parent opinion

'As a new mum, I told my friend I was too busy to catch up. Her reaction shocked me.'

Before I had a baby, I thought I was busy. Now that I’ve had a baby I realise I actually had so much free time and I truly did not take advantage of all the flitting about I could have been doing.

Becoming a parent sends your life into a hectic tailspin full of late nights, early mornings and everything in between. 

It’s safe to say that your social calendar takes a bit of a knock and catching up with friends or family slides down the totem pole of priorities. It’s a hard truth and it really sucks not having the autonomy to socialise like you used to but ultimately it’s all part of this wild journey through parenthood. I feel like this is a widely accepted fact - or so I thought.

Watch: Parenting 101. Story continues after video.

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Over the past couple of months I’ve been hit with a few interactions that suggests otherwise and I’m here with a casual reminder: please don’t make parents feel sh*t for not catching up with you. There’s no overarching handbook on how to treat parents but I always thought it was common decency to cut them slack, especially when it comes to their time. But I guess, it bears repeating.

Recently an old friend has been reaching out consistently to arrange a time to meet up. Each time she messaged I would have to politely let her know that I didn’t have the capacity to hang out. 


You see, I’m currently in the trenches trying to navigate going back to work after having a baby, adjusting to a daycare schedule, figuring out how to survive flu season with a toddler and googling ‘why do erupting molars turn my child into the devil?’ 

Amongst all of that my partner and I need to make sure we don’t drown in dirty laundry and the house is kept somewhat clean. So no, it’s nothing personal, I just don’t have time to brush my teeth at the moment let alone meet you for coffee mid-week.

I’m not trying to be purposefully elusive. I just quite simply do not have time.

But her response shocked me. It sent me into a place of guilt and I wasn’t prepared for it.

She launched into a text tirade about how unhappy she is, always being the one reaching out with no effort on my end to arrange a catch up. The messages went on and on and I started to feel anger, guilt and resentment. 

Why is she making me feel so bad for something I already feel bad about? Sh*t-piling on me for not being proactive in organising hanging out felt cold and insensitive. 

So, here’s a message to anyone who is feeling a little miffed that your parent friends aren’t pulling their weight when it comes to socialising: please, please, please give them a break. What you see is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Underneath the surface they’re most likely dealing with at least three of these things: cracked nipples, body issues, packed lunches, daycare illnesses, a real lack of sex, money stress, work commitments, family tension or god forbid taking a shower.


Listen to No Filter, On this episode, Rebecca Sparrow, Lise Carlaw and Sarah Wills created The Friendship Project; a six-part audio series that dives deep into what makes adult friendships work and the factors which make them unravel. And that’s what they sit down and unpack with Mia Freedman on this episode of No Filter. Post continues below.

Instead of making them feel guilty, why not offer to help them out. If you’re in a position to do so, offer to make a meal, pick up something from the post office or ask if you can take something off their plate. Or maybe it’s as simple as messaging and asking how they’re going. 

A physical social catch up might not be on the cards right now but a kind message is always welcome and a pretty good way to keep the friendship trucking along. Your good deed or nice gesture won’t go unnoticed and when your friend has the capacity to socialise you’ll be top of their list.

The reality is, if you berate them for not being able to hang out, you’re going to push them further away. Right now my focus is my family. When I can find time to hang out with my friends again I know I’ll always gravitate towards the people who were kind and understanding when I couldn’t keep my head above water. At the end of the day that’s what real friendship is all about.

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