Have you ever noticed that some people make friends super easily; however, they don’t do much to keep the relationship going? Our girlfriends are a wellspring of support. You need them and they need you. However, if you are like most working moms the demands of life can creep up on you, and before you know it, your friends get shoved off the calendar. With motherhood, there are always a million things to do, minor emergencies to tend to, and challenges to face. It’s not always easy to find the energy or the time to invest in friends. However, maintaining social ties is an essential part of your well-being and happiness.

Nurturing your close relationships can make a huge impact on the quality of your life as well as the quality of life your family experiences. Those who have a strong support network of friends are:

1) More effective at work and at home, because they feel that they have a team behind them and that they are not alone.

2) Happier. Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, has found that there are
three main elements of happiness: Pleasure-we experience pleasure by laughing, having fun, and through physical enjoyment. Engagement- this is reflective of the depth of our involvement in family, work, romance, and our hobbies. Meaning- we experience meaning when we use our personal strengths to serve a larger good. Through his research, Dr. Seligman discovered that pleasure is NOT the greatest source of happiness as we have been led to believe. He states, “Americans build their lives around the pursuit of pleasure. However, it turns out that engagement and meaning are much more important in creating and sustaining happiness”.

3) Better able to keep their commitments and resolutions, particularly those that involve health and physical well-being.

4) Skilled at effectively managing personal and professional challenges.

5) Less likely to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out.

6) More optimistic and find it easier to maintain a positive perspective on life.

7) Healthier along all dimensions of well-being: mental, physical, and emotional. Scientists have proven that social ties reduce
the risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol.

8) Less likely to feel isolated. One of the biggest risk factors for depression is isolation.

9) Have children who are comfortable asking for and receiving support due to the role modeling they receive.

Below are 7 strategies you can implement in order to nurture your friendships.

1) Keep in touch. One way to remain connected with your friends is to schedule regular dates to get together. I recommend that you schedule a recurring date. Perhaps the last Friday of every month you meet for happy hour or the first Thursday
of every month you meet for lunch.

2) Include your friends in projects. As we know, working moms constantly are working on something. Include your friends in some of the mutual projects you are working on in order to reap the benefits of quality time together, work accomplished, and play dates if you have kids of the same age. For example, invite your friends over to make gifts or cookies together for the holidays, spend a day cooking together and everyone leaves with meals she can store in the freezer, participate together in a multi-family yard sale. It is so much more fun to accomplish these tasks with friends!

3) Open your home to others. It’s easy to forget to pick up the phone and invite people over, but everyone enjoys getting out of their own home from time-to-time. Most people love to be invited over, and they don’t care if the house is spotless or if you’ve cooked a gourmet meal. It’s the camaraderie that counts. How about setting up a weekly card game and making it bring-your-own-bottle?
Or watching a favorite show with your girlfriends, snacking on a potluck dinner? Sharing a good laugh with some friends in a relaxed setting is a great way to give and receive some love and support.

4) Don’t depend solely on e-mail as the only form of communication. E-mail is an incredible way to stay in touch. However, many women come to rely on it almost exclusively. Talking in real time and hearing the tone of a friend’s voice leaves you with a whole different feeling of connection. If you find yourself feeling out of touch or disconnected, try picking up the phone or scheduling a get-together. You will likely feel more “filled up” by your relationships as a result. I normally do not recommend multi-tasking due to the fact that it is important to be in the moment. However, when you are engaging in a mindless activity that does not require a lot of thought (getting yourself ready in the morning, cooking dinner at night, participating in household chores), connecting with your friend via speaker phone is a wonderful way to accomplish both activities at the same time!

5) Be thoughtful. Even though your time is limited, you can show your buddies you care by being thoughtful. Text your neighbor from the grocery store to see if she needs milk, offer to drive another parent’s kids home after choir practice, or send your high school best friend a magazine article that made you think of her. If a friend’s Facebook status indicates she’s having a hard time, send her a private message or give her a call. It’s the little things that make a big difference and go far in showing that you genuinely care.

6) Be proactive. Don’t wait until a friend needs you to be there for them. Instead; call, write, and say hello often.

7) Listen & Ask Questions. Take the time to really hear what someone is saying, without interruption, judgment, or thinking about what you are going to say next. Also, show genuine interest in others by asking open-ended questions.

You are not meant to go through the journey of working motherhood alone. Feeling a sense of belonging, meaning, and connectedness is important to your inner well-being and overall happiness as a working mom. Maintain and nurture those friendships that you cherish!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Marla Enhelder, Working Mom Coach & Mentor, is founder of Take Charge Mama, a company devoted to empowering working moms to effectively manage their time and energy, create balance between work and family, and ultimately live a life that they absolutely love! To get your FREE Audio CD by mail and receive Marla's weekly newsletter packed with tips that you can implement immediately, please visit http://www.takechargemama.com