When I moved to a small town in Washington state in 2002, I had toddler twins and a husband who worked 80-hour weeks. I knew no one and felt isolated. Even after meeting friends at church, no other moms seemed to have my same interests, or kids the same ages as mine. I spent many, many days alone with my little ones either at the park, the library or just at home.
I wanted to make friends, but it didn’t seem as easy as when I was a child, or in college, or even during my years of being married without kids.
Turns out I’m not the only one who has felt this way. A new crop of apps is popping up from people who have had similar struggles.
Michelle Kennedy, founder of the app Peanut, realized she needed support after having a baby before any of her friends were parents. She thought it would be great if she could use something like a dating app to find some mom friends. So she made it happen. Peanut is a Tinder-like app where moms (and only moms) can enter in some information about themselves and start seeing potential mom friend matches. Users can swipe up to "wave" at the potential friend, or swipe down to say "maybe later." If both moms swipe up on each other, they become friends on the app. Users can schedule meet ups, ask advice and create group chats. Kennedy said it’s better than using a Facebook group.
“The key difference is that this is only about women who are moms, there is nothing else on there,” she explained. “It’s all about motherhood, there is no other noise.”
Social.mom is another option, claiming to be the space to “make friends with moms that live near you, with kids the same age.” This app looks more like the interface you see on Facebook, but again is only for moms. Audrey Poulin, CEO and co-founder of the app, says because it’s moms only, the app has become a place where women tend to open up a lot. The app will recommend friends based on location and kids’ ages. Moms can add other moms as friends within the app and can then filter their feeds based on location or connection.
There is also a marketplace tab where users will find deals and where local businesses can post. Poulin said they purposely placed this tab separate from everything else — “You can’t open your heart on the same feed when someone is trying to sell you a gym membership,” she explained.
And moms aren’t the only ones who struggle making likeminded friends in the same stage of life.
In an article from Fatherly, a media brand for dads, one father laments that there are no apps to help dads find friends. The writer, in his 30s and living in Austin, Texas, was striking out in the dad friend department. He longed for an app like Peanut for dads.
I have some good news: Both the founders of Peanut and Social.mom say they are looking at the possibility of an app for dads some time in the future. Pretty vague, I know, but one dad friend app is launching this month in London and Stockholm and hopes to spread quickly. The DadOut app claims to help dads find friends and give them ideas of what to do when they get together.
Fredrik Burman, DadOut's CEO, took a year of paid paternity leave with his first child, but found it to be very lonely. He explained in an email that when men become dads, they usually lose touch with their regular group of friends.
“Finding new friends in your 30s is not that easy,” Burman wrote. “If you recently moved in to a new city it’s usually quite difficult to meet new friends, so all help is appreciated.”Comment on this story
The app will match dads based on interests, kids’ ages and schedules. Burman gave the example of the app sending a notification asking about availability for the weekend. If the user says he’s free on Saturday afternoon, the app matches dads in the friend’s group with the same availability and then offers some suggestions of what they could do together with their kids.
According to Burman, another aim for the app is to help create a more equal household when it comes to weekend activities with children.
“We want to help dads do more,” he wrote, “and we start by making it really easy for them to meet other dads and do fun things with the kids.”
Click here to see Amy Iverson discuss these apps on KSL 5's "Studio 5."