I look back at the pre-kiddo days and chuckle a bit. I used to have a co-worker who would really irritate me when he would say “You think you’re busy now? Just wait until you have kids!” And while he was absolutely right, life is busier with a toddler and will only get busier once we start having activities, my co-worker was wrong too. Because when were childless I spent more of my time deciding what “I wanted” to do. I was busy, just in a different way. Friendships were easier to maintain because we all had more free time. My girlfriends used to go out for dinner for every single one of our birthdays. Every.single.one. I saw a lot more movies at theaters. There were more parties. But now there are children involved and we are even busier, I need my girlfriends even more. There is a lot of isolation in parenting and being a mom and that’s where I find I need my friends, their encouragement and their sage wisdom. So how we do stay sane by adding “one more thing” to our schedules and still keep in touch?
Be intentional. Put something on the calendar and stick to it. If you say you’re going to go, do everything possible to make it happen. I recently planned a double date with another couple seven weeks in advance because I knew it would take that long for both of us to find a date that worked and find someone to babysit. Planning it this far out also has given me something to look forward to!
Utilize post-bedtime and naptimes. Some of my favorite outings with my gal-pals is going to Target after all the kiddos have been put to bed. We wander the aisles in yoga pants, sometimes with a smoothie or a drink from Starbucks in hand. We chat about life, make recommendations to each other about a cute pair of shoes or the best diaper brands all the while picking up groceries and a birthday card. Sometimes low-key and post-bedtime is the only mommy time we can find.
Don’t rely on social media to maintain your friendship. Platitudes via Facebook can only get you so far. Make an effort. Being there and just simply being present says so much more. Pick up the phone. Say hello. Setup a Skype or Facetime date. Send a card. Act like you care. Because obviously if they’re your friend, you should care.
Bring the kids. I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but a fun outing for one family can also be a fun outing for two families. I look at how our vacations have changed. Our previous vacation to Michigan to visit my BFF Mandy and her husband, before we all had kids, there was much more shopping, eating out and nice restaurants with real napkins. Last year when we went to visit, our entire time there incorporated visits to parks, children’s play areas and picnics. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of your time will be spent chasing kids, pushing swings and wiping up spills but there will still be in between time where conversation snippets can happen. The same thing goes for story times, visits to apple orchards or pumpkin patches or playgrounds.
Don’t make it complicated. Friends don’t need an “activity” to have fun together. Most of us just want a chance to talk uninterrupted to our friends and catch up about life. We don’t need elaborate games or themes or decorations. Just a cup of coffee and maybe a cookie every now and again.