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7 Tips On How To Be A Low Maintenance Mommy Friend

7 Tips On How To Be A Low Maintenance Mommy Friend

In high school and even during college I had some friendships that could be considered high maintenance. Circumstances were different before getting married and having kids. During those earlier phases of life you can certainly bend yourself to allow more quirks and bumps in the road of friendship, especially as you are all figuring out how this friendship thing works.

Now that I am a Mom of three young kids. I have less time for friendships. However, this is a time in life when friends are especially needed. Moms need to have a shoulder or two to lean on when feeling insane, someone to meet up with when you need a few hours without kids, and someone other than a spouse to share life’s challenges and joy.

In order to have healthy friendships that are worth the time and effort, yet don’t cause more work and headaches in life you require low maintenance friendships. Experience has helped me weed out the high maintenance friendships that I have had over the years. At this point I naturally gravitate towards friendships that are low maintenance. It doesn’t mean that they are any less valued. Actually it is quite the contrary. Low maintenance friendships lend themselves to more kindness, openness, and sincerity in the relationship because there isn’t drama, gossip, high expectations, and other things to get in the way.

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Below are my top 7 tips on how to be a low maintenance mommy friend and they are as follows:

1. No Drama

The jealousy among women need to stop if they want to remain friends. We all have different talents and abilities, our kids are all different, and we all have different life experiences. You can’t compare yourself to others. So, if your mom friends act less than perfect, let it go. If their life seems better than yours it’s because probably you don’t know their entire life story and all the details of their life. Let it go. Just be you. Just worry about yourself. Don’t act or react to your negative thoughts and feelings, especially as they relate to others.

Drama usually rears its ugly head in the form of words, so use your words wisely. If there isn’t an upside to something to a friend, then you probably don’t need to say it. If what you are going to say is intended to get a friend’s emotions running high, then you may need to analyze your heart and the intentions behind what you want to say.

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2. No Gossip

The truth about gossip is that it is hurtful. Another truth about gossip that is important to recognize is that if a friend is gossiping about all their other friends, then they are more than likely gossiping about you when they are with their other friends. To be a good friend don’t gossip about your friends. Don’t even gossip about others who aren’t your friends. Change the subject when gossip occurs or find a way to leave the situation. Staying and listening to gossip is just as bad.

3. Time is of No Matter

The best kind of friendship for a mom is one where you can see each other after weeks or months of not seeing one another and you can pick up right where you left off, as though you saw each other the previous day. There may or may not be texts between seeing one another, but it is not taken personally, because fellow moms know that sometimes life gets crazy and hectic and everything besides keeping your family afloat can go by the wayside. This also means that you don’t give your friends a hard time, if they don’t immediately return your calls, texts, or emails. When they eventually get around to it, as life and time allows, that is good enough for you because you are an understanding friend.

4. Low Expectations

Keep low expectations of your fellow mommy friends. Nobody is owed anything by being a friend. It was nice when back in high school and college days meant all your friends around you helped you celebrate your birthday. That sometimes happens with mommy friends, but not always. Some days it is hard enough to remember the birthdays of your own kids. What it boils down to is that nobody owes you for being their friend. If they do nice things for you, like order you a cup of coffee, send you a nice note, or offer to watch your kids, then thank that friend! Extra gestures of kindness are not required in mommy friendships. However, they do make the relationships sweeter. Expecting these acts of kindness from friends will leave you disappointed in your mommy friendships. Try to do the nice things for your friends when you can, but do so without expectations of getting anything in return. That is what true friendship is based on.

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Expectations in your friendships will only lead to disappointment and then resentment. Don’t set yourself up for these negative emotions. Understand that your fellow mom friends are extremely busy and often overwhelmed. Their spouse and children come first, so sometimes friendships don’t get the love and attention we all want to give and receive.

5. Allow for Personality Quirks

Everyone has personality quirks, including you. If you want others to accept you, with your quirks and all, then you need to be accepting of the quirks that others possess. For example, we all have friends that run late. Don’t give them a hard time about it every time they are late. Instead, bring a book along and enjoy the extra time cathing up on your reading. Allow your friends to be human. They are flawed, as we all are flawed. Don’t hold their flaws against them in your friendship.

6. Don’t Criticize- Instead Encourage

Don’t be the critical mommy or the mommy who gives all the advice (you just come off as being a criticizer of those who don’t do things the way you are doing them). Words are powerful, so use them wisely. Look for the positive in your friends and tell them the good things you see in them. Be a positive force in their life. People like to be around others who are positive. Negativity is draining. If you are around friends that are mostly negative, you are going to feel depleted and drained after being around them. Set the example of positivity by looking for the good in others and situations. It doesn’t mean you need to be a Polly-Anna. It just means that focusing on real, positive aspects of life helps others around you see the positive as well.

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7. Allow for Differences

Thomas Jefferson said “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend”. He was a wise man. Everyone has different views in life. If we were all the same we would be robots and life would be boring. Allow your friends to be who they are in life. Embrace the difference, because it makes life interesting.

Don’t hold your friends differing opinions against them. We are all entitled to our opinions. Allow your friends to express their views around you without criticizing them, reacting harshly, or discrediting their opinions. If you put your friends down for their differing views, religious preferences, etc., then you are probably going to lose them. Be thankful that your friends express their views around you. It means they are comfortable around you in sharing this side of themselves.

Gratitude: If you are a mom with awesome mommy friends then consider yourself blessed. Tell your friends that you appreciate them. Good friendship is a true gift.

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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