The amount of time a woman spends with friends drops significantly after she has children. Before kids, most of us worked, exercised, slept regularly, spent quality time with our mates and hung out with our friends whenever we felt like it. It was easy. It just happened.

Many people I know compare finding mom friends to the dating game. Moms are looking for company, but they are also yearning to meet a like-minded person who is experiencing the same things.

Why is it that this search sometimes feels more like a quest, and what can we do about it?

Some of your friends might not have kids, or have older children, so you feel out of step with them. It’s a lot to take in, and making new friends may feel a bit daunting. Signing up for a new moms group, a class or checking out your local park are good ways to start looking for friends at this stage.

As your kids grow, there are more built-in opportunities to meet other moms at school, on play dates or at extracurricular activities. But sometimes these experiences can feel empty or flat. It could be that you don’t have anything in common with the women you meet. It can also feel superficial or play like a flashback to high school where the popular girls reigned and you felt left out of the “in-crowd.”

To combat this situation, consider your own temperament and match your expectations with what is right for you. Maybe co-chairing the annual school auction isn’t for you. Instead, try smaller activities that speak to your strengths and interests. You are more likely to meet someone there who clicks with you.

Contrary to what most of us expect, sometimes things get even more hectic when children are in middle and high school. Finding and making time for friendships to develop involves synchronizing your busy schedule with someone else’s.

Luckily, you can get out of the house alone when the kids are older, and make plans for a walk, coffee or movie date. The key is remembering to build this important time into your schedule as a recurring event and not just as a one-time happening.

The encouraging news about searching for mom friends is that it is a universal problem. The key is staying true to yourself and practicing patience and persistence.

Below are some tips on how and where to meet mom friends in our area:

— Sign up for Stroller Strides fitness classes for moms with babies.

— Check out what is happening locally and attend events or classes with your child.

— Join a local moms’ club.

— Get to know your neighbors.

— Hang out at a local independent bookstore.

— Start a parent-child book club.

— Put up a sign at your park or neighborhood coffee joint or post online on a community e-mail list that you want to start a play group.

— Volunteer with your child.

— Join a community/family yoga center.

— Walk regularly with a friend at a time when you are both free (even if that is at 6:30 a.m.).

— Join or start a Mother’s Self-Renewal Group for mothers with children of all ages.

 Do you have other ideas or know of any additional local resources? Let us know in the comments.

Jennifer Kogan is a clinical social worker in Northwest Washington who works with parents.

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