Posted: Mar 30, 2012 10:47 AM
Whatever your circumstances -- stay-at-home mom, working mom, single mom, married mom -- time is scarce. Setting aside a few minutes to cultivate new friendships is probably at the bottom of your list. But having friends will make you happier -- and set an amazing example for your kids.

You know you need some female support — so how can you get it without sucking even more energy out of your already overextended days? First, don’t think of friendship as a drain, but rather as a means of lifting you up.

Talk, and you will listen

"A mom who has been listened to is a better listener," says Dr. John Townsend, author of How To Be a Best Friend Forever: Making and Keeping Lifetime Relationships. "She's more patient, more attuned to her child and more loving."

Schedule face time

You know that a gab fest with your BFF can rejuvenate you for days — so along with that much-needed massage or manicure, fit in that cup of Starbucks or lunch with your mom friend. Emails and texts are convenient, but they are so impersonal. "You cannot improve on the value of being in the same room and communicating with another person. Face-to-face is the least convenient, but the most important," says Townsend.

Set a good example

Daughters will learn to handle rejection, offer forgiveness, set healthy boundaries and take chances to make new friends by watching mom do the same.

Your behavior as a mom impacts your children even more than you realize. "Moms are role models for their daughters for everything from how a wife responds to her husband to what a healthy friendship is supposed to look like," says Marian Jordan, author of The Girlfriends Guidebook: Navigating Female Friendships. "Daughters will learn to handle rejection, offer forgiveness, set healthy boundaries and take chances to make new friends by watching mom do the same."

Put some effort into it

There's a mental quotient to pursuing friendships. "Two big mistakes moms make are to keep it light and talk about events and not feelings, or to focus on the other and draw her out, neglecting your own needs," says Townsend. "Don’t." He encourages women to bring up what they're struggling with and to talk about the emotions they're having. It's a reciprocal friendship that will benefit you the most.

Locate mom friends

So where do you find people who share common ground with you? You don’t have to look far — your richest environment for finding mom friends are through your child's play groups and extracurricular activities. "Get involved in your child's school," says Jordan, and don't be shy about introducing yourself to someone you don't know and making conversation.

More about friendship

Why every mom needs a non-mom friend in her life
Toxic friendships
How to have a girls' night out without guilt