Welcome to October, yayas! This month we’ll focus on FRIENDSHIP — how to be a friend, what we need out of friendships, as well as sticky situations that pop up from time to time. Having friends next to us as we process and learn can be invaluable for many mamas.
Here’s hoping this month’s questions help you deepen the friendships you already have and provide you with personal insight into your needs and values as you are making new friends. We’ll also touch on our child’s friendships—what they get out of them, what we model for them, and really looking at how we can support them as they learn about friendship.
How the Guided Journals Work
Each day I’ll post a new series of questions on the topic of friendship. These prompts are short and only take a few minutes. I highly recommend you write your answers down in a journal—pen to paper is very powerful! No need to beat yourself up if you simply answer them on your phone or in your head. You’re still doing the work. I simply suggest pen to paper because 1. Your thoughts are worthy of notation, mama. 2. The act of writing slows us down 3. How fun is it to write something other than to-do and grocery lists? 4. There are connections in your brain that happen when you write with a pen/pencil and paper vs. other mediums (it wakes up your reticular activating system and basically signals for you to pay attention)…good stuff 5. There is a study that shows that people who write down their goals are 33% more likely to reach them and 6. At the end of the month, it’s good to see how far you’ve grown in just a few minutes a day.
*NEW* This Month: Journal Club!
At the end of this month, yayamamas is hosting our first ever Journal Club on October 30th! Journal Club is kind of like a book club…but instead of discussing a specific book, you and your friends get together to discuss your answers from this month’s Guided Journal topic.
So gather your girlfriends and get them on board! Organize the who, where, when, and wine…I mean, snacks and drinks and anything that makes for a cozy night of friendship and conversation!
Can’t swing an in person meet up this month? Try creating an event online! You can post the Journal Club questions for others to answer on or around the 30th.
(Yes, this month’s Journal Club falls on the night before Halloween, but what a perfect excuse to take a minute to reconnect and get centered before the next day’s chaos. It’s an opportunity to head into the holiday refreshed instead of stressed! It’s not often the “perfect time” presents itself for moms…so we’re just going to have to make the time!)
This Month’s Friendship Goals:
At the beginning of each month you’ll be asked to think about and set a few personal goals that relate to the topic. Think about your friendships where you are in this season of life. Write down goals for this month; this can be either at the start or as the month goes on. Here are some examples:
* Make more mom friends
* Help support your child in their friendships
* Gossip less
* Deepen current friendships
* Get really clear about what you bring to your friendships
* Get clear on what you need out of friendships
* Solidify your values about friendship
* Learn how to manage sticky situations that arise in friendships
* Recognize that friendships (like all relationships) have ups and downs
* Show up more for friends
* Start a moms group
* Express your gratitude more often
* Learn how to be more supportive
Choose one or five or create your own! It’s up to you! The Guided Journals are never meant to tell you what to do, nor do they offer a one size fits all solution, but rather teach you how to observe yourself, your children, family values, personal beliefs, etc. and get really clear about how you feel about the month’s topic, where your strengths lie, what you might feel called to work on, etc.
October Week 1: Observe
Observation is a key strategy here at yayamamas. You can learn so much by simply stepping back and taking time to observe yourself, your children, and your life.
Real Life Friends List
What does your real life friends list look like? People in your family? Your kids? Partner? Mom friends? Work friends? Entire families? Individuals? List them by name and then at least one thing you admire about your friendship.
What do you need out of friendships? Time together? A sounding board? Acceptance? Kindness? Unconditional love and support? Zero judgment? Authenticity? Trust? Dependability? Humor? Forgiveness? For someone to be easy going? Compassion?
What’s not on your list? Perfection? None of us are ever going to say or do the right things at the right times when we are around other mamas. Do you recall a time where you didn’t say or do the right thing in a social situation?
Criteria. Look at your list of needs for friendships. Which need is most important to you? Do you have criteria? (As a personal example, mine is basically kindness and commitment. Friendship to me doesn’t look like “x” amount of time spent together, it’s more a feeling of connection. I want to feel like people are walking beside me and not in front of or behind me. I don’t want to feel judged, just a feeling of mutual respect and growth). What surprised you most on your list?
What You Offer
A huge part of friendship that is often overlooked is not what we get but what we give. What do you offer others in your friendships? Look at your list from yesterday. What on that list do you offer? Can you think of a specific time you offered those important qualities? Write about who and when.
What do you model for your children when it comes to friendships? In other words, how do you talk about people when they aren’t around? Knowing that our kids are always listening and watching and that our actions speak louder than words…what do you think your child picks up on in your casual conversations about friendship? Do you gossip in their presence? Do you try to work out issues? Do they hear you talk about others? If so, how do you talk about them?
If you were to try and look at your friendships through your child’s eyes, what do imagine they see? Kindness? Fun? Joy? Stress? Insecurity? Growth? Honesty? Connection? Are you satisfied with your answers? Can you see both positives and negatives?
A big part of friendship is showing up…in person to moms groups, lunch invites, parties, etc. When you’re invited to functions or play dates, what are your initial reactions? Are you excited to be invited? Nervous? Grateful? Overwhelmed?
Take a look at yourself and do an honest evaluation: are you happy with how much you show up? Are you flakey with plans? Do you feel like others can count on you to show up? When you RSVP “yes,” do you commit? If you’re overwhelmed, how could you make the commitment to invites less stressful?
A big part of friendship is being able to be vulnerable in front of others. Vulnerability, by its truthfulness, builds trust and connection with others. How easy is it for you to be vulnerable in front of people you know? What about people you have just met? Can you think of a time when you were vulnerable and it felt like it backfired? What about a time you were vulnerable and it led to relief or understanding? Do you feel like others can be vulnerable in front of you?
How do you show up for your friends during tough times? Times that are either centered around motherhood (i.e. infertility, miscarriage, death, illness, divorce, etc.) or around non-motherhood issues (loss of job, move, financial trouble, etc.)?
Does offering help or support come easy to you? What is your first instinct when reaching out…Words? Actions? Meals? Babysitting? Giving them space? How was caring for others in times of need modeled for you? What do you feel you are modeling for your children when it comes to helping others during tough times?
If it doesn’t come easy to you, who/what could help you with that? Online resources? Other friends? Have you ever thought about bringing this issue up within your circle of friends outside of a crisis time?
Who are your child’s friends? Looking back over week one, what do you believe your children need in their friendships? Is your child a good friend to others? How do you help them be a good friend? Would you describe yourself as hands on or hands off when it comes to their relationships? How well do you know their friends? How do you show an interest in their relationships?
What factors keep you from making or sustaining friendships? Moving? Lack of time? An introverted personality? Changing into a new season of motherhood? Are there creative ways to get around these hurdles?
Friendship & Texting
We live in a time of constant misinterpretation…mostly via texts. Abbreviated lingo leaves a lot of room for others to fill in the blanks or insert attitude or interpretation. (True story). Texting is relatively “new” in the broad scheme of things…social norms and rules have not been established so that our texts are always understood exactly how we intended them.
How do you feel about texting? Do you ever feel like you misinterpret texts from friends? Does texting ever feel “heavy” to you or stressful? Do you feel comfortable asking for clarification, especially from new mom friends that you might not know well?
How do your kids feel about texting? Do they, too, feel there is a lot of room for misinterpretation? If applicable, start a conversation with them about texting norms, insecurities surrounding texts, and how it can affect friendships. Write about it. What insight did you gain from them?
Being a Friend to Your Child
Being a “friend” to your child is controversial these days. How do you feel about the subject? Do you believe parents can be friends with their child or do you feel parents should remain in the role of “parent?” Do you feel there is room for both roles?
Looking back at week one, are there any friendship qualities you listed that apply to your parenting style? What are they? Do your answers influence your view on this debate?
Being a Friend to Your Partner (or anyone who helps care for your children)
Being a parent can feel all-consuming at times—someone always has to be watching your child. It’s easy to take for granted others who parent with us or help us when we need it.
Do you feel like you have a friendship with your spouse or partner outside of just parenting? How do you show that person you value their friendship? What about others who help care for your child? Babysitters? Aunties? Nannies? Do you feel it is important to have a friendship with that person or maintain professional space? Or both? How do you express gratitude for that person who helps watch your child?
The Power of a Tribe
It’s very powerful to parent alongside others. Whether you are a single mother, married, or have a partner…who makes up your tribe? That group of other women how have your back, understand the messiness and glory of motherhood? Who do feel that deep sense of kinship with? Who are you most grateful for on your mom journey? Who has influenced your mom journey the most, either through their example, advice, or support? Just for fun, if your tribe had a motto and/or mascot, what would it be?
If you’re still looking for your ideal tribe, what would they look like? Value? Make up their motto and mascot. Could you start one? Lead it? Time to manifest your tribe.
The yayas are here for you, mama! I try really hard to provide you with info and resources online to help you connect with other mamas and not feel alone. I hope you feel that sense of sisterhood!
How much do you lean on online moms groups vs. in-person ones? How do your needs online vary from your in-person needs? Write about what benefits you get from each.
Do you have boundaries in your friendships? Do you feel like you need them to balance friend and family time? If so, what do those look like? If not, what guidelines or strategies do you have in place to balance the two?
Do your kids have boundaries in their friendships? Do you model boundaries for your kids? How much of those boundaries include time limits?
We’ve been conditioned to compete in almost all areas of our lives: from sports to the classroom to our job. But we cannot make motherhood a competition. That kind of competition serves no one.
And I’m going to make some bold statements against competition: You cannot think you are better than other people. You cannot think you are better than other moms. You can’t think you’re a better parent. You can’t think you are a better mom. You can’t think you’re a better friend.
There is no room for ego in genuine friendship.
It’s okay to acknowledge differences—everyone is different—just try not to make those differences a point of competition. Differences can instead be embraced and celebrated within friendships, or at the very least, mutually respected.
Write about your feelings on the following thought: Thinking you are better or less than your friend tarnishes that friendship.
Now look at your children’s friendships: how often is competition and comparison brought up within their circle of friends? If they are babies, how often are their growth charts and milestones compared? How does that serve them or you? If they are older, how important is it to them (or their friends) that something or someone is better, stronger, faster, nicer, etc. How does that serve them?
Do you ever feel insecure in your friendships? Can you think of a specific time when you did? Write about it. What do you need to feel secure in an individual friendship?
Do you feel your child feels secure in their friendships? How much of that do you think has to do with what you model? How much of that has to do with individual relationships? Time commitment? The age or stage your child is in? Etc.
What can you do to help your child feel more secure? Do you feel you need to be involved? If so, why? If not, why?
You more than likely have a reputation within your circle of friends. People know if you’re trustworthy, if you show up when you say you will show up, if you are an excuse maker, if you contribute, hostess with the mostest, etc.
But let’s have fun with it…think about your reputation in terms of tv, book, or movie characters. Who do you think you are in your circle of friends? Are you the Rachel, Ross, Joey, or Phoebe? Are you Lucy or Ethel? Thelma or Louise?
Conflict is going to how up in every relationship. Every. Single. One. Why? Because no two people are just alike. Similar, sure, but here’s hoping your circle of friends includes a very diverse group of women. Either way, every relationship has ups and downs. How comfortable are you with this idea? Write about it.
How do you approach conflict? Does it make you uncomfortable? Or are you like, “bring it on?” Maybe somewhere in the middle? Are you approachable around conflict? Awkward? Do you avoid it at all costs? Write about your conflict approach or style.
How do you help children during their conflicts with friends? Are they an instigator? How often does conflict come up for them? Do you talk with them about the fact that they will happen? Do you help them come up with a plan or strategy? Are you hands off? How do you handle conflict when other parents do or don’t get involved? Write about your child’s attitude toward conflict as well as your beliefs about their conflicts. How do you feel your approach has or will change with age?
Do you ever approach conflict in a non-judging, loving way? Do you feel like you can come together in community and say out loud that something feels uncomfortable and needs to be addressed? If so, why? If not, do you think you could ever get there or would want to get to that place?
Take a Break
Have you ever felt the need to take a break in your relationships? Have there been times when your children aren’t getting along with others and you simple pull back to see if space can help heal the situation? If so, write about it. If not, do you feel this could be an option?
Were you able to rebound from that break? Did you come back stronger? More weary? Do things different? Write about it.
When Friendships End
Have you ever ended a friendship? Write about what caused the end of that friendship. Do you ever feel like friendships from different seasons of life fade over time (because of a move, job or school change, etc.)? Do you feel like such changes need to end the friendship or simply change it? What values or causes would warrant the end of a friendship for you?
Has your child experienced a friendship ending or fading? What was it like for them?
Whew. Nice job, yayas. I know some of the topics this week weren’t that easy. I wish there were parts of life (especially in friendship) that weren’t so tough. But it’s good to know where you stand, really look at your values, what you bring to the table, your past, your hopes, all of it—so when our children come to us with questions or problems, we are able to guide them with more confidence and compassion as they maneuver the ups and downs of life and friendship. I’m proud of you! And super glad you’re part of this tribe of mamas who are putting in the work to strengthen themselves and their families!
How do you talk about other moms and women in your home? Either to other women, while on the phone, or to your friends, partner, children, etc. If you were looking from the outside in, what do you think your children take away from your conversations about other women?
Consider this: How you talk about others is how your children will talk about others.
Your children are listening all the time. Even when you think they are not, even when they are in a different room, they are listening. They absolutely are. You are modeling what friendship looks like.
Take a look at your attitude toward other moms, women, friends, etc. and write honestly about how you view them and, more importantly, how you talk about them. Are you kind? Cruel? A combo? What makes you feel anger or frustration toward other moms? What could you do to curb those negative thoughts or end negative commentary?
I’m ready for a world with no mean girls. Which means I’m ready for a world with no mean moms. Are you on board? Not just intellectually, but actually. What can YOU do to end the mean girl culture? What thoughts and perceptions do you need to shift? What actions do you need to take to move us one step closer to this goal?
Shaming. Please allow me to take this thought one step further. Shaming feels like crap. It feels awful to be shamed. And you don’t want to be someone who is known for shaming others. Why? Because your kids are watching. They are the next generation. And we need to move closer to living in a world with fewer bullies.
* Optional: talk about this idea with your child. Write down their insights and thoughts on the subject.
Gossip vs. Processing
Processing is one thing—there are healthy moments that look like, “Hey, I had this situation come up and it made me feel really awkward. It’s new to me and I’m not 100% sure how to handle it. Can we talk about it?” That kind of confidence and processing with other friends is super healthy. Gossiping is different. Write down your thoughts and interpretations of these two words. Do you believe there are different kinds of gossip? Have you ever talked with your children about these differences?
Healthy friendships shouldn’t require you to bend over backwards or conform to a certain way of being if it is something that doesn’t feel true to you. Peer pressure is real, but you do not need to jump on board every bandwagon.
Have you ever conformed to a group mentality in the name of friendship when you were a child or adult? How did you handle it? Do you feel this issue is reserved mostly for childhood or also adulthood?
Peer pressure almost feels like a given in childhood. How do you approach (or plan to approach) such pressures with your child? How do you feel they handle peer pressure and conviction? Write about it. Or, if age appropriate, talk with them about it and write down their answers.
Do you look at the bigger picture when meeting or hanging out with other moms? Do you see a mom for who she is and not what sleep-deprived chaos is happening in the moment? Do you recall a time where it would have been easy to judge your parenting in an out of control, melt down moment? In hindsight, can you see the need to extend yourself grace in that moment? Did others extend you grace? Do you find it easy to extend grace to others?
Who do you feel the strongest connections with at this time in your life? Does it look different than pre-kids? Is it other mom friends in the same season? What do you do to keep those connections strong?
Do your children have strong connections? Do you feel strong connections is something that comes easily or takes work? Write about it.
What are some of your favorite memories with your friends from childhood? What about now? What did those memories involve? Write about times, locations, circumstances, whether it was planned or impromptu, etc. How did you commemorate those moments? With a photo? A card? Write about them.
Do you bring ever bring up those memories just for a good laugh? Do you think you could share one today? Send a text, make a call, write a note. Make someone else’s day…and your own.
Friendship & Appreciation
Do you appreciate your friends? The answer is probably yes. How do you show it? What actions do you take to show your friends you appreciate them?
What have you done to show gratitude in the past? Brainstorm creative ways to say “thank you” or “I appreciate you” and rely on that list when you want to put your gratitude into action.
It’s THANK YOU DAY! The first bonus day of every month is dedicated to thank yous. Send a handwritten card, text, make a phone call, or pop by someone’s house with a coffee and a thank you. Here’s your chance to apply your ideas from yesterday’s journal entry!
Let’s talk about this. Does sleep deprivation affect your friendships? Mostly likely. It breaks you down. It can make you feel like you’re “not yourself.” It can humble you to your core. Do you recognize sleep deprivation in yourself? What about other moms? Do you extend grace in those moments when you can see someone is having a hard time? Do you extend grace to yourself when you are tired? Do you give yourself permission to rest? Do you give friends permission to rest in your presence?
* Journal Club Day! * Are you meeting up with other mamas today, too?
Being curious about another person can be a very healthy way of showing that you care enough about them that you want to know more. When was the last time you asked your friends questions about themselves? Ask them today! Ask something that helps you get to know them better…where they were born, a favorite color, childhood memories, family, future goals, favorite meal, etc.
November Guided Journal Sneak Peek! Next up…Philanthropy! Get ready to be inspired right before the holidays as we dive into generosity & giving, and discuss ways we can model kindness & compassion for our children!