- Liz Millican
What if no one comes?
I've spoken with lots of moms about the need for community and how hard it is to connect with other moms. So if there's so many people longing for community why aren't we connecting?
I think there are three main reasons. Overloaded schedules, inflexibility, and fear.
An overloaded schedule. I live in a high cost area where most moms are working, their kids are in programs and families have busy schedules. I had a friend from high school who lived on my street for about a year and we only successfully planned to get together one time.
You have to find the moms who have time in their schedule or at least the ones who are more willing to be flexible with their schedule. I've tried texting moms when I'm headed to the park and that strategy hasn't worked for me, but maybe I just haven't tried it enough.
Finding an approach that works can be difficult. Most moms won't invite you into their home because they're afraid it isn't clean enough. Be the mom who invites people anyway. If you have the flexibility to let other moms into your imperfect house then you start building bridges.
Be flexible about who you invite, but don't put expectations on them. I invite moms even if I think they have plans because it's the only way to find out who is interested and available. Plus I don't want anyone to feel like I'm leaving them out.
I tried inviting moms to my house once a week over a six week period and it had mixed results. A mom with two little ones was able to make it out once. Bless her heart for prioritizing it enough to make it out that one time. More importantly, by reaching out to her I now have a new friend that I can stop and chat with when I walk around the block.
I invited over a dozen moms to my home for coffee and tea and most didn't give me any response. The first time I tried not a single person came or responded. It was disappointing, but I thought about what I could do to make a better invitation. The first time I only put invitations in the mailbox and I was too timid to try talking to anyone.
The second time I knocked on doors and got more interest. But there was one door i knocked on and I could hear the mom in the house talking on the phone telling someone that there was someone at the door. Maybe she thought I was trying to sell something so I'm trying to find a better way to reach out to her. I'm not wasting my time. I'm learning how to make effective invitations. I'm not harassing her because any attempts are made months apart. I've also been told very directly by other moms that they didn't answer the door because when they heard the bell they thought it was someone selling something. Or a mom could just be too exhausted to talk. Assume the best about people. It's possible some are deliberately being rude, but most are doing their best to get through a busy day.
Moms won't always tell you if they can't make it. I've had three moms text that they couldn't make it on a specific week, but they didn't send a text every time they couldn't make it. If you are trying to build friendships you need to have grace towards other moms. If they don't come don't question why they didn't come. If you want to bring it up the most you should say is that you missed them. If they give you a reason respond in a way that shows you're not offended. Yes, it is rude if a mom doesn't show up without letting you know, but you won't build a friendship by chastising her for it. Flexibility is key in mom relationships.
Think about the need for flexibility in your own life. Think about how your day gets thrown off if your kid is sick, you didn't get a good night of sleep or any number of other things that could go wrong. If you're like me then your goals for today take a week. There's too much going on. This is why I found that I needed to start keeping a calendar of when I was meeting someone because I couldn't remember everything I had going on. My husband and I started an online calendar so I can schedule things for myself and we can schedule things that we both need to know about so I don't forget to tell him. What's going on this week? I don't need to remember. It's in my calendar which sends me reminders when I need them. If you're struggling other moms are struggling too. If you're not struggling then you must have tips for the rest of us!
Don't let fear stop you. Fear can prevent us from building connections with other moms. "What if I invite lots of people and no one comes?" "What if I'm bothering her?" The list of doubts can go on and on. I know because these were the feelings I had when I started reaching out. "What if...?"
Conquer fear with kindness. Be kind and polite when you invite people. "I would love to (What you want to do), do you think you'd be available on (day and time)?" Most people will respond politely, but they may not accept the invitation for a variety of reasons. Some moms keep busy schedules between work and kids programs and they resist making more obligations. Most reasons will have to do with the mom and not with you. So don't take it personally. Offering a specific day and time allows moms to suggest another day and time that works for them.
If you make your first invitations and no one comes you can cast a bigger net. Start thinking about other people you can invite. My son kept asking to have a play-date with a specific kid in his class and I told him, well I don't have his parents number so I can't do that. So what was my solution? With his birthday coming up we invited his whole class to a birthday in the park and I got the contact information for about 20 parents. Now I've got lots of people that I can try to schedule a play-date with. Look for opportunity when you can find it.
One mom decided to host a monthly brunch for ladies. She invited as many people as she could fit in her house. If she invited someone 6 times (that's one invitation a month for 6 months) and they didn't come then she took her off the invitation list and added someone new. Over the course of 3 years she grew her group to 20 people and chose to move to a larger venue to accommodate the growing group. Keep inviting and you will find the moms who are interested in coming.
When moms do show up you can help them feel welcome by thanking them for coming and using the phrase, "My pleasure." I wasn't raised to say my pleasure, but the first time someone said it was their pleasure to have me it made me feel welcomed, so I'm learning to use it.
If you've got tips on reaching out or keeping on top of your schedule contact us or post in the comments.
You can also get more tips by going to our page on building community.