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How To Stay Friends With Your Friends After They Have Kids

04/14/2014 12:35 EDT | Updated 06/14/2014 05:59 EDT

It happens to everyone as we get older. Either you have kids or your friends have kids. But the one factor that a lot of people seem to forget is that children aren't for everyone. Some of your friends, or you and your partner, may have decided kids aren't in your game plan, or maybe kids just aren't your jam. Whatever gets you to your happy place, so be it. But just because your friends have kids -- and if kids aren't your thing -- that doesn't mean your friendships are doomed. There are actually a few tricks you can do to look like a hero to your parenting friends, with limited child-you interaction.

Bring food, but not for you

Whenever you go to visit new, or new-ish parents, bring food. More specifically, bring steaming hot food. And to be clear, bring food for one, maybe two if both parents are going to be around, but none for yourself. You can eat before you visit. What you'll be doing while they're eating will be revealed momentarily. But you have a lifetime of hot, never have to be reheated meals, ahead. For your friends who are parents, they will relish the idea of having a hot meal where they don't have to worry about getting crumbs in their kid's hair or spilling on their kid's head because the kid is attached to them during mealtime and they usually have to eat over them.

And while your friend enjoys the meal, you hold the kid. (I didn't say there would be NO child interaction, just limited.) Why does this situation work for you? If the child is fine going to other people and has already been fed and burped, they will be pretty docile. As for the parent, they're sitting stationary eating the food you brought. That means they can't go anywhere, and if the kid acts up, hand them off. The parent will appreciate that you tried.

Do not bring baby presents

Chances are this baby had a baby shower before it was born. Then when it finally popped out, gifts came to the hospital, and if there are aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, cousins, etc., this kid already has a ton of stuff. This kid does not need more stuff. The parents do not need more stuff for the kid cluttering the house. What mommy and daddy need is likely a beverage of some sort. (Full disclosure: I am not condoning alcohol consumption during breast feeding but I did partake in the occasional glass while I was nursing both my boys, and I will say sometimes, it's the one thing that got me through a very long evening.) If the parent doesn't drink, bring chocolate. But seriously, nothing for the baby, unless it's diapers. A parent will say you can never have too many wash cloths. Yes. Yes, you can.

Offer to babysit (during set times)

Most parents with kids under the age of one will tell you their kid naps at least twice a day, usually once in the morning and once in the afternoon. These naps will usually last from one and a half to three hours, unless your friends have the kind of kid who doesn't nap for longer than 20 minutes at a time, in which case this one might not work for you. But if your friend's kid has regular naps, offer to babysit -- during naptime. Don't say that's what the offer is, but casually offer to watch the kid after lunch (so you know they've been fed, burped, and changed), and will be tired. If they're hard to put down, offer to take the kid for a walk in the stroller. No full baby can resist falling asleep during a walk. And then be a real hero and tell the parent to go run some errands, go grab a pedicure, get a haircut, grab coffee. All of these activities should take just under two hours. If your friend is the mom and she's breast feeding, you know she'll be back in exactly three hours, in time for the next feed, in which case, the little one might not even wake up under your care. And even if your friend isn't breastfeeding, no parent would leave their kid for longer than three hours unless they got a flat tire, because they don't want to be seen as THAT parent. So to recap, you haven't done much but the illusion of what you have done makes you the most amazing friend ever.

Most importantly, DO NOT talk about the baby

Chances are, this baby has been an all-consuming life force and completely taken over any semblance of an individual life that your friend may have had. If they don't have any family or hired help nearby, there's a good chance your friend has done nothing for days on end but think about this baby. So when you visit, talk about work. Talk about what's going on with other friends. Talk about the great sale they have going on at Costco. Just don't talk about the baby. They will have talked about their baby to all of their other friends who have babies, comparing notes and asking questions. They will have years to discuss the amazingness of their child once they start to crawl, walk, talk, talk back, go to school, and poop alone. They may even forget what it's like to have a conversation that doesn't revolve around a kid. Be that friend. Remind them there is still a world turning outside of the parenting bubble.

So while the friend you knew pre-kids is changed forever, that's OK. You can still be friends. In fact, you can end up looking awesome, without doing much at all.

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