Play Dates: Expanding Your Circle of Support as a Single Parent
It’s hard meeting people as a single parent. Sure, there are times when you can go out with the guys or have a girls’ night out to blow off some steam, but you’re not trying to make new friends—you have precious little time with the people you do know! And, the friends you already have may not fit into the lifestyle you lead as a single parent. It’s easy to feel isolated when it comes to other people.
Harness the power of play dates
I’ve taken to using play dates as a chance to reach out to other people. It makes a lot of sense, and I’ve had really great results connecting with other parents. When you think about it, you’re all on the same page, living the life of a parent without a lot of time to reach out to the people around you. Play dates are a natural opportunity to shoot the breeze, have meaningful conversation and interact with another adult!
A circle of support
Play dates have given me a chance to not only expand my social circle, but also my circle of support. As a single parent I encounter plenty of new learning experiences. Having other parents I can lean on for advice, support and information has been a godsend! It’s amazing the amount of information you can crowdsource from a group of parents, many of which have gone through exactly what you’re up against.
Forming the circle
I’ve become pretty good at connecting with the other parents in my kids’ circle of friends. In many ways, it’s all about developing your routine so you can develop rapport. For instance, I always introduce myself and start friendly conversation with a few can’t-miss topics. That usually snowballs into chatting about work and life as a parent, which is a great foundation for any conversation. From there, the relationship naturally develops—especially if our kids get a long really well.
Foster the relationship
Every relationship is a give and take. I’m a big proponent of the give—people like you a lot more if you’re a giver! Whether it’s offering to host or passing along a small favor, little things go a long way and they’ll be remembered the next time you’re in a jam. Parents are inclined to help each other out, not least of all for the sake of the kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to ask for help, only to have it answered by another parent without hesitation. You better believe I find a way to pay them back! The cycle of giving continues and the circle of support grows stronger.
Find friends in people who understand you
It’s sometimes hard for people without kids to understand exactly what a parent goes through—especially a single parent. Having a network of empathetic people or a circle of support filled with other parents is an important part of not feeling so alone. Play dates are a perfect opportunity to form these relationships. Just make sure you’re playing the same support role for someone as they’re playing for you!