How to Build a Long-lasting Working Mom/SAHM Blended Mom Tribe: Guidelines found through new and decade-old mom tribe interviews
In the mama world, there’s a debate going on. I’m here to squash it. It’s about mom tribes. The most essential component of mothering success and sanity. Many moms theorize that it’s impossible to have a blended working/SAHM mom tribe. Nope, not true. Here are 6 guidelines to build your tribe and sustain it for decades, yep-decades, I interviewed mom tribes that have been together for a WHILE.
The more you surround yourself with the same people, the more likely you are to become friends. I interviewed a friend group and the sociologist in the tribe let us ramble on for nearly 30 minutes about this theory to then mutter “oh yea, that’s propinquity.” Propinquity is critical in building your mom tribe. Whether your working or staying at home, you can still find consistency in activities with your child. Some of the top locations which fostered mom friends that have worked for me, and the women I’ve interviewed, are: parks, toddler or kid classes, YMCA, swimming pools, preschools/schools, and kid-friendly restaurants. You may read this list and think that you are literally living in these places, but the key is to find consistency in the days and times you frequent a location and connect with other people there. Let’s focus on that last piece, connecting with other moms may sound incredible intimidating especially if you are a new mom or have just moved to an area or have social anxiety. Connecting doesn’t have to be a huge display of communication, you can just say hi and see where it goes.
Mom Tribe Motives
One topic which threads through my conversations with mom tribes was “we all like to do the same thing.” When this was said, I immediately envisioned the various types of moms and what they might do together, the athletic mom, Pinterest mom, career mom, etc. there is probably some meme out there with a better visual but you get the point. After some investigation, I found that mom group activities are not category contingent; rather, they were all content bringing their kids together and hanging at a park or back yard. With working and SAHMs there is an invisible barrier regarding activities and times which precludes blended mom tribes from happening, but in reality, we are all doing the same activity. If you are working 40 hours a week in a fancy office or wearing sweatpants and cleaning up homemade baby food messes all day, you both want to sit down and watch your children play together while you have a relaxing conversation about mom stuff. Weekends are a good time for mom tribe hangs regardless of working or SAHM, we all want a connection with other moms.
Share the Social Chair
So mom tribe hangs don’t have to be fancy; just the babies, the mamas, toys, nature, snacks- easy. One guideline to sustain a long-lasting mom tribe is alternating social initiations. If one mom is the social chair holding the responsibility of hosting and organizing playdates it may become overwhelming and disenchanting for said mom and those in the group. When each mom is a social stakeholder then everyone is engaged and feels valued, and these qualities are vital for any long-lasting relationship. This topic bubbled up in my interviews and I found in some cases, a mom would show insecurities about their house or work hours or the long list of insecurities we all embody, and when these insecurities debilitated her from initiating a gathering it caused friction. In your mom tribe, you must supportively encourage every mom to be involved because playdates are the lifeline of a long-lasting mom tribe.
“People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.” Brene Brown, 2016. I’ll be the first to admit that I try really hard to seem put-together but those actions haven't opened me up to new, meaningful connections. I think this is the start of the complexities when blending working and SAHM mom tribes, we don’t think we share the same hardships and mom stories-but we really do. Opening up and telling a vulnerable story turns an acquaintance into a friend and a casual group into a mom tribe. A couple of quick ideas-birth stories and mother-in-law rants, but keep it condensed and always ask for others to share their stories too.
When your child(ren) is young you are the most vulnerable and in need of a community. It’s not just you. All moms are seeking out a tribe to cling to for healthcare advice or parenting tips or restaurants that serve free kid food on Tuesdays. There are so many questions in the first few years which makes it a perfect time to spawn friendships with other moms. Don’t wait until your child is in elementary school or is able to conduct their own conversations. Whether you’re working or not, take the initiative to start conversations with other parents, these will form long-lasting friendships for you and your children.
Smaller is Better
No mom wants an actual village of friends. Too many group texts. Too many names and allergies to remember, and there’s difficulty in making true connections when there are so many stories and voices. In my opinion, keeping your mom tribe to 2-4 is best. It usually works best when you have a close connection with a friend then you can add another as the situation presents itself.
All moms need someone to call during potty training immersion and preschool search support. We are all looking for connection, your next friend may be reading this at the YMCA snack bar two tables from you. Look around and say hi, mama.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash