One is Silver and the Other Gold

"Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold."
--Girl Scout song

We Girl Scout veterans still find ourselves humming that classic song, but as we get older--and busier--it seems increasingly difficult to "make new friends but keep the old." 

That doesn't mean it's not important. Sharon Scott, licensed professional counselor and author of eight books, tells it like it is. A solid support base of friends and family is essential for everyone, Scott says, "but especially important to a home-based mother, if she wants to maintain her sanity (as well as her language skills!)"

She's right. Friends are indispensable. They provide support, a safe haven where we can vent ideas (and complaints), as well as a connection to the outside world and to the intricacies of another woman's life. 

In fact, studies show that friends are actually good for your health. They diminish sickness and depression because they help ease the stress in our lives. 
When we were kids, making friends seemed so much easier. There were classes and swimming pools teeming with other kids of similar ages and interests. Even in college, we were set up with a dormitory or sorority full of instant pals, and our roommate often became our confidante.

Then we get married and have kids. Suddenly, making friends seems more difficult. Here are some tips to finding-and keeping-a solid support network.  

Make new friends
While it may seem as though your little ones prevent you from meeting friends, they just may be your ticket to the outside world. Sharon Scott recommends finding playgroups through religious organizations or Mom's Day Out, as well as frequenting areas for your kids to play, such as parks and fast food restaurants.

"It's important to get over shyness," Scott says. If you hit it off with another mom, don't leave without her name and phone number. "Then follow-up within the week with a call to say hi and perhaps set another time to get together." 

Find a playgroup with regular meetings so you can see these same women again and again. Also consider joining an organization that interests you. Or take a class--online or in a traditional setting. You'll meet likeminded people, and you'll have a chance to get to know them because you'll see them at regular intervals. If the conversation with these new friends starts to wane, you'll always have a backup topic. 

Online support communities are wonderful, too, particularly for those of us who live in remote areas.

The moms in my email discussion groups are wonderfully supportive and have helped prevent more than one crisis in my life. The best thing about online communities is that they are always there, and you can participate when you have the time and energy. Even if it's at 2 a.m. 

But Keep the Old
"True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost." 
--Charles Caleb Colton

When you think about all the work it takes to make new friends, it's easy to understand the importance of keeping the old ones close...even if your lives have taken different paths.  

"If the person from your past was a close friend," Scott says, "it is very important to try to maintain the relationship even if it's with twice yearly lunches, calls, emails, or lengthy letters." By maintaining the relationship, you are preserving it for a time when you may have more in common. 

If you're a regular visitor to Momscape, you know how we feel about the importance of taking time out for yourself.  Next time, take a friend. You'll make her day...and your own.  

One group of friends I know has a wonderful tradition. Each Sunday afternoon, the men and the kids watch football while the moms go to a movie.