Making New Friends
Making new friends can seem a daunting prospect at first and also it can take time, but if you see it as a 'campaign' then you have every chance of getting the results you wish for.
What do you want?
The first thing is to decide what you really want. For example:
- Do you want to meet other single parents or just other people with children of similar ages to your own?
- Do you want to do ‘whole-family’ things with new friends, or leave the children behind and go for a coffee or a few nights out?
- Do you want to share babysitting to allow you to go and follow a new interest or sign up to a course?
- Do you just want someone to chat to after the children have gone to bed?
Where will you find it?
Focusing on what you want will enable you to think about the next stage of your campaign, which is where you might find the friends you would like to meet. At the bottom of this article we have listed some useful organisations and local event websites where you can join to meet others, but there are everyday places where you can find potential friends too:
Parents of 0 – 5 year olds
- Local Playgroup or toddler group
- Contact your local swimming pool about aqua babes lessons
- Speak to your Health Visitor about what is happening in your area
- Consider starting your own toddler group!
- Breastfeeding clubs, baby clubs, exercise clubs etc
Parents of junior school children
- In the school playground
- Helping out with school fairs or other events
- Join the PTA
- Become a dinner helper
- Volunteer to help with school outings
- Find out if you can volunteer to listen to children reading at school
- Invite another child to tea then get chatting to their parent afterwards
- Talk with other parents when you are picking up your child from Cubs or Brownies.
- Offering to help with activities in or out of school means you will automatically come into contact with other parents.
Parents of secondary school children
Encourage your child to be involved in some activities such as sports where you can meet other parents there when dropping off or collecting your child. You can also encourage your child to join Scouts/Guides/St Johns Ambulance/Woodcraft Folk etc, again, where you will meet other parents. You might offer to share a car journey or take it in turns to walk the children to their activities if you live near to one another.
Remember, there are things you can do that are about YOU not just your children, such as:
- Find a new hobby, such as a book club, sewing class, flower arranging group
- Join an exercise class or learn to salsa!
- Sign up for a course at the local college. Many clubs and societies advertise in the local library
- Finding a volunteering role will also automatically bring you into contact with more people (see below
- Join online discussion forums
You may find yourself doing things you don't like very much, just for the opportunity of meeting others. Well that's OK because once you have built up your social circle then you can always bow out. Having older children has the advantage that once they can safely be left for a while; you can go out on your own to a college course, for example. Whatever the age of your children, a parenting programme will bring you in contact with others, and might be a helpful and enjoyable thing to try anyway!
Making the move
You might find it difficult to make the first move, however just remember to SMILE, not many people can resist a smile! After a few chats suggest a coffee or another meeting. You may fear rejection but the fact remains that if you don’t speak out, nothing will happen.
Remember the other person may be feeling as shy as you. You could say something like “I’d love to try out that new cafe but I am not good at going to new places on my own, do you fancy going there for a coffee?” You will soon see by the other person’s reaction whether to press ahead. If the other person seems negative, ask them a friendly question about their child and that way, the subject is easily changed and embarrassment avoided.
Once you have a few casual friends you can offer to host a night in at your house, with a few people there. Sometimes a party plan approach can work but take care people don’t feel obliged to buy the make-up/plastic containers/jewellery on offer.
A sense of community
Have a look around your area and see what is already there, where you could join in?... A Neighbourhood Watch scheme? Amateur Dramatics? A church? A community centre? Let people get to know you as part of the community by saying hello to people in the shops and on the bus. This will help boost your confidence too. Be patient and your hard work will reap rewards.
- Remember, making new friends may take a while so even small steps are good
- Try not to be too hurt if former friends drift away: who wants fair-weather friends anyway?
- Think about the people you would like in your life and where to find them
- Be part of your community by volunteering, by greeting people you meet and being open to trying out new things and to support local events
- Don’t forget the online community; where you can support others as well as having somewhere to talk over your day to day life.
- Consider joining one of the groups listed below
- You might have to do something you don’t enjoy, as a means to an end.
Believe in yourself: you have a lot to offer!
- One Space's, 'Local Support' section offers up to date information on local projects who provide services for single parents.
- ‘Local Meet a Mum’ – Netmum’s network of parents of both genders throughout the country, with local meet-ups.
- 'In your area’ – National Childbirth Trust offers a place to make friends and have fun joining in branch activities for expectant parents and those with children under five.
- Parenting courses – To find out how to find local parenting course, Parenting UK offers a search for local parenting classes
- General socialising and other useful event sites!
- SPICE – organises group adventure, social and leisure activities and the monthly programme of events is set up with the absolute beginner in mind
- Meetups – There are plenty of UK meetups in the UK, just enter your postcode or town and see who is meeting up near you
- Where can we go - Britains guide to whats on!
- About my area - find your area at the top left hand side of the page, when you have entered the postcode of the area you are interested in, look on the left hand bar again and click on Community or Charity or Events or Clubs and Organisations (each postal area has different headings!) and see if there is anything of interest near you.