10 Easy Ways to Expand Your Social Circle As A Single Parent
From creating meal plans for your child to planning hobby classes, life as a single parent is demanding and isolating. In absence of quality companionship and social support, loneliness can creep in, making the journey of single-parenthood harder. Here are 10 easy ways to expand your social circle to build friendships as a single parent.
Have you been binge-watching the latest season of Four More Shots Please!, where Anjana and her girl gang seem to conquer it all? Whether it’s her ambition, romance, or her friendships, being a single parent doesn’t stop her from living her life to the fullest. Yes, single parenthood off-screen is way more demanding, but you know what can help make it easier? Friends who understand your challenges.
Making friends is an exercise in itself, and you need your tribe especially if you are a single parent. The reciprocity (give and take) in friendship brings the magic of belongingness and purpose. Your self-confidence and self-worth are nurtured and you have someone during the good and bad in your life.
A 2018 study titled, ‘Social relations and life satisfaction: the role of friends’ finds that friendship protects you against stress and raises your spirits to face the more serious side of life. Before you think it is impossible to find time to nurture friendships, remember that taking time for yourself and prioritising your happiness is not selfish. In fact, your child will benefit from a happier parent who has healthy relationships in their life.
Related Story: How to Revive Your Friendships
How To Cultivate Friendships As A Single Parent
Step outside your comfort zone
When it comes to meeting new friends, it is important to take risks and reach out. You might feel like you’re the only one looking for friends, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that you are not alone in your isolation. Loneliness is a common experience, and people in their 40s and mid-40s go through a peak in their loneliness often associated with not having a spouse or partner, finds Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2021.
While it might take you some time to move out of your comfort zone, but, with a little effort, you can often find someone with the same interests as you. It might feel a little awkward at first, but once you’re over the bump, it can be a rewarding experience. Use technology to reach like-minded individuals. Use apps like Yubo, Bumble BFF, Meetup and Nextdoor to meet new people.
Catch up with your old buddies
Take the first step and reconnect. It’s natural to lose touch with friends over the years, but there’s no rule against reconnecting when you have time. You may find out that they’re going through the same phase as you and could use some companionship. Invite them over for a meal, potluck dinner, or just for coffee. If your children are around the same age groups, you can plan activities such as cooking, playing board games, and going to the park.
Get involved and be present
To meet other people it is important to get involved, attend events, and be present. This can be challenging when you’re busy juggling the demands of a career, home, and a child.
But, if you want to make connections, it is important to be approachable and present when there are opportunities to connect. Think of school pickups, school plays, sports events, or PTA meetings as opportunities to meet new people.
Related Story: How to Co-Parent When You’re No Longer a Couple
Use technology to create shared experiences with your friends
You may sometimes feel it’s impossible to find extra time and authentically spend time with your friends while you are single-handedly managing your kid, but technology always comes in handy for situations like this. Apps like Slack, Facetime, and Google Duo, can help combine your mundane life tasks such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning with chatting with your friends.
For instance, if you and a friend go grocery shopping at the same time, you can talk to them on your earphones while you shop. When it's time to prepare dinner, you could use FaceTime or Duo to interact while you cook. When it's time to play with your kids, you can use Marco Polo to create brief video messages to share with your friends. This kind of integration allows you to virtually invite your friends into the necessary parts of your life, helping you maintain close relationships.
Say yes more often than no
While you aren't required to accept every invitation, try saying yes to as many plans as you can. You never know when a second opportunity will strike, so take advantage where you can. While you may also secretly wish you could just stay in and unwind instead, if you put in the effort, it's generally well worth it.
Be a joiner
Volunteer your time; there are a lot of organisations that need it. You can volunteer at community yoga classes, running groups, animal shelters, old-age homes, a book club or a knitting circle.
You can also take a lead and form groups that people like you would love to join. Once you have enough participants in the group, you can find some folks who are also having a hard time adjusting to their new situation. You can start by getting together with them once a month just to chat. Your aim should be to improve your footprint and connections so that out of the many you meet, you find some valuable friendships that last long.
Find new friends online
Connect on social media but avoid being everywhere. Join a group online based on your likes. Once you begin to like, comment, and share the stuff you love, any of these platforms' algorithms will automatically place you in the communities you care about.
Don’t make it all about yourself
It is important to consciously avoid talking solely about yourself or being pessimistic when building a new friendship. Life can be difficult, but you need to find a balance when you talk about yourself. Ask questions, and offer opportunities for others to talk about themselves.
Do not suppress your wit
Be authentic, do not force it. Humour benefits you more than in one way. Besides providing relief from stress, it helps you connect with people. Studies find that when you connect with people through humour, they desire to spend more meaningful, qualitative, and fun time with you in the future.
Related Story: Unlock Happiness From Within With These Tips
Lastly, be open to rejections
When you’re putting yourself out there, there’s a risk that things may not pan out as planned. Don't get disheartened. Keep in mind that there are many reasons why people cannot respond the way you expect, the majority of which are beyond your control and unrelated to you. Other opportunities to connect with people will present themselves, so be kind to yourself as you go through this process.
Related Story: How Female Friendships Fulfil Lives