrichment classes.
But it takes so much of us to create good relationships. Friendships take nurturing.
It takes time to deepen a friendship. Of course, it’s worth it when you get to the point where you have a really great friend you can rely on. One you call in the middle of the night. Text throughout the day.
So how do we get there? We have to put in the time. You’ve probably already started with this. All those new activities your kids are signed up for this year. Every time you drop them off is an opportunity to give a few moments of your time toward a friendship. Say hello to some of the other parents. Talk with the teacher a moment about the day. Smile to the other mom you always pass in the hallway.
These little moments over time give you more to talk about. They develop a history, a familiarity. When you are planning your day, give yourself time for these margin moments. Just like any time management person will tell you, these moments add up. You’d be surprised how quickly it happens.
Last year, my firstborn went to preschool for the first time. In so many ways, it felt like my first day of school. It took me longer than I would have liked but I finally realized there was this great community right there on the playground after pick up. While the kids got to play and wear themselves out a bit more for nap time (bonus!!), the other parents were sitting and chatting about their days. As I began to make time in my schedule for this playground time I started to develop some great friendships. It started with just 10 minutes of playtime for my son. He would get to run around a bit while I sat and uncomfortably said hello to new people!
What began with just 10 minutes of my day and some small talk grew into hour-long conversations, play dates for our kids, and birthday party fun. We grew a support network for ourselves and our kids.
If you’re seeking new friendships, plan them into your day! Start with just a few extra minutes in the margins of drop off or pick up. The beginning or end of school, football practice, dance class, or a meeting, look up from your phone and start with a smile. Your new best friend could be on the receiving end.