Having a network of “mom friends” has it’s benefits. You have others in your life that understand the difficulty of never being able to wear the color white, having an audience when all you want to do is pee alone, the constant struggle of not locking yourself out of the room with the baby gate, and trying to solve the mystery of how babies get poop up their backs.

While you want someone to be able to connect with, there are four simple guidelines that you and your mom friends should follow in order to create a great network.

untitledFirst of all, create a NO FLEX ZONE! For many mom’s, we like to show off our latest budget-friendly purchase, splurge or even brag about what our child just learned… As if we don’t do enough of that on Instagram, but there is a difference between sharing a triumph and bragging. Remember, if you start getting side-eyed every time you mention your child’s name, then you may be guilty of flexing. You don’t have to showoff to impress folks or to portray yourself as a good mother. If your child is happy and thriving (regardless if she/he throws a tantrum everytime you refuse to go into The Disney Store), you are doing a great job at mothering and be proud of your accomplishments!

Secondly, please lawd, please DO NOT OTHERMOTHER another mom! Do not become that “know-it-all” mother that thinks that only her way of parenting is the right way. While your advice may be spot-on, some of the time, it is not warranted. The expectations that you have for yourself as a mother should not be transferred onto your mom friend(s). This should be in the No Flex Zone, but there needs to be some emphasis on this guideline. Not everyone is going to parent their child the way you parent yours and that’s okay! Other moms have different views and are going to put in place what’s good for them and their child. When it comes to discipline, behavioral habits, sleep routines and eating habits, don’t include yourself if it’s not to an extreme where someone needs to step in.

Thirdly, keep in mind that OPPOSITES ATTRACT! You may wpid-img_20150117_122400.jpgbe looking to find mom friends with children that have a personality like yours, however two very different people can get alone. The children don’t have to have the same personality, be the same sex, or have the same gender identification/expression. Sometimes children that have different characteristics or personalities can bring out the best in each other. An outgoing child may be able to help bring an introvert child out of her/his shell. Making the child more outgoing and open to trying new things. When children grow up and mingle in diverse environments, they can develop to become increasing culturally competent and open-minded.

wpid-img_20150110_162611-1.jpgLastly, you have to realize that not everyone is in the same financial lane as you, so PLAN OUTINGS YOU BOTH CAN AFFORD! You don’t have to disclose your monthly wage or budget plan, but be financially mindful about the outings you plan. Don’t spend beyone your means just to try to keep up with someone else. Be honest with yourself about what you can afford. If the suggestive outings are too expensive, then research outings that you both can afford. Plan a day at the park and maybe return to one of your homes for lunch. If it’s a rainy day, then do movie and a pizza at home. You bring a movie and the other mom brings one, and then both of you go half on the pizza. Make it a fun day in.

My mom friend works in the same field as me and has three children to care for. While I only have one child, I recently graduated (and school loan repayment is coming up soon!) and I have business expenses. I don’t know her income or budget and she doesn’t know mine, but we’re mindful of what we do. We both have a love of finding fun and inexpesive places to have playdates. Our daughters are signed up for a cheerleading squad together. We were both honest about how expensive it was to join, but we weren’t afraid to admit that, and we teamed up to figure out how we could afford to get out daughter’s on this squad. Usually are outings consist of simply getting together at a free location and letting our kids play.

If you are having difficulties with searching for fun and/or free activities, check out ParentMap or Red Tricycle for a list of activites and events. Red Tricylce’s lists are categorized by city and national.

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