As life happens, your relationships with others naturally evolve. When you become a parent, your life undergoes a transformation that suddenly leaves you with a lot less free time. When you do have time, you have to be selective about how you spend it, and this includes the time you devote to others. You may not have pondered how this change in your life affects your relationships with friends, family members, and co-workers. Here are seven types of people in your life and how your relationships can be affected by parenthood:
1. An Old Friend Who Is Not Yet a Parent
You and your friend go way back—maybe to elementary school or high school. Before you became a parent, you used to bond over post-work drinks every few weeks, confiding in each other and discussing your latest adventures. Now you have to pick your children up from school or day care, feed them dinner, and put them to bed, and after that do dishes and laundry. You may still meet up with your friend once in a blue moon for an adult playdate, but the amount of time you can devote to maintaining the relationship has changed. Should your friend always have to adhere to your schedule and visit you at your house and watch your children play? Until this friend has children herself, this relationship may fizzle out a bit.
2. Your Parents
When you were a teenager, you probably wanted nothing to do with your parents. Now you need them more than ever—for babysitting and beyond. You are ever so grateful to have them in your life after all these years of trying to earn your independence from them.
3. Your Friends Who Had Children Before You Did
After you had a child, you may have suddenly found yourself closer with your friends who had children before you did. They are the ones you call when you want to know how to remove oily diaper cream from your new jeans (bring them to the dry cleaner!), the ones you text when you need to vent about being woken up at 4:45 a.m., and the ones you can hang out with at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning—at someone’s house, not a restaurant, because going out for a meal with a child who tries to climb out of the highchair and bangs on the table is just not relaxing.
4. The Friend Who Lives a Distance Away
The thought of getting in your car and driving over an hour in traffic to visit your friend puts you in a tizzy. You would love to visit your friend and have a leisurely afternoon but it may be that your offspring will have a meltdown if placed in a car seat for such an unreasonable amount of time. Not only that, but you will be chasing him or her around your friend’s un-childproofed home trying to avoid one potential disaster after another.
5. A Relative
You would love to call your great aunt Marjorie, but calling her is one of 57 items on your to-do list that you would like to get to in your spare time. You feel guilty for not calling and wonder if she is going to cut you out of her will.
6. Your Friend Who Likes to Chat on the Phone
It’s a weekend afternoon and your child is finally taking his or her nap. All week long as you rushed to and from work and took care of your family, you looked forward to this short window of time to yourself. Then your phone rings and it’s your friend. You wonder if you should pick up but know that this will be an hour-long conversation and your alone time will suddenly disappear, so you don’t pick up. But then you wonder when you will find the time to call this friend back and spend time catching up. You call her back three weeks later because you can’t find the time to devote to a long conversation before then.
7. A Co-Worker
Before you had children, you may have gone over to your co-worker’s desk to shoot the breeze for a little while or taken a midday coffee break together for a round of office gossip. Now you stare at the computer trying to tackle task after task in an effort to race out that door when the clock strikes 5 p.m. This means little or no time for chitchat or interruptions, unfortunately, and less bonding with your co-worker.
It is inevitable. Your relationships with others in your life change when you become a parent. You may not be able to maintain some relationships in the way that you used to, but relationships are adaptable and fluid. The strongest ones will stand the test of time and life’s happenings. Your true friends and loved ones will understand how your life has changed, and you will find new ways to spend time with and support each other.