Breaking the Ice: Secrets of the Friendliest Moms in Cedar Rapids

Lately, I’ve felt I could use a few more tools in my social skills toolbox – especially when it comes to striking up conversations with other moms.  So, I sought the advice of three of the friendliest moms I know – Amanda, Mallori, and Kerstin.  These are friends who I’ve seen talk to virtually anyone, brighten the day of many, and teach their kids to follow in their footsteps.

I had to know their secrets.

Here are a few of their best tips for breaking the ice with other moms.

Breaking the Ice: Secrets of the Friendliest Moms in Cedar Rapids

The Friendly Philosopher

My friend Amanda is a mom of three with a natural gift for talking to anyone anywhere. Whether it’s the docent at the Czech Museum, or another parent at preschool, I’ve observed her engaging with people in a way that is easy, sincere, and comfortable.

What’s her secret?

It’s all in your mindset, Amanda explains:

“Life is more interesting when you engage people – it’s a lot more fulfilling when you don’t go through the motions. All people want to feel like they’re noticed, so that’s what I try to do.”

The Clever Conversationalist

My friend Mallori takes a practical approach to breaking the ice with other moms. This mom of four has some very helpful advice for those of us who need a step-by-step guide to being social. She’s the queen of making friends at the playground – here’s how:

1. Stay off your phone.

Being on your phone makes you look like you’re not interested in connecting with someone. Be willing to look around and make eye contact and smile.

2. Find common ground.

The easiest way to start a conversation with another mom is on common ground. Ask about her kids’ ages – it’s the simplest way to find more things to talk about.

3. Be authentic.

“I’ve wiped my kid’s nose, changed a diaper, stopped my kids from fighting – all in front of someone new. I think it’s a good thing because it makes you seem like a real person and not just a ‘model mom.’ The point of reaching out is to make another mom feel comfortable – not show off your great parenting skills.”

4. Follow-up.

If Mallori feels like she’s really connected with a fellow mom at the park, she’ll make a point to exchange phone numbers in order to set up a future playdate.

The Sociable Sensei

Kerstin is a friend who not only seems to have more friends than Oprah, she typically has a huge smile on her face. She is doing a great job teaching her two kids how to do the same.

I recently administered a test for her daughter through our homeschool co-op, and was impressed when she took time in the midst to pause and share a story and laugh with me.  That caught my attention, and I wanted to know more about how Kerstin enables her kids to catch the spirit of friendliness.

Her secrets are two-fold:

1. She models friendliness on a daily basis.

Kerstin regularly makes room in her life for great conversations – even when she’s pressed for time. She views each conversation as a God-planned pause in her day. Kerstin also has a gift for listening in a way that makes you feel like the most important person in the room.

2. She gives her kids practical challenges.  

When Kerstin’s daughter began playing in band, she gave her a simple assignment: to learn more about the kids sitting on either side of her. “Today, I want you to find out their names, and whether they have any brothers or sisters.”

By giving her kids specific steps to striking up conversations, she’s putting tools in their social toolboxes that they’ll use forever.

Putting Their Advice in Action

I took the advice of these amazing moms to heart and spent several weeks following in their footsteps.

Here’s what happened:

I viewed each person I encountered as an opportunity to make my day (and hopefully theirs) more fulfilling and interesting. I paused. I asked questions.  I learned about everything from cute boutiques and vacation plans to wartime responsibilities and hidden talents.

When I ran into a friend at an unexpected place, I viewed it as a blessing – not a distraction. I set aside my agenda and really stopped to talk. I walked away from that conversation with a huge smile on my face and an uptick in my own mood.

And when I bravely struck up a conversation with the woman standing next to me in a book sale line? I discovered she was a fellow homeschool mom who recently moved here with a daughter the very same age as mine. 

Through the process, I’ve discovered that each new conversation has made me a little braver. And that Amanda is totally right:

Life is more fulfilling when you make a point to get to know the people around you. 

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