Having kids doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with friends, family or your partner. Here’s how to have a social life even as a busy parent.
Growing up seems to come at the expense of losing social ties, especially when kids enter the picture.
Back in college, every day was a social life. You lived, ate, studied, partied, bumped into and were surrounded with friends.
Then you graduate and become “adults.” The daily going out turned into weekend hangouts until you were just too tired to stay awake past 11pm.
Suddenly you realize you’ve forgotten how to have a social life with three kids.
How then can parents still learn how to have a social life?
The trick is two-fold:
- Accept that life—including your social one—is different from your pre-kids days.
- Be creative with what you do instead. So yes, you can down the beers with your buddies, but maybe not every night. And you can still see your girlfriends, but most likely over play dates and birthday parties.
How to have a social life and keep those friends nearby:
Work out with a friend
“Let’s take a dance class!” I texted my friend last week. It had been too long since I last saw her, and even longer since I’ve done something I enjoy—dancing.
Plus it’s actually exercise, so the benefits are threefold: hobby, exercise, friend. Of course our catching up happened over sandwiches after class, but who’s counting calories?
Invite people to your home
If you’re like me, you have a baby whom you’d rather not tote around or wonder where he’ll sleep in people’s homes. Easy solution? Invite people to yours. Keep it simple—we made a quick quiche and his family brought chicken this weekend. This way, your kids are comfortable at home, can nap if need be, and you can enjoy the company of others.
Commit to regular, scheduled outings
Accountability can be a fantastic way to have a social life. Meet with friends to try one new restaurant every month. I had siblings-only monthly get-togethers. Each of us was tasked with choosing the event (comedy clubs, bowling, Brazilian barbecue).
Socialize at kids’ birthday parties
If your kids are in school, chances are, you’ll receive a ton of birthday invitations. The reason to attend is for your child’s entertainment, but you can still talk with the adults at the party. Extracurricular activities like sports or art classes offer another opportunity to befriend other parents.
Join a mommy (and daddy) group
Mom groups can be a great source for frequent hangouts with kids. Moms have found lasting friendships in doing so, and a good friend of mine is someone I met through a mom group. Meetup.com is a good site to find nearby mom groups.
Join any hobby group
My sister and her husband have been part of their church’s choir for several years now. As such, have fostered a tight-knit group with its other members. Even when they’re not practicing, they take vacations and bring their kids together.
Like mommy groups, finding the right mix of people isn’t guaranteed. You just might not have the right chemistry with a group as you had hoped. But there’s no knowing until you try. Tap into groups that get together to hike, run, knit, or read, and you just might click.
Schedule that long-overdue date night (or day)
Hire a sitter while you and your partner eat at a restaurant (at the most non kid-friendly place you can find). Or drop the kids off at grandma’s for the afternoon so you can hang out at your old haunts. (Yes, shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond together like you used to do pre-kids counts!)
Have lunch with co-workers
Maybe you’re lucky to work with people you get along with. Having lunch boosts your presence at work. You may even find something in common with the people you spend the most time with during the week.
Sometimes, parents find it hard to attend happy hours in the evenings. Grabbing lunch or taking a walk breaks up your day and connect with others with the same interests as you.
As parents, we now have new priorities and less hours to commit to anything but our kids. Still, to be at our best, we need to take care of our needs first before we can even consider those of our kids. And one of the best ways to feel well-rounded is through our social ties with other people.
Follow these tips about having a social life:
- Once in a while is okay. You’re parents now, so it’s probably not a good idea to make plans every day of the week. Go out whenever you can because any break away from the kids is healthy.
- Initiate. Your friends—both with kids and without—may assume you’re too busy to hang out. They don’t want to intrude on your already-packed schedule.
- Keep it small. A whole-day outing may not work, but a quick lunch or coffee date can be enough to catch up with friends and family.
- Phone dates count! One of my friends and fellow mom just moved 45 minutes away from me and I still don’t get to see her regularly. So we catch up on the phone. Or online. Whatever we can do to stay in the loop with each other.
Get more tips on parenthood:
- How to Have a Happy Marriage (Even when You’re Busy with Kids)
- The Biggest Reason Parents Should Have a Life Besides Kids
- Why Motherhood Is Hard for You
- How to Balance Parenthood with the Rest of Your Life
- How Important Are Looks to You Now that You’re a Mom?
What are your tips on how to have a social life? How do you maintain ties with friends and family? Let us know in the comments below!
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