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When my kids were young and still in diapers, my friends and I used to meet up at Chick-fil-A for play dates. Our main goal was to maintain our sanity while our kids played in the play area. We’d discuss life, marriage, challenges, sleep deprivation, mom guilt, and potty-training woes. We frequently scheduled outings to prevent ourselves from going insane while staying at home.

We’d take a stroll around the mall together, pushing our bulky strollers and carrying diaper bags. Our first stop was always the coffee shop where we’d order a latte (extra espresso shot) and set it in the stroller cup for our walk. We made sure to get back home in time for afternoon naps, which was the sacred time of the day.

It’s hard to believe that my kids are now 15, 13, 11, and 10 years old. They’re in school, and playdates are a thing of the past. The older two prefer to be involved in school activities, play sports, and plan get-togethers at the movies and mall. I’m their reliable taxi driver, shuttling them from one activity to another.

Unfortunately, my time for friendship has become more challenging. With limited time available, managing my children’s schedules, working part-time, and being available for my husband has become a juggling act.

RELATED: The Most Exhausted You Will Ever Be Is Not When You Have Infants and Toddlers. It’s This.

A few months ago, I started to question if I had any friends during this season. I told my husband how lonely I felt. Since my family and I are new to our town, it’s also been challenging to make friends, but it dawned on me the other day that my closest friendships right now are with the moms of my children’s friends. It makes sense because we’re in touch the most and share daily experiences.

Instead of consistent time together with my friends through play dates, this season of friendship has proven to be sporadic like sending 7 a.m. texts: Hey, does your kid want to come over for a sleepover tonight?

Our friendship looks like 9 p.m. texts: Hey, want to meet up for coffee tomorrow morning after drop-off?

And Friday afternoon texts: Are you able to take my kid with you to Saturday’s away basketball game?

And those SOS texts: Please pray for me. This stage of parenting is exhausting.

This season of friendship looks like sending a Starbucks eGift when you know your friend is going through something hard and needs a pick-me-up. It looks like doubling your family’s meal so she can take a night off from cooking and handing the meal off at school pick-up. It looks like sending a Marco Polo video chat because catching a phone call is nearly impossible.

It looks like going for a walk outside together between running errands, prepping food for the crock-pot, and signing school forms. It looks like planning a girl’s weekend away because you know the time together is impossible during the week.

Even though my friendships have changed over time, they still hold a special place in my heart. I know I can rely on my friends whenever I need them, and they can count on me as well. Even if we don’t talk every day, it’s okay because we’re all busy with our own lives.

RELATED: Motherhood Changes Everything—Including Friendship

It brings me joy to observe the strong bonds my children share as they grow and develop with their friends. It’s also helpful to be able to discuss the emotional challenges that come along with parenting tweens and teens with other parents who are going through the same struggles.

It’s comforting and motivating to know I have people by my side even during those moments when I feel isolated. Just spending 10 minutes communicating and discussing our current situations can be a valuable opportunity to support and encourage one another. I want to be more mindful about nurturing these new connections.

It’s important to me to show my friends how much I value them, especially when life gets busy. I’m grateful my children have made good friends, and that I’ve met some wonderful mom friends along the way.

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Samantha Krieger

Samantha Krieger is wife to Jeremiah and mama to 2 boys & 2 girls- 15 and under. She's passionate about encouraging women in their faith, relationships, and real life. She's the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. Her work has been featured on the Today Show online, Love What Matters, and Cafe Mom. She enjoys connecting with readers on her personal blogFacebook and Instagram.

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