Mom Friendships Are Key for Feeling Like You Belong

I get by with a little help from my friends … right!

I have almost two decades of experience living the raising-kids lifestyle. When I began the journey we were called, “soccer moms”. Along the way, I have served as a volunteer or have had fun watching our kids have fun, side by side with several other moms and those years hold so many of my best memories. I developed sweet friendships being shoulder to shoulder in the trenches with these moms as our kids have grown up.

But that all seemed to change a little as my oldest started high school. My mind just kept thinking about him going away to college and all the things we needed to get in place to be sure he had choices for college opportunities. The “momming” job started to move away from a focus on his school classroom’s needs or his team’s needs. I needed to get more focused on specifically what his personal needs were.

Hindsight is 20/20

And in hindsight, I see that here’s were my friendship circle or what I like to call my tribe began to change. Some moms got competitive about sharing resources and pulled away and some moms drove me nuts oversharing about doing all the things that “good moms” do to prepare their kids for college or life after high school. Those were the moms, I wanted to run away from. Either way, distance began to grow in my mom friendships during this season.

Here’s where my realization that all of our kids are not moving in the same big herd going after the same big goal required by law came into light. Our kids are no longer forced to go to the school in a certain geographic area to get the same diploma. They could now go anywhere and study or work or even take a year off. I began to see competitiveness in my friendships and this was messing up my friendship tribe.

It all became so individualized and that meant there were no bleachers to sit and chat with other moms or meetings that after we could go grab a cup coffee with. Groups of mom’s, like me, automatically congregating wasn’t happening anymore for me and that made it hard to meet new moms so I could make new friends. My circle of friends or rather my friendship tribe was falling apart.

Why Was My Speed-dial List Shrinking?

I was getting bummed out. I was beginning to feel loneliness creep in. So I did what every good sociologist does … I dug into the research. I had to know, was it ME or THEM? I mean, exactly how important are friendships to moms, really?

Let me share something I read in, The Blue Zone of Happiness: “some evidence suggests, in fact, that (this) {friendship} is the most important of all the rings of your Life Radius in determining how happy your life will be.” (Pg 181)

Combine that with this little nugget of knowledge I found, we lose 50% of the friends in our closest circle of friends every seven years. That means, of the top 10 friends currently on your “favorites list” on your phone, five will be gone in seven years. And that’s exactly what was happening to me. I just didn’t notice that it was happening because I was constantly in the company with other moms like me in the “raising kids” season of motherhood. Now that the high school years were ending so was the flow of opportunity to make new friends. (Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are – October 8, 2013  by Carlin Flora)

Think about that, it means that it’s vital that we be intentional with finding and keeping our friendship tribe strong after the kids leave the nest. And especially as we wrap up the years of being a mom on the kindergarten-to-high school track together.

I can tell you from experience, it will be much more challenging to keep your friendship tribe strong when you aren’t walking shoulder to shoulder with other moms after your kids have graduated and go off to college.

Here’s a little formula I found super helpful, 8 Types Of Friends You Need To Have in Your Life  Chiara Fucarino, that I have amended to make my own to keep my friendship tribe strong and healthy.

First, keep in mind that almost all of the sociological literature agrees on the magic number of 3-5 friends in your tribe as ideal. And having a diverse group of friends not only keeps life interesting but also gives you varying perspectives on your life and the world you live in. It just keeps life fresh and exciting!

Fucarino does a great job of describing eight types of friends that I think makes it easy to not only build your tribe but to also keep it continually replenished. I added one to the list and you may decide there is a category you want to add as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

As you read the list, it’s fun to make a personal inventory list of the names of your current friends that may fit each category as you consider them.

1. A Loyal Best Friend

2. A Fearless Adventurer

3. A Brutally Honest Confidant

4. A Wise Mentor

5. A Friend From a Different Culture

6. A Polar Opposite

7. A Friendly Neighbor

8. A Work Buddy

And one I needed to add to my personal list is, A Devoted Spiritual

My spirituality, Christianity, is super important to my well being so I need to always have a close friend in my tribe that can relate and support me in that area of my life.

If you made a list, take a look at it. Do you have a few people in the same category? People are complex so think about how their personality fits with your personality. Try to put them one category as they behave when they are with you.

Do you have any blanks on any of the categories? That’s ok! Because we are shooting for 3-5 friends so its fine to have a few that are left blank. And that category of friendship may not be what you need in your current season of life.

NO matter what your current list looks like, my biggest wish for you is to have a FULL friendship tribe to support you, be sad with you, and most of all celebrate with you. Friendships are one of the major contributors to keep us healthy, happy and living long lives … so we are able to enjoy our grandkids … down the road … WAY down the road.

Now go out there build your tribe and keep it STRONG!

Building a friendship tribe is so important for finding happiness in the empty nest or midlife in general. It’s one of the components in my guide, How to Prepare for Life When the Kids Move Out so go grab a free copy at