Why It’s Tough for WAHMs to Make New Friends

Work at Home Mom (WAHM)A few weeks ago I wrote 5 Things That Suck About Working at Home. Without a doubt, feeling isolated/lonely is one of the biggest challenges of working from a remote office.

Even if I spend the entire day in meetings, talking on the phone just isn’t the same as interacting with real, live people.

That’s why it’s important for me to have a handful of close friends to keep me anchored in the world of the living.

World’s Best Colleagues

My colleagues are amazing, and I wish I saw them more often. I’ve worked with two incredibly talented women my entire career. I affectionately refer to them as my work big sister and work mom. They’ve been the best role models & mentors, but, more importantly, they’re great friends.

Even when we aren’t working on the same projects, we check in regularly. Every time I travel to the office, we go out to dinner and spend hours laughing and catching up.

someecards.com - Nothing is better than having a great friend like you at work to vent and bitch with, to make our day go by a little faster.

I’m also incredibly lucky to have a great relationship with my boss. We’ve worked together for almost nine years, and even when she became my manager, it didn’t cause so much as a hiccup in our friendship.

We always plan dinner when I’m in town, and the conversation quickly turns from career to life. She introduced me to sushi rolls, so it’s our tradition to try the craziest combinations. She also introduced me to Malibu Bay Breezes. Awesome boss, amirite or what?!

I stay in touch with other colleagues too. We email photos of our children, swap race stories, and drool over each other’s vacation pics. When I have a chance to see them on business trips, we enjoy catching up in person over dinner & drinks (or more often for me, dessert!).

If I lived closer to these colleagues, I’d definitely hang out with them outside of work, and my dance card would be full!

But, alas, I don’t live close to ANY of them. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Working at Home is Not Conducive to Making New Friends

When two of my closest friends moved away earlier this year, I immediately noticed the void, and it became glaringly obvious how challenging it is to make new friends.

Even though I’m a naturally extroverted person, I’ve got a few things working against me:

1. No Built-in Pool of Potential Friends

When you’re not in an office, you can’t strike up a conversation around the water cooler and discover your new bestie sits three cubicles away. Nor can you grab a few colleagues for a coffee break between meetings. Sometimes MacAfee (my beloved dog) will join me for a snack break, especially if there’s popcorn involved, but I find the conversation lacking.

2. Limited Time

As most salaried employees know, the 40-hour work week is an urban legend. When I have big projects on my plate, my business hours often spill into the evenings and weekends. Add in marriage & motherhood responsibilities, exercise to preserve my mental health, and enough sleep to get up & repeat each day, and you’ve pretty much wiped out any free time to go out and meet new people.

3. Limited Opportunities

Because I need to be extremely efficient with my precious free time, I do most of my runs & workouts solo. Before we had the girls, my husband and I belonged to a gym. We’d go almost every evening after work, and we met some great friends in classes or by striking up a conversation.

Nowadays, I can’t imagine going to the gym in the evening. If I don’t work out early in the morning or during lunch, it’s not going to happen.

Because my husband and I both work, our evenings are reserved for family time. We only have a few precious hours with our girls before bedtime, and I really don’t want to be anywhere else.

The same is true for the weekends. I have very little guilt about working, but I would feel guilty about dropping my kids off at gym daycare on the weekends.

4. Scheduling Conflicts

Even though working from home allows me some flexibility, I’ve still got to put in a full day’s work and make progress on my never-ending to-do list. It can be downright impossible to coordinate schedules with friends. Whether they work full-time, part-time, or kid-time, finding the common sweet spot in our schedules is nothing short of a miracle.

It’s become increasingly difficult to get together regularly with some of my closest friends, especially since we’re at different points in our lives and careers. I suppose that’s just part of growing up, but it makes me sad nonetheless.

someecards.com - I'd appreciate it if once in a while you took time from your busy schedule to call and find out that I am too busy to talk.

Despite the challenges, I still believe it’s important to make new friends and meaningful connections, no matter what stage of life we’re in.

Sometimes we just need a friend to listen to us moan & groan about work, kids, and the gray hair/wrinkles/cellulite that is popping up at an alarming rate.

That’s one of the reasons I love blogging. I value the incredible connections and friendships I’ve made over the last four months. Even though we may never meet in person, it’s nice to know I have so many new friends to support & encourage me.

How do you make new friends? Do you have any tips for balancing work, family, and friends?

Be sure to check out One Trailing Spouse’s great tips on How to Make Friends as an Adult

53 thoughts on “Why It’s Tough for WAHMs to Make New Friends

  1. I’d have to say even staying home with G and not working is hard to make new friends. I do have a good core group of mommies with babes all around the same age so we are able to meet up when they aren’t napping. This is why you have online friends like me :)
    Emma @ a mom runs this town recently posted…Sneaky Baby and WHY?My Profile

    • So glad to have you as a friend and can’t wait to meet up in November! Whether you’re a working mom, SAHM, or any other combination, I think it’s hard to make new friends as a parent. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, although it might get easier when our girls are older and involved in extracurricular activities!

  2. I have to say, even with going to an office everyday, it’s not nearly as easy to make new friends as it was in my early 20s. this came as a jolting shock when I moved to a new city, knew nobody and realized it wasnt going to be as easy as it was in college. however, what it has taught is to value the friendships I have- the girls i consider my “besties” if you will, i have known since hs, college, and a 2 girls I met in my twenties. its about quality over quantity at this age, and its SO great you have those relationships with some of the people you work with, even though its long distance. most of my friendships are kept alive by phone, email and especially GCHAT. i do not know what i’d do without gchat. i think thats why the blog world is so amazing in that its so inclusive and people are so nice and you’re able to instantly connect with other women that you automatically have a lot in common with. I’m so glad we “met” !!
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Hard Mathematics is HardMy Profile

    • Totally agree on importance of valuing besties from all stages of life! I have a wonderful friend from high school, and even though we only see each other a few times a year, we can pick up right where we left off. Reading through all of the comments, it’s good to know that other people struggle with making new friends. Not good that they struggle, but good to know we’re all in the same boat. And I’m right with ya on the inclusive nature of the blogosphere! I’ve been overwhelmed by the amazing support and encouragement. And, YES, so glad we ‘met!’ You can bet we’ll have a blogger meet-up when I finally make it to Boston!

  3. Remember, when you make new friends keep “ye olde”, for one is silver the other gold. it is essential in this day and time that you maintain old friendships because it is hard to make new friends. Great blog!

  4. Thanks for linking to me! It is hard to make good friends when you work at home and you are as busy as you are. I’ve found that my favorite friends tend to be the people I’ve met through other friends. We usually have a lot in common, but because we don’t work together, we don’t get stuck in a rut of talking about work. What about making friends through your kids? I’ve heard that can work really well.
    Emily McGee recently posted…The Atlanta Food Truck Park FailMy Profile

    • I think it will get easier to meet new people when the girls are older and doing more activities. Right now it’s even tough to get to know the parents at daycare because it’s always a rush to drop-off/pick-up every day.

  5. A boss who introduces you to Malibu Bay Breezes is the best boss! One of my favorite drinks for sure. It’s also equally awesome that you have such close friends who have been amazing mentors. I’m learning good mentors is key! I, like Charlotte’s comment above, moved to a new city and just assumed if I moved to a city with loads of people my age, I’d automatically make friends. Not so. I’ve been here a year and it is such a struggle. I’m an introvert for sure and everyone here seems to just hang out with college friends and I don’t know how to “break in” to their circles, without being awkward (my default setting) or too pushy. I really struggled with fitting in at an office, too. My department is 12 women and they hadn’t had a new person join in 2 years, so they were all so comfortable and familiar with each other, I wasn’t sure how the heck to fit in and I don’t think they knew what exactly do with me either. I realized I should stop trying to fit myself somewhere and just be myself and open up more. It’s paid off loads! Now if only I could find out how to make friends outside of work. Longest comment ever, haha.
    Caitlyn @ City and the Cubicle recently posted…Back At It With Big Ideas, a Vengeance and a Partial FailMy Profile

    • It is hard to be the new girl in the office! When I started my job nine years ago, I was by far the youngest person in my team. I was incredibly lucky to immediately connect with a few awesome women, but it took a while to gain the respect of some of my other colleagues. Once I proved that I wasn’t just a wet-behind-the-ears 20-something and could ROCK my job, things got easier. I’m glad that you stopped trying to fit in and decided to just be yourself!

    • The blogging community is so awesome. We just need to plan a conference in some amazing location and find sponsors to send us all there! And pay for our families to come and chill out too!

  6. I, too, work from home, but I have a built in perk… my best bud works from home with me (aka my hub). Well, we work different jobs, but at least I have another adult whom I adore along side of me.

    I suppose I could expand my friend circle if I chose to do so, but for now, I’ve accepted that it is what it is. I have a sneaking mom-tuition that it will actually grow when we move very soon, and that’s something I’m eager about.
    Wendy @ New Moms Talk recently posted…Work-at-Home Parents: How to Work with a Cute Baby at HomeMy Profile

    • It’s so cool that you and your husband have found a way to both work at home, although I think it would be distracting if my husband and I both worked from home. My hubby is my best bud too, and I’d much rather hang out with him than concentrate on work. Plus, he’s so darn handsome! Very distracting! ; )

  7. You are so right. I am in an even more isolated field, in that I am a freelance writer. I pretty much never meet my work connections face-to-face. But I have a great network of friends via my neighborhood and running, so I think it’s ok for me. I also am discovering that I am an introvert, so I think that makes my work choice even a better choice!
    misszippy recently posted…Vacation training truthsMy Profile

    • I’m very lucky that I have met many of my colleagues over the years and get to travel to some great places for work. While I hate to be away from my family, I do enjoy business travel because I get to reconnect with my colleagues. I’m always amazed at how productive a week’s worth of F2F meetings can be!

  8. I admire the fact that you can work from home every day! I can only do it once a day. We are alike in that we need interaction with people. Even when you are at a workplace, sometimes it is hard to find the right friend and then when you do, they end up moving away. I always thought that once we were empty nesters we would have more time to spend with our friends, but it seems to be even harder because now there are children and grandchildren to visit. (which we love) And then when we do have some free time, we are too tired and just want to be couch potatoes! Just get out as much as you can and get involved in some community activities, etc. because you never know when you are going to meet your next best friend!

    • I should have included ‘too tired’ as one of my reasons it’s hard to make new friends. Sometimes when the evening or weekend rolls around, we just want to chill out and be homebodies! Of course, we can’t really be couch potatoes right now! We’re more like breathing jungle gyms for the girls to climb all over!

  9. Nicole, I totally relate to everything you wrote here!!! I’m not really a WAHM (I don’t have a paid job!!) but since I quit my job a year ago I’ve felt the same way you described. I’ve always had lots of acquaintances and just a few really close friends but only one of my closest friends lives here now.
    The times that it bugs me the most are when my husband is gone for long periods of time – I sometimes feel like a hermit. Blogging has definitely helped!!
    Kim recently posted…Vein Stripping: A Final ReportMy Profile

    • I hear ya on the husband-gone-hermit problem! My husband is my best friend, so it’s really tough when he has to travel for work. I usually try to fill the void with non-stop activities with the girls. If my friends are available, I’ll try to meet them for dinner or a playdate.

    • YAY for blog buddies! My husband and I are still pretty active in our local track club, but it’s harder to join in the weekly runs because a lot of them are in the evenings and the timing just doesn’t work out with the girls’ dinner and bedtimes. But we love to connect with our running buddies at races & events.

  10. Great post, Nicole! I also feel the same way about making friends having just moved to a new town. It doesn’t help that I haven’t found a job and am 20 weeks pregnant. Many mom’s I’ve talked to want play dates for their kids, and the non-moms want to go out drinking! To meet new people I joined a facebook group for Fort Bragg Wives, and have made one “friend” through that, and also joined a gym to hopefully meet others and stay in shape through the rest of my pregnancy!

    • Good idea to forgo the drinking games while you’re pregnant! ; ) Hopefully you’ll meet some new friends at the gym. You’ll be surprised at how many people strike up a conversation because you’re still exercising during pregnancy. Just gotta hope it’s other hip moms and not the little old ladies who are concerned that you are bouncing your baby around too much!

  11. In recent years, I’ve made friends through my kids, school stuff, and in the summers at our town pool. But..I no longer work full time therefore I have the luxury of time to do these things. When I worked full time from home – like you – it was tougher for me. I didn’t share the same camaraderie as those who went to the office every day. I love online groups and blogging and I have made some IRL friends by being in the blogging world. Friends are so important but I am feeling you about having a hard time creating situations to make new ones.
    Ilene recently posted…The B SidesMy Profile

    • I think it will get easier to meet other parents when the girls are older and in school. I’m sure we’ll meet some new friends at soccer practice and PTA meetings!

  12. Love the honesty in this post. It sounds like you have a very supportive workplace even though you do most of it from home!
    I’ve often mentioned how I’d like to work from home and people at work are surprised since I’m chatty and like to talk and listen. I never thought of that side of it until they mentioned the lonliness.
    I think making friends is tough as adults to begin with, especially when you take away social settings like work and gyms.
    Abby @ change of pace recently posted…Spare timeMy Profile

    • Thanks Abby! I’m very lucky to work for such a supportive company with some amazing people. I’m pretty chatty & extroverted too, so working from home was a big adjustment for me in the beginning. I used to pounce on my hubby as soon as he walked in the door because I was dying for some human interaction! Thankfully I do have a core group of close friends I can depend on – if we could just find that sweet spot to get together more often!

  13. Loved this so much. My dream is to work from home so it was nice to read an HONEST point of view of what the negative side is like. I’ve even found that after getting married it’s sometimes hard to make friends! I just feel like life changes so much, and suddenly you’re swept into this world where almost all of your time goes to either being at home or working all day. We’ve really had to work hard at branching out to people our age at church. I’m the youngest person in my office too so during the day I feel like I’m surrounded by 40+ year olds and no one else really in their 20’s. Which isn’t a terrible thing, I feel like a “big girl” but it definitely gets old :) I also love blogging for why said..it’s amazing how encouraging the community is, as silly as that may sound!
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted…Just Call Me “Hippy”My Profile

    • Thanks Sarah! I’m in a very unique position in that I work a traditional corporate job from a remote office. It’s becoming more and more common, but it’s still pretty different from freelance-from-home jobs. One of the reasons I started blogging is because there aren’t that many full-time working mom blogs out there, so I always try to keep it real. Don’t get me wrong – I rant and rave about some of the disadvantages of working from home, but at the end of the day, I feel incredibly lucky that I can do this, especially now that I am a mom. If you want to read more of my WAHM rants, check out my Working from Home category.

      I hear ya on the difference between the single life and the married life. Just wait til you have kids. You’ll look back and think, OMG, I had so much free time back then!

  14. Even having a full time job I find it hard to make new friends in my late 20s- it’s just not like the college or high school environment that is conducive to meeting new people. As a teacher, we tend to stick to the people in our grade levels and don’t branch out much. I wish it were easier, but it definitely makes me appreciate the friends I do have. Plus, I’m super shy around people I don’t know, so that adds to the difficulty!
    Maria@The_Brooklyn_Fig recently posted…Niagara Falls Day 2: The Falls Up CloseMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting Maria! All of today’s comments have made me realize that making new friends is never easy, whether you’re in the office, classroom, or playroom! Love the takeaway about appreciating our friends. They sure aren’t easy to come by, so we gotta treat ‘em right!

  15. How helpful was this post for me? WOW! I found myself nodding along, sympathizing as a freelancer.

    I applaud you for realizing it’s not ideal but making it work! High five to AM workouts.

    • So glad this post spoke to you Nichole! Until I become independently wealthy, I’ll just keep chugging along and making it work! But when I become independently wealthy, I’ll spend my leisurely days training for endurance events in amazing locations. Then my husband and I will pack up the girls and travel the world together! We’ll meet amazing people and have friends in every corner of the world!

  16. I’m a WAHM and it is interesting. I have so many friends that I met through having babies and then having kids in school – so that’s really it. That’s how I meet friends these days – at school playgrounds and local parks and parents’ centers. However there are so many days (like today with a tornado warning!) when I don’t even see another human except for my kids. I did make great friends back at my office job. I miss that kind of fun, but I do think the quality of friendships forming right now are as beneficial to my life.
    Tamara recently posted…I Am Number Four.My Profile

    • I also have days when I kiss my husband goodbye, drop the girls off, and then don’t see another human all day. You’d think those would be super productive days, but I find I am actually more productive when I can get away from my desk for a while. If I have a lunch date to look forward to, I work like a mad woman before and after!

  17. I don’t work at home but I am very isolated at my job. I can go a whole day without saying more than two sentences outside of lunch. I am lucky with lunch though, I have two colleagues at work who are a hoot to chat with. I unfortunately don’t have any finding friends advice, if I start making some new friends I will definitely pass on the secret!

    I have to admit, working at home it my ultimate fantasy in terms of my career. Well that and becoming a world famous rock star!
    Angela Gilmore recently posted…Chocolate chip banana MuffinsMy Profile

    • If you’re going to dream, dream big, right?! While I try to shed light on some of the disadvantages of working from home – because it’s not all rainbows and unicorns – it is still pretty darn awesome, and I would have a HORRIBLE time going back into an office. I’m pretty spoiled and very grateful!

  18. As a working mom of a teen and a pre-teen, I can say that motherhood, work (in any form) does put a barrier in the way of making friends. Tonight I ran with a friend and I knew that in making that choice I was choosing not to spend time with my family that I hadn’t seen in 10 hours (this is more of a business work-week for me, timewise).
    That being said, since I teach at a university I know I have it good as far as scheduling is concerned and wouldn’t begin to complain.
    Adult close friendships are tough, need work, and can be worth the effort.
    Stephanie@nowirun.com recently posted…Chattin’ on the RunMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing another perspective Stephanie! I’ve heard that university jobs can be really flexible, which is awesome for family time. It seems like you do an AWESOME job making plenty of time for your boys (all three) while still maintaining your identity and doing the things you love!

  19. I am definitely not one to talk when it comes to balance! And I agree with all your points…it is hard when you work at home. Thank goodness for our blog friends! I am pretty lucky in that I have lived in the same place for 20+ years and so I have made many good friends thoughout that time!
    Michelle recently posted…Facebook Hashtags: 5 Reasons To Use Them!My Profile

    • Yes, YAY for blog buddies! And YAY for other women who struggle with balance. Not YAY that you struggle, but YAY that we can gripe about it together!

    • So important to be thankful for our tried & true friends, even if we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like! It’s funny because I’m more extroverted by nature than my husband, yet I’m the one working from home!

  20. I would absolutely love to make some new friends. It is really hard, I think even being out working it’s still tough. The older we get the more difficult it seems to become. I am looking forward to my little girl being old enough to take her to events where I can meet other moms. I feel like meeting some people who are in the same boat, so to speak, as me would make it potentially easier to make friends.
    Rosi recently posted…Feeling Peachy???My Profile

    • I recently met a wonderful new friend. I’d seen her at Wallabies, an indoor inflatables gym for kids, and then we ran into each other again a few weeks later at the Splash Pad. I took a chance and introduced myself, and I’m so glad I did. Her daughter is between my two girls, but they all get along great, and so do we!

    • Maybe you can find some mommy & me classes at the gym, and you’ll meet some other fit mamas that way! Love that you’ll be able to plan your work schedule around your beautiful little girl!

  21. My husband works from home, and he felt pretty isolated when we first moved here. However, working from home also gives him the freedom to go a socialize whenever he wants, so now that we’ve been here for awhile, he gets to go snowboarding with his friends during the week while I’m stuck at work!!!
    Becky @ RunFunDone recently posted…Wild Woman Becky!My Profile

  22. Almost all of my close friends are my running friends and we spend our time together on the trail. Sadly, other than our Cruiser events, I don’t spend enough time with these wonderful people other than running.

    My hubby and I try to get together with some of our neighbor friends for happy hour after work on Fridays at each others homes. Because our children are older, we don’t have that in the mix; however, if someone plans something that will interfere with my weekend time with our sons, we will decline. Since we don’t see them every day, our sons still come first! I want to spend every spare and available second with them! :-)
    Debbie @ DebRuns recently posted…Reese’s Pieces or M&M’s?My Profile

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