By Brandi M. Seals
As we grow and get older we add more responsibilities to our plates. Often times these additions, particularly the birth of a child, seriously impact our ability to keep in contact with friends. There just does not seem to be enough time in the day to do everything, let alone time to kick back and reminisce.
During the first couple weeks of the birth, your friends will probably stop by to see the new member of your family. Soon after that, they disappear. They may call a few times afterwards, but when they are constantly met with the sound of a baby crying and a distracted friend, they are apt to let you take the lead from then on.
Show your friends that they are still an important part of your life by taking a little time just for them. You probably will not be able to afford enough time away from your family to give all of your friends individual one on one time. Instead, organize a girl's night out.
Leave the baby at home with your husband, family or a babysitter. If this will be your first time out since giving birth, make the outing something short. Trust me, you probably will not think anything besides "how is my baby" but it is good to get accustomed to leaving him or her with others for a short while. By keeping the outing short you will meet your friend's needs and not be away for too long.
Invite everyone out to dinner, a movie, or to a bar. Anything you used to do will make for a great outing. Once your child gets a little older and is not as needy, you can have the girls over to your house from time to time. Just be sure to have them over in the evening after the baby has been put down for the night.
Or, if your friends have children you could always set up a play date. Each person can take turns having everyone over. It will give the kids a chance to socialize and keep you and your friends in contact with other adults. Sometimes that can be hard to do.
If you do not live near your family and friends you can still keep in touch. It just requires a little more creativity. You can call friends when the baby is sleeping, but chances are you will be too pooped, catching up on other tasks, or the baby will wake up. Phoning when the baby is crying is a bad idea. It just makes the conversation very trying for the person on the other end of the line. Perhaps you can call when someone else is around to keep an eye on the child.
Sometimes things do not work out so nicely, so you can always turn to email. Email is a little less personal, but it can get the job done until your child is a bit older. There are a few cardinal rules to email though - do not just forward on amusing little pieces that you receive. Not everyone likes forwards. They are impersonal and several times they really are not funny. Send actual emails that you write. Write about what is going on with you and your baby. Plus, you can attach photos. Just try to keep the talk about baby to less then half the email. Sometimes it can be overwhelming for those reading the piece. It can seem like all you are doing is bragging or even complaining about having a baby.
Another good idea is to use a website to stay in contact. You could create your own blog and give out the address to friends in relatives. There are also websites like Myspace (www.myspace.com) and Bebo (www.bebo.com) in which users can put up a profile. They can update the profiles to reflect what is currently going on in their life, post pictures, and post comments on their friends' profile. Members are also able to connect to the schools they attended and view anyone else who lists the school in their profile.
Find whatever works for you, your schedule and your friends. The most important part is just maintaining that effort. Chances are you will not be in touch as much as you were before the baby, but you can still have friends.